Good Friday

You might say that Jesus was an unfortunate victim of circumstances, a misunderstood radical who fell foul of the sectarian schools who were bantering for influence within society, but you would be missing something important. You might say that he was stupid, bringing himself into a dangerous position for nothing, flaunting with death until it caught him. You might even think he was a charlatan, misleading people with a hope that couldn’t be fulfilled, posing as some kind of enlightened messenger.

Those who followed him hid on the day of his death, fearing repression, dumbfound with fear and beyond belief. The cries of “Crucify!” struck his followers mute, disbelieving what they heard, remembering the triumphant march into the city. They hadn’t seen the faces of the people who lined the road into the holy city of David, how spontaneous their joyful jubilation had been. It had been a straw fire, a beacon of light, flaring up in the darkness, but a light that consumed and quickly went out, as though a storm was brewing.

Yes, they had called out “Hosanna,” be favourable to us on this day, but had they believed it? Wasn’t it their lack of faith that had moved Jesus to begin his mission to start with? The lack of faith that was overtaking the Jewish people under the burden of Roman oppression had driven Jesus out of his retreat, disillusioned with the passive approach of his Essenes brothers, angry at the progressive Pharisees, and in contempt of the Sadducees, who sought only to keep the peace. He had been full of sadness at the deaths of numerous Galileans who had arisen against the occupying heathens, only to be struck down by the overwhelming military power of Rome. Did nobody remember what had made Judah and Israel strong in the past, what had enabled them to rebuild Jerusalem over and over again?

The loud voices, that had a ring of contempt about them when they demanded his death, were the voices of people hoping for a reward in hardship. A Denari perhaps, with the loathsome head of a Caeser, with which they paid their taxes. But that was too much for a few hours shouting, even if the higher circles clearly wanted his death. Everyone had been surprised at the unusual hesitance of Pilate. Some said he had tried to speak to the Galilean to spite the Chief Priests who he disliked. But he hadn’t been successful – even the Galilean thought he was something better.

When the procession started off to Calvary, women had lined the route, mourning this son of Israel, just as they had mourned other sons in this occupation, because the whole situation was mournful. Women have always been the mourners of men who thought they could make a difference, risking their lives to bring about change, frustrated by the suffering and humiliation. They often died by the swords they had wielded, running into annihilation, whilst the women had the task to overcome their tears and wrought hearts. They had to rebuild the future for their children.

Jews having other Jews killed by Roman cohorts or Jews on the torturous crosses lining the streets were a disgrace for the country, whether it was Tax-Collectors or Rebels. Now another was to join them. Another Martyr, whipped and beaten, too weak to carry the beam of his cross, stumbling through the narrow streets towards execution. His crime was his passion; his compassion for the poor and the hungry had often nearly caused his own downfall, healing throughout the day until it was dark, fleeing the masses of people who followed the stories of miracles, wanting to see a sign.

The widows and the old were not amongst those masses, although some carried their sick for miles. His healing was traditional herbal medicine, but it was his message that had given people hope. The Kingdom had come close, was amongst them, in them. Hear the good news and repent the disloyalty to the covenant. Do not reject traditions, but do not be mislead by the progressives, who wanted to force God’s hand. Reject the sword, but do not become collaborators with Romans. Don’t hide in the desert, but live the golden rule. More, love God and love your neighbour. Overcome the negative spirit.

It was just a man who stumbled towards his death. No impressive sight, no majesty, nobody to follow: “Ecce Homo”. People who had been jubilant looked on him as just another aspirant who had disappointed them. Little did they know that it would become far worse at a later time, when the Temple would be destroyed once again, and the people dispersed throughout the Empire. Indirectly, the downfall of Israel was a result of not being able to listen to the prophets sent them. And Israel has a written and oral tradition that supports that statement, but it is doubtful that anyone other than Jewish Christians would have seen it that way - forty years after the crucifixion of a true Son of God, a true Son of Abraham.

