This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Winter semester 1976 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture given on June 11, 1976
23:34And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And parting his garments among them, they cast lots.
23:43And he said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.
23:46And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, he gave up the ghost.
These are not found in sequence, in any one Gospel; these are scattered throughout the Gospels, and their sequence is a matter of opinion. In our class today we will simply follow the sequence that is found in your service manual, which is also the sequence found in “Your Hope of Glory” by Elizabeth Sand Turner.
Now, I will mention something to you, that these seven last statements of Jesus are usually the thing that our Good Friday services are built around; and it is a good arrangement because in many of our centers the Good Friday service is long. Some churches have it go on for three hours; therefore, by having seven statements to build lessons around, you are helped a great deal. It is optional, though; it is up to each minister, but the seven statements and at least a quasi-metaphysical interpretation is given in your service manual and is quite good. There is really nothing that I can find wrong with the material. But today I want to just go a little bit beyond the service manual's material.
The first is found in Luke 23:34, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." This statement is great for many reasons. The first one I mention is because Jesus is in no way boasting. Now, let us be quite honest, friends; when most human beings verbalize their act of forgiveness, there is an element of boastfulness in it: "Look at me, I am being forgiving.” Right? Otherwise why broadcast it? But you see, in this statement, Jesus is laying the burden and giving the credit of forgiveness as a divine idea to the Creator of that divine idea, which is the Father; and all that we are, really, is agents, channels, permission-givers to that divine idea, forgiveness. The act of inner forgiveness is the mightiest of spiritual acts, because it probably takes as much effort as any human act that you can conceive of. It takes effort, it takes willingness; without inner forgiveness, really as far as human beings go, nothing in the nature of spiritual progress can be achieved.
You know that in Mr. Fillmore's last chapter of “Christian Healing”, which is on love, he reiterates over and over and over again in that chapter that one cannot progress into Christ-consciousness if he is holding any grudge whatsoever. If any kind of condemnation is held in the mind or heart, further spiritual unfoldment must cease until it is taken care of. No grudges are tolerated in the Kingdom, so forgiveness is essential.
Notice His wording. He does not claim to do the forgiving. He acknowledges God as His forgiving power. We should all learn to do the same. We should try to realize that it is not "my" forgiveness or "your” forgiveness but only God's divine idea of forgiveness, and this is a wonderful realization. We should realize this when we try to forgive ourselves. We have a mistaken notion of this. We say that "I am forgiving me. I forgive myself." That is an impossibility in turn. We cannot do this. It is a figure of speech and acceptable, but as an accurate statement, it is an inaccuracy. All that I can do is align myself with the divine idea of God's forgiveness, God who is forgiveness.
I do not forgive me, I align myself with forgiveness. I become one with it in belief and in acceptance, and it flows through me as a cleansing, freeing, loving reality, a divine idea; and we should do this if we are "forgiving others". You are really bestowing your alignment with forgiveness on your thought of another person. Of course forgiveness is always needed when there is a sense of debt incurred, and Jesus, here, states the real reason behind every offensive act: ignorance, "They know not what they do". This is the REAL reason behind every offensive act. Who? They. Impersonal, the impersonal pronoun; mankind does offensive things because he does not know what he is doing.
In Bob Sikking's wonderful new book, I believe it is the third chapter, he deals with the theme beautifully, "The burden of not knowing”. Read it. It is masterful. Jesus: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."
Q. Are you saying that they recognized the Christ, they had Him up there in front of them, and yet He knew they did not know?
A. That is right, but remember these people, these executioners and all of this, are symbolic. Whether or not the historical drama was as written really is not very important. The important thing is what it all means, symbolizes, on the metaphysical level in each person's being.
The second statement is found in Luke 23:43. Although the statement, itself, is taken out of context with the event, "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise." Remember the event in which this statement occurred; the two thieves on each side of Jesus and the one talking to Him, mocking Him: "If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us." That was not uttered as a request but as a taunt, a mockery, a criticism. This thief was not legitimately asking for help from Jesus; therefore, that was not a legitimate request, and Jesus answers this taunt with nothing.
He does not speak. He disregards it, because "They know not what they do." But the second thief does ask legitimately, "Lord, remember me when thou comest in the kingdom." So, therefore, we can see these two thieves as universal symbols; the first thief is the thief of the past, and the other thief is the thief of the future or the thought past and the thought of the future and especially, because they are thieves, they represent negative concerns. Thief is a negative symbol, and the biggest thief in any human consciousness is his negative concern. Negative concern about your past is a useless process. It only mocks, taunts you.
