Article about the Divinity of Jesus
The Hidden Meaning of Jesus' Teachings.
A Mystery made Manifest in the Life of Christ.
Two thousand years ago, a man called Jesus living in, what is now the state of Israel, made some very powerful claims.
' I and the Father are one .' (Bible John 10:30)
' before Abraham was born, I am !' (Bible John 8:58)
After a short ministry, lasting not much longer than a period of four years or so, the man was executed by the Roman authorities of the time. Subsequent to his death, a religion called Christianity started up. After many centuries, this religion became the dominant religion in the world, with the most numerous followers. The impact of this person on world history cannot easily be overstated. He has setup the context and conditions in which we all currently live. He is also one of the most misunderstood characters of all time. He himself predicted that this would be the case. His life has been misunderstood, his message has been misinterpreted. Central to his life was his claim to be God. The central theme of his message was what he referred to as 'the Kingdom of Heaven'. People have come to misunderstand what it means to be God and also their own relationship to God. People have not comprehended what the Kingdom of Heaven really is.
Jesus says to his disciples.
' The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding.' (Bible Mark 4:11)
Many intelligent people accept the idea of an all powerful God, creator of the universe and ruler of the cosmos. God, as the primary cause and ultimate reason for all existence. Also many people have come to believe that God has some sort of relationship with every human being. This relationship is seen by many to reach its most perfect expression in the life of Jesus. It is believed that in Jesus, God was manifest.
' Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: God appeared in a body. ' (Bible Timothy 3:16 )
' in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form. ' (Colossians 2:9)
However it seems, most of these people have failed to fully grasp the fact that Jesus was also a person. Therefore there is a direct relationship that we all have with Jesus and also a direct relationship that we all have with God too.
The exact nature of our relationship to God is, I believe, the central mystery revealed in the life of Jesus Christ. It is the hidden meaning in his parables and teachings. It is a truth so explosive and at the same time so bewildering, that it could only be alluded to. A truth so illusive yet potentially so controversial that it had to be kept secret from most people.
' Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces .' (Bible Matthew 7:6)
And yet at the same time, the same truth would seem like music to the ears of others.
'Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.' (Bible Luke 10:24)
This secret concerning our relationship with God is intimately related to Jesus' concept of the 'kingdom of Heaven'. In modern times, it is commonly believed by Christians, that Heaven is some place one potentially goes to after death, in order to spend eternity with relatives and loved ones. However this is not what Jesus himself was saying. In the Bible Jesus clearly states that this kingdom of heaven is in the here and now.
' The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, `Here it is,' or `There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you .' (Bible Luke 17:20)
Also from some of Jesus' sayings, it is quite clear that the kingdom is something to be found within a person's lifetime.
' I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God ' (Bible Luke 9:27)
' The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field .' (Bible Matthew 13:44)
So, what is the 'Kingdom of Heaven' and what is a person's relationship to God? What is the answer to the central mystery of the life of Jesus'? The answer is that everyone is God and there is at the same time one God only. This is the eternal truth and the real meaning behind Jesus' parables. It is a truth which is apprehended by direct experience, and as such it is something that has always been extremely difficult to explain. It is also a truth which in contemporary times, increasing numbers of people have been encountering by direct experience. It is a view of existence which will perhaps unlock some of the greatest mysteries in modern science and philosophy.
Seen in this light the kingdom of Heaven is the realization, and remembrance of who we really are. It is to be one with Jesus. It is to understand that all is one and one is God.
In an apocryphal document Jesus is reported as saying.
' He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him. ' (Gospel of Thomas 108)
We are all one, not merely of one flesh but indeed of one soul. This is the truth behind Jesus' teachings and the reality of eternal life. It is a truth that the early Christians understood, however it is knowledge which has now been lost almost completely. In the age of science and materialistic philosophy people no longer comprehend the transcendent meanings in the Bible. Generally, modern life doesn't have a sacred dimension.
The mystery of Jesus Christ in the words of St. Paul .