Who were the “troublemakers” who had enough energy to argue on a cross? Did they deserve to die on a cross? Who has ever deserved to die such a torturous death? I wouldn’t wish such suffering on my worst enemy. These “offenders” are representative of the believer and non-believer in us who suffer under the conflict that the cross presents. The voices in our head that mock and praise the crucified Christ, representing our own ambivalent position in the face of injustice. They represent our own torn heart that struggles with the truth of this story.

And the soldiers, probably members of the Syrian cohorts who were paid to patrol the barren hills around Israel under the command of the proconsuls, were a sorry lot. Not the fine Roman troops, drilled and disciplined, able to march 500 miles and run into battle. These were soldiers who were third class, good enough to control the streets of Israel, but easy to influence. These were the soldiers who were at a loss when someone turned the right cheek towards their assailant, or who feared that someone was watching them when a carrier was willing to go another mile. Jesus knew they were easily manipulated, despite – or perhaps because of the bad conditions they lived in.

And the man on the cross? Who was he? Was he really just an aspirant, or was the message that the early Christians carried throughout the Empire so inspiring because they knew him. I believe he was extraordinarily consequential and absolutely trustworthy. He was someone whom you could believe when he told you something. He knew the people, he knew their sorrows and their hopes. He was someone you would follow into sure death – although he wouldn’t have wanted you to. He was aware that his teaching would be interpreted politically, and continually warned his followers of that, but he hoped that the spiritual transition would be stronger.

He was someone who clearly opposed the vision of the Roman Kyrie, and showed himself as an manifestation of the divine Kyrie – selfless, loving, merciful, compassionate. This was a subtle form of uprising, but one that the Christians felt was not turning the world on its head, but back onto its feet. They felt that Christ represented the divine order that had for too long been suppressed. “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again, and your reward will be great, and ye shall be sons of the Highest, because He is kind unto the ungracious and evil.”

“Certainly this was a righteous man,” says the centurion, seeing in the death of Jesus what the Disciples had at that point not yet understood. He was the Son of God, whom other Sons should follow – not necessarily into such an end, but towards the divine order, that we all have in our hearts, in which people can feel whole again.

Shalom
Bob

wow. Well said. Very well said.

I am awed by the Crucifixion. It seems so far beyond human possibility. Yet I believe it did occur for the reasons most are unaware of though it is constantly being pointed out in the Gospels. The Crucifixion was necessary for the cause of the Resurrection and man’s re-birth.

The Christ descended onto this plane of existence to enter the body of Jesus. The purpose was to reestablish the conscious connection between heaven and earth so that man could once again be more than a seed.

Man’s being had deteriorated to such a degree that the conscious quality of inner unity no longer existed. To make matters worse nature became accustomed to man’s sacrificing his higher energies necessary for consciousness by negative emotional expression and fantasy so would strive to retain the status quo.

So what Jesus had to do was first to fulfill scripture. By this I mean consciously witness the places within man’s psych that are closed off and in the dark. The light of conscious attention witnessing these places opened them and the illusion was replaced by awareness clearing the path.

The cross itself represented the largest obstacle and at the same time to give the world the quality of his energy at his physical death satisfying the earth’s needs and giving those aware of what was going on to use this energy for their own inner growth on the way to the desired re-birth.

The experience was the ultimate struggle between the conscious will to remain present, and the struggles of the corrupt ego and the body to go into chaos. This struggle for reasons to hard to explain now invited the reconciliation of the Holy spirit and its energies would now be available for man having understood the aim and purpose of Jesus’ on earth.

Politics had really little to do with it other than that it was the normal results of the chaos of man’s being. Jesus mission was to allow man through re-birth to acquire his rightful place in the cosmos. In order to do it, life on earth, antagonistic to the freedom of re-birth, had to be consciously witnessed in order to be free of the dominant attachments that deny consciousness. So Jesus consciously witnessed what was known would happen and at the Resurrection, began the climb back on the path to enter the way to be followed by those who had been able to comprehend and to use the teaching in its pure form so that they could, through the now provided help of the Holy spirit, attain re-birth and freedom from bondage to the earth.

