A Spiritual Interpretation of the Gospels
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- Metaphysical significance of Mary Magdalene's encounter with the resurrected Jesus.
- Significance of Jesus interpreting Scripture on the road to Emmaus.
- The appearance of resurrected Jesus to seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee.
- Significance of Jesus asking Peter three times if he loved Him.
- Metaphysical significance of Jesus' final words to Peter.
- Metaphysical and historical significance of the final words of the Gospels.
- Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21
- Your Hope of Glory 258-280
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 348-350 under headings "Resurrection", "Jesus"
- What is the metaphysical meaning of the fact that Mary Magdalene does not find Jesus in a tomb, but encounters Him in a garden?
- How does Jesus illustrate that the Bible is to.be interpreted?
- What is the significance of Jesus' words to "doubting" Thomas?
- What metaphysical lesson can be found in Jesus' final words to Peter?
- What indication do we have that there is more left out of the Gospels than is included in them?
John 20:11-18 APPEARANCE OF JESUS TO MARY MAGDALENE
Mary was anticipating finding a corpse. She, like the disciples, did not really dare to believe that Jesus would be resurrected. A corpse of a beloved friend was their expectancy. Mary looks into the tomb thinking to find a corpse. Instead, she sees two angels who help guide her attention in a different direction. The angels represent thoughts of divine guidance. When Mary turns her attention out of the tomb and into the garden, she encounters the resurrected presence of Jesus. So it is with us, when we are directing the attention of our emotional nature (Mary Magdalene) toward negative thoughts and beliefs (tomb) the best we can hope to find is a "corpse," (memories of what used to be). But when we turn the attention of our emotional nature to the "garden" (realm of living ideas) we can find our newly revived spiritual awareness (resurrected Jesus).
When Jesus says to Mary, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended ..." (John 20:17), He is illustrating the need to avoid negative emotional attachments at times in life where further spiritual unfoldment is the most important thing. There are times when emotional attachments are the important thing; but there are other times when this is not the case. Jesus indicates that such a time was that time in His experience prior to the Ascension.
Luke 24:13-32 JESUS ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
In this incident Jesus appears to a disciple named Cleopus and another who is not named. The significant thing about this incident is that Jesus communicated what we understand as metaphysical interpretations of Scripture to them, which they seemed to have understood. "And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27) Later in the paragraph we read, "And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, 'Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while HE OPENED TO US THE SCRIPTURES?'" (Luke 24:31-32)
It seems quite safe to assume that Jesus was not just quoting the Bible to them. It states quite bluntly that He was INTERPRETING. Taking the Bible literally is not the same as discerning its meaning. So much of the Bible is symbolic and allegorical, and such things need metaphysical interpreting. The correctness of the interpretation depends on the metaphysical correctness of the interpreter. This is what opens people's understanding, in a way that historical facts or literal acceptance of quotations cannot do.
John 20:29 JESUS' WORDS TO DOUBTING THOMAS
After Thomas receives the proof he requires in order to believe in Jesus' resurrected presence, Jesus makes this significant comment to him; "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe."
Just as Jesus had earlier transcended the old Mosaic teaching of "an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth," so He now transcends the old motto of "seeing is believing." The old mechanical cause and effect level, of thought belongs to the old, lower evolutionary level. The New Testament level of religious thinking requires belief IN ADVANCE of all divine ideas, all spiritual principles, and complete trust in the guidance of spiritual awareness within (Jesus).
John 21:1-17 JESUS APPEARS TO SEVEN DISCIPLES AT THE SEA OF GALILEE
Seven of Jesus' disciples had spent an entire night fishing, but had caught nothing. At daybreak, the resurrected Jesus appeared on the beach. It should be explained here that in spite of all that He had said to His followers, it seems that none really believed Him that He would be resurrected after three days of burial and rejoin them. He knew they did not believe Him. So here He is, just as He said He would be. Here He was living proof of what He had taught and which they refused to believe. And what are His first words to them in this moment of His great vindication? Let us ponder carefully His OPENING WORDS to them: "Children, have you any fish?"
Does this help give us greater insight into the kind of being this man was? The first thing He expresses after vindication of the fact that He had predicted His own resurrection was concern about whether they had enough to eat or not. Surely this is as divine as anything else He had said or done. The student should paraphrase this question in terms of his own spiritual awareness speaking to his faculties, "Children, have you any DIVINE IDEAS?" The rest of the story illustrates how one "catches" divine ideas - by "fishing" on the RIGHT side of consciousness (boat).
The next divine thing Jesus does is to give Peter a divine opportunity to atone for his three denials. He does this in a very subtle and unique way. Instead of asking Peter if he was sorry for denying Him three times, He simply asks Peter if he loves Him three times. Each time, Peter affirms his love for Jesus. Can we see that this was, in a sense, Jesus giving Peter the golden opportunity to cancel out any possible Karma factors? Three times denial (negative) balanced and cancelled by three times affirming of love. Surely this is another example of the divinely human consciousness that is Jesus.
Mark 16:15-18 LAST WORDS AND ACTS OF THE RISEN LORD
'And he said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. '
We call special attention to this passage at this time mainly because it is the Gospel basis for the strong resurgence of evangelic and charismatic religious groups who take this passage 100% literally. It is difficult for a metaphysical Truth student to know exactly how to relate to those who insist on only a literal acceptance of every word in the Bible. Each one may find his own way to be at peace about this, and yet not fall into it himself. Metaphysics are the tools of modern Truth students, and Jesus has given us the necessary keys to the "tool box".
"When Peter saw him (another disciple), he said to Jesus, 'Lord, what about this man?' Jesus said to him '... what is that to you? Follow me! (John 21:21-22)
These words ring true in ears of Truth students today, probably more clearly than they did in Peter's ears back then. We are learning that the guidance of spiritual awareness is for each individual who is willing to follow it. What other persons are doing or not doing must not become so much of our concern that we abandon our own inner guidance. Evolution is now an individual experience, depending on the sincerity of our individual effort. We must learn to keep this uppermost in mind, and not squander our energies on worrying about others and judging them.
In the closing section of the Gospel of John we have these very significant words:
"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which ARE NOT WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK; but these are written that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30, 31)
"... there are also many other things which Jesus did; were everyone of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25)
"Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven." (Luke 24:50, 51)
Possibly no human mind is as yet capable of fully understanding the
resurrection and ascension of Jesus. We seem capable of dealing with these
events only in terms of religious fervor and intuitive acceptance. Yet, books
like the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary and many of Charles Fillmore's writings
do help prepare the way for our eventual full understanding of events such
as these. A very helpful example, and an appropriate way to complete this
course in Gospels Interpretation is a section under the heading "JESUS" from
the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 349:
"Jesus did not leave the planet, at His ascension; He simply entered
the inner spiritual realms. He will become visible to those who "put on
Christ" and manifest their incorruptible, undying bodies. Many are con-
scious of His presence in some degree, but they do not see Him as He is,
because they have not brought their faculties of apprehension up to His
standard. When we awake in His likeness (Psalm 17:15) then we shall see
Him as He is. This does not come about through the soul's leaving the
body, but it is accomplished by refining, spiritualizing, and raising
both soul and body to higher degrees of power." (p. 349)