Category Archives: Mystery of Golgotha

St. John’s Day

Our everyday ego, to which I say “I”, takes part in the whole outer world, in all that is perishable. But is there a part of me that is imperishable? There slumbers within me, a new man, a second ego.  In our age, people are unaware of this but they can become aware. This second ego is linked with the imperishable just as our first ego is bound up with the perishable. By means of a rebirth this second ego, namely our higher ego, beholds a spiritual world just as our first, or lower, ego perceives the physical world through the senses. This rebirth is initiation. It is the greatest event for any human soul. Once achieved, an initiate can look “from above” on the lower ego analogously to how man looks on objects of the physical world.

As the child is born of the mother, so the higher ego is born of man as the Son of Man. In the individual human being there can be a rebirth of the higher ego. Once this occurs, the higher ego irradiates all the circumstances of his life. He is a new man. That which existed previously is of no further importance. The higher ego grows and develops further.

Does this event of the rebirth of the higher ego have some connection with the event of Christ Jesus? “Just as a rebirth can occur for the individual in his development, so a rebirth for all humanity came about through Christ Jesus. That which is an inner event for the individual — a mystical-spiritual event, as it is called, something he can experience as the birth of his higher ego — corresponds to what occurred in the outer world, in history, for all mankind in the event of Palestine through Christ Jesus. The body of Jesus of Nazareth had unfolded like the bright sun on St. John’s Day in June. That had been foretold. Then the spirit was to be born out of the darkness, just as the sun steadily gains in strength and power up to St. John’s Day, and then begins to decline. That was what the Baptist had to proclaim. He had to continue to bear witness until — pointing to the sun’s ever-increasing splendor — he could say, He of Whom the old Prophets told, He Who in the spiritual realms has been called the Son of the Spiritual Realms, He has appeared. — Up to this point John the Baptist was active. But then — when the days become shorter and darkness begins to gain the upper hand — then the inner spiritual light is to shine as a result of right preparation, is to become ever brighter as the Christ shines in Jesus of Nazareth.

That is the way John the Baptist saw the approach of Jesus of Nazareth; and he felt the growth of Jesus of Nazareth as his own diminution and as the increase in the power of the sun. From now on I shall wane, he said, even as the sun wanes after St. John’s Day. But He will wax — He the spiritual sun — and shine out of the darkness. — Thus was the Christ heralded; and thus began the rebirth of the ego of mankind, upon which depends the rebirth of every individual higher human ego. ” — Rudolf Steiner, June 24, 1909

From Ancient Mysteries to Rome, Part 2

A study of history can, however, bring to light something else in this connection, that is of very great significance. Into the external exoteric culture of Greece flowed much of this threefold teaching of

  1. Zarathustra, teaching of the spiritual Sun
  2. Osiris, the elemental Sun and
  3. Anaxagoras, of Zeus, the Sun-flooded ether environment of the Earth.

The world would never have had such a sublime Greek art, nor such a wonderful Greek philosophy, nor a Plato or an Aristotle, were it not that into the art and philosophy of Greece flowed streams from this ancient wisdom.

A time came, however, when the initiation truths that were handed down from past epochs were no longer sufficiently protected from profanation. Many teachings that had their source in initiation wisdom passed into the hands of distinguished Romans, more especially the Roman emperors. Among them all, perhaps of Augustus alone can it be said that he still knew how to value the initiation wisdom that was imparted to him. In the Roman world there was, generally speaking, no understanding for the esoteric factor in Greek art and Greek wisdom, no recognition that these contained elements which could be traced back to the very most ancient wisdom teaching. Consequently, the hopelessly prosaic, the semi-barbarous civilization of Rome took over what we may call the surface brightness, the sheen, of Greek culture, but was quite incapable of handing on, in its true form, to later generations what lived at the heart of this culture. And so when Roman influences began to permeate the Christianity that had, ever since the Mystery of Golgotha, been making its way into the world, there was no possibility for Christianity to receive, along with all that came from Rome, the true essence of the ancient culture.