Hi Nick,

You enter upon a very high plane, as though you had the blueprint that explains all of those things other people are left guessing at. That is also the official line of the church, regardless of what christian denomination you belong to. But don’t you think there are some other factors that could interest us?

Wow, I’m just amazed at your inside information. You mean this “Christ”-thing descended somehow into the womb of Mary and there he was? Heaven (where is that?) and Earth connected? Haven’t you been reading a few sci-fi books too many?

Hmmm, that was the plan and Indy, I mean Jesus, had to find the holy grail to save the world. It makes interesting reading, but could it be that it seems very fictional?

Most of the Characters in the synoptic Gospels are so very unspecial and the story has a disappointing end. I can’t see it becoming a best-seller. :wink:

You have to admit though, the Evangelists did do their best to describe what they had heard in a manner that made devotional reading popular. But the Gospels originally only supported an oral tradition that had already been made popular. It was the story of the divine Kyrie, a contrast to the Roman Despot who called himself Kyrie. It was the story of he who made the supreme sacrifice for his friends and followers, showing them the trust that he had sought in Israel. It was the story of a man who complied and indeed fitted scripture in a way that was uncanny.

Do I think that this was his mission from birth? No, but I think he realised more and more where he was going to - and he stayed on course. He could have flinched many times, he could have taken himself out of range, but he didn’t. This isn’t a man looking into scriptures in the evening, finding something that he can fulfill tomorrow. Rather, it is someone who finds himself in a decisive situation, and one who decides that if it has to be that way, then so be it.

The church has always tried to keep politics out of the discussion and instead to lean of our being ‘Sinners’. To begin with it relaxed the relations between the Romans and the rest of the world. Later it pleased the Aristocracy to subdue the subversive aspects of the Gospel. The fact is though, you can’t be a public person in an occupied country without a political opinion. However, if the occupiers punish a disturbance of the peace with death, like many Roman proconsuls did, then you keep your opinions low key.

Shalom
Bob

Bob

I doubt it because it is all based on cosmology which has no appeal for the majority anymore.

I have the mind of a chess player which is why a grasp of universal scheme or divine plan is important in order to appreciate the interactions of universal laws that maintain and sustain this enormous perpetual motion machine we know as our universe.

It has taken a certain amount of study as well as experiential practice in order to arrive at the soundness of certain ancient ideas. How could I possibly relate this in a post? So all I did was to acknowledge my humility in front of the enormity of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Why you feel compelled to ridicule by talking about sci-fi books is just part of the normal impulse to reject what is not immediately comprehensible but implies the existence of higher realities that are beyond our conception, is beyond me.

Everything is connected and must be seen as an organic whole. In order to lead up to the question of the events over Easter, I would have to give my understanding of the necessity of the act of creation itself. then I would have to explain my conceptions of the Holy Trinity and how its interactions on a sliding qualitative scale comprising the quality of being itself, creates the myriad of “individualities” within our great universe.

Then I would have to describe the importance of the earth within this universal scheme, the role of conscious life in the universe and the ways in which consciousness blends with the extent of mechanical laws comprising each cosmos so the idea of the relationship between heaven and earth is clear.

Then there is the question of Man. What is man before the fall as compared to after?

Then it would be necessary to see the Father, Son, Man relationship within the cosmology of the universe itself to make clear the necessity of the son because of the level of the origin of Man.

Man would then have to be seen in the context of the span between man on earth and evolved man.

Then the idea of a miracle would have to be understood and why a miracle is defined as the laws natural for a higher cosmos, accidentally or intentionally, manifesting in the next lower and the role of consciousness within such an event.

The reason for man’s helplessness from an alchemical perspective would have to be made clear as well as the nature of illusion itself and the reason for its dominance in order to appreciate the path to freedom.

