AN EXPLANATION OF THE CRUCIFIXION THAT MAKES SENSE
Hi Friends -
Here is a Good Friday talk given by Ed Rabel on April 20, 1962. The first half of his talk is about the crucifixion—the crucifixion of Jesus and what a crucifixion is metaphysically. The second half of his talk covers the seven last statements of Jesus, spoken from the cross.
Ed was part of the Unity ordination class of 1958, the class I think of as Unity’s rock star class. Unity produced that year, along with Ed Rabel, Johnnie Colemon and Catherine Thrower (Ponder). What a year.
I bring this up because that was only a decade after Charles Fillmore had written his most controversial take on the nature of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell, Charles Fillmore taught that the soul of Jesus had evolved through a series of lifetimes and he had reached a point where he was about to break through his final overcoming. The Jesus we know from scripture and tradition was a man, but not like you and I in consciousness. Ed spoke about this numerous times, and a good video clip about it is in Metaphysics II, Lesson 1C - Jesus Christ.
So Ed Rabel and others of his generation had been taught a perspective that is not as well-known as it was in the 1950s and 1960s, when he delivered this lenten message in 1962.
By the way, what Ed says in this talk was given 25 years later in the last of his lectures on The Words of Jesus. If you want to watch and read more, see the final lecture of The Words of Jesus, given in 1986. If you were in Unity at the time, you may recognize many of your fellow Truth students in the video cutaway.
I hope you look at the ordination photo, watch the video clip, and take some time this Good Friday to reflect on the life and ministry of Jesus, the meaning of crucifixion and the seven short lessons Jesus gave from the cross.
Good Friday, April 19, 2019
A Good Friday lecture given by Ed Rabel April 20, 1962
Download PDF of Ed Rabel's Good Friday Lecture - THE CRUCIFIXION - given April 20, 1962
Friends, let’s meditate upon this prayer for a few moments. Jesus Christ is here now raising me to his high consciousness of oneness with God. Jesus Christ is here now raising me to his high consciousness of oneness with God. Together, please.
Jesus Christ is here now raising me to his high consciousness of oneness with God.
And we give thanks for his presence and his power with us now and always.
Friends, today we are observing one of the great great milestones in the history of the race on this planet. The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. Now when we approach the life of Jesus as it is recorded in our gospels history in the biographical or historical approach, then the crucifixion of Jesus appears to be a very tragic and very unjust event that makes us almost unbearably sad, and almost ashamed to be a member of a race that would do such a thing to such a person. Unfortunately, this attitude toward the crucifixion has been preserved by many well-meaning, well-intentioned but very misguided persons.
We are very fortunate that we do not have to stay with this approach to the crucifixion. That through the light of understanding the true meaning of the Bible and the life of Jesus as recorded in the Bible, we can now look at the crucifixion of Jesus in an entirely different way and get an entirely new meaning from it. It is not a tragedy. It was not an unjust set of circumstances forced upon a very good person. When we learn how to interpret the Bible correctly we discover that the crucifixion was an important part of the plan that Jesus himself formulated for his own life.
Earlier in the life of Jesus an event occurred which has become known as the Transfiguration and in this event Moses and Elijah are talking with Jesus and the Bible says they spoke with him of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. You notice those words, they spoke to him of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. And there are many other places in the life of Jesus where we learn that he planned on his crucifixion. That he not only anticipated it but cooperated with it fully. In fact, when it was suggested to him or rather it was intimated that he was to be rescued from having to go through the experience he stopped any attempt to rescue him and said in the effect “Don’t you think that if I wanted it my father wouldn’t send 12 ligions of angels to rescue me?” He could have stopped it at anytime. And he could have done it this time. No, the crucifixion was something that Jesus definitely wanted to happen and it turned out exactly as he planed it to turn out.