Because Rome did not know how to value and guard initiation, the genuine initiation truths of earlier times have been prevented from finding their way over to the West. We must realize that we, as human beings possessing the ordinary consciousness of modern times, have been debarred from the sacred truths of olden times because Rome was unable to understand these truths. As we know, it was a man who hailed from Rome that drove out of Europe the last remaining Greek philosophers and obliged them to seek refuge in the East.

Now, there was in a later time a man who came as near to the teachings of initiation as it was possible to come in the time in which he lived, and who was acquainted with the teaching o£ these three aspects of the Sun — the aspect of the Sun according to Zarathustra, the aspect of the Sun that is associated with Osiris, and the aspect of the Sun as seen and understood by Pythagoras and Anaxagoras. This man was Julian the Apostate. He was not able himself to behold the Sun in all three aspects, but he knew of the teaching; he knew it as a tradition that had come down in the Mystery Schools. And so impressed was Julian the Apostate by this teaching of the three aspects of the Sun that to him that which Christianity brought seemed small in comparison. For he still knew of the inexpressible glory and splendor into which Zarathustra had gazed; he had learned to know also of the activities of fire and of light, of the cosmic chemical forces, and of the cosmic life-forces, as man had been able to behold them in the ancient Mysteries. Of all this he, Julian, could in his time still learn, albeit only by tradition.

This whole teaching seemed to him so sublime, so mighty, that he found himself unable to accept Christianity. The thoughts and purposes of his mind were, in fact, turned in quite another direction. He seized with the desire to impart to mankind the ancient Mysteries into which he had himself been initiated up to a certain degree. And this, my dear friends, was what led at last to the unsheathing of the dagger that brought his life to a violent end. The hand that lifted the dagger belonged to one of those who counted it a sin to communicate the lofty teachings of initiation to the general run of mankind. Julian’s murderer wanted that people should hear of the Sun spoken of in an external manner only.

Julian the Apostate declared that the Sun has three aspects:Bust of Julian the Apostate

  1. its influence on the Earthly ether
  2. its heavenly light that is behind the Earthly ether, the warmth, the chemical, and the life forces
  3. the aspect of pure spiritual Being.

For this he was put out of the way arranged by one of his own soldiers (tradition says John Martyr the Warrior). And indeed it must be admitted that the moment had not yet come when mankind in general was ripe to receive such weighty and solemn truths. That time has now come.

From Ancient Mysteries to Rome, Part 1

[The following relies on insights from a lecture by Rudolf Steiner in London, 24 August 1922]

Let’s go back to the Ancient Persian civilization when the teacher of mankind during the height of this civilization was Zarathustra (aka Zoroaster). It was a common custom for the pupils of a great and lofty teacher to continue for a long time to bear his name.  Thus, the Zarathustra we read of in history is in reality the last of a succession of pupils of the great Zarathustra. This great teacher of mankind was initiated in a most wonderful and remarkable manner into the secrets of existence, and he could stand before the men of his time and teach them as an eminent and sublime initiate.

When we look at the Sun, we see it through our scientific education. Through his initiation, Zarathustra knew that in that place in the heavens where we see a mere Sun, he knew there lives a great and all-embracing Spirit. In fact, Zarathustra did not see the physical Sun at all; rather he beheld a great and omnipresent cosmic Spirit that influenced him in a spiritual way. Zarathustra knew that with the sunshine came also spiritual rays, rays of divine-spiritual grace and bounty, which enkindle in the soul and spirit of man that ‘higher man’ to which the ordinary man in us must continually aspire.

Zarathustra, Zoroaster means the Radiant Star as this is what his pupils called him. They perceived that he received from the radiant Godhead the rays of wisdom. When Zarathustra looked upon the spiritual cosmic Sun, he was looking into the source of all the forces through which all things became. Forces that make the stones on the Earth to be hard and solid, forces that make the plants to come forth from their seeds and grow, forces that make the animals to spread abroad over the face of the Earth in their different kinds, and forces that make man to flourish and thrive upon the Earth. The first and oldest of the Zarathustras, the original Radiant Star, had knowledge of everything that took place on the Earth because he was able to experience the Spiritual Being of the Sun whom he called Ahura Mazda.