All this would be necessary before appreciating Christ’s descent and why it appears as a miracle. Understanding the ascending path that leads to the “way” and the role of consciousness within the cosmological context requires understanding the relative connection of wholeness that reconciles the influences of heaven and earth on Man.

This requires serious effort and not just a post.

This is not inside information but requires people with a sincere desire to understand rather than just the desire to justify ones own understanding. Unfortunately, IMO, there are not enough of them.

It doesn’t taste good nor is it good for getting laid or for asserting ones self importance. Is it any wonder why it is not wanted and that the events of Easter have lost their significnce for the majority?

Nick,

Once again, you seem to imply that unless one is willing to accept your particular cosmology they have ‘missed’ something. I have no desire to play tit for tat about this. I have already expressed my reservations. It might be useful to consider that there could be more than one correct viewpoint on matters spiritual. Your intellectual understanding is given, but your dismissal of other viewpoints show’s a certain lack of understanding. Of course, it may be that there isn’t anyone on the forum capable of grasping the intricacy of your constructs.

As to the 'enormityof the crucifixion and resurrection", the message was as simple as it was powerful. There is no need to contemplate the whole universe to understand. The crucifixion story isn’t about intellectual knowing. It asked for intuitive understanding, plain and simple. You will, of course, not be able to accept this, as it obviously comes from a corrupt ego.

JT

Hi Nick,
I hope I haven’t hurt your feelings.

I do not have the mind of a chess player, but I understand where you’re going. The trouble is that such schemes are fiction and at best they are intuitive imaginations that could have something appealing. The image of God is a vision. The images of the Old Testament are very often visions too. They are mystical interpretations of occurrences that are seen to have a long-term effect.

Your ‘divine plan’ was not something ‘not immediately comprehensible but [that] implies the existence of higher realities that are beyond our conception’ but sounded very fundamentalist. I appreciate that you are trying to bring a new slant into the discussion, but there wasn’t much new about it.

This too was a brave statement. It suggests that there is a materialistic answer - but I say that this is something beyond that. Your further expositions suggest there is something we can understand in Good Friday. Surely it is as mysterious as the Ineffable, and it remains a struggle to conceive any ‘sense’ in it. However, it is this internal conflict that is able to bring forth something worthwhile for our lives and our understanding. Therefore Good Friday indirectly helps us, but still remains a mystery.

I agree with Tentative that we are not looking for a ‘correct’ exegesis, but we are looking for something helpful - and that can vary between people. That may not be appealing to you, someone who is prone to wish to understand the great plan behind it. I accept the Son of God as the vision of an optimised Mankind, and the divine Kyrie or the Christ as a Mythos of atonement. At the same time, the occurrences reported in the Gospels tell me that Jesus was flesh and blood, his death an injustice, and his life an inspiration - I haven’t reached his resurrection yet. That was what drove me to write what I did, and your answer seemed to say, “that’s nothing… look at the larger plan …”

As I have repeatedly written, the wise have always ascertained that they know nothing.

Shalom
Bob

Tentative

You’ve lost me. The suggestion was made that some factors may be of interest to some people. I said I doubt it since it initially requires an appreciation of cosmology which is not of interest so it would be impossible to do. What is so unusual about that? How else is one to make any sense out of re-birth? Without cosmology the events can only be appreciated as either secular or fundmentalist.

All I did was make the mistake of offering my appreciation and understanding of the events over Easter. Exactly what viewpoints did I dismiss? I didn’t mention any other viewpoints in my appreciation of Easter. I offered my understanding. Where do you get all this from?

Why would you want to play tit for tat is beyond me. what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

You are right that I don’t agree with it since intuition and faith, though related, are not the same and also that it comes from a corrupt ego. But my ego has been corrupted also so we have this in common. It is the result of original sin.

Hi Bob

I wasn’t hurt at all so no need for concern at that end.

On what authority do you issue this proclamation? Why should you be believed?

How is the idea that everything functions together as part of an organic whole a “brave” statement. What does bravery have to do with it?

