Ecce Agnus Dei (c.1462/64)

"Behold the Man!" {Ecce Homo}

Translated by: Christophorus, Published online: 19 Aug 2008
From: Sunday Lectures (SL), Series "Strength and Life" Vol. 1 - "Behold the Man!", Lecture 1, 16 Mar 1914
First published: Deunov, P. K., "Eto chovekat!", Sila i Jhivot, Pearva Seria, Sofia, 1915
Reference: Deunov, P. K., "Eto chovekat!", Sila i Jhivot, Pearva Seria, Pearvo phototipno izdanie (facsimile edition), Sofia, 1999, Janua-98, ISBN 954-9589-47-1
Available online in Bulgarian from ``Library "Beinsa Douno"'' or from Janua-98.

"Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, "Behold the Man!" (John 19:5)

By the word "man" {chovek} or "Mann" {chelovek} [1] in Bulgarian is meant a being, which lives for an entire century; however, in the archetypal language, in the language in which this phrase is written, "man" has a different meaning - it means: Jesus, the Man Who comes to the earth, the Brother of those who suffer. What should we understand by these words? Can people say of us, when we come out before the world: "Behold the man"? For man to bear the honor of this name, he must contain four things in himself: he must be rich, he must be strong, he must have knowledge, he must possess virtues. But, you will say: "What is richness doing here?" - Richness is the soil, the conditions in which man can develop; it is the soil in which strength develops. And the latter brings warmth and light, which affect the growth, the development. When we come to knowledge - it is the method by which we must understand and regulate our life. Virtue, on the other hand, is the aim towards which we must aspire. And often people ask the question: "What should we do?" - sow a grain of wheat, and it will show you what you ought to do. You will say "How?" - Put moisture, and the sunrays will show what the grain of wheat strives towards - towards one direction - towards the Sun - the wellspring of life. And we, like the grain of wheat, must grow - must strive towards God. But someone may ask: "When the grain of wheat grows up, does it reach the Sun? Whereas I wish to find God." You do not need to know where God is, but need only strive towards Him. The grain has understood what sort of a thing the Sun is, and has accepted what it wishes. The same law holds true for us - we, too, must produce the same result. We must be sown, our life will by all means have difficulties, which constitute these small but necessary hindrances, like the grain of wheat - a certain pressure is required, and after this will come the process of growth, knowledge, and when we give fruit, this is finally virtue. Therefore, we must be sown, a little soil must be added, there must be a little pressure, after which we must grow upwards and gain knowledge, and this knowledge, after it has grown to a certain level, must immediately transform into a grain of wheat. And after this the Master [2] will send for the wheat to be reaped, and He will separate the useful from the useless - the wheat from the chaff. We are born, this means we are sprouting; we grow, we develop, we die and are buried in the grave - this is threshing. And from the threshing-floor the Lord will gather that which He needs. This corresponds to the barn and the granary: the chaff is placed in the barn, and the grains - in the granary.

I have read to you the 19th chapter from the Gospel of John, so that you would see the four things that Christ bore on the cross - four things, which we too have to learn, by placing virtue on the head which was not nailed, on the left - knowledge, on the right - strength and down below at the feet - richness, and we will then have the crucified man. I.e. when we nail the richness, strength and knowledge, their juices will ascend towards the head - towards virtue. When the Lord wishes to make man kind-hearted, He nails him to the cross - He nails his riches, strength, knowledge. And what does nailing mean? They put him in the bank-safe, so that he may not be taken by anyone, so that no one can have him at one's disposal, because the Lord will have him at His disposal. He says: "When I work, you will be calm". And because man does not want to stay calm, the Lord says: "Nail him, so that he may be calm, [and] that I may work..." And when we are nailed to this cross, we should not weep, because then the Lord works for us. Unfortunate is the one, who is not nailed to the cross. Whoever wants the Lord to occupy Himself with him must pass through this process of development. I speak to you allegorically.

Before this process of development, it is imperative that there is faith, unshakeable faith in the overall Divine plan, which has in view all living beings that God has created. We should not doubt God, because He is perfect, omnipotent; does not Jesus say in one place: "What is impossible for man is possible for God." The Divine ways are unfathomable. The thought that these ways can be distorted and impeded should not be allowed: it is impossible.

