Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given in Berlin on March 22, 1909:
Whence comes the blessing of karma? Whence has there arisen in our Earth evolution this blessing of karma? From a power none other than Christ.
Although Christ appeared only later, He was always present in the spiritual sphere of the Earth. Already in the ancient oracles of Atlantis, the priests of those oracles spoke of the “Spirit of the Sun”, of Christ. In the old Indian epoch of civilization the Holy Rishis spoke of “Vishva Karman”; Zarathustra in ancient Persia spoke of “Ahura Mazdao”, Hermes of “Osiris”; and Moses spoke of the Power which, being eternal, brings about the harmonization of the temporal and natural, the Power living in the “Ehjeh asher Ehjeh” (I am the I AM) as the harbinger of Christ. All spoke of the Christ.
But where was He to be found in those ancient times? In the realm to which the eye of spirit alone can penetrate, in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world He was always to be found, working in and from the spiritual world. It is He Who even before man appeared on Earth sent down the possibility of karma. Then He came Himself to the Earth, and we know what this has meant for man. We have described what was wrought by Him in the earthly sphere, we have spoken of the significance of the Event of Golgotha and of its effect also upon those who at that time were in the spiritual world, not incarnate in earthly bodies. We know that at the moment on Golgotha when the blood flowed from the wounds, the Christ-Spirit appeared in the underworld, flooding the whole world of spirit with radiance and light; we have said that the appearance of Christ on the Earth is the event of supreme importance also for the world through which man passes between death and a new birth.
The impulse going forth from Christ is in the fullest sense reality. We need but ask ourselves what would have become of the Earth had Christ not appeared. Precisely from the opposite picture — an Earth without Christ — you can apprehend the significance of Christ's coming. Let us suppose that Christ had not come, that the Mystery of Golgotha had not taken place.
Before Christ's coming, the condition in the spiritual world of human souls who were the most progressed, who had acquired the deepest interest for earthly life, was truly expressed by the saying of the Greeks: Better it is to be a beggar in the upper world than a king in the realm of the Shades. For before the Event of Golgotha the souls in the spiritual world felt completely isolated, enveloped in darkness. The spiritual world in all its gleaming clarity was not transparent to those who entered it through the portal of death. Each one felt isolated, thrust back into himself as though a wall were between himself and every other soul. And this feeling of isolation would have become more and more intense. Man would have hardened within the ego, would have been thrown back into himself, nor could he have found any bridge to the others. And egoism, already intense, would have increased beyond all telling with every new incarnation.
Earth-existence would more and more have made men into utter egoists. There would have been no prospect of brotherhood on the Earth or of inner harmony among souls; for with every journey through the spiritual world, stronger influence would have penetrated the ego. That is what would have happened to an Earth without Christ. That the way from soul to soul will be found again, that it has been made possible for the mighty force of brotherhood to pour over all humanity — this is due to Christ's Coming, to the Event of Golgotha. Therefore Christ is the Power who has enabled man to turn Earth existence ultimately to good account, in other words to give karma its true configuration — for karma must be worked out on the Earth. That man finds in himself the force to profit by his karma in physical existence, that advancing evolution is possible for him — all this he owes to the working of the Christ Event, to the presence of Christ in the earthly realm.
And so we see many diverse forces and beings working together in the evolution of humanity. Had Christ not come upon the Earth, man would have been engulfed in error, because having hardened within himself he would have become as it were a globe on its own, knowing nothing of other beings, entirely self-enclosed, driven into that condition by error and sin.
Christ is verily the Light which leads out of error and sin, the Light which enables man to find the way upwards.