Metaphysical Bible Interpretation of Matthew Chapter 3
Metaphysically Interpreting Matthew 3:1-12
3:1And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, 3:2Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3:3For this is he that was spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying,
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Make ye ready the way of the Lord,
Make his paths straight.
3:4Now John himself had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 3:5Then went out unto him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about the Jordan; 3:6and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
3:7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance: 3:9and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 3:10And even now the axe lieth at the root of the trees: every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
3:11I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire: 3:12whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.
Undated: Matt. 3:1-12
Unity interprets a living BIBLE LESSON
HOW TO START A NEW YEAR
Prepared by Mary Mae Oesch
When John the Baptist began to preach in Judea, the theme of his message was that men should repent and prepare for the coming of the long-awaited Messiah.
Long before the time of Jesus and John, the prophet Isaiah had foretold the coming of John, who would help men change their thinking.
John wore rough clothing, ate simple fare, and lived a Spartan life. His whole attention was given to his ministry, and soon he gained a host of followers. Many came from great distances to hear him, and to be baptized in the river Jordan (symbolizing a desire to cleanse their thoughts and change their ways).
How startled some of John's listeners must have been when he called them vipers. He condemned the hypocritical attitude of some religious leaders who merely pretended to change their way of thinking. He warned that it was the state of their own minds and hearts—not the religion of their ancestors—that was important. In effect he said that God's promises to Abraham could benefit them only as they themselves kept God's laws. Thus they should show positive proof of a sincere desire to follow the coming Messiah. Harmful thoughts and error beliefs should be hewn out, just as unfruitful trees are destroyed by an axe.
Humbly John must have explained that his mission was to help men cleanse their minds and hearts. But his teachings were only preparation for One infinitely greater, One whose shoes John felt unworthy to carry. The true Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit, so that men would become pure and good.
What do you see on the pages of your new calendar? A year of growth and fulfillment? A year that fairly brims over with new ideas, true prosperity, higher goals, and better methods of reaching them? Since each of us will determine the contents of his daily diary, and the year will hold for us whatever we put into it, it behooves us to get off to a good start.
Giving attention to John's remarks about the ax at the root of unfruitful trees might seem like an inauspicious beginning. But John's figure of speech is in line with his theme of repentance. Repentance is basically a matter of changing our mind. It is deliberately turning from a belief in error to an all-inclusive belief in God.
New-year resolutions to improve our conduct or any outward condition will prove beneficial only if we get to the root of things and correct our thought habits. When we want to remove an unwanted tree from our property, we do not merely snip off the leaves or saw off the branches. We cut off the tree at ground level and probably grub out some of the roots. Similarly, if we want to change the outer conditions of our lives, we neither start nor stop with what we see outwardly. We get at the root of the problem by correcting and lifting up our thoughts and concepts.
Systematic use of denials can help us hew down any unwanted "tree" of habit, or conduct. Then, through affirmative prayer and the constructive action that follows, we plant and grow the kind of tree that bears fruit of harmony, success, and well-being.
Do you want better health? If you have habitually thought of yourself as subject to illness, grub out the roots of poor health by denying a belief in it. Then plant a healthy tree of life through affirmation. Prayerfully use such statements as these:
There is no disease or discord in my body. I am God's child, demonstrating His pure and perfect life. I am strong and healthy, because my mind is in tune with infinite goodness.
Would you like more harmonious relations with others this year? There may be thought habits of criticism, anger, jealousy, or selfishness that have hindered you. Hew them out by denial, and replace them with affirmative love, understanding, and generosity.
Improve your thought habits for a happy new year and for happier days through many future years.
What is meant by repentance? A turning from a belief in sin and error to a belief in God and righteousness; a reversal of mind and heart in the direction of the All Good.
What is the kingdom of heaven? The realm of divine ideas, producing their expression, perfect harmony. It is within man.
Explain John's figure of speech about the axe at the root of trees. Negative tendencies can become great trees of habit in the inner life. We are to rid ourselves completely of all negative mental growths.
