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The Request of James and John (Rabel)

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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. Part of Lecture 42 given on May 13, 1976

Mark 10:32-45, pp. 253-256 of transcript.

10:32And they were on the way, going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus was going before them: and they were amazed; and they that followed were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them the things that were to happen unto him, 10:33saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him unto the Gentiles: 10:34and they shall mock him, and shall spit upon him, and shall scourge him, and shall kill him; and after three days he shall rise again.

10:35And there come near unto him James and John, the sons of Zebedee, saying unto him, Teacher, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall ask of thee. 10:36And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? 10:37And they said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and one on thy left hand, in thy glory. 10:38But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink? or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 10:39And they said unto him, We are able. And Jesus said unto them, The cup that I drink ye shall drink; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: 10:40but to sit on my right hand or on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for them for whom it hath been prepared.

10:41And when the ten heard it, they began to be moved with indignation concerning James and John. 10:42And Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great ones exercise authority over them. 10:43But it is not so among you: but whosoever would become great among you, shall be your minister; 10:44and whosoever would be first among you, shall be servant of all. 10:45For the Son of man also came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Remember that Jesus told His disciples that they could drink the cup that He would drink and they could be baptized in the same manner that He was baptized, but there was one thing that He could not do for them, which was to give unto them to sit on His right or His left hand. He explained, then, that the only way that is decided is according to who has become ready for this, rather than a matter of His choice as to on whom it shall be bestowed.

In that discourse, Jesus, of course, is attempting to eliminate one of the most fallacious of religious beliefs, which is the desirability of seeking higher status than others and being shown some favoritism by Spirit. You see the belief that my status and the blessings bestowed upon me depend in any way upon my acquiring favoritism from Spirit. You can see, without interpreting it, how silly that is. If Spirit is Spirit, and if Spirit is what we claim Spirit is, then could there be such a thing as favoritism shown? No. You can earn merit, but that is entirely a matter of your merit, not somebody else's non-merit. Or your merit or your worth or your value is purely an individual thing and has nothing to do with comparison with another person's demerits or lack of value or worth. There just are no beauty contests in heaven, no talent contests. There is only individuality as each person's own chosen status; yet even the word status is not correct, because when I use that word status, our minds automatically infer comparison. There really isn't even that from Spirit's point of view, but there is this from the human point of view; so we use that terminology, and that is alright if we are using it entirely in connection with human points of view, you see. But if we start attributing that same terminology to Spirit, then we are in the wrong. If we attribute to Spirit the same terminology we use from our human viewpoint, then we are blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, and we are all out of kilter with reality. One of the things we must learn is that God is not mocked.

So, when we are dealing with the things of Spirit, we should adopt spiritual terminology, and spiritual terminology does not include competition or comparison or status-seeking or favoritism. The language of Spirit is feeling and knowing, and really the only terminology proper in that realm is the terminology of divine ideas. We talk about love, peace, joy, forgiveness, health, wholeness - all these words which we use to designate divine ideas are the correct terminology to use to describe Spirit. When you talk about me and mine and greater than and better than or rich or poor, then you are talking to terminology which applies to the realm of human viewpoint. Now, as ministers, you should be proficient in both. One should be proficient and literate in both terminologies, but the thing is you will know when to use which. If you are talking on the level of human-viewpoint-conversing, use that language and know that you are using it. Then when you are talking Spirit and Truth, use that.

Here is where people get off-base but do not realize it, especially newcomers into this program. They, of course, know the human-viewpoint terminology, because that comes from life education, life involvement; but then they have also learned the spiritual terminology, maybe not in Unity, but somewhere, somehow they have found a movement; a school of thought, an approach to Truth, which has the spiritual terminology; and they jump to a conclusion that this new terminology. This new vocabulary cancels out and invalidates the worldly-human-point-of-view terminology. But it does not, because too many people are still speaking it, you see; and to say that learning the absolute terminology makes the old terminology no longer valid in any sense, gets that person into difficulties and upsets people by refusing to any longer call the old terminology valid. In other words, you do not admit there is such a thing as polarity or duality.

You have started off with the Truth premise, which is true of Spirit, there is only one Presence and one Power, but you try to inject that in your conversing in the human viewpoint dimension of existence, and you come out like a kook. You turn people off, and you earn poor grades in your fundamentals class. It is a common dilemma; however, thank God, it is a very easy one to solve. Remember that Jesus Christ in His words somewhere has really given the clues to solutions for any possible human dilemma. One of these great things He says, which would apply to this, is "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's." When you are speaking of God and Truth and Spirit, render that vocabulary, the language of divine ideas, Truth, absolutism, purity, light; but when you are dealing with Caesar, you know, the realm of human give and take and opinions and sociability’s, etc. render unto it what is proper on that dimension; and you will not be betraying unto God, because you know what is meant for God.

Jesus, in this discourse, refutes very bluntly, this fallacious belief about religious favoritism and status-seeking when He replies to His disciples, "The cup that I drink ye shall drink and with the baptism that I am baptized withall shall ye be baptized. But to sit on my right hand or my left hand is not mine to give." In other words, no individual, not even Jesus, the transcendent individual, has the right to bestow spiritual status on another; but it is for them for whom it has been prepared. Each person is where he is by virtue of the result of his own efforts, not by another's bestowal of that on him. Why are you where you are now? Because I say that is where you are? That is where you brought yourself to, through all that you have done, all that you have accomplished. If you want to be higher, you do not ask another person to make you higher. You put forth further effort, which will result in this. He says, "Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you." You see, among the spiritually committed persons. All this has to change, once you submit your commitment to Spirit, then you must abide by different rules. The rules of the game change when your commitment is to Spirit.

