Lesson 3 John 5 and Matthew 5
A Spiritual Interpretation of the Gospels
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- First metaphysical requirement for spiritual healing consciousness.
- The need for forgiveness of sins.
- The metaphysical significance of Bethesda and its healing activities.
- Man's role in working with God.
- A greater dimension of the law of cause and effect.
- Teachings from Sermon on the Mount designed to help break the stalemate of constant even-exchanging in life.
- John 5; Matt. 5-7
- Your Hope of Glory 69-99
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary—under heading "Bethesda"
- "Discover the Power Within You" by Eric Butterworth
- "Sermon on the Mount" by Emmett Fox
- What is one of the first keys to spiritual healing, as illustrated in Jesus' first healing work?
- What does Bethesda, with its five porches, symbolize in the life of man?
- In what sense does man "create" in the world?
- Does Jesus nullify the law of cause and effect in his teachings? If not, what does he do?
- Does Jesus advocate even-exchanging in life as man's wisest course? If not, what does He advocate?
In addition to the above READINGS suggestions the teacher may want to listen to the Unity cassette album, Metaphysics of the Sermon on the Mount by Ed Rabel
John 4:46-54 Jesus' First Healing Work
Here is another incident from the Gospel of John which poses a mystery on the strictly literal-historical level. Why would an official (nobleman, in KJV) come to Jesus to request healing for his dying son? There is nothing in the Gospels to warrant this action. In Galilee, where this account takes place, Jesus had only turned water into wine. An official would surely need more reason than this in order to have such confidence in Jesus. Here again, we must assume that much has gone unrecorded in the Gospels as we now have them.
Metaphysically, this incident points out something significant in regard to spiritual healing. Jesus first uses the significant word, BELIEVE, when He says to the nobleman, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not BELIEVE." (John 4:48) Later in the same passage we read, "The man BELIEVED the word that Jesus spoke to him..." and finally, "and he himself BELIEVED, and all his household." (John 4:50, 53)
Life is a divine idea. Health and healing are processes which express that divine idea. Divine ideas MUST BE BELIEVED IN. We must believe in health. We must believe in healing. We must believe in the divine idea of perfect life. This is essential for a healing consciousness. Jesus represents the healing consciousness, and He emphasizes the power of belief over and over in all His ministry.
In Mark 2:10 Jesus makes a statement which is one of great metaphysical importance: "But that you may know that the SON OF MAN has authority (power, in KJV) ON EARTH to FORGIVE SINS. ..." This same statement is contained in Matt. 9:6 and Luke 5:24. In a metaphysical context the term "son of man" simply means "a human being." In our strictly human identity we are "son of man." In our spiritual nature or identity we are "Son of God." The metaphysical meaning here is that it is in our human nature that we have power and authority to forgive sins. Forgiveness of sins is one of our main assignments in the evolution of consciousness on Earth. A person who does not forgive sins cannot evolve spiritually. The great 16th Century German mystic, Jacob Bohme, wrote, "The true Spirit of Jesus Christ is CONTINUOUS FORGIVENESS OF SINS."
John 5:1-9 The Healing at Bethzatha (more familiarly known as Bethesda)
This healing incident contains an important metaphysical point in the description of Bethesda, a place of healing bordered by five porticoes, or porches. This represents the activities of what would be termed "natural cures," or healings which are based upon dependence on activities of nature. The Bethesda healings are those brought about by manipulation of factors found in nature.
The five porches at Bethesda stand for the five senses through which man makes contact with nature and its processes. This, in fact, is the whole method of conventional material medica. Healing which depends solely on man's manipulation of nature can be successful, but it can also be long, frustrating, expensive, and uncertain. This is illustrated in the plight of the patient whom Jesus encounters.
Jesus represents spiritual awareness. His entry into Bethesda symbolizes bringing a new and greater dimension of consciousness into current healing practices. Jesus does not avoid Bethesda, nor does He criticize it. He simply adds His consciousness to it. As a result, a man who had not been healed finally realized his healing: This spiritual awareness within ourselves, when recognized and called upon, can facilitate healings in the physical, emotional, and mental levels of our being that have long been frustrated by only appealing for help "out there" - in the five porches of Bethesda, or the sense world.
John 5:17 Man's True Role in God's Creation
"... Jesus answered them, 'My Father is working still, and I am working." (John 5:17) In this statement Jesus (spiritual awareness) reveals the true relationship between the Father's, or Spirit's work, and the work performed by man. The works (laws, ideas) of Spirit are always working. They ARE. They live, they work, they are eternal processes.