And when we are called and have set out on the Divine path, we should have that simple faith which children have and avoid flaws like the one pointed out in the following story. In England, a great artist wanted to make a painting in which to depict the extreme poverty. For days and months he wandered around London in order to find a subject that would accord with the idea. At last he found a child in tattered rags which befitted his heart and he said to himself: "Here is the face that will serve for the creation of the painting!" He approached the child, gave him his card with the address and said to him: "Come in four days, I have something to speak to you." The child, on seeing a man dressed in this manner, thought: "How am I going to visit him like this, almost entirely tattered", and went to acquaintances to dress and present himself in the way one presents himself to the kings; the child found clothes, dressed, and went to the painter. "Who are you?" asked the artist. - "I am so-and-so." - "Off you go! If I wanted someone like this, dressed, there are thousands of them. I needed you the way I saw you then". And we too, when Heaven invites us to work, wish to dress ourselves. However, the strength is not in our clothes, hats, gloves and fashionable shoes, neither in the collars, ties and watches - they do not constitute anything of importance; the strength is in our mind, in our heart, in the noble instigations and the aspiration to do good. When we have these things, the others, in their own time, will come by themselves. Indeed, when we go to Heaven, should we take our clothes from here? The Lord, when He summons us to Heaven, undresses us here. He does not want our rags, but rather He says: "Bring him as he is". When someone dies, each of us turns away from him; even those, who had loved him, say: "Take him away sooner!" Where, then, is their love? But the Lord does not turn away and says: "Bring him. I need him as he is". And when they put us in the grave and leave us, what does the Lord do? He begins to talk with us - it is not the case, as some think, that the dead are set free. He asks us: "Well, did you understand life, did you understand the meaning of the life which I sent you?" Precisely in this conversation the Lord draws His great painting, precisely then this process comes into existence: the people, after they see the man off, begin to cry and to list all his good qualities - they see the Divine painting which is depicted in these qualities.

We have to endure the sufferings which come to us and draw a lesson from them. Jesus wished to give us an example with His earthly sufferings that we have to obey this Divine process. In one place He says: "Do I not have the power to ask My Father to send thousands of Angels to save me? But if I do not accomplish what I have come for, how shall people be uplifted?" And He Himself wished to be lifted up, as well. You are on the Earth, one day storms, tribulations and, perhaps, the same terrible fate will also come to pass upon you, but when this hour comes, you should not in the least consider it a misfortune, for where there is no suffering, there is also no enrichment [3]; where there are sorrows, there are also joys; where there is death, there is also resurrection. And he, who does not wish to participate in the sufferings of humanity, will not acquire anything. And then, what, in essence, are sufferings? Consequences of mistakes, caused in the past by our inaptitude. Precisely these mistakes are rectified by the process of suffering. This process is a method for us to adapt to and achieve those supreme ascending vibrations which await us in Heaven. A hundred sorrows must be borne in order to endure one Divine joy. Exactly then we will appreciate, as we should, this joy and will retain it. And this is why the Lord begins with sufferings, in order to harden us (like the blacksmith hardens the iron in order to make it suitable for work), so that we are able to endure the joy that will follow afterwards.

Each of us is needed and much needed by the Lord. It may be that for the world you are not of any worth - a zero - however, for God you are an important unit [4]. Only the Lord, Who has sent you to the Earth, values your sufferings, and, therefore, you should not worry what the world thinks of you; the One Who has sent you, He thinks of you and values you. For you it is important to have the approval of God. If the Lord is with you, you will be beautiful, and the world loves that which is beautiful; if He is with you, you will be rich, strong and good, and the good is always honored.

Now I shall speak to you about God, not as a being, as the philosophers say, abstract, dispersed throughout space, [whereby] you do not know where He is, but about that Lord, of Whom I preach, Who thinks of us, Who watches our steps, straightens, corrects, punishes, dresses, undresses - causes us to be born and to die. What is dying? The Lord makes an operation, He sees that you will lose much, [and so] He shortens the process of your life - "in order for him not to make more debt, take [away] his capital, which I have given him, the times are not favorable now, leave him for another time, bring him to Me". And in this process we think that the world has forgotten us. But, if the world has forgotten us, the Lord thinks of us. And the world must by all means forget us. A maiden can never marry if she loves all lads; she has to choose one and say: "This is my beloved [5]". So also in life, this fact is just as true. You must have only one Lord. There are many gods in the world who will want to appropriate you; but you must find your God with Whom you will be able to live, to develop, to grow rich.