This does not mean you give up your commitments to the world, to human involvement. You do not have to do that. There is a way to fulfill that, but you have added a dimension to your being, which is your commitment to Spirit, and there most of us are still novices in many ways. We have to kind of do a lot of readjusting, shifting around, and some of it seems painful to contemplate, some of these new adjustments we must make to keep our commitment to Spirit, but it might very well be quite enjoyable in the fulfilling of it. Many things that you and I look at in our religious careers and thought would be tough to readjust to and feel that the sacrifice would be painful turn out not to be tough or painful. For instance, think of the last time you realized that to fulfill your commitment to Spirit, you simply would have to forgive, in this case; and you did. Was it so bad? Was it really so humiliating? No, it wasn't at all. After you did it, you looked back and said, "That was great. I wish someone else would offend me." They will.

Oh, boy, every time I read this I get a new tingle. This soul, whatever, whoever He was and is, the things that He said ... It is so strange when I first read these things, contemplated and worked with them, they did not have the impact they have now. Strange. Now that they are very familiar to me, they should be beginning to get a little trite, but just the opposite is happening. They are dynamism, they are vitality, and their logic hit me in a wonderful way, more now than ever.

This is an example of what I mean when He says, "But it is not so among you but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister and whosoever wants to be first among you shall be servant of all, for verily the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many."

A person who can really understand and try to live by these words will become a totally great and successful human being, totally great, not a lopsided greatness or a lopsided successful person. We have too many of those. Hollywood is full of them. Such greatness and such success has too high a price tag, frankly; but to become totally great and successful would be to be able to follow what Jesus is saying here, the greatness and the value and the real success of any human being, son of man, is only according to his willingness toward service and usefulness. This is it - and love, of course, according to love and willingness toward service and usefulness. The wonderful thing about this, folks, is it doesn't really matter whether you are "successful" in what you are willing to do or not. It is your willingness to do it, which will be the success and the greatness. I have had to learn this the hard way.

I used to have visions of myself - oh boy, long ago - of just helping any persons who came to me for counseling. I just had this vision of being in that church and being available to everyone for counseling and just help anyone who comes for consultation; and I really meant it. I had that vision, that intent in my heart; but the way things worked out, that was not the way at all. It did not happen that way. I found that I was hardly ever booked for consultation, that I was getting very few and they were only the leftovers. In my whole four years in Toronto, I did not counsel with more than five people. I was available, but I did not get them. I used to think that I must not be a good counselor, or more people would be attracted to me. Then I remembered that old vision I had of helping everybody, and then I realized that I was counseling. I was teaching more classes than anyone in the church, I was doing all the Sunday lessons, I was writing out most all the correspondence that went out from the church; so I was not counseling in the structured setup of an appointment book, but I was counseling through doing my job, and I realized that the people were responding to that. Then all that feeling of not being successful, not being valuable as a counselor was able to leave. You see, it is according to what your willingness will open you to, then what you talents and consciousness and experience will draw to you. You will fulfill that, and you will be great, and you will be successful in the true sense of the word.

When Jesus uses the phrase "to give his life as a ransom for many", it does not mean to die for others. It means to give something as a ransom for others. To give does not mean give away but to give it usage, to give it expression, or involvement in such a way that the totality of your life will result in ransoming others. Now Jesus does not explain that word "ransom", but we can figure it out, can't we? When you pay a ransom, technically, literally, it means that you will pay a certain thing in order to deliver the victim from kidnapping, bondage, capture. What are most people in our world today in bondage to? To error and the results of error, sin and the results of sin. Most souls are in bondage to this. Now, how could you or I pay a ransom, our life, to deliver souls from this bondage? Exactly what you are doing folks. You are committing your career, the remainder of this incarnation to the activity of ransoming kidnap victims, souls who are in bondage to the limitation and the useless, unnecessary suffering brought about by error; and you are devoting your life to releasing them from that. The currency that you will be paying, if not in cash, as this ransom will be in time, energy, intelligence, involvement, devotion - all these things are your life, and you are utilizing this life to help others get released from their captivity.

The first question in the “Lessons in Truth” Fundamentals course is "What is the primary cause for all human suffering? How may man gain release from his suffering?" This is just exactly what we are saying. Remember, you will pay the ransom, but the acceptance of the release has to do the coming forth. You can pay the ransom, but you cannot bestow the freedom. The bestowal of the freedom must be a matter of their choice. Even literally that is true. Suppose a kidnapped heiress falls in love with her captor, and Daddy is perfectly willing to pay the ransom, but she is not tired of that closet yet. She is not going to be free until she or he decides.

"Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many" does not mean that Jesus died to appease God, but He gave at least one whole thirty-three incarnation for one purpose, to bring salvation to the race by living and teaching and bestowing all that His consciousness contained to this whole human dimension of existence.

Text of the original transcript at the second paragraph of p.253 through the 3rd paragraph of p.256.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-11-2014