A Spiritual Interpretation of the Gospels
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- The twelve disciples as symbols of the twelve powers of man.
- Metaphysical meaning of turning of water into new wine.
- Metaphysical meaning of the cleansing of the temple.
- Metaphysical meaning of the new birth.
- Metaphysical meaning of "knowing the gift of God."
- Metaphysical law of sowing and reaping.
- John 2-4
- Your Hope of Glory 49-68
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary under headings: Faculties; Nicodemus; Samaritan
- What do the twelve disciples of Jesus stand for in human nature?
- What is the metaphysical meaning of the "new wine" brought forth by Jesus at the wedding?
- The cleansing of the temple by Jesus symbolizes what important metaphysical step for any human being?
- Where and how can a person be "born anew"?
- What is "knowing the gift of God" as Jesus mentions to the Samaritan woman?
- What is the metaphysical reason we can rejoice whether we are sowing or reaping in our fields of life?
The accounts of Jesus choosing of His twelve disciples begin in John 1:35-51. The first mentioned is Andrew. The second, though not named in the text, is believed to be John. The third (brother of Andrew) is Simon Peter. Fourth and fifth are Philip and Nathanael. The choosing of these and the other disciples is variously described in the texts of the other three Gospels; Matt. 4:18-22, 9:9-13, 10:1-4; Mark 1:14-20; Luke 5:27-32, 6:12-17.
The twelve disciples of Jesus represent the twelve powers, or spiritual faculties of man. When the Gospel narrative speaks of them recognizing and following Jesus, it symbolizes the fact that when we begin to function from spiritual awareness, all of our twelve faculties awaken to fuller expression and recognize active spiritual awareness as their inspiration. Prior to this awakening, our twelve faculties were almost entirely under the control of our personal consciousness and its narrow field o realize the Christ within as their true source they accept His leadership and work and serve to increase our spiritual dominion and mastery.
- James, son of Zebedee--judgment
- Bartholomew or Nathanael (Nathaniel)--imagination
- James, son of Alphaeus--order
- Thaddaeus — renunciation and elimination
- Judas--generative life
The first "miracle" performed by Jesus is described in John 2:1-11 as the turning of water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana. Metaphysically a marriage represents the union of thinking ability (male) with feeling nature (female). Thinking and feeling are the components of consciousness. Until spiritual awareness is really awakened in a person, the union of thinking and feeling produces a very ordinary kind of existence in which the vital energies (wine) can become depleted, and even run out.
But as spiritual awareness is awakened in us, our active intuition (Mary) becomes aware of our need for renewal of our vital energies, and communicates this to our inner spiritual awareness (Jesus). When this occurs we allow our spiritual nature to take control of our expenditure of vital energy, and we experience a revitalization. This is the "new wine." This is better than the old wine. The old wine stands for limited degrees of energy derived from nature only. The old wine was good, but the new wine is better. This truth is pointed out by the words of the ruler of the feast to the bridegroom: "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the GOOD WINE until NOW." (John 2:10)
The lesson here is that when we realize the presence of the Christ within, we quicken our spiritual awareness to make connection with a higher and finer type of vital energy. This new energy is transformed from a passive potential state (waterpot filled with water) into a living, energizing power (new wine). The source of this new energy is not outer physical nature, but inner spiritual substance and life. Spiritual awareness (Jesus) causes this transformation. "This, the FIRST of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in, Galilee... and His disciples believed in Him." (John 2:11)
John 2:13-22 Cleansing of the Temple at Passover
This incident is usually interpreted as being an illustration of Jesus' humanity, in the sense that "He expresses anger and resorts to violent action. However one might understand this passage on a literal or historical level, on a metaphysical level of meaning Jesus is here demonstrating an important corrective, purifying process.
The temple is a symbol of our inner being. Animals and money changers represent unnecessary emotions (animals) and materialistic anxieties and a wrong sense of values (sellers and money changers). The power of our spiritual awareness (Jesus) uses the power of denial (whip of cords) which results in our letting go (driving out) of these unnecessary and troublesome factors in consciousness. Notice in verse 15 that Jesus MADE a "whip of cords." This indicates some passage of time which negates the idea of Jesus acting in "hot anger", but rather He is giving a demonstration that man can use RENUNCIATORY ENERGY to eliminate that which should be eliminated.
John 2 ends with this very significant statement about Jesus: ". . , He knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; FOR HE HIMSELF KNEW WHAT WAS IN MAN." (John 2:25) Jesus represents spiritual awareness, which comes directly from the Christ Mind in man. The Christ Mind knows and understands ALL that is in man. There are no secrets that can be kept from the Christ Mind. Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels (especially John), was in constant connection with that Christ Mind, and thus He had an insight into human nature that appears infallible.
NOTE: Realizing this understanding about Jesus helps explain some of the strangeness of many conversations reported in the Gospels. Jesus does not always respond to the words other persons speak but rather He responds to what He "reads" in their minds and hearts. This makes it appear to literal readers that He is not really answering questions asked of Him. But in the context of who Jesus is in the Gospels and as metaphysical spiritual awareness, He is answering questions that He reads in the souls of these persons, rather than merely what their lips have spoken.