As mankind evolved, so did these Ancient Mysteries. When we get to the Chaldean and Egyptian era,  initiates were no longer able to penetrate so deeply into the Mysteries of the worlds. Mankind still looked up to the Sun, but he no longer saw it as radiant, as sending forth rays; rather, he saw it now as shining, as illuminating the Earth with its light. Sun-radiance was replaced with sunshine. Ra signified for Egyptians the Sun that moved round the Earth, giving light and Osiris was his representative on Earth. Some of the secrets from Persia had been lost. For example, the initiate was no longer able to see with full inner clarity the radiant cosmic God, as had the Persian initiates of an older time. He could only see how the primal astral forces descend from the Sun. Zarathustra saw in the Sun a Being, he was still able to see in the Sun a Being. The initiates of Egypt saw in the Sun the forces that come to the Earth.. What they saw were deeds, forces of light, forces of movement but not a spiritual Being. And the Egyptian initiates spoke of One who represents, on Earth, the forces of the Sun that man carries within him, namely Osiris.

When we come to the age of Greece, we find that by the eighth, seventh, fifth century before the Mystery of Golgotha, man had lost all power of looking into the Mysteries of the Sun. He could see only the effect of the Sun’s influence in the environment or the Earth. Man beheld the working of the Sun in the ether that fills all the space around the Earth. And this ether, that spreads out around the Earth and permeates also man himself, this the Greek initiates such as Anaxagoras called Zeus.

We see three descending stages in the cultural evolution of mankind. First there was the stage when the initiates beheld in the sun a divine-spiritual being; followed by a second stage when the initiates beheld the sun’s forces; and finally a third stage, when the initiates beheld only the influence of the sun being in the earth’s ether.

Whitsun: what is this festival anyway?

What is Whitsun? Why is it Important?

Whitsun is a shortened version of Whit Sunday which may derive from White Sunday or from Whit as in wit, wisdom, or both. This name is used in countries with Anglican religious heritage or connections. Whitsun is the seventh Sunday after Easter. It is another name for Pentecost which is the fiftieth day after Passover (the Saturday before Easter, or at least it was supposed to be but differences between the Gregorian, the Julian, and the Hebrew calendars cause Western Easter, Eastern Easter, and Passover to often unalign.) Another way to describe this is that Ascension Thursday happens 40 days after Easter and Whitsun/Pentecost ten days later. While Christmas is a fixed holiday, Whitsun/Pentecost is “movable” as it falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon that follows the spring equinox. The early Christians tried to establish Easter as a cosmic event with Christmas as an earthly event.  Pentecost is the Greek name for Shavuot, a prominent feast of ancient Israel that celebrated Moses receiving the Law on Sinai. Perhaps the name Whitsun, or Whitsunday, was an attempt to distance or distinguish this Christian festival from the Jewish one.

Whitsun and Ascension go together. The time from Easter to Ascension is a time of intense teaching from Christ to the disciples. All present were initiated into the deep Mysteries of Golgotha.  Then comes the proving of the training – ten days alone (or becoming all-one).

The festival of Whitsun commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples. This is described in Acts 2:1-4, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all together in one self [place is often used]. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong rushing wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”

Normally our mental image is tongues of fire on the 12 disciples but note this 6th century Rabbula Gospels from Syria (now in the Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy). It shows Mary, mother of Jesus of Nazareth, in the middle. Thus present, in one self, were more than just the 12. Some traditions claim as many as 120 were present as one.

To understand Whitsun/Pentecost, we need to understand what is here called the Holy Spirit. There are two mentions in the bible of descents of the holy spirit. The first is [John 1:32-34] at the baptism of Jesus,  “Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit descend down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’” The second ‘descent’ is Acts 2:1-4 as quoted above. I bolded the words “and remain” to emphasize that this spirit was not in Jesus of Nazareth until this moment of baptism. Theologians often miss this important point.