You see friends, we must realize that Jesus was not an ordinary man. We like to think of him as one of us and he was, he is, but he is not one of us in the sense that he functions from the same level of consciousness that most of us function at this time. Jesus came into his last incarnation in a very, very high state of cosmic consciousness and therefore he was in complete control of everything that happened in his life. Nothing happened to Jesus the way that things seem to happen to us. We can’t explain why they happen. We don’t know what is coming next. We are bewildered and puzzled and upset about so many things because we don’t realize the full action of the law of manifestation coming from our own consciousness. But Jesus was.
Jesus calculated and planned and decreed everything that occurred in his life. Everything that happened to him was the result of his own conscious process of thought and feeling and action, therefore, the crucifixion is something that he deliberately went through for the same reason that he went through every other experience in his life, beginning with his virgin birth. And the reason for this was to teach us lessons in Truth to help us realize our oneness with God. This is called salvation. Jesus is the savior of the world, of the human race. He came and everything that he said, everything that he did, every experience he went through was deliberately planned by him for one reason only, to teach us lessons in Truth to help us realize our oneness with God, salvation.
This process began in Mary’s womb. Before he was actually born this process of his teaching us and saving us began. It continues all through his life and it is occurring during the crucifixion. Jesus was not a victim of circumstances. He was the complete master of his own destiny and the savior of the human race.
Metaphysically, a crucifixion symbolizes any experience in our life which is an opportunity for us to cross out one more human error, or belief in the separation from God. I’ll repeat that. Metaphysically, crucifixion symbolizes any experience in our life which is really an opportunity for us to cross out one more human error, limitation, or belief in separation from God. Now sometimes our crucifixion will take the form of a serious problem. Sometimes it will take the form of a very painful experience. Sometimes it will come to us as a happy event. But in any event, any experience which gives an opportunity to get rid of or cross out one or more human limitation or belief in separation is a crucifixion.
Now in Jesus’s specific crucifixion it represents the final, complete crossing out, once and for all, of all human error, the limitation, and the removal of all belief in separation from God. We go through the daily crucifixion, friends, and we go through daily resurrection. But the crucifixion of Jesus represents that final overcoming that we shall all make someday. The final, once and for all crossing out of all belief of separation from God. Then will come the resurrection which is Easter, of course, and we won’t go into that today.
Now, if we remember that while Jesus goes through all of the experiences of his life as recorded in the Gospels he is really thinking of us. We are always uppermost in Jesus’ mind. He did not do these things for his own sake, friends. He didn’t need to. He was Christed. He was the conscious Christ during his lifetime. He told us that. So what he did was not for his sake. Everything he did was for our sake.
Now, he is going through this experience called crucifixion which in the outer seems to be an unjust execution or killing of him by his enemy. Actually it is a magnificent symbol of overcoming, of crossing out human error, limitation, and belief in separation. He knew someday we would realize this and so he did something which is really remarkable. Everything about Jesus is remarkable but this is to me just about the most remarkable of all. He continued to teaching us lessons in truth even while he was being crucified.
He didn’t stop. He didn’t withdraw into a personal consciousness or a mood of sadness or self pity which would have been perfectly justifiable even though we don’t feel that he went through what we would call physical pain. We think that he was above that, but nevertheless, what these people were doing to him might have caused him to withdraw but it didn’t. He continued to do what he had been doing all his life, teaching us lessons in truth so that we could understand our oneness with God a little more. And these teachings and that he gave us from the midst of his own crucifixion have come to be known as the seven last words of Jesus from the cross.
They are: first, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Second, “Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” Third, “Woman, behold thy son. Behold thy mother.” The fourth, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Fifth, “I thirst.” Sixth, “It is finished.” And the seventh, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
These statements are found in all four Gospels. No one of the Gospels contains all seven. They have to be found by reading all four together. Now, the statements given by Jesus at the first glance seem to pertain only to the situation that he is in at the time but this is not so, folks. Every word spoken by Jesus has a twofold meaning. The first meaning is of lesser importance. And it is the meaning which has to do with the specific situation at the time they were uttered. This has importance only in the historical or biographical aspect.