The Scriptures say: "God is not only in Heaven; He lives in the hearts of the humble"; therefore, the first quality which you must acquire, so that He may begin to live in you, is humility. But this humility is not like the humility of a sheep - to say, when they beat you up or break your legs: "Nothing doing!". It is not humility, when they take away all your riches, to say: "We have humbled ourselves" . It is humility to realize and say, when you have all the riches, strength, knowledge, and goodness: "Lord! Everything I have is at your disposal". But now everyone does the following: all preach the Gospel and always set the world aright; but when the Lord stops at their overfilled purses, they shout: "Ah, not there! One half, see, we can give, but everything - no". When it comes to strength, they say: "You cannot have all of my strength at your disposal". But when we are in need we want and plead Him to guide us and to help. This way of humanly understanding life predominates in all philosophies from thousands of years ago until this very time. And our misfortunes stem exactly from this. But Jesus wishes to show us the way with His life. Many Christians understand that when they become Christians, they will have to abandon the world. You may renounce your houses, wealth, wives, children and still think of them. You may go to a secluded monastery and still think: "I wonder what became of my wife, my children, my house?" And this means that you have not renounced them, that you are not free. To renounce things does not mean to forget them, but to leave people free - to leave the wife to act as she sees fit, to leave the son to act as he sees fit. To renounce the world means to leave it, to not hinder it - let it go its own way: can we stop the flowing of the river? We should leave it to go its own way; we can do one thing only - to make use of it. In the same way, we are not able to stop life, but should simply make use of things. And Jesus clearly and positively tells us: "If you love Me" - and we must love Him - in no way does He say: "Woe to you, if you do not love Me!" No! The Lord never wants sacrifices from us against our will.

People say: "Why doesn't the Lord, Who is Almighty, set the world right?" - "How should He set it right?" - "He who lies, let his tongue wither; he who steals, let his hand wither". But then we would have a world of only deaf and crippled people. What do you think - would such a world be pleasant for us, of only ailing people? The Lord, however, exercises a diametrically opposed rulership, He goes by the reverse of this process and says that, whoever wishes to be a master, must be a servant. This process consists in the following. The strong people usually want all rivers to flow into their river; in the Good, however, the process is exactly the opposite - the Lord pours Himself into small rivers and instead of ruling them Himself, He leaves it to them to rule themselves. You can make a small experiment in your home. Let the thought that you have to control take leave of you; place in your mind [the thought] to become a servant - to become a servant for the sake of the Lord, and then you will descend in the place of the Lord. You seek the Lord in Heaven, but He is not there; when you groan and suffer, He is within you. And what people call growth, advancement, is a sign that in this process [of suffering] the Lord works. He is the best workman. Some complain: "Why does God not see our sufferings?"; but He says: "I do not have time; I am so busy with your affairs, I am busy with much more important affairs of yours; when there is time left I will occupy Myself with your external tiny disagreements". This is not an allegory, but reality. There is a verse in the Scriptures, where the Lord says: "I was for Israel like a loaded cart, in which people constantly put everything". The sufferings, however, which we experience here are the Lord's sufferings; He suffers and weeps in you. We say: "I weep, sorrowful is my soul"; but when we say: "Lord, forgive me - I caused you so many sufferings with impure thoughts and actions", then we will arrive at that true path which will save us from the evil of our day. And lastly, we have to leave our Lord to strengthen firmly within us. We have tied Him with ropes and have nailed Him. We have to lay Him to rest and leave Him quiet in the grave and then He will resurrect and set us free. And rest assured in one thing: those who hinder His way – it is us, the people: the devils do not hinder the way of the Lord. Because He has laid down the law of Freedom, He cannot, He does not want to change this law and until we arrive at this consciousness - to voluntarily obey - He will not deliver us. The consciousness that we should be like Him has to permeate us deeply. Then we will use our riches, strength, virtues for the elevation - of whom? - of our brethren, our neighbors. Each of you should seek and cherish the souls of your brethren, rather than to love their bodies. And I can tell you that Jesus, since He came here, even now has not left the Earth; He lives among men, works among them and the time has come for Him to resurrect in us. We must have faith, but not that faith and that fear which the Jews had - "We have no other king, but Caesar", so when this Caesar ruined Jerusalem and tore down their temple in several years, they rejected him. Now again one can say: "Caesar is my king", but the consequences will be the same.