‘Spirit’ is mentioned in other passages, notably John 19:30, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit [pneuma, πνεῦμα].” Pneuma is the same word for wind in Greek, not the moving air but what moves the air. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states that pneuma also means “breath as in the nostrils or mouth, often in Greek writings from Aeschylus down.” Now read Genesis 2:7 (ASV) “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” And in John 1:4 “In Him is life [zoe, ζωὴ] and that life is the light of mankind.” “Him” is the Word, the Logos. When a human being speaks a word, they must use their breath. Breath is of the airy element in which light can freely exist. Note the strong association of the Word with life, zoe. Much more could be said on this tangent.

How are these two descents of the Holy Spirit alike and how are they different?

Let’s start with the day of the Ascension. Gazing upwards, the disciples of Christ Jesus  see Christ vanishing in the clouds. The usual conception of this scene is that Christ went up into heaven and so departed from the earth leaving not only the disciples to their own resources but the rest of mankind as well. This feels like a spiritual reneging on the promise of Easter! Did not Christ, through His deed on Golgotha, resolve to unite His own Being with the earth, that is to say, from the Mystery of Golgotha onwards to remain forever connected with earth-evolution?

Next, ten days after this Ascension, tongues of fire descend upon the heads of all of those assembled as “one self” so that they are inspired “to speak with other tongues.” What this actually means is that from this moment forward those gathered were able to impart the secrets learned from their time with the resurrected Christ, of the Mystery of Golgotha, to the heart of every human being, irrespective of race, gender, religion, or ethnicity. This was a cosmic deed accomplished for the whole of humanity.

Christ fulfilled his deed for all mankind on Golgotha. But now mankind must come to grasp this deed. The permeation of the human spirit-and-soul with the power to understand the Mystery of Golgotha is the sending of the Holy Spirit. This is the picture of the Whitsun festival, the festival of Pentecost.

Christ sent the Spirit after ten days of working on their own so that the individual being of spirit-and-soul may have access to the effects of The Deed that was accomplished for all men in common. Through the Spirit man must learn to experience the Christ Mystery inwardly, in spirit and in soul. The Holy Spirit is available to each human individual in order that he or she may be able to understand this cosmic Deed.

Looking a bit deeper (there are always more depths!), we can come to see that the Ascension tells us: The Deed on Golgotha was fulfilled for the physical body and the etheric body in the universal human sense while Whitsun tells us: The single human being must make this Deed bear fruit in himself by receiving the Holy Spirit. Thereby the universal Christ Impulse becomes individual in each human being.

Materialism and Christianity

Easter was THE important Christian festival. St. Paul said, “If Christ be not risen, then is your faith vain.” A key purpose to the Council of Nicaea was to set the date of Easter (as calendars in those days had insufficient leap years to prevent the spring equinox from sliding in March towards February). The festival of the birth of Jesus was not at all celebrated. Christians felt that Jesus (both of Matthew’s gospel and of Luke’s) was born as a man and Christ entered this body at the baptism. As full of mystery as birth and baptism may be, for early Christians the important new mystery was what happened from Golgotha to the grave to the resurrection.  With the early Christians, we do not find symbols of the suffering of Christ; rather we find their focus is on the resurrection.

Later, after 325 when the Council of Nicaea took place, materialism began to set in; even Christianity succumbed. The symbolic emphasis moved to the suffering Christ on the crucifix, to the bodily suffering of Christ. The crucifix is the expression of the transition to materialism taking root in Christianity. Spiritual reality is expelled by materialism. This comes to full reality with the 8th Ecumenical Council (Fourth in Constantinople). Here, by majority vote of the bishops, 27 canons were passed. The eleventh canon states “Though the Old and New Testaments teach that a man or woman has one rational and intellectual soul [compare to Aristotle], and all the fathers and doctors of the church, who are spokesmen of God, express the same opinion, some have descended to such a depth of irreligion, through paying attention to the speculations of evil people, that they shamelessly teach as a dogma that a human being has two souls, and keep trying to prove their heresy by irrational means, using a wisdom that has been made foolishness. Therefore this holy and universal synod is hastening to uproot this wicked theory now growing like some loathsome form of weed. Carrying in its hand the winnowing fork of truth, with the intention of consigning all the chaff to inextinguishable fire, and making clean the threshing floor of Christ, in ringing tones it declares anathema the inventors and perpetrators of such impiety and all those holding similar views; it also declares and promulgates that nobody at all should hold or preserve in any way the written teaching of the authors of this impiety. If however anyone presumes to act in a way contrary to this holy and great synod, let him be anathema and an outcast from the faith and way of life of Christians.”Diagram of body soul spirit

