A Spiritual Interpretation of the Gospels
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- Meaning of Jesus as a living metaphysical symbol.
- Metaphysical meaning of John the Baptist.
- Metaphysical meaning of Mary as virgin.
- General metaphysical overview of birth and childhood of Jesus.
- Metaphysical meaning of the voice of approval at the water baptism of Jesus.
- Metaphysical significance of the temptations in the wilderness.
- John 1; Luke 1-2; Matt. 1-3
- Your Hope of Glory 15-48
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary under headings: Jesus; Mary; Joseph; John; Herod; Wise-men
- What does Jesus symbolize metaphysically in human nature?
- What does John the Baptist symbolize metaphysically in human nature?
- What does Mary as virgin symbolize in human nature?
- Was the heavenly voice of approval approving water baptism? If not, what was it approving?
- Is temptation always evil or harmful? If not, what else can it be?
The teacher will note that the lesson does not deal extensively with the Christmas story as such. It is felt that the story is so universally well-known that it would not be necessary to give it an in-depth treatment in this course. However, if the teacher prefers to spend more time on it, he or she should feel free to do so.
This opening of the Gospel of John deals with the primary nature of the Word (translated from Greek word "Logos") and also introduces the character John the Baptist.
The statements concerning the Word constitute an amazingly right beginning for metaphysical interpretation of the Gospels for the Word (Logos) actually means the same as creative principle. If a reader substitutes the words "creative principle" for the "Word" and "him," a new insight into this opening paragraph can be gained.
In verse 6 we are presented with first mention of John the Baptist, who later gives testimony to the coming of one greater than himself-- Jesus. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John bore witness to him, and cried, 'This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.')" (John 1:14-15)
Our Metaphysical Bible Dictionary describes John as representing the intellect in process of becoming "illumined; especially in regard to denoting the difference between right and wrong. As the intellect becomes more illumined it is quick to detect the presence of something greater than itself; in fact, it is glad to do so. That great "something" is spiritual awareness (Jesus).
LUKE 1:26-38 Annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the birth of Jesus
During this scene, Mary makes this significant reply to the news brought to her by Gabriel: "...Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38)
These words illustrate perfect, peaceful consent to spiritual revelation and guidance. Mary as Virgin symbolizes our feeling nature in a purely intuitive and harmonious state. When we are in harmonious agreement with our inner spiritual revelations and directions we receive an "annunciation" of the awakening and quickening (birth) of spiritual awareness in us.
The Christmas Story is so familiar, so famous, that it seems redundant to deal with it in any great detail in a course such as this. Metaphysically it is a highly symbolic and very beautiful account of the coming forth into consciousness of a newer and greater level of spiritual awareness than one has ever known before, This new spiritual awareness begins as a glimmer in the mind (babe). It is brought forth through our intuition and our love for Truth (Mary). It is nurtured and protected by right and positive thinking (Joseph). It occurs first Page 4 in an area of the soul where we are capable of feeling peace.
The visit of the wise men from the East to the newborn child is described in Matt. 2:1-12. Metaphysically this incident symbolizes the coming forth into the conscious mind of rich soul memories that have been dormant in the deeper levels of the soul. These soul memories bring blessings of powers and abilities to our awakened spiritual awareness:
- Gold: a realization of the richness of Spirit (divine ideas).
- Frankincense: a realization of the beauty of things Spiritual (divine ideas).
- Myrrh: a realization of the eternality of Spirit (divine ideas).
In this same incident we read that the wise men are "warned in a dream" not to reveal the place where the babe Jesus can be found. Herod would destroy Him. Herod symbolizes selfish egotism. Selfish egotism does not want spiritual awareness to grow and expand in us, for that would terminate its days of domination over us. Soul wisdom (wise men) can prevent this.
"And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him." (Luke 2:40) These words, and the additional words "and (he) was obedient to them (his parents) .... And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:51-52)
These simple words embody the natural and orderly development of spiritual awareness once it has really been quickened (born) in us. Divine order, cooperation, obedience, common sense; these must be practiced.
The childhood of Jesus may seem quite uneventful, but the very pattern of orderly obedience and usefulness under ordinary circumstances is what is of great importance. Short-cuts, occult or supernatural masters, magic, etc.; none of these are necessary for growth of spiritual consciousness. The example Jesus sets here is the safe and sane method.
In Luke 2:41-50 we read the tradition of the visit to the temple in Jerusalem of Jesus and His parents. When Jesus is found to be left behind on the return journey, His parents return to the temple and find Him conversing with the teachers, amazing them with His answers. This was at the age of twelve years. He makes this significant statement to Mary at that time: "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49) In the KJV the same verse is translated "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"
In Luke it is obvious that Jesus was aware of His own spiritual purpose even at so early an age. In this and many other places in the Gospel accounts, Jesus makes statements which reveal that He knew what He was in the evolutionary process of this human family. He knew God as our Father. To be in the "Father's house" is to be in, or to appropriate God-consciousness, or spiritual consciousness. And Jesus knew that His role was to live a life in which He was to be the symbolic embodiment of spiritual awareness in man. He knew that His words were to be words of spiritual Truth teaching. He knew His part in the "Father's business" for the human family on this planet. In Matt. 3:13-17 Jesus is baptized by John. Upon His being baptised in the water, these words are heard coming from the heavens, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:17)
What does this signify? Is it simply divine approval of water baptism? Or is it a verbalized expression of divine approval of what Jesus had done? What has Jesus really done here? He has given an example of beautiful true humility when such an example was most appropriate. He did not NEED water baptism (John himself recognized this, and said so). But He was thinking of the feelings of John, and He used this occasion to show consideration and respect for what John was trying to do. Spiritual awareness (Jesus) is always willing to "work with" the illumined intellect (John). Jesus is constantly illustrating spiritual awareness in all its aspects, from little things to great and impressive things.
In Matt. 4:1-11, we read of the temptations in the wilderness. These three temptations are in the form of:
- turning stones into bread
- deliberately defying the law of gravity
- worshipping Satan in order to gain wealth in the world
Jesus, of course, does not succumb to any of these. He counteracts
Satan's words with His own words of spiritual awareness:
- "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3)
- "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." (Matt. 4:7; Deut. 6:16)
- "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve." (Matt. 4:10; Deut. 6:13)
Notice that these three statements are direct quotes from the ancient Hebrew laws in Deuteronomy. Spiritual awareness "knows" the proper function of law and how it is applied in building consciousness.
Metaphysically these temptations do not represent blatant evil, but rather subtle errors which arise from the lower levels of personal consciousness (Satan). Basically they represent impulses to use spiritual power in trivial or unnecessary ways, just for the sake of showing that one "knows how" and "can do." None of the things Satan asked Jesus to do were wrong or wicked, but only self-gratifying with no real benefit to the rest of humanity. Spiritual awareness does not "fight" temptations, it simply nullifies them with words of Truth.