Yes I agree that Good Friday indirectly helps us but it also can directly help us and it saddens me to the degree that it is lost.

I may be missing something here but wasn’t your initial post your personal “correct exegesis?” When you call others view “sci-fi” or pronounce that: “The trouble is that such schemes are fiction and at best they are intuitive imaginations that could have something appealing,” it appears as a natural negative reaction to what is not in accord with your correct exegesis.

My post wasn’t an attack it was simply adding to the mix in a way that is not the norm. You assume the secular approach. I’m not going to jump up and down or commit suicide over it. It is the fashionable interpretation so I’m used to it. However my own personal experiences and the readings of those whose understanding totally dwarfs mine has lead me to appreciate the Crucifixion and Resurrection as I do.

It is easy to say it. The difficulty is inwardly acknowledging the truth of it.

Hi Nick,

I can see that you are having difficulty with my mystical approach which has gained so much criticism elsewhere. A shame that those people write those things in other threads and don’t confront me with it.

The fact is that Mystics are quite normal believers, in my case a Christian, that very often are especially confronted with the conflicting existential experiences of life, and are in the fortunate position to meditate or contemplate on those issues. The interesting thing about this, is that we believe we develop a deeper devotion, whereas we are accused of being ‘secular’ or ‘heretic’ or something along those lines.

We are known for our disdain of material things, a disregard of intellect and a yearning for divine edification. We are generally people with a dedication to the church, a strong social commitment and have a readiness to disclose our insight to others. Our standpoint is very firmly on the ground, as is our teaching. Our meditation begins with tradition and scripture, is enhanced by human experience and seeks inspiration from the Ineffable, the Mystery or the divine Presence.

The difficulties people often have with us is our tendency to declare God, or that which is behind the metaphor ‘God,’ to be no-thing. All descriptions of that Mystery are figurative and the symbols and images draw on human reality. Where the vision of a Mystic is immediately put into spoken or written word, it becomes ecstatic and blurred. It is the contemplation of such visions that bring forth the gems that we have come to know from Meister Eckhardt and others.

We are also open for varying exegesis. That is, we see the message transported by scripture to vary in clarity, but it is in the proclamation of faith, or in the Sermon that the word becomes spiritual and dynamic and salvation occurs by means of faith. That is why there have been a thousand and more sermons about Good Friday that all vary, but none of them are conclusive and final – or correct. It is about learning to trust, not about knowledge.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Paul - Colossians 2:8

If thou reliest more upon thine own reason or industry than upon the virtue that subjects to Jesus Christ, thou wilt seldom and hardly become an enlightened man; for God wishes us to be perfectly subject to Himself, and to transcend all reason by inflamed love.
Thomas a Kempis - Of the Imitation of Christ Bk. 1 Ch. 4 v. 13

Shalom
Bob

Bob

I must admit to being confused as to what you mean. To clarify it for me, I’ll just ask you one question. What is re-birth?

Hi Nick,

Well, according to WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University, it is either

1: after death the soul begins a new cycle of existence in another human body [syn: metempsychosis]
2: a second or new birth [syn: reincarnation]
3: the revival of learning and culture [syn: Renaissance, renascence]
or
4: a spiritual enlightenment causing a person to lead a new life [syn: conversion, spiritual rebirth]

The last definition seems to be what Jesus is talking about when talking to Nicodemus in John 3:3:
Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Verily, verily, I say to thee, If any one may not be born from above, he is not able to see the reign of God.’

Since gennaw (or gennao) can be used metaphorically to mean exactly the fourth definition, I assume that Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he needed to change his ways before he could see ‘the reign of God’.

There was a similar terminology used in 2 Corinthians 5:17 which seems to be a rabbinical usage (by which a man converted from idolatry to Judaism was called)
‘so that if any one is in Christ—he is a new creature; the old things did pass away, lo, become new have the all things.’

Shalom
Bob

We understand re-birth differently. Re-birth for me is more than just spiritual enlghtenment but a change of human “being” itself.