The other meaning to every word spoken by Jesus is of utmost importance to every man and woman in this world. This meeting is called the universal meaning or if you prefer the metaphysical meaning and every statement of Jesus has these two meanings. And we are going to consider only the second this morning. The universal meaning. The metaphysical or truth meaning to each of these statements. They are for us, for all people at all time. When we are going through an experience in life which seems to be a problem but it is really an opportunity to cross out some more human errors, limitations, or believe in separation from God, these seven instructions will help us and as quickly as possible.
Father, forgive them for they know not to what they do.
Father, forgive them for they know not to what they do. Sometimes friends, it seems to us that other people or circumstances outside of ourselves are trying to hurt us. Trying to do something bad to us. And everything in our human intellect and in our human emotions tell us that this is so. When this happens, even though we know that forgiveness is a miracle working power in our human thinking and in our human emotions, we find it impossible to forgive.
Now, Jesus here gives us a wonderful instruction of how to forgive when you’re human thoughts and your human emotions say that it is impossible for me to forgive. “I can’t forget has what she is doing to me. I cannot forgive that illness they took my loved one away from me. I cannot forgive that a financial loss that’s spoiled the wonderful home and life that I had. Don’t ask me to forgive. It is impossible.” And yet we know that as long as we withhold forgiveness we can never never be happy. So Jesus here is giving us a wonderful instruction in how to forgive and it is, “Father forgive them.”
He does not say, “I, Jesus of Nazareth, forgive you.” He says, “Father forgive them for they know not to what they do.” The Father does not dwell outside of you. The Father within you doeth his works. The Father does not dwell outside of you. The father within you doeth his works. The Father is your own spiritual nature.
God’s Spirit expressing itself through you and the Father in you can do things that you’re human self cannot do, and when you find it impossible to do anything in your human nature, and we all go through this, do not give up in despair or discouragement, and do not blame yourself for not being able to do it. But remember these words and turn the job over to the Father within you who will do his work. And once the Father begins his work in us in the human will fall into line and find it possible to cooperate.
And also, Jesus is telling us here that in reality no person or no thing really wants to hurt us but when someone does something that offends us or harms us it is really because he knows not what he does. Lack of understanding is the only real cause for any human mistake. Not deliberately ingrained maliciousness, that is not so. It is a dark spot in consciousness, an area of ignorance. Where there is a lack of understanding. This is the reason for all offenses in the human family. And Jesus knows that when we turn our need to forgive over to the Father within us that it will be done.
And once forgiveness is put into operation miracles occur. Forgiveness is the greatest of all powers of which a human being is capable. There is no higher expression of love in the whole realm of human affairs than forgiveness. Forgiveness will always turn error into truths and it will turn misunderstanding and inharmony into harmony and understanding. There is no greater power and it can begin regardless of the circumstances with the Father within.
Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.
Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise. This was spoken to the second thief on the cross who asked for the consideration of Jesus. In the pamphlet by Charles Fillmore, “Live in the Present,” Mr. Fillmore explains that the two thieves on the crosses with Jesus represent the past and the future, with Jesus in the center representing the here and now consciousness of oneness with God.
On one side of Jesus the first thief wails on him. This is the past and all such mistakes. It wails on us. It tries to get us to save it. It tries to get us to remember and relive those mistakes and unhappy memories. But Jesus ignores him. That means that we should not give our attention and the substance of our thought and feeling to the past and to the mistakes of the past. It cannot be saved. It is over and done with.
But the other thief represents the future and our concern for our future. Now, he asks Jesus to remember him when he comes to his Father’s kingdom and this represents our concern for our future, asking us to do something about our future right now. And Jesus’ response represents the attitude we should have towards our own future and everything that concerns us in that future. And the response is in these words, “Today thou shalt to be with me in Paradise.” Paradise is Heaven and Heaven is a here and now expanding consciousness of God. And Jesus says to this thief, he symbolizes the future, “I bring you onto my here and now consciousness of God which is ever expanding” and this is what we should do with our thoughts about our future.
