A Spiritual Interpretation of the Gospels
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- Metaphysical reason for the futility of doing only what one has to do in life.
- Metaphysical approach to the raising of Lazarus. (SEE ADDENDA)
- The fallacy of calling attention to one's superiority over others in an attempt to gain favor with God.
- Unusual nature of Jesus' comments regarding marriage and sex.
- Metaphysical meaning of selling our "riches" to give to the "poor".
- The nature of all-inclusive prosperity.
- Jesus' definition of a true minister.
- Matt. 19-20; Mark 10; Luke 17-18; John 11
- Your Hope of Glory 184-194
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary under heading Lazarus (SEE ADDENDA)
- Why does Jesus call doing only what one has to do being an "unprofitable servant"?
- Metaphysically, is the raising of Lazarus a "once in history" miracle? Why or why not?
- Does persistent repetition wear down God's resistance to our requests? If not, what might it do?
- In spiritual judgment, how valid are the words "inferior" and "superior" when used to compare ourself with others? What is the true criterion in Spirit?
- Did Jesus teach there is an absolutely right or wrong in matters of marriage and sex? What was his general tone about this?
- How many persons are eligible for true prosperity? Explain.
- What is one important qualification for a true minister?
The raising of Lazarus is a tremendously important event in the life of Jesus, both historically and as metaphysical symbolism. The reason we have not devoted more space to it in this lesson is because it is so thoroughly dealt with in the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. The teacher may study the second half of the discussion in the dictionary under the heading "Lazarus."
Luke 17:5-7 "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!' And the Lord said, 'If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, "Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea," and it would obey you.'"
Here Jesus is telling us something very peculiar about the power of faith. It is not a matter of quantity. Faith does not need to be increased--it just has to be expressed. Our awareness of faith and our consciousness of it may increase, but faith itself is a constant. We either use it or we don't. If faith is used, it works. If we do not use it, then all the increasing of it in the world does not matter.
Luke 17:7-10 "Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and gird your self and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink1? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy (unprofitable, KJV) servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"
Jesus is here refuting the old belief that it is our duty to deal only in even exchanges in life all the time. Even in religion the standard was "an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth." This is the Mosaic concept of spiritual law. Jesus sought to teach us how to raise our level of thinking above this mechanical approach to life. We must break the habit of insisting on even exchange all the time, otherwise we shall not grow.
In this paragraph He gives an illustration of this kind of erroneous thinking by using the example of DOING ONLY WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO IN LIFE, AND EXPECTING TO BE REWARDED FOR IT. He says that by doing only what you have to do, there is no profit. Not that it is wrong to do what you have to do, but it is not profitable. Profit comes from doing something a little more than that which is required anyway. This is a way to break free from the "even exchange syndrome."
John 11:1-44 THE RAISING OF LAZARUS
The following interpretation is taken verbatim from Mysteries of John 109 by Charles Fillmore:
"Jesus represents man in the regeneration; that is, man in the process of restoring his body to its natural condition, where it will live right on perpetually without old age, disease, or death. A necessary step in this process of body restoration is the quickening of the sleeping Lazarus, who represents the vitalizing energies in the subconsciousness that feed the body and give it the life force that renews its youth." (p. 109)
"The raising of Lazarus is performed every day by those who are putting on the new Christ body through the resurrected Christ life." (p. 112)
Luke 17:20-21 "Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, 'The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, "Lo, here it is!" or "There!" for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you (within you, KJV).'" The key ideas here are "observation" and "within" or "midst." Jesus is referring to outwardly directed observation by the intellect. The intellect is "observer of knowledge" and a repository of facts. While this is a most useful function, it does not bring a realization of the kingdom of God to a person. Realization of the kingdom OF God can come only when a person is not intellectually saying, "Lo, here, or Lo, there," but has become inwardly still and silent and acknowledging the loving presence and power of God. It is only when one learns the art of turning within and seeking inner meanings that the reality of OMNIPRESENCE (kingdom of God) is revealed. But even then, such a realization is possessed only by inner understanding and not by the perceptive faculties or senses.
Luke 18:1-8 PARABLE OF IMPORTUNATE WIDOW AND JUDGE
This parable is often misinterpreted to imply that loud and persistent importuning will wear down God's resistance and cause Him to give in to our insistent requesting. But this is not correct, since this meaning requires that the judge in the story symbolizes God, which he most certainly does not. This judge symbolizes human judgment in human nature. This is what is worn down and may give in when subject to persistent importuning.