It is not changing ways but I believe it is he himself who must change.

This spiritual enlightenment you refer to I know as “metanoia” which is the change of direction when a person changes from looking outside for meaning to looking inside.

Taking the birth of a human baby for example, the act of conception itself is metanoia. It is the beginning of a possibility of a new birth. Conception develops into a fetus and finally, if all goes well, is born as a new being.

The seed of man is like that. Something may activate it and it desires to grow to be born. With the human baby its growth and passage into birth is a mechanical process. Human re-birth, unlike natural birth, it is a conscious process. The major obstacle then is our lack of sustained consciousness natural for our state of chaotic disunity so dust returns to dust.

Hi Bob,

You know I have a tendency toward brevity, almost terseness, so how about this?

Jesus of Nazareth was compelled to follow the tradition of the prophets in asking the Israelites to forgo the letter of the laws and return to the spirit in which they were given. As the prophets before him, his message was that the apprehension of, and union with god was not in the law itself, but in the spirit of. This was the potential of ‘re-birth’.

JT

Hi Nick,

either we are just mixing words, or there is a real division between what we mean. The question of Nicodemus asks, rather scoffly, whether the natural process is meant. He is answered, “If any one may not be born of water, and the Spirit, he is not able to enter into the reign of God.” Even today people argue about what is meant here. I interpret it in this way: Water refers to baptism, by which a person can begin a new life by symbolically ‘drowning’ the old. The further necessity is an openness for the spirtual, which for Mystics amounts to living a life of charity, in purity of heart, humility, meekness, with a disdain of material things, a disregard of intellect, a yearning for divine edification and in communion with God.

Shalom
Bob

Hi JT,

:smiley:

I’ll try paraphrasing you, interpreting as I go along:

Jesus of Nazareth, who was born a Jew and brought up under the law, found himself in the situation many Prophets of Israel found themselves in - he found the leaders of the people either ousted or collaborating with foreign powers, there were scribes and priests making a business out of their role in society, and there were no prophets to be found other than those following the official line.

He was less a progressive spirit than rather a conservative one, since he accused the Pharisees of promoting new laws, which in some cases overruled the cornerstones of the law. But he understood the fulfillment of the law more as an expression of life as a Jew, rather than as a duty that he was forced to obey. As such, it was important to know the spirit of the law, not just the words (which Israel should know in and outwardly), and find the freedom that is proclaimed within it.

That is why Paul says that the Torah is spirit, and salvation is by means of faith, not by means of works. The words are human, but the Torah is the spirit of the ‘new creation’ and expression of the spiritual revolution that Jesus brought us.

Not so short, but perhaps a fair rendering of what I consider to be the ‘rebirth’, ‘birth from above’, or ‘new creation’. Perhaps the differences are subtle - but important.

Shalom
Bob

Hi Bob

I would have to say that there is a real division in our understandings.

The real value of the Gospels, as I understand it, is not historical but instead psychological. It centers around re-birth. If man can be reborn it means that he is somehow incomplete and capable of a greater capacity for understanding.

We all have a personality that deals with external life. It is how we interact with family, friends, society, and societies etc. This is all external. it is the outer side of our being.

However there is an inner side as well which because of the human condition, remains undeveloped. The Gospels contain elements of the teachings that can reach the inner man so that it can awaken to its rightful possibility for its growth necessary for human evolution.

The Gospels have to be written in such a way so as to confuse the well developed outer man long enough so these esoteric truths aren’t classified and instead received by our inner life.

Stone represents literal hard truth. As such it does not have the power to awaken. It is just the cold facts of the law. The Ten Commandments are written in stone.

Water represents living truth in that it has the power to awaken.

John 4:

This is referring to the thirst for “meaning”. The Samaritan woman had access only to man made truths, but though well intentioned, couldn’t quench this thirst to become “one” with meaning.