When you are thinking on your past negative concern about, what used to be, what you did or did not do, this is a useless past time. It is a thief that is robbing you of available good, you see; so that kind of a concern is a mockery, it is a farce, so Jesus ignores it. But concern about your future is not a mockery. It is not a farce. It is a legitimate concern. "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." In other words, concern for your future is legitimate, it is something that has a right to make a claim on your spiritual awareness, and Jesus gives full attention to this; and He gives, in the words given to the thief, the solution to the dilemma for all human beings who are being robbed of their well-being because of their negative concern for their future. So He says that the answer to the dilemma of having negative concern for your future is to redeem it by telling it that today is your point of contact with all good. "Today thou shall be with me in paradise."
Do you see the implication of this? It means that anything in your future which is important enough for you to have a concern about, will be taken care of properly by you if you NOW bring everything into your God-centered consciousness. This is the meaning of paradise, folks. It means a God-centered consciousness and is always a here-and-now thing. You see, the thief wanted to be remembered in the future. He represents the future, but Jesus did His remembering of him now. "I will remember my future now." That sounds like crazy talk, but it is paradoxical truth. Now is when to remember our future, because now is paradise. Now is oneness with God. Now is eternity. Do this with your own lives, friends; especially now, because you are coming into the placement-phase of your career.
You are thinking about your future, and some of you are having negative concern; but bring that concern into your now God-consciousness, paradise of God. Then when you get to that event, you call that now. When you find out that you are going to be placed in Alaska and you do not have a fur, that news will come to you now; and if you are God-conscious in that now, God will have a fur coat sewn up for you. He will go out and kill a couple of polar bears, but it will be taken care of. Whatever finds you God-centered in consciousness is going to be taken care of by that very fact, you see; so let us wave bye-bye to the thief of the past. Kiss him, release him, let him go; and know that all of the good and the true has been extracted and is being incorporated into the now, and whatever you have to go through in your future, you are already one with all that you will ever need to handle it in a wonderful way.
Q. It seems to me that there is an unwritten attitude that the one thief has for the second thief. He did not really ask for anything specific. It was a very general statement, just remember me when you get there.
A. Just remember me, this is great. That's what I say, remember your future in the now, which is spiritual awareness, which is Jesus Christ.
The next one is John 19:26 and 27, "Woman behold thy son! .... Behold thy mother!" Now remember these words were spoken to His mother, Mary, and to His disciple, John. Literally, biologically, Mary and John were not related in any way; so Jesus was not teaching a fact but, as always, He was speaking universal Truth. Of course one of the greatest realizations that can come to a person is a realization of the true relationship among all persons, not the tendency to limit ourselves to biological or legalized relationships in our thoughts about others. While this is correct and legitimate on a certain level of life, the biological and legalized relationships, we want to always go beyond that in our thoughts of our relationships.
You remember that earlier in His ministry, Jesus asked the question, "Who is my mother and who are my brethern?" Then we are told He stretched forth His hand and included all persons saying, "Behold, my mother and my brethern." He was not stating a fact but illustrating a Truth principle. Every person we encounter, any person who becomes a part of our life in any way is there for a good reason; and we look for that reason. One of the best ways to find the good reason behind the establishing of any relationship is to try to look at people and respond to them in a deeper way than the ordinary way, because it takes effort. For instance, if I look at one of you and say you are my student and a good friend of mine, there is no effort there. It is just an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; but suppose I am thinking about the truth of the relationship, and I look at you and say, "You are my mother", and not feel foolish about it. That takes effort; by effort I mean, it requires a mode of thinking that is not the usual repetition of the old pattern. I can look at one of the girls and say that she is my brother and sister. What I am doing then is stirring up greater depths within me. I am casting my net into deeper waters than is usually done. This will have a result of bringing a new kind of rapport beginning within and eventually finding expression without. If you do this often enough, you will find that almost any group you are in you will find comfortable. You will be able to talk their language and you will be able to communicate with any individual that you have face-to-face encounter with. This is sort of a fringe benefit with that kind of practice.
The next statement is one of the most puzzling and disturbing to many people, which is in Mark 15:34, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?" There can be many, many comments and interpretations concerning the inclusion of this statement. Over and over again there have been attempts to either justify this statement, apologize for it, or explain it away; it didn't happen or He was quoting something .... Any of these may or may not be true. We do not know, but the fact remains that the Gospel of Mark contains this statement as printed and it is included in a sequence of statements. My own feeling about this, which is all I can share, is that there are two possibilities; and both of them make sense to me. I hope at least one of them will make sense to you.
