A Spiritual Interpretation of the Gospels
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- Spiritual awareness helps overcome avarice through gentle influence.
- Jesus' repeated references to His true role in the world.
- Metaphysical meaning of not wearing a wedding garment.
- Metaphysical meaning of rendering unto Caesar and unto God.
- Jesus' final words concerning marriage and regeneration.
- The greatest commandment of all.
- The metaphysical dangers of the "Scribe and Pharisee" levels of religious thinking.
- Matt. 21-23; Mark 11:12; Luke 19-20; John 12
- Your Hope of Glory 194-211
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary under headings Zacchaeus; Scribes; Pharisees
- Can spiritual awareness influence us to let go of avarice? Comment on your answer.
- Is good excuse-making a valid substitute for honest effort? If not, why not?
- What is the metaphysical meaning of not wearing a wedding garment?
- How can we render correctly to both Caesar and God?
- Why is God not "the God of the dead"?
- What is the greatest commandment of all?
Luke 19:1-10 JESUS AND ZACCHAEUS
This incident illustrates the process wherein a person is rewarded for even small efforts (climbing a sycamore tree). But the same person receives greater reward for greater effort ("Today salvation has come to this house.").
Awakened spiritual awareness (Jesus) has the power to illumine all parts of consciousness. Zacchaeus, in the first part of the story, represents avarice. He is touched by spiritual awareness (he climbs a tree and sees Jesus.) When Jesus is aware of what Zacchaeus has done, He realizes that Zacchaeus is capable of reforming. So Jesus tells him to come down from the tree and goes to counsel with him in his house. As spiritual awareness influences him, he becomes illumined. He declares, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." This illustrates the letting go of an avaricious attitude and an acceptance of new spiritual motivation.
Luke 19:11-27 PARABLE OF THE POUNDS
This rather harsh-sounding parable is an illustration of the fact that growth of spiritual consciousness must be an INDIVIDUAL effort. Spiritual growth is a process which involves only the individual himself and the law (Lord) of his own being.
The investments mentioned represent the efforts one makes in thought, feeling, and attitude in order to learn and serve. The more willingly and wisely one makes these efforts, the greater is one's progress in spiritual unfoldment. On the other hand, reluctance to make such effort will lead to soul inertia, and this stops further spiritual unfoldment.
Excuse-making carries no weight in spiritual law. It is quite simple: for those who are not willing to make effort, growth is "taken away." For those who make the right effort, growth is "given."
NOTE: The Gospel accounts of Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, are found in the following sections:
The student will find a helpful discussion on this event in "A Study of The New Testament" by Dr. Herbert Hunt.
John 12:44-50 JESUS' WORDS CONCERNING HIS TRUE ROLE IN THE WORLD
"And Jesus cried out and said, 'He who believes in me, believes NOT IN ME, but in HIM WHO SENT ME. And he who sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness! If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I DO NOT JUDGE HIM; for I did not come to JUDGE the world but to SAVE the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. For I have not spoken on MY OWN AUTHORITY; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me.'"
Matt. 22:1-14 PARABLE OF THE WEDDING GARMENT
The conclusion of this parable has to do with the discovery by the king that one of the guests at his wedding feast is not wearing a wedding garment. He asks, "Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?... .Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness. ..."
Metaphysically, garments mentioned in the Bible symbolize attitudes. "Garments of skins" is the first one mentioned (Gen. 3:21), symbolizing basic and elemental survival instincts. We read of the "gorgeous attire" of certain kings in the Old Testament, symbolizing worldly vanity and love of luxury. We read of the seamless white robe of Jesus (John 19:23), symbolizing pure spiritual understanding. In this parable we read of lack of a wedding garment. A wedding garment symbolizes spiritually correct attitudes of both thought (male) and feeling (female).
Under spiritual law, everything concerning a person is based upon his inner mental and emotional attitudes. Outer behavior is secondary, clever words do not change the law. Attempts at disguise will not work. Either one's attitude is correct (a wedding garment is worn) or it is incorrect (a wedding garment is lacking). Lack of correct attitude is what disqualifies a person from the blessings which are, in potential, available at the time.