Matthew 10

It would be easy to take this superficially as giving a glass of water to a thirsty child but the psychological meaning in relation to re-birth is deeper. The little ones are those that are young in their understanding and both gullible and in need of help in the form of living truth.

So while baptism has become a ritual in Christendom, what it refers to is much more than symbolic. It refers to the initial awakening which a sleeping man cannot comprehend regardless of how many books he writes about it.

Being re-born begins with the awakening from digesting living truth in the essence of oneself as opposed to its being intercepted and classified by the perceptions of the outer man.

But what can be the force in us to remain present to it? Much of our common presence, our pride, vanity, dominance of our habitual nature, doesn’t want it and recognizes it as a threat to their lives. We keep turning in circles.

The Holy spirit that replaces our dominant earthly emotions and knowing its value, opens the possibility for active consciousness that can see the self and begin understand the God/Man relationship by becoming receptive to it and a part of it in more than just our imagination.

This IMO is a new quality of Man sometimes referred to as the “New Man” of higher being. It is a man with the beginnings of a soul that can be simultaneously recptive to the higher while active in relation to the lower and in this way keeping open the connection between the levels of heaven and earth.

Hi Nick,

I too appreciate that the main theme of the synoptical Gospels was not the historical portrayal of Jesus, but rather the proclamation of the kingdom of God being at hand, especially in Jesus who provides all of the necessary signs of the approach rule of God. Mark’s Gospel however is rudimentary and was the basis of Matthew and Luke, whereby Luke apparently used a lot of other material.

The general question asked is, “Who is this man?” The question of course is answered in the Gospels. But the synoptics haven’t got the rich symbolism of John, which is written especially mystical and draws on many sources. You must admit that you didn’t enter this thread on the level you are now arguing on, but on the meta-plane. Perhaps that explains why there was a division between us.

Now if you say that John, in particular, is the source of much of what has since been known as Mystic, then I would agree with you. John does address the Gnostics with his own version of Gnosis, but it is also full of mystery. Of the Gospels John is the one who most emulated the style of the ‘lesser’ Gospels, especially Thomas, but this could be because John’s Gospel was intended to oppose the disruptive nature of Gnosticism.

If you want to say that this is ‘psychological’ rather than ‘historical’ then alright. But there is more than psychology here.

It centers around re-birth. If man can be reborn it means that he is somehow incomplete and capable of a greater capacity for understanding.
‘Knowledge’ being the subject of Gnosis, which is an intuitive or ecstatic insight that was seen by Gnostics to be superior, because it is described as an ‘immediate’ communion with God, Gnostics saw themselves already ‘resurrected’ or ‘reborn’. Paul argues that the resurrection is of a different nature and is misled to figuratively describe what fundamentalists speak of as ‘rapture’.

John approaches the subject of ‘understanding’ from the gnostic quarters and describes Jesus from the outcome as a mystery that has been disclosed to few, but says that this disclosure empowers believers. In his prologue, the LOGOS (a term used by a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus around 600 B.C. to designate the divine reason or plan which coordinates a changing universe) went forth from God and became incarnate in Jesus from Nazareth. John seems to have used this terminology to enhance his mystery and appeal to the Gnostics.

Do we ‘understand’ what happened? Isn’t that the disappointment of historians, that there is no historical corroboration of the Gospels? Are we just to push the tradition to one side, because we can’t explain miracles and signs? On the other hand, can we take the reports literally? I think we have to understand that the conflict that the traditions create in us are a chance to grasp the truth. It isn’t the nodding in agreement that is creative, but the conflict.

Of course humankind has more promise than is apparent. Whether it would be an evolutionary step is something that I can’t claim to know. I just recognise a need in us all for spiritual enlightenment, even if many of us try to avoid the issue. As usual such displaced needs raise their heads in other places – very often disfigured and hardly recognisable.