Photius, who is revered as a saint in the Eastern Church but despised in the West, had argued that Aristotle indicated that each person has two aspects to their soul, one aspect focuses on the senses of the physical body and is thereby liable to error while another aspect focuses on the spiritual and is thus immune to error. With this decree, however, the human was reduced; no longer body, soul, and spirit, but now only body and (one) soul. One could be excommunicated from Christ’s Church for stating anything differently. When Christianity reaches the twentieth century, few theologians use or understand the term ‘soul’ anymore. Materialism reigns supreme.

Following this Ecumenical Council, the Eucharist was altered. Only the ‘prepared’ priests could receive the wine while all received just the body, the bread. For the congregation, this meant only the body matters. The troubadours then come to this drama to sing about the search for the Holy Grail. Where has the blood of Christ gone? Spirit triumphant over death, over the physical fades away replaced by portrayals the pain-racked soul of Jesus. Who guards and sustains mankind? Replacing the Triumphant Son of Man is the Man of Sorrows.

The Knights Templars dash onto this scene two hundred years later. In their initiation ceremony, one was led to understand why they rejected the crucifix as a symbol of their Christianity. Supposedly, during the initiation process, the elect was to spit on a cross that had an image of the suffering savior.

Western culture where materialism is most deeply rooted must find a renewal of the Easter experience. The renewed Easter thought should lead one to be lifted into the Spirit.  Christ then becomes ‘visible’ as a super-sensible, super-earthly Being who entered into the stream of earthly evolution.

At the tomb that is the body, do we see only the stone? When we enter the tomb (Oh Man, Know Thou Thyself — Delphi) can we see the Kingdom within? Will we find “The One you seek is not here” or will we find “The One Who is here now,” the one Who from the spirit calls you to your spirit-awakening.

“In this Easter mood we shall also be able to find the strength with which our will must be imbued if the forces of decline are to be countered by those which lead humanity upwards. We need the forces that can bring about this ascent. And the moment we truly understand the Easter thought of Resurrection, this Easter thought — bringing warmth and illumination — will kindle within us the forces needed for the future evolution of mankind. Easter must become an inner festival, a festival in which we celebrate in ourselves the victory of the Spirit over the body. But we need the Christ for Whom we can seek in our inmost being, because when we truly seek Him, He at once appears.” — Rudolf Steiner,The Festivals and Their Meaning II, Lecture 4, March 27, 1921.

The Scapegoat and the Blood of Christ

What is blood? What requirements were there in Jewish traditions for a blood sacrifice? What does it mean that Christ’s blood was shed? Where did this blood go? What did Joseph of Arimathea collect in the Grail? How does this affect us today?

To begin this study, we’ll go to Leviticus 16 where we read “Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoatAaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to theLord and sacrifice it for a sin offering.10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before theLord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.” [comment: John the Baptist says of himself I am a voice crying in the wilderness and after the baptism, Christ goes out into the wilderness to be tempted. The wilderness is the uncivilized part of our soul, the untransformed part where animalistic desires exist].

Now back to the theme of sacrifice and again to Hebrews, now in 13:12 we read: 11″The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.”

So if Christ becomes the slaughtered goat, who is the scapegoat? According to Berenson Maclean, “although Hebrews does not mention the pair of goats, the implication is that Christ’s blood corresponds to that of the immolated goat.” She goes on to conclude that “Jesus’ death must have been modeled on the goat’s sacrifice in the purgation ritual.” [Berenson Maclean, “Barabbas, the Scapegoat Ritual, and the Development of the Passion Narrative,” pg. 319] Christ clearly is the sacrifice. This was first mentioned at the raising of Lazarus [John 11] when some present went and told the high priests what had happened [that an initiation had taken place in public].