John 3:1-15 Conversation with Nicodemus
On a strictly literal level this conversation begins by presenting us with a mystery: Why did Nicodemus begin by paying all those fabulous compliments to Jesus? He calls Jesus "Rabbi," he calls Him "a teacher come from God" and he refers to "these signs that you do." Why? How? There is nothing in the Bible to account for all this extravagant praise. So far all we have been told about is the water turned into wine and the cleansing of the temple. Something more than these events must have been responsible for Nicodemus1 awe of Jesus. Obviously there is a large gap of unrecorded events which the Gospel of John does not contain.
On the metaphysical level this does not matter. The lesson is clear in the conversation with Nicodemus. Here is a specific instance in which Jesus seems to "read" the mind of Nicodemus. Notice that Nicodemus does not ask a question in the text, but Jesus' response seems to be answering a question. Apparently what Nicodemus really wanted to know about was the kingdom, and how to enter it. Jesus' reply then is clear; "... unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God... unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:3, 5). Nicodemus does not comprehend Jesus* meaning and Jesus does not really explain His meaning. However, Jesus does give a very helpful clue to the meaning for those who are able to detect it. It is in these words: "That which is born of the flesh IS FLESH; and that which is BORN OF THE SPIRIT is spirit." (John 3:6).
Jesus is contrasting the physical birth of the body to the true origin of our being. Physical incarnation (born of flesh) is an event within our eternal life. It is not our origin. Our origin can only be Spirit. Jesus' teaching is that until a person is able to make the distinction in his own mind between the event of physical birth and the Truth of his divine origin, he cannot evolve into higher levels of spiritual consciousness. The student will gain additional insight by comparing this teaching with that of the wedding at Cana.
John 4:1-42 Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
When Jesus asks the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, and she hesitates, He says, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." (John 4:10)
Jesus does not specify exactly what "the gift of God" is, but He connects that gift to the fact that one need only "ask" and one would then receive. In Mysteries of John we are told, "The gift of God to man is eternal life." (p. 655 This is correct, of course, but it does not seem to be what Jesus was referring to in His words to the Samaritan woman. "Eternal life" is too broad a definition and does not really fit in with the other words Jesus speaks. A more exact definition of the "gift of God" would be indwelling Source which leads to eternal life (see verse 14 where the water Jesus is speaking of becomes WITHIN a person "a spring (source) of water welling up to eternal life." God as indwelling Source is God's gift to each of us. Jesus refers to God as Source over and over again. He tells this woman that if she KNEW this gift (Source) she would ask and receive "living water." Later He tells us "... ask, and you will receive ..." (John 16:24; see the same idea in Matt. 7:7; 21:22)
Jesus tells the woman that she has had five husbands and the man she is currently with is not her husband. Metaphysically this symbolizes the futility of trying to live happily and permanently in sense consciousness. The five husbands represent the five senses. Marriages to them symbolize being bound and limited entirely within the senses. The "marriages" did not last; indicating that this is an unsatisfactory state in which to continue to exist.
"...he whom you now have is not your husband" would mean, in effect, that the thinking self (man) is not in correct relationship with the emotions (woman). Therefore, metaphysically speaking, there is no true marriage.
Also in this 4th chapter of John, Jesus reveals the God of the New Testament. The God of the Old Testament is Jehovah, and the mode of worship is in religious ritual and behaviorism ruled by the mechanical law of cause and effect. Jesus completely transcends this in His life and teachings. And His transcendent view of God and worship begins in these words: "... the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. GOD IS SPIRIT, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23, 24)
Today, it would be helpful for every person who is a Truth student to ask himself or herself, "Am I still in Jehovah worship, or am I worshipping God who is Spirit? Am I lingering in Old Testament religious thinking or am I unfolding into New Testament spiritual understanding? Do I still adhere to an eye for an eye, or do I follow Jesus Christ in continuous forgiveness of sin?" Such questions can be very beneficial for our individual evolution of consciousness.
Additional insight can be gained at this point by comparing the essential metaphysical elements in Jesus' public activities thus far. "New life" is such an element in the wedding at Cana and Nicodemus stories, "new worship" can be clearly seen in the temple cleansing, and both of these are brought together in this visit with the woman at the well. Rather than occurring "at night" as with the story of Nicodemus alone, when one appropriates both elements, new life and new worship, one is in the "full light of day" ("It was about the sixth hour." (or noon) (John4:6)). This new state of consciousness can then attract greater good to itself and enter fully into greater expansion (the "many more" who believed in verses 39-42).
Another yery meaningful insight we can gain from this account is found in Jesus' words to His disciples when they returned from a nearby town where they had gone to buy food. "Do you not say, 'there are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? I' tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may REJOICE TOGETHER. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps. ' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor." (John 4:35-38)
In these words Jesus once again transcends thinking based on the Old Testament level of "eye for an eye" cause and effect. He compares human life to fields in which both sowing and reaping are going on all the time. He says that the "harvest" is always available for those with eyes to see it. And He says that sowing and reaping are like two sides of the same coin, and both should be causes for rejoicing.
Also, He indicates that there may be times when we will have to change fields before we can reap exactly as we have sown. But this need not cause us to be unhappy, because we will reap in other fields. The laws of God are not mocked. Divine justice does always prevail. Fields change, but God does not change. Because this is true, Jesus (spiritual awareness) says, "Rejoice together... gathers fruit for eternal life."
Preceding Entry: Gospels Metaphysics 1: Lesson 1 Jesus, Mary and John
Following Entry: Gospels Metaphysics 3: Lesson 3 John 5 and Matthew 5