Shortly after Jesus' execution, an official called Saul was given the task of hunting down Jesus' followers in order to suppress them. While traveling to a city called Damascus, Saul had a powerful religious experience. It was so powerful that Saul subsequent changed his name to Paul, and joined Jesus' followers. He spent the rest of his life promoting the ideas of Jesus' as he understood them. He traveled all over the place and gave talks everywhere. Also he wrote letters, many of which have been included in the New Testament, which is part of the Bible. In these letters he spoke much about a secret knowledge and hidden mystery.
' We speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it. ' (Bible 1 Corinthians 2:7)
' to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. ' (Bible Ephesians 3:9)
'the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you , the hope of glory. ' (Bible Colossians 1:26)
This mystery is the same mystery that Jesus' was talking about. Namely the mystery of God and eternal life. In a way similar to Jesus', Paul also alludes to this mystery, and never quite explains it plainly. This is perhaps due to some of the same reasons. The truth is too fantastic. The idea that we really are all God. It is in this way that God is with us always and knows our every thought. As Humans we all live through God but God also lives through us. God not only creates the universe. God also lives in the universe. God lives in the universe by living in his creations, seeing creation through the eyes of his creatures. This is the Holy spirit which passes through us, by which we live, and which sustains us.
' Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you , whom you have received from God? ' (Bible 1 Corinthians I 6:19)
' We know that we live in him and he in u s, because he has given us of his Spirit .' (Bible 1 John 4:13)
The final revelation of the mystery of God.
We see a clear pattern and underlying story inherent in the New Testament. It is that of some unfathomable mystery and Earth shattering secret that is partially revealed and spoken of in metaphors and cryptic references. However, it is also promised that this secret will be revealed more fully in the future. It is predicted that what is only understood partly will eventually be understood completely.
Jesus promises that.
' Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father .' (Bible John 16:25)
' For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open .' (Bible Mark 4:22)
Also St. Paul predicts.
' Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known .' (Bible 1 Corinthians 13:12)
The final book of the New Testament is called 'Revelation'. Once again we return to the recurrent hidden mystery. It is a book of prophecy written in very colorful allegorical language. Much powerful imagery is used. The central story is that the ultimate mystery of Christianity and the secret of the Bible is finally revealed. Symbolically the mystery is described as ' a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals'. At first ' no one in heaven or on earth could open the scroll or even look inside it'. But eventually this scroll is opened along with cataclysmic events unfolding on Earth. Taken together with Prophecies given by Jesus'(e.g. see Matthew 24), many people around the world, the Author included, have come to the conclusion that all these past predictions are actually talking about the present age. We are the generation which will witness the final revelation of God. We are living in the age which will see the conclusion of the story called the Bible. The Apocalypse is now.
'Apocalypse' in literally translation from Greek means 'the unveiling of the hidden thing'.
' In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. ' (Bible Acts 2:17)
A Better Understanding of the Divinity of Jesus.
Jesus was indeed divine. However Jesus can be considered divine due to reasons different from what most modern day Christians assume. It is a widely held belief among Christians of today that Jesus came forth from a virgin birth. In this scenario the father is God and so Jesus is therefore divine. Apart from its implausibility, evidence exists within the Bible itself, which contradicts this idea. What follows are some of the reasons why.
It is agreed by most revisionist and conservative theologians alike, that of the three synoptic gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark and Luke), it is Mark which is the oldest having been written around 65AD. Furthermore it is clear that the other two synoptic gospels were derived from Mark. This is reflected in the fact that large chunks of text are almost identical between the three books. This is the reason why they are called synoptic, because they seem to echo and reflect each other. So Matthew and Luke are in a sense extended versions of Mark with extra storyline and sayings of Jesus, added on. The interesting and revealing fact, is that some parts of the Mark gospel which are not in either Matthew or Luke, are passages which contradict some of the more fantastic embellishments added on to the latter two gospels. These include the idea that Jesus had some sort of privileged birth attended by Magi (Zoroastrian High priests).
' Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind ."' (Bible Mark 3:20)
Also the notion that he was some sort of child prodigy recognized by everyone as special from an early age, also seems untenable.
' Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him .' (Bible Mark 6)
The passages concerned portray Jesus as an ordinary Nazarene who somehow came into possession of some extraordinary powers. And the fact that, in Mark, absolutely no mention whatsoever is made of an immaculate conception; such a major omission casts serious doubt on subsequent claims.