46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” 49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish. 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

The scene with Pontius Pilate and Barabbas is, in my mind, when the high priest, enacted by Pilate, brings forth the two goats and reverses the cult by having the (unclean) people select. Thus Barabbas becomes the scapegoat and Christ the sacrifice. Both are named Jesus – making them alike. I wonder if Pilate was a lower initiate. Just as one goat would be sacrificed and one let go, so this cult was enacted by Pontius Pilate! The two goats? Jesus Christ and Jesus Barabbas. The crowd decides which to release. [For more on this see Andrei Orlov’s paper Jesus as the Scapegoat]. So Jesus Christ becomes the sacrifice which takes place on Golgotha. What once took place within the Holy of the Holies now is enacted in public. Here His blood is sprinkled not in front of and onto the atonement cover but onto the earth and into the Grail. That which the Heavenly Hierarchies could not know, Death, was to be overcome by this sacrifice. Humanity now could become free of the Temporal where death rules and enter the Eternal with a purified, transformed soul and body.

With the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the Most Holy Place, the Holy of the Holies, was gone from the physical world. Without this physical temple, it was impossible to perform a blood sacrifice. When we consider Christ’s words “destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it” we come to realize the mystical depth of His act on Golgotha. The rebuilt body is the Third Temple. Christ was (and is) the last blood sacrifice. And the blood entered the Earth. What can this mean? We can look at this in a future blog. And the blood was caught in the Grail. What can this mean? The greatness of this act is that each of us can reenact it within our soul.
The “camp” or “tabernacle” refers to the temporal body. The spirit is, of course, the eternal. The human being consists of body (soma), soul (psyche), and spirit (pneuma). Within our soul we have our lower ego. When we can allow this lower ego to go through “the disgrace” and the stages of the cross, we experience the Rosicrucian saying “In Christos Morimor” [in Christ we die]. Through this death process our soul becomes part of the soul of Christ whose ego becomes our higher ego. Now one can say as Paul did, “No longer I but Christ in me [Galatians 2:20]!”
Ages ago people could be initiated into a Mystery whereby they could experience the spiritual world. To develop Freedom, the spiritual world withdrew. The experience of spiritual beings outside of one, dimmed to darkness as the place for the experience entered within the individual. We can have spiritual experiences once again today. Through them we can lift our consciousness to higher levels in the Spiritual Hierarchies. But only through him can we come to experience the Father [John 14:6]. Note the reverse direction is found in John’s prologue [1:3] where it says “Through Him [Christ] all things became.” The things of the physical world belong to the Temporal and succumb to Death. Through Him, we can come to our Eternal. To do this, we must go outside of our body, our camp/tabernacle in the physical world. This is the goal of meditation. We must learn how to experience without (or beyond) the senses and without (or beyond) our normal thinking, our normal mental picturing. Only through Him can we today come to the experience of the Father.
For more on this see this article The Scapegoat and the Blood of Christ.

Was Pontius Pilate an Initiate?

Last blog, we looked at the meaning of the inscription INRI that Pontius Pilate wrote on a plaque and had placed on the cross above the head of Jesus. Who was this governor of Judea?

To answer this, we should review an apocryphal book entitled the Acts of Pilate. Here is a letter from Pilate to Emperor Tiberias. This is found in the Greek Acts of Peter and Paul and as an appendix to the Gospel of Nicodemus in Latin. The translation is from M. R. James:

There befell of late a matter which I myself brought to light (or, made trial of): for the Jews through envy have punished themselves and their posterity with fearful judgements of their own fault; for whereas their fathers had promises (al. had announced unto them) that their God would send them out of heaven his holy one who should of rightly be called their king, and did promise that he would send him upon earth by a virgin; he then (or this God of the Hebrews, then) came when I was governor of Judea, and they beheld him enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing the palsied, driving devils out of men, raising the dead, rebuking the winds, walking upon the waves of the sea dry-shod, and doing many other wonders, and all the people of the Jews calling him the Son of God: the chief priests therefore, moved with envy against him, took him and delivered him unto me and brought against him one false accusation after another, saying that he was a sorcerer and did things contrary to law.