And the reason for this, friends, is very apparent because if we are sustained in a here and now consciousness of God, if this is the paramount state of mind we are in, when the future does come what does it turn into? The present. You see, let’s say that I have a problem and I have to meet tomorrow and I am concerned about it but I bring my concern for that problem I have to meet tomorrow into my now consciousness of God, and that is where I am. Now, when tomorrow comes and that problem comes up, when will it come up? In the now. And I am sustained in my here and now consciousness of God and so I handle it when it comes up. In my here and now consciousness of God it will be handled correctly. That is the instruction about our thoughts for our future. Today thou art with me in Paradise.
Woman, behold thy son. Behold thy mother.
Woman behold thy son. Behold thy mother. Now, the two people that he is talking about here are Mary, his actual mother and his disciple John. Now John was not related to Mary. Mary was not John’s mother. Therefore, when Jesus said, “Woman behold thy son and behold thy mother” he is not stating a literal fact but he is stating a truth which is different from fact.
Earlier in his ministry Jesus had been told that his mother and his brethren we’re outside waiting for him. And he gives a very puzzling response to this information. He says, well, “Who he is my mother? And who are my brethren?” And then he stretches forth his hand and he says “Behold, my mother, my brethern” and and something else—I can’t get the whole quotation, but he says, “all of these who do the will of my Father, this same are my mother, my brothers and sisters.”
In other words, he is repeating here a lesson in human relationship that he has given previously which he must have considered very very important in order to include it in his last statements. And he is telling us here that in truth every person regardless of what your specific family relationship may be, that in reality every person is every other person’s mother, brother, and sister. Every woman is every other person’s mother in reality and every man is every other person’s brother and all men and all women are each other’s brothers, sisters, mothers, sons, and daughters.
In other words, in our human family we are all one but no man on earth is our Father. That is left out. Jesus never refers to any earthly male as a Father. There is no such thing in Truth. See, we are being told here once more that we are each other’s mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, and the sisters and sooner or later we will have to acknowledge this and make no separation.
My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?
My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me? Now, friends, to understand why Jesus said this we have to repeat something that we have seen already. Remember, Jesus is saying these words, not for his own sake but for our sake. These words did not come from his own belief that God had forsaken him but he is telling us something about ourselves here. He is telling us here that almost every person no matter how far advanced he may be into the spiritual understanding, may still have some moments in his life when he feels completely alone.
When he feels that he and he only must handle a certain thing which has come up in his life, it may even go so far as to a belief that there is a separation from God. But by giving this cry or these words Jesus symbolized that we can release this, it we can get rid of it by realizing that it is impossible.
God cannot forsake us because God is our very being. God is not a person who can come or go as He chooses but God is the very being that we are conscious of and so he cannot forsake us. But sometimes under pressure, under emotional suffering, or under circumstances that we find mysterious and bewildering, we can have moments of believing that we are separated from God. But, we should not criticize ourselves for doing so or for having them because even Jesus was willing to go through voicing such a thought.
The next statement is, I thirst. Now this statement is important only when we realize what it resulted in. And it resulted in the Roman soldiers dipping a sponge into some vinegar and putting it on a stick and raising it to Jesus’s lips so that he could quench his thirst.
This was absolutely unheard of. The Roman soldiers as a rule would do everything possible to hasten the death of someone being crucified. And here they were doing something to help alleviate the suffering of one who is being crucified. In other words, under circumstances that were absolutely unpromising Jesus was able to call forth an act of kindness and mercy simply by voicing a need that he felt.