One reaction I get to that statement is that because Jesus had entered humanity's dimension as a legitimate member of our family, regardless of how far beyond us He may have attained, we don't have to worry about that; but the fact that He did incarnate or make His advent back into the human race, not a mockery on His part but a genuine choice and got a genuine result or He became a bona fide member of the human family, even though He was eligible for beyond that. Because of this, He took on all the factors of human nature, and one of the most common factors of human nature, even the most evolved individuals in the human family, is the evolutionary hangover of belief in a sense of separation.
This belief is probably so deep-seated in the human race consciousness that it probably is going to be the last one of all to be eliminated, that lingering hangover of the belief that it might be possible that I am separate from the Father. It is possible that at this moment in Jesus' life, He let that lingering factor of His humanness make its final bid. It might have been almost like a ghost echo, but it was still there and wanted to have its say before it disappeared entirely from His being, and He let it have its final say. It may have been that, and that is very understandable, because immediately following that, there is no more of that doubt.
Then there is this other possibility, and I also favor this one. It could be that Jesus had absolutely no sense of separation, that He was fully aware, fully conscious and in no way had doubt or disbelief but that He spoke these words for our sake, to show us something about ourselves rather than a letting go of something that was His of His belief. It is funny that these two viewpoints are so diametrically opposite and yet both are so logical, so I say take your choice. You will get benefits from either one.
Q. It seems to me that when one is getting ready to make the transition, he would try hardest to hold on.
A. Yes. I think that is quite possible that Jesus spoke these words to remind us of that, that even when you get very well advanced in your spiritual unfoldment, even when you are very near to the time of transition from Adam into Christ, you may still get moments when you will revert to thinking you can be separate from God or God can be separate from you. It could be a kind of warning that this can happen. Then, again, He may have been really going through it. We cannot be sure.
Q. It seems to me that this just shows the process. After watching myself and others, it always comes to the surface, this question, "Why me?"
A. Absolutely, to show you how these things come down to the most mundane part of your life. We always say, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" But look at Jesus' next statement, "I thirst." (John 19:28) This statement, "I thirst" is an affirmation of a need. The affirmation of a need was immediately followed by help for that need. He did not say, "Get me off this cross." It would have happened if He had, but He said, "I thirst." You see, immediately, one of His own executioners lifted up a sponge that had been soaked with vinegar and hyssop and was a soothing thirst-quencher and pain-deadener. What does this tell you? "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Now, what shall my next step be? I thirst; in other words, I need help, so I affirm my request to the Father, and the Father will find an instrument to bring me my health, whether it be an executioner with a sponge or a sympathetic bunch of friends who will start thinking good thoughts for me and get me healed, you see; or someone may tell me, "You shouldn't have been so negative." You know that whatever we thirst for and we ask believing, we will receive. Jesus got his help immediately. He did not stay with, "Why has thou forsaken me?" but "I have a need, I am uncomfortable, I affirm my request."
You notice that the statement as Jesus gave it here, gave an opportunity to some soul, to do something, an act of kindness in the midst of being one of the mob. Somewhere, some soul, probably by Jesus stating "I thirst", wiped out such a karmic debt that it would make your head swim. But this is so typical of Jesus. He is always thinking of us, of human beings, even in a situation where it is His thirst that He is asking help for. Somebody gets this help to Him.
Another thing to remember here is that no matter how hopeless a person's plight may look, asking will result in receiving. Don't ever say, "There is no use asking in this situation." How hopeless looking could a situation be, when you look at the one Jesus was in? Crucified with a big army of indifferent soldiers and many cruel spectators around Him, but He knew that God is everywhere and that there is no hopelessness in Spirit and that ask and ye shall receive. This applies to every person. Don't ever, ever label any situation that you are in, as hopeless.
The sixth statement is John 19:30, "It is finished." Again, we are given no explanation for even a hint of what He meant here, but we can infer, interpret. Everything that happens to any one of us in our life is a part of a cycle of our growth and unfoldment. In other words, there is no such thing as an isolated event in and of itself, which has its own identity as itself.
Every event in every person's life is a part of a cycle. Each event, each experience, each relationship, each victory, each defeat, all these do work together for good as part of a cycle. Please understand this. A certain event in your life may not in and of itself be something working for your good directly, as itself; but as a part of a cycle that it joins, it is working for your good. All things turn out for the best in the long run, not always in the short haul or the one-night-stand type of thing but in the overall pattern. All things must take their place in joining whatever cycle they have validity in to become part of your greater good, and this includes even the unpleasant events, the distasteful things. They join in too.