I think we have to distinguish between the imagery of the OT and that of the NT. The Waters and even wells can have a threatening aspect about them in the OT. In the Psalms the author often talks about the water being up to their necks, but also about the yearning for satisfaction of spiritual thirst. The symbolism of water in the Bible therefore varies greatly and the various word in Greek and Hebrew portray these varying symbols (of pre-history, of many peoples, of danger, violence, transitory things, refreshment, watering or saturation of plants).

John seems to take the metaphorical thirst and uses it on a number of occasions. You have given examples of that, where ‘water’ is a synonym for teaching, doctrine or counsel. Such counsel awakens trust, which is the manifestation of salvation. That is why Jesus looked for such trust as a sign that Israel really was the chosen people.

The symbolism in Matthew isn’t so pronounced and the cup of water is a metaphor for a good deed, which goes beyond giving alms. Matthew is still proclaiming the Jewish Messiah, although at the end of the Gospel of course the world Saviour is presented – more as an afterthought than in keeping with his primary concept. The good deeds of the Jews were signs of salvation, just as the nations should witness the good deeds of Israel and praise God, thereby receiving a part in that salvation in recognition of Israel as Redeemer (in the original sense) of the world. The Christians moved this Redeemer role to Jesus, as the remnant of Israel. That is why there is so much talk of the Jews not recognising Jesus as their Messiah. They took the prophecy of ‘Lo’ `Ammiy’ (“not my people” Hosea 1,9) to mean them.

Baptism is the symbol of the first step of ‘rebirth’ and is not the mere external symbol in the way John the Baptist used it in preparation of the coming of the ‘Holy One’ who would baptise ‘with the Holy Spirit’. It is not a ritual washing, but a symbol of the death of old self:
“are ye ignorant that we, as many as were baptized to Christ Jesus, to his death were baptized?”

I don’t subscribe to the idea that the Holy Spirit ‘replaces’ anything, but it is an expression of the New Life or the Way, by which we gain new perspectives and insight. Our earthly emotions are not gone, only a little less dominant.

Shalom
Bob

Hi Bob

True, I was expressing my awe at the magnitude and profundity of the results surrounding Jesus’ sacrifice at Golgotha.

I am a firm believer in the value of gnosis but very wary of Gnosticism. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

You speak of water in the OT for example as not being very indicative of a teaching. After all, some descriptins are threatening. Yes, and for good reason. It always boils down to the same reason: our inability to put knowledge into the perspective of our own nothingness.

Its always the same thing. So when you read of the problems water is causing it is because of the normal result of knowledge being distorted from the level of man’s corrupt ego.

Noah’s Ark is the classic. It is the psychological description of man’s consciousness riding on top of all this emotional and dualistic chaos. The three storied vessel is the scale our being and the animals are the multitude and variety of our emotions. Those that are without knowledge of themselves and of their nothingness will spiritually die in this torrent as a result of living truths that will be distorted.

The danger of spiritual thirst is that the questions it raises are quickly answered by our ingenious methods of self deception causing death in the flood.

Here I must strongly disagree. What good is the trust of a sleeping man. Countless charlatans have made enormous profits from the gullibility of this blind trust.

Before trusting, a person has to become consciously able to “test the spirits” as described in 1 John 4:

Not easy to do but essential non the less.

John the Baptist, the highest level of man born of woman, could baptize with living water. The Christ, having descended from above, could additionally baptize with the Holy Spirit that would enable the living water to be put into perspective for the transformation of our being.

As an aside, you mention the Gospel of Thomas which is a perfect example of our tendency to distort meaning. For some reason there has developed this obsession to secularize it which is just silly leading to even humorous incidents.

It is actually funny when you read these secular discussions and interpretations when they arrive at the diabolical and infamous #114

It is a challenge to be in a discussion and keep a straight face when it includes many feminists as this is being “explained” by one of these secular experts. Luckily, over the years I’ve perfected the art of looking innocent otherwise I would be dead by now. :slight_smile:

Actually a discussion of the Gospel of Thomas could be revealing and valuable for this forum but I don’t if their would be interest. Not too many esoteric Christians around.