We are being told something here, friends, that is very very important and reassuring to us. In just two little words Jesus is telling us that no matter how barren of good your life may look, no matter how unpromising the outer appearances may be in your life, if you really and truly feel a need for good in your life acknowledge that need and voice it and you will get a response if you voice it with faith.
He should not have gotten that drink and that sponge but he did because he acknowledged his need and voiced it with faith. He got a response from the very people executing him. The same thing is true in our lives.
We may say, “I can’t possibly get any good out of this situation that I find myself in. I can’t possibly find a change for the better in this circumstance so I won’t try.” That is a mistake. Say to yourself, remembering these words, “I thirst, I thirst for good to somehow come out of this.” Voice that. Ask and ye shall receive. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened onto you. But if you don’t ask, don’t seek, don’t knock, things will remain the same. Don’t be ashamed of feeling a need for good and when you feel it. Seek it with faith in God and God will take the most unlikely channel to produce the good that you are seeking.
It is finished.
It is finished. These words symbolize any moment of our life when we recognize that we have taken one more step in our good. We have completed one more phase of learning a lesson in life and are now ready to grow into a new dimension of consciousness. We have recognized the completion of our fulfillment of a past phase of growth by the word, it is finished.
Folks, this is a very helpful thing to do. Many of us neglect doing this but each time we learn some kind of a lesson in life. It is completed. It has been fulfilled. And this is observing the Sabbath in your own soul. You have entered the seventh phase of your own created process and when you recognize that you were done with the old itself that you were, it is finished, then the new self you are becoming will blossom forth. And you have grown in wisdom and stature.
Into Thy hands I commend my spirit.
And now the last one, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Your spirit is not your human personality. Your spirit is not the mood that you are now in. And your spirit is not to the present condition of your physical body. Your spirit is your eternal perfect to being. You always have been, you always will be a perfect being in God. This being of you which is eternal and perfect is your spirit and it is merged into all the good there is in the universe. It is God. And any time we take a moment and realize that my being is merged in the being of God the good omnipotent we are repeating in our own souls the final words of Jesus from the cross.
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit is another way of saying, “Father, God, the good omnipotent, regardless of how I feel, what I think, what do I look like, or what I am going through right now, I am eternally one with you and all the good that You are.” And when we do this we shall accomplish just what Jesus accomplished, a resurrection.
Following Jesus into the next higher dimension.
Now to finish I am going to read you the words from the four Gospels which tell what happened to Jesus on the cross. Do not believe for one minute that Jesus died on the cross. He did not die on the cross and the Bible does not say that he dies. It would be impossible for the Christ to die and Jesus was and is Christ. This is what happened to Jesus.
And in Mark it says, “He gave up the ghost.” In Matthew it says, “He yielded up his spirit.” In Luke it’s says, “He gave up the ghost.” And then John it’s says, “He gave up his spirit.” It does not say that He died. He gave up his spirit. He yielded up his spirit. He did not lay down his spirit. He did not lay down his being. He gave, He yielded up his spirit. Very significant friends.
In other words, Jesus raised his consciousness into the next highest dimension of being which is known as the fourth dimension. We live now in a consciousness of three dimensional being which is time, space, and circumstances. Jesus raised his conscious functioning life into the next highest realm which is the fourth dimension.
He is now free, completely free from the limitations of time, space, and circumstance. He lives in the body of light that is completely free, completely acceptable and available to all who need his help. He never did die. He never will die. Just as you and I never really die. We too, will follow Jesus into the next higher dimension of conscious existence. The realm of spirit.
And now, friends, let us once more in acknowledgment of this great day, this good today, this Good Friday, let us reevaluate our understanding of the crucifixion and of the importance of Jesus Christ in our lives. And once more let us affirm, Jesus Christ is here now raising me to his high consciousness of oneness with God. Together, Jesus Christ is here now raising me to his high consciousness of oneness with God. And Father God we do indeed give thanks for our oneness with each other, our oneness with Jesus Christ, and most of all for our oneness with you. Amen.