Everything contributes to the completion of phases and cycles of growth and development. Once you really and truly finish a certain cycle of growth and development, you will never again have to repeat certain experiences. Once a cycle has been fulfilled, there are many experiences, then, that are eliminated from your field of activity. So when Jesus says, "It is finished", it is quite possible that here He was acknowledging a certain cycle of His unfoldment that had been completed. Instead of using the word finished, you see this is in translation, He could have said, "It is complete”' or "It is now fulfilled." That is quite possible. It would have had the same meaning, but what meaning would this example have for us? Perhaps this: as we go through the things that make up our cycle of living, learning, growing, we should try to realize that all things we go through are but means and not ends. They are means. They are never an end in and of themselves.
They are means to a greater end, which is the further development of spiritual consciousness. When we have to go through a difficult or painful experience and when we learn whatever lesson there may be in it for us, we can try to be able to say about it, "It is finished. I have learned. This thing has been fulfilled, completed. It has fulfilled its purpose of bringing me along further in my present cycle of growth, whether it was pleasant or unpleasant." The important thing, then, is that it is finished. It has been fulfilled. I add to my notes here, "Hold no grudges." If it was painful, it is finished. Hold no grudges or hurt feelings. Carry as light a load of unhappy memories as possible. Save a few, but as few as possible. Realize it has done its work. Loose it and let it go. You have made your progress. Greater good is now in store.
In the seventh and final great statement is the final and greatest truth of each person's individual spiritual awareness, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
Do you remember these words, "In the beginning God.” Now, in the finish of this cycle, in the end, God; and what was in between all the while, and we often did not know it? God. This is the ultimate truth, folks, because the ultimate truth is God is all there really is. This is it. This is the ultimate. Once a person really knows this, he is no longer in Adam-consciousness. Adam-consciousness is in him, but he is not in it. He is in Christ-consciousness. Jesus had gone through a tremendous cycle of His eternal life, the greatest cycle that this planet has known of. He brought that cycle to a climax, of course, in the symbolism of the great drama of crucifixion; and the words He uses to describe this marvelous climax, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
From now on, when we read of Jesus in the Bible, He is no longer a part of the same cycle we have been reading about. From this point on, when we come to Jesus' mention in the Gospels, you are no longer reading about His involvement in the same cycle that we hitherto have been reading about. It is the same person, the same entity, but not the same cycle. He has entered a new and higher cycle or dimension, which began with the resurrection, which began right here.
Now, you and I will be in positions in life very similar to this, not on the grand scale that Jesus was, perhaps; but nevertheless, equally important to ourselves, equally significant. We, too, will go through all that will enable us to leave old cycles behind and enter new ones, and we may wonder what will happen next, what we shall do next; and we may feel moments of uncertainty or fear. Right now, you are really very much in this position. You are coming to a place where a whole cycle of your career is going to come to a close, and you have crucifixions.
You have had talking and tormenting and you thirsted. Now you are going into a new dimension, a new cycle, where you will be a leader, a minister, a big shot, in some cases; and you are going to have these moments of “What's going to happen to me next? Will I make it? Will I be able to handle it?" Even if it is not in the ministry, people think in general in this way, about their ongoing. They say, "What is it going to be like in my next cycle of eternal life?" There is only one answer, folks; it is going to be God-like. That is the only correct answer to any question regarding your unfoldment. And what is wrong with that? "What can I expect and look forward to as I go forth in my unfoldment?" You can expect God, and you will find Him.
So, these are the words: "Father, into thy hands I commit myself." I commend my spirit. I commit myself. God is the answer to everything. God is the meaning behind everything, and God is the fate in store for you and me and every human being; and God is good, remember that, absolute good.
So we have the dramatic lesson of the crucifixion fulfilled in Jesus' affirmative statement of total oneness with God, God's Spirit, Jesus' Spirit and your Spirit and my Spirit, all I want, and this is the answer, the ultimate.
Now let us close this lesson and think of Jesus and that thief of the future, our concern for the future. This thief, in a moment of illumination, wisely asks for Jesus' help in whatever manner Jesus might choose to bestow it; and he got a reserve seat in the paradise of the eternal here and now of oneness with God. You and I have that same privilege. Into the hands of God we totally commit our being.
Text of the original transcript at the 6th paragraph of p.312 through the 4th paragraph of p.318.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-15-2014