Jesus clearly states that God's response to our prayers is an entirely different matter. His rhetorical question, "Will he (God) delay long over them?" is answered by, "he will vindicate them speedily." This is in contrast to human responses. God does not lose patience with human folly and weakness. God compensates and vindicates those who seek justice through prayer.
Luke 18:9-14 PARABLE OF THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR
In this parable Jesus exposes the futility of trying to "gain favor" in the eyes of God by calling attention to our superiority and pointing to the shortcomings of others. The attitude that I am good because there are others who are worse than me, or I am superior because some others are inferior, is a fallacious attitude which makes a mockery of prayer. Each human being has the same status on the spiritual scale of values. That status is neither inferior nor superior in the comparative sense. The only spiritual status is INDIVIDUALITY.
MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, SEX
These sections are similar to certain statements Jesus makes in the Sermon on the Mount, but with some additional comments.
Jesus must have been aware that almost all of His listeners (and later, readers) think of marriage, divorce, and sex in strictly literal, humanistic terms. Mankind may not yet be able to approach these subjects on a metaphysical level of thinking. They may be too important, intimate, and personal as literal things in our human life and as functions of the sensual physical organism and emotional nature.
But by carefully pondering Jesus' statements, we can see even these things as symbols of certain metaphysical factors. His words concerning them have a puzzling and ambiguous effect on many readers. Most people wish that Jesus had taken a clear, literal, unmistakable moral stand on marriage, divorce, and sex. They wish He had stated clearly exactly what was RIGHT and what was WRONG in these matters. But such is not the case.
It may seem that only a cut-and-dried approach to these matters is the proper one. But Jesus helps us see otherwise. Metaphysically, marriage, divorce, sex, adultery, etc. all have symbolic meanings. This should be kept in mind when one is tempted to fit Jesus' words into some fixed point of view about the "rightness" or "wrongness" of things in any area of intimacy of human relations, especially marital or sexual. NOTE: It is very significant that Jesus closes His discourse here with: "He who is able to receive this, let him receive it." (Matt. 19:12)
Mark 10:17-31 JESUS AND THE RICH YOUNG MAN
"You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor. ..." Did Jesus mean these words literally? If so, then if all the rich people in the world sell all that they have and give it to the poor, then the poor become the rich and rich become the poor. Thus, we are in a sense right back where we started from.
Metaphysically the rich young man would symbolize the richly developed part of our human nature, mainly the personality. Mankind has worked hard to enrich personality. Most people are actually rather top-heavy in personality. There comes a point in each person's unfoldment when it is wise to make certain adjustments and rearrangements in consciousness. There comes a time when one should begin to sacrifice some of the richness of personality in order to give more energy to further development of soul or "essence." If a person does not have a richly developed personality then such sacrifice does not mean very much. But sacrifice from a richly developed personality is quite valuable. Jesus' teachings help us realize this and we find the idea in His teachings in many ways. This is one of them.
Matt. 20:1-16 PARABLE OF LABORERS IN THE VINEYARD
The meaning of this parable is all-inclusive prosperity. The laws of prosperity work for all persons who are willing to let them work. These different groups of laborers symbolize the different kinds of cooperation many may express with the laws of prosperity. Those who work long and hard, those who work shorter hours, those who work less hard, those who do very little actual labor—all are rewarded. In other words, all honest effort is rewarded under divine law. It is futile to resent another's prosperity just because we may have worked harder than that person. Prosperity is for all God's children, and the manner in which one attracts prosperity is an individual matter of consciousness.
Mark 10:42-45 JESUS' DEFINITION OF A TRUE MINISTER
"And Jesus called them to him, and said to them, 'You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant (minister, KJV), and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve (ministered unto, but to minister, KJV), and to give his life as a ransom for many."'
A person who can really understand and live by these words would be a true minister in the Jesus Christ sense of the word. The greatness and value of any human being (son of man) is really determined by the degree of his willingness toward service and usefulness. Also, it is determined by the degree of his willingness to love.
To "give his life as a ransom for many" does not mean to lose one's life. To "give" does not mean the same as to "lose." To give it means to give it usage and expression in such a way that the whole meaninq of one's life becomes a process of lessening unnecessary suffering (ransoming for as many fellow human beings as possible (for many).