Let me return. At first we have to live in this world, to prepare ourselves; we are not able to live in Heaven because there the warmth and light are very bright. Just like the gardener, when he replants pines taken from a high place, makes various seedlings until they become acclimatized, so the Heavenly Father cannot take us from here and directly plant us in the Garden of Paradise. Even our school system is ordered so: to begin with, we have to pass the first year, only after it - the second - further on, secondary school, university, and, finally, we can enter the world. All these are methods of the culture to which anyone who wishes to advance and develop has to adapt. A Christian, in my understanding, should not be a foolish man and say: "As the Lord provides". When you have ploughed your land, you sow wheat, because if you do not sow wheat, what will God provide? Weeds and thorns. Till the vineyard, plant it, and it will bear fruit for you. And whatever vine you plant, such will be its fruit - if you plant low quality twigs, it will give you sour fruit. The Lord gave your child a good mind, but what have you planted in his mind - are these the good germs which will bear good fruits? We wish to be virtuous, strong, rich; we can indeed have virtue and strength and richness and we need to have them: the conditions under which they thrive and are able to develop are: the Divine germ, the Divine law and the Divine equilibrium. The equilibrium - this is virtue, the law - this is knowledge, the conditions - this is strength, the germ - this is richness. But you will ask me: "How shall we find the Lord?" - A very easy thing. Someone wanted to make a joke and tease a friend, who said: "We are in a garden in which there are many good apples". - "But I do not see anything", answered the former while closing his eyes; the friend smacked a slap on his face and the man recovered his sight and saw. Similarly, the Lord sometimes gives us a slap and we see. Those of you whose eyes are closed, let them wish that their eyes be opened. The world of today contends and says: "Where is the Lord?" - He is in the trees, in the stones and in the earth"; however, when a misfortune comes, everyone looks up and sees that He is there and cries out: "Lord!" This is the reason for the misfortunes - they are the slap, which the Lord smacks while saying: "I have created you to see, not to stay with closed eyes". So we, in order to elevate ourselves, must attain the state of children - to seek and be receptive.

Now I will tell you something else. What will be our method, by which we have to work? From now on we must always be connected mentally and whole-heartedly with all people around the world, because salvation is in our joint prayers - "unity makes strength" [6] And when the minds and hearts of the people unite, then the Kingdom of God will come on Earth. We should not look for the shortcomings of a friend whom we really love: he too, like us, may have them; the shortcomings are the external garment with which man is clothed; but the human soul is pure, she cannot be spoiled, she cannot be destroyed; no one is able to corrupt your Divine soul. She can be stained from the outside, but not on the inside, because God dwells in her. And it is unthinkable to destroy something which the Lord protects. We can obey the world in the way shown when Jesus spoke to Pilate, who said: "I have the power to crucify you" - "I obey the one who gave you this power, but my soul is free". We have to obey the temporal sufferings; we cannot comprehend them, but when we die and resurrect we will understand why they have occurred. Everyone until now has been tormented by fears and trepidations in life. But that is not life. Life is when man is full of noble feelings. Happy is he, who rejoices when he was able to do good selflessly. Someone has offended you - you do not lift your hat to him [anymore], you do not shake hands; you may shake hands without this being a handshake; you may lift your hat without this being respect. And usually we lift the hat to somebody above us; but by this we somehow say to him: "Can you promote me?" There is a devilish fish in the sea which always greets whatever it meets on its way. Man also takes someone by the hand. Why? These devilish fingers of the human hand speak a lot; for example, the smallest one says: "Can you lend me some money? I have to start a business. I have losses, I have been robbed, can you help me?" The ring finger - "I desire Artistic fame and knowledge". The middle one - "I want rights and privileges". The index finger - "I need honor and respect". The thumb - "I want strength and skill". The person greeted, if he can and desires, will give [what he was asked for]. And so two men go, and then three in the society and create a coterie, but they do not find what they seek. And at last Jesus came and said: "What you are seeking - richness, strength, knowledge, goodness - I can give to you. There is not one among you who has left behind his father and his mother for Me, and has not received a hundredfold the future life". Behold the Man, who can shake hands with us, Who can give us richness, and strength, and knowledge, and goodness. But people said: "Take him away, crucify him"; to which Pilate noted: "You are losing Him". And today Jesus stands before you again and I say to you: "Behold the Man, Whom you seek, the Man Who can only bring peace into your hearts, to give you mind, to give you health, social standing, to uplift you, to show you the way, to let your mind be clarified". But in your doubt, you say: "Show Him to us so that we may see Him!" - I will present a comparison. During the evening a man comes from afar with a small candle, I tell you: "Behold the man, who brings light for you"; you, however, see the candle but do not see the man; you will see him - when? - when the Sun rises. Seek by yourself this light which the Man carries, - it will help you find the path upon which you should walk. This is how you have to perceive the issue. Let me give you another, clearer comparison. Suppose that I take you into a lavish but dark reception-room and say to you: "This is a room with wondrous adornments, with immense treasures, over there in that corner there is this, in the other corner this-and-this". - "It is possible, but who knows, I see nothing", you object. If I bring a small candle, then the objects close-by start to be delineated; if I bring another one, the objects' outlines emerge more clearly; when the number of candles increases, the room becomes more and more illuminated; when the electric lamp lights up, the objects become lucid, while when the day-light arrives, everything is seen. The world is like this room, and each of us has to be a light-bearer, to carry one candle, and, when we all enter with our candles and place them next to each other and thus increase the light, we will see a lot. Your brains - these are candles. I do not like people who carry extinguished candles, but only such who carry burning candles, like on Good Friday. Each one of us a must be a burning candle. A devoted, loving, good person is a burning candle. And it is a big mistake for a man to be an extinguished candle. You ask: "What shall we do". - You should pray for each other, you should send good thoughts to your friends and pray for them, wanting them to be blessed, and the Lord, when he blesses them, will bless you also. And why should we pray? In the summer season of 1899 in the area of Novi Pazar [7] a prolonged drought occurred; the Turks from 39 villages in the vicinity gathered and prayed for rain and rain came; the Bulgarians said to themselves: "God, when He sends rain for them, will send for us also"; however, the rain did not fall over their villages and their cattle grew emaciated from hunger. When people pray, you [should] pray too [8]: you, too, should submit your petition; the Lord will not keep a special column [9] for you if you do not pray. Prayer has great power, and contemporary people should be people of prayer: with prayer we will prepare our mind and our heart. And we should not pray for ourselves: that is egotism. - I do not wish to concern myself with people's minds, my desire is to occupy myself with their hearts, because all the evil lurks in the hearts. And then, the Lord Himself says: "My son, give Me your heart". Now we have to begin [our] purification, just as we do for Easter [10] - to open the windows and wash the floor. We all groan under the same burden, everywhere there is a common disharmony, a husband and wife [11] cannot come to an agreement - they divide a house, divide money, the wife is dissatisfied that the husband holds the money. Whether the husband or the wife holds them - this is indifferent. Come to an agreement on who is to be the cashier. They argue [about] who is to take first place in the house - whether a hen or a rooster will sing [12]. What hens and roosters? - this does not constitute anything important in life. - I said, another thing is important.