RENDER TO CAESAR
Jesus here is pointing out the difference between realizing the importance of that which is really and eternally important (things that are God's), and things which are of only transitory importance (things that are Caesar's). Both are important, but different in quality and durability. Things that are God's: these are the eternals, the realities. These are the spiritual resources, divine ideas, spiritual faculties. These are the essentials of the inner life of every person. Things that are Caesar's: these are the seeming essentials of outer activities. They come and go; they have only transitory importance.
The things of God are always for the benefit of the whole man and of all mankind. The things of Caesar may benefit certain men, .or perhaps only certain parts of certain men, at certain times and only under certain conditions.
Jesus' words tell us to give our concern and do our part in each of these realms, but only in terms of what each realm really demands. To avoid either will cause unnecessary trouble for us. But to mistake one realm for the other will also cause trouble. Jesus clearly indicates we should see each for what it is and "render to" each as good judgment directs.
Luke 20:27-40 JESUS' FINAL WORDS ABOUT MARRIAGE
This discourse contains Jesus' final mention in the Gospels of the subject of marriage; this time connecting His words to the state He calls "the resurrection." This term pertains to a level of consciousness quite a bit higher than the level of ordinary human thinking.
On our present level, marriage as a social, legal, moral, and ethical matter is held to be very, very important. In some cases, important enough to be a matter of life and death. Jesus is being asked a question involving the marriage relationship ON THAT WORLDLY BASIS OF THINKING. But Jesus' understanding is on a much higher level than this, so His answer transcends the narrowness of the question. (NOTE: It was not an honest question anyhow. It was "cooked up" to trap him and get him in trouble.)
Jesus' words are somewhat difficult for ordinary thinking to accept. He indicates that on higher levels of consciousness ("the resurrection") the troublesome questions concerning human relations, especially marital, will no longer be the terribly important things they now appear to be. Although He does not say so specifically, His words do seem to imply that this same idea would include most things now in the category of moral or immoral in matters of human intimacy.
Jesus then goes on with these startling words: "Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for ALL LIVE TO HIM." (Luke 20:38) God is one. God is God of all. If God is not the God of the dead, it can only be because there are none such. There are no dead! There are no dead persons. There are corpses that have been buried, but there are no persons buried. Death is simply a coming apart of certain molecular connections in a physical body. The person "lays down" physicality for a time. The corpse is not the person. There are no "dead" whom God is God of. God is God of all, and all are living in God.
Mark 12:28-34 THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT OF ALL
When Jesus is asked to give the GREATEST COMMANDMENT OF ALL, He chooses LOVE. How wonderful! What if He had chosen something else, something more complicated, more difficult? But no, He chooses something we all want in our hearts anyway. We need only love God and love other persons. This is almost "too good to be true." And yet, it is the highest of all Truths.
It is very heartwarming to read that when one of the scribes totally agrees with Jesus about this, Jesus is able to look at him and give him this very beautiful compliment: "You are not far from the kingdom of God." Would not we like to receive that same compliment? Then all we need do is also agree with Jesus that the GREATEST OF ALL COMMANDMENTS is to love God and love other persons. It's that simple!
Matt. 23:1-39 DENUNCIATION OF SCRIBES AND PHARISEES
This is quite possibly the most negative sounding section of the Gospels, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees" is repeated again and again, followed by severe criticisms of what they have been doing. This tone is untypical of Jesus, but the metaphysical meaning is totally valid. Scribes and Pharisees symbolize religious thinking on a very low and useless level. Literalism, harshness, mechanical cause and effect, selfishness, superstition, ignorance: all these characterize the scribe and Pharisee level of religious thinking. This level of religious thought retards human evolution and does not generate the needful kind of energy for continued evolution. This is the main reason why Jesus denounces it so strongly and persistently.