Man, as such, does not actually work in exactly the same sense. Man does not actually CREATE in the absolute sense of the word. What man does is duplicate the creative process and then produce. Man brings forth into manifestation from the already finished Creation of God. In doing this, man is in every sense a true worker. Jesus verifies this fact in His next words: "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him. ..." (John 5:19-20)
Matt. 5-7 SERMON ON THE M0UNT--Part I
The Sermon on the Mount can best be appreciated if one has some understanding of how it transcends the Old Testament level of religious thinking. Old Testament religion is based on strict adherence to the mechanics of cause and effect ("eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth, etc.") This is the accepted standard for Jehovah worship. Jesus reveals God as Pure Spirit, Father, Absolute Good. A different standard applies in the worship of God as Spirit. The Sermon on the Mount reveals this new standard of religious thinking.
Jesus does not nullify cause and effect, except on its very lowest and crudest levels. The level of the law called Mosaic (from Moses) helps show us right from wrong (Ten Commandments). It helps us to behave properly. It is necessary for basic survival.
The higher and greater dimensions of the law (grace and Truth from Jesus Christ) present good as the only enduring reality. They (grace and Truth) do not just tell us to behave properly in order to survive, but they point the way for our consciousness to begin evolving toward regeneration and perfection.
Since so much excellent material on the Sermon on the Mount is available, we will not go into great detail in this course. We shall touch only upon what may be considered the metaphysical highlights and essentials.
NOTE: For more detailed metaphysical interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount we recommend:
- Your Hope of Glory 90, Elizabeth Sand Turner
- "Sermon on the Mount", Emmett Fox
- "Discover the Power Within You", Eric Butterworth
- Metaphysics of the Sermon on the Mount, Ed Rabel (Cassettes only)
The Beatitudes which open the Sermon are remarkable for the fact that they describe mostly negative states, but call them "blessed." Upon careful reading we find that the "blessedness" really does not lie in the state itself, but in the fact that help for all those states is available because of God's spiritual laws. When we open ourselves to God's help, the negativity of any state is transformed into the. blessing of overcoming it and receiving recompense for such overcoming.
"Think not that I have come'to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matt. 5:17) The law Jesus refers to is the Old Testament religious standard. It is the law revealed by Moses and consists of basic cause and effect (eye for an eye, etc.). Jesus talks of "fulfilling" that law. But how? How does one "fulfill" something such as that? It is by transcending it. To transcend that which was is the right way to fulfill the purpose for that which was. Mechanical cause and effect have served their initial purpose, which was to insure survival and show the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. The teachings of Jesus touch a higher level of law, a level which includes that marvelous thing called "grace."
"Make friends quickly with your accuser... ." (Matt. 5:25); ("Agree with thine adversary quickly, . ." KJV). This is pure symbolic metaphysics--not literal instructions on outer behavior. This instruction has entirely to do with inner attitude. A conscious inner change of attitude is the most powerful instrument for good in the problems of human relations. Nothing is more sure and more effective. Yet, for many persons, it is the most difficult of all_ things to do. If a person will make the effort to change (make friends with, harmonize, agree) any inner attitude based on antagonism or resentment, a process will be set up in consciousness which will bring forth possibilities of miracles.
"Do not swear at.all ... Let what you say be simply 'yes' or 'no'..." (Matt. 5:34, 37; "yea, yea; nay, nay..." KJV). Much time and energy are wasted in something Jesus calls "swearing falsely" or "foreswearing." (Matt. 5:33) This is a form of making unnecessary promises. We do it all the time, and it is a waste of time. Why bother to make promises? Why not just "deliver the goods?" How can we know what tomorrow may bring? If we lock ourselves into a promise projected into the future, who knows what trouble and inconvenience it may result in? But if we simply use our wisdom and good judgment day by day, and respond to life situations in that spirit (let what you say be simply "yes" or "no") then we are not locked in to any foreswearing or unnecessary promising.
In Matt. 5:38-48 Jesus speaks sentence after sentence in which He urges us to stop indulging in even exchanges in life all the time. He tells us to break the unprofitable inertia of insisting on dealing only in even exchanges. He states this in dozens of different ways, some of them quite shocking to many persons. But the bottom line is this: even exchange is not profit, is not growth, is not evolution. Even exchange is sameness. Giving more, loving more, and blessing more help break the stalemate of even exchange and result in profit, growth, and greater evolution. Jesus alludes to this as "being perfect." Jesus completes this section of the Sermon with these significant words: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt. 5:48)
The model for prayer (Lord's Prayer) is contained in Matt. 6:9-13. It is well to remember that Jesus presents this as a model, a pattern, rather than as a set piece which must literally be repeated verbatim. Of course, it has become JUST THAT! But Jesus did not originally mean for'it to become a fetish. We can keep it from becoming a fetish simply by making sure we do not mechanically speak it by rote. If we keep our minds open to the meaning behind its wording, the prayer will prove to be an ever-renewing inspiration. (See especially Emmet Fox1 treatment of The Lord's Prayer in his book "Sermon on the Mount.")