Metaphysically Interpreting Matthew 3:13-17
3:13Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14But John would have hindered him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 3:15But Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffereth him. 3:16And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway from the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him; 3:17and lo, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
NOVEMBER 28, 1971: Matt. 3:11-17; 16:19,24
YOUR KEYS TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Key Thought: Denial
Prepared by MARY MAE OESCH
John the Baptist (representing the intellect) prepared the way for Jesus' ministry on earth. He explained that water baptism is a symbol of repentance. To us it indicates a relinquishment or letting go, denial, or renunciation. Before we can accept true ideas, we must deny, or give up, old error beliefs.
John knew that his sole mission was to help men prepare their minds and hearts for the greater truth that Jesus would bring them. Jesus would baptize "with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an affirmative quickening of the spiritual nature, a positive acceptance of the Christ self in man. Fire symbolizes cleansing and purification. The fire of Spirit consumes error.
Repentance, including the use of denial and affirmation, might be compared to the process of threshing, when wheat and chaff are separated and the chaff destroyed.
Next, we are told that when Jesus came to John to be baptized, John demurred because he felt himself unworthy to baptize one so great as Jesus. (Even though Jesus' public ministry had not begun, John recognized Him as the Messiah.) But Jesus felt that the baptism of John was symbolic of the first step in spiritual attainment, just as denial of error should precede affirmation of Truth.
When Jesus was baptized, the heavens of clear understanding were opened to Him. As He gained a full conviction of God's presence and power, the spirit of peace filled His whole being. From that moment Jesus was completely aware of God's infinite love and of His heritage as God's Son.
At a later time in Jesus' life, when Peter had recognized Him as the Christ, Jesus promised that Peter (faith) would receive "the keys of the kingdom of heaven." By denying the appearance of evil and affirming the power of good, men can free themselves from error and unlock universal blessings. Complete control of mind, body, and affairs may be attained through faithful denial and affirmation.
We find Jesus speaking further about denial when He advises His followers to deny their lesser selves by taking up their cross (crossing out error) and following Him in the affirmative life of Spirit.
Young people growing up in a family feel quite mature and responsible when they are old enough to carry their own door keys. Various kinds of keys have their own significance in relation to the use that is made of them. There are certain invisible keys that persons of all ages possess; yet many adults fail to use them in a responsible way. These invisible keys, which we have labeled denial and affirmation, literally open doors to the kingdom of happiness and well-being—provided, of course, that we use them in the right way.
Many beginning Truth students, learning the value of positive affirmation, feel that surely they have no need for statements of denial. But everyone has imbedded in the subconscious mind an assortment of false beliefs that he has accepted unthinkingly from the world about him. These erroneous beliefs not only hinder his spiritual development, but they are also responsible for all the trouble he attracts.
When a mathematics pupil goes to the chalk board to work a problem in class, he may make a mistake. If he recognizes the mistake, he erases and starts over again in the right way. Recognizing our mistakes in thinking and erasing them comprise an important part of our spiritual education; hence our use of statements of denial.
We should not focus our energies on denials, nor dwell too long on them; but rather, use them as the first step toward our affirmation of the good we desire to demonstrate.
Do we want better health? Our denials and affirmations might be something like this: I do not accept any appearance of error or disease. The forgiving love of God cleanses, heals, and harmonizes my whole being.
Do we seek greater prosperity? No appearance of lack has any reality. I claim now the unlimited substance of God, brought forth in appropriate form to fill my every need.
Are we intimidated by someone? No one has any negative influence over me. I am free to be my best self at all times.
Define denial. The mental process of erasing from consciousness the false beliefs of the sense mind. Denial clears away belief in evil as reality and thus makes room for the establishing of Truth.
What are the "keys of the kingdom of heaven"? The spiritual cleansing of the mind typifies the cleansing power and work of Spirit that redeems men from sin. It is the first step in the realization of Truth.
How do we distinguish between the baptism of John and that of Jesus? Briefly, the two baptisms, those of John and Jesus, represent the two common steps in spiritual development, denial and affirmation, or the dropping of the old and laying hold of the new.
Transcribed by Lloyd Kinder on 10-22-2013