The idea of the virgin birth might have been useful in past times to enable Christianity to be more accessible. Many people in Roman times were accustomed to the notion of Gods impregnating Earth women. It seems to be a common occurrence in the Greek myths especially. However, today, the idea is an unnecessary liability and one which prevents people from understanding the real nature of Jesus' relationship to God. A consequence of this, is that people are also prevented from understanding properly their own relationship to God.
We can reach a better understanding of Jesus' divinity by concentrating on his later life. To help us we do have some information provided directly by the Bible and also more subtle clues contained in some of its passages. Taken together with historical data and archeological evidence a new picture emerges. Though we can never know for certain, we can construct a very compelling explanation as to why it came to be, that one Jesus Christ declared himself God. This explanation involves John the Baptist and what is known as the Greek mysteries.
The Greek mysteries were secret mystical societies active around the time of Jesus and long before as well. Famous participants include Socrates and Plato. These societies held initiation ceremonies, central to which was the aim of unification with the deity. This means that these ceremonies produced mystical experiences where a person would become one with the eternal or God. Strong parallels exist between what is now known about the Greek mysteries and the practices of John the Baptist as described in the Bible. We know that the mystery ceremonies involved immersion in water or a baptism. We also know that the initiates were told to expect a flying bird to descend at the moment of encounter with the divine.
This bears a remarkable resemblance to the description of Jesus' baptism in the gospel of Matthew.
' As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. ' (Bible Matthew 3:16)
Furthermore, a sort of patron saint of the Greek mysteries is a semi-mythological character called Orpheus. Interestingly he was also known as the 'Fisher king'. This is because of the spiritual metaphor that we as humans are like fish living in clouded water, and that during a mystical encounter we are like fish taken out of the water so seeing a clearer reality. This reflects Jesus' call to his disciples to be fishers of men.
' Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men .' (Bible Matthew 4:19)
There now exists archeological and historical evidence, of a strong Greek presence and influence on the area in which Jesus lived. Not least of which is the excavation during the 1980s of a large cosmopolitan city located just four miles north of Nazareth. Called Sepphoris we know that this was the administrative hub of the local area. It was inhabited by Greeks and Romans as well as the Jewish locals. It is highly probable that Jesus worked here, because we know that during all his life, the city was in a state of being rebuilt after being destroyed in a rebellion. Also modern scholars think that 'builder' rather than 'carpenter' is a better translation concerning Jesus' earlier profession. It would have been in Sepphoris that Jesus would have met all the undesirables and social outcasts mentioned in the bible. Also it would have been in Sepphoris that Jesus would have assimilated all the big city sights and features, that he would later incorporate into some of his parables. It is also perhaps the place where he learned his true vocation. Maybe it was here that he first encountered the Greek mysteries and started his mystical odyssey. We will never know for sure. What we do know for sure is that Jesus didn't emerge from a vacuum. Jesus emerged from a certain historical context during which established spiritual traditions already existed. The idea that a man can have a direct relationship with the divine was a concept that was already well established before the advent of Jesus. This was especially true to many of those involved in the Greek mysteries such as Socrates(470-399bc) and Plato(428-348bc). A less widely known ancient Greek philosopher called Empedocles(490-430bc) declared to his followers that he was God and to emphasize his point, jumped into a live volcano! Furthermore another very prominent historical figure, towards the very end of his life, also declared himself God. This was Alexander the Great(356-323bc).
Seen from this perspective, Jesus perhaps became one with God in the same way that a lot of people of the time became one with God. He became one with God in a way that the people of the present can also become one with God. That is by following a tried a tested mystical path. Jesus became God and then spent the rest of his life showing others how they could become God too.
The State of Christianity in the 21 st Century AD.
A House Divided and a Critical Period of Reassessment.