Jesus has come and He works, and when the light comes, it comes gradually, quietly, without noise. He will not come like thunder, as some expect Him. - This too can happen, but Jesus is not there. When the Prophet Elijah went in the desert and surrendered himself to fasting and prayer and when storm and fire came and Elijah covered his eyes, God was not in the storm and in the fire, but in the quiet voice which spoke. The Lord is not in your sufferings, in your strength, in your knowledge. Where is He? In Love. If you love, He is within you. If you do not love, He is not there. And you must love - this is the law. We do not love, but expect people to love us! This means to sit in front of a stove and wait for someone else to bring wood for us to warm ourselves. We, we ourselves should have this fuel which is to be used by others also.

We, who follow Jesus, Who has given us sufficient strength, must finally allow {pusnem} Him to enter into us. Now, I leave you this Man: will you accept Him or crucify Him, will you let Him in {pusnete} or will you say: "We do not want Him" - this is the problem you have to resolve. If you say: "Release {pusnete} Him, He is our Lord", you have resolved the problem and the blessing will surely come. And then the words from the Scripture will be fulfilled: "I and My Father will come and will make our abode in you". Then the light will abide in us and we will all be reconciled.

Lecture 16 March 1914, Sofia


[1] Both words (chelovek and chovek) mean "man". Chelovek (chelo - "whole"; vek - "century", or in some contexts an indefinitely long period of time, an age) is the archaic word for man in Bulgarian (as "Mann" is in old English), and was gradually substituted in the 19th century with the word chovek.
[2] Gospodariat: the word itself actually means "lord" as in the master of land etc.; c.f. Luke 12, 14; Mark 13; Matthew 10 etc.
[3] literally: gaining of riches.
[4] the digit 1
[5] The Bulgarian word is ambiguous, and the sentence can be rendered here as: "this is my world"; but also "this is my light".
[6] This phrase coincides with the motto on the Bulgarian coat of arms.
[7] Novi Pazar is a city in the North Eastern part of Bulgaria (close to the city of Shumen and the ancient capital of the first Bulgarian kingdom, Pliska).
[8] "you" is singular for the rest of this sentence.
[9] in an accounting document
[10] Apart from referring to the spiritual purification, there is also reference to a custom in Bulgaria where the whole house is cleaned thoroughly before Easter.
[11] In Bulgarian, there is a single word for "husband", "male" and "man", and similarly for "wife", "female" and "woman"
[12] A Bulgarian proverb, meaning: whether the husband or the wife will lead the family affairs.
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