From small seeds, large trees grow. What started as one man and twelve disciples, has grown into the world's largest religion, numbering some two billion followers, located throughout the world. Roughly one third of the planet's people are Christians of one denomination or another and there are literally hundreds of these. The first major split of the church into the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic, was followed by the Protestant break away from the Roman Catholic. After that, in the centuries that followed, the number of denominations mushroomed. The divisions are over doctrine and the interpretation of Scripture. It seems almost every conceivable interpretation of the Bible has its corresponding denomination championing that viewpoint, as its defining belief. Who's right? The truth is that no one really knows what they're talking about. If Christian theologians and religious functionaries were honest then they would have to admit that concerning central mysteries, they don't really have any way of knowing and no good basis for understanding. This is the reason why there are so many schisms, or divisions within Christianity.
There is desire for ecumenical progress, that is the reuniting of the divided church, but this is impeded by the inability to resolve doctrinal differences. Without major revision of certain assumptions this will always be the case. One of these assumptions is the idea that Heaven is some place a person goes after death in order to spend all eternity, providing that person has led a 'good' enough life. The complementary place in this scheme is Hell, where a person goes if that person was 'bad'. As outlined in Part 1, there are major problems with this viewpoint. It is also something that a lot of people can no longer accept. This is most certainly one of the reasons for the recent decline in Christianity, in Europe and other parts of the world. It is a major stumbling block and interestingly it is also something that Jesus anticipated when he says concerning the nature of the Kingdom of God 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding '(Mark 4:11).
In 1999A.D. there appeared a ray of hope. The current Pope, John Paul II, in a controversial catechesis given at the General Audience, pointed out that Heaven and Hell were really states of mind or states of the human soul. Heaven "is neither an abstraction not a physical place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit," the Pope said. He also explained that "hell is the ultimate consequence of sin itself. Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy". These brave comments led to a lot of negative reaction around the world. The Washington Post in the United States reported Evangelicals getting 'riled' and in the United Kingdom, London's Evening Standard unable to appreciate the Popes remarks, ridiculed his view of Heaven as 'wishy washy'.
It is understandable that many Christians should react defensively. Heaven can be a very personal topic bound up with methods that people employ to cope with the fear of death and the pain involved in losing loved ones. However, what we really have here is the opportunity for a better and more reasonable picture of eternal life. Also a view of 'life everlasting' that is more in accord with what it actually says in the Bible. This better view of eternal life being the even more controversial idea that everyone is God while at the same time there being only one God. It is the idea that the soul of a person is the same as the eternal soul of God. This is something that people all through history has been experiencing, people such as Jesus for instance.
Given the Pope's comments, it seems a forbidden door has been opened. A door through which revolutionary insights about God can penetrate into the heart of a very conservative institution that is the Roman Catholic Church. All that is left to do, is for someone to show how it can be that everyone is really God, in a way that satisfies religious, logical, scientific, and philosophical criteria. Further that person would also need to explain in a compelling manner, how it is that a person can become one with God, that is people will need to be shown clearly, how to attain to Heaven.
The idea of thinking that everyone is God and Heaven is to be one with God, has a very special property. It is not only a key for unlocking the secrets of the bible, it is also an interpretation which provides a basis for progress in resolving all the seemingly intractable inter-denominational doctrinal disputes. After all, if the dead lock can be seen as arising from incorrect assumptions then by replacing these with a correct set of assumptions, we should be able to reach definitive answers. Further down the line, the 'We are all God' idea, also allows for fruitful inter-faith dialogue. It allows Christianity to better harmonize with many of the World's other great spiritual traditions. In the interests of future peaceful cohabitation in an increasingly integrated world, this would be a very good thing.
We are living in a period of unprecedented change throughout the world. The changes are happening socially, economically, technologically as well as culturally. All of these changes are having powerful effects on world religiousity. Established beliefs and customs are increasingly being challenged. Many people are finding many traditional religious notions unacceptable, and as a result we are seeing a trend in the industrialized countries which sociologists call secularization. This is a sort of drift away from the old religious institutions. However at the same time, there seems to be a great spiritual hunger, as witnessed by the explosive growth in New Age and New Religious Movements. Statistics show that belief in God is still strong even if adherence to previous dogma is not. What is happening is that people are looking for a better and workable understanding of the eternal and a spiritually more rewarding relationship with the divine. People are beginning to look for the transcendent meaning to things and life's sacred dimension. We are living in a time like no other. We are living in an age from which a new vision of God will inevitably emerge.
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