But I, believing that these things were so, having scourged him, delivered him unto their will: and they crucified him, and when he was buried they set guards upon him. But while my soldiers watched him he rose again on the third day: yet so much was the malice of the Jews kindled that they gave money to the soldiers, saying: Say ye that his disciples stole away his body. But they, though they took the money, were not able to keep silence concerning that which had come to pass, for they also have testified that they saw him arisen and that they received money from the Jews. And these things have I reported (unto thy mightiness) for this cause, lest some other should lie unto thee (Lat. lest any lie otherwise) and though shouldest deem right to believe the false tales of the Jews.

It is possible, even likely, that many (perhaps all?) of the early texts were altered (or forged) in order to persuade people.  In earlier ages, the role of scribe required the utmost integrity and ethically sound character. By the 2nd century AD, alteration of sacred texts was all too frequent.

New Testament Documents book coverF. F. Bruce, in his book The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? writes “About AD 150 Justin Martyr, addressing his Defence of Christianity to the Emperor Antoninius Pius, referred him to Pilate’s report, which Justin supposed must be preserved in the imperial archives. ‘But the words, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” ‘ he says, ‘are a description of the nails that were fixed in His hands and His feet on the cross; and after He was crucified, those who crucified Him cast lots for His garments, and divided them among themselves; and that these things were so, you may learn from the “Acts” which were recorded under Pontius Pilate.” Later he says: ‘That He performed these miracles you may easily be satisfied from the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate.”

Another historian, Johannes Quasten, in his bookPatrology, cites church father Tertullian who “refers twice to a report made by Pilate to Tiberius. According to him, Pontius Pilate informed the Emperor of the unjust sentence of death which he had pronounced against an innocent and divine person; the Emperor was so moved by his report of the miracles of Christ and his resurrection, that he proposed the reception of Christ among the gods of Rome. But the Senate refused (Apologeticum 5). In another place Tertullian says that the ‘whole story of Christ was reported to Caesar—at that time it was Tiberius—by Pilate, himself in his secret heart already a Christian’ (Apol. 21, 24).”

PatrologyIf we now turn to the Gospel of Judas, we find that the heresy hunters of the 2nd century, such as Irenaeus, were particularly upset by Gnostics and they felt this gospel could not be authentic because of the Gnostic tones in it. I quote from the above link for Roberts-Donaldson translation of this section from Irenaeus:

Others again declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.

Duccio Kiss of JudasWe find that in this story Judas was only following Christ’s instructions to “betray him.” Why? Christ knew his time was at hand. The time for the Greatest Cosmic Deed had come. The crucifixion had to take place. This God had to experience Death to become fully Human. This Son of Man had to become the Second Adam, to open a new path of Resurrection. The Cosmic significance of this event, with the cross placed on the skull of Adam, can be overwhelming. The Earth now begins her journey to become a new Sun.  Once the Earth and Sun were one and then they were separated. At this Turning Point in Time, the Earth was changed by the blood of this Human-God, Jesus-Christ, flowing into the soil on Golgotha.  Like homeopathy, this small amount of spiritualized blood began to transform. Judas fulfilled his terrible mission. So too did Pilate. To ensure that they fulfilled their respective missions, they were somewhat aware. No human being at this time could rise to the heights of consciousness to fully grasp this event. But Hellenism, the Essenes and the Gnostics had preserved enough, just enough, for some to grasp this Mystery of Golgotha.

G.W. Barkley
G.W. Barkley

Lastly, we look at G.W. Barkley’s book on Origen where we find Origen explains how we cannot fault Pilate who can be taken as “a prepared man.” Origen goes on to say, “Certainly he was the judge of the nation itself who sent him by his sentence ‘into the wilderness.’ But hear how he was washed and made clean. When he had said to the people, ‘Do you want me to release to you Jesus, who is called the Christ,’ and all the people had shouted out, saying, ‘If you release this one, you are not a friend of Caesar,’ then it says ‘Pilate demanded water and washed his hands before the people, saying, I am clean from his blood; you should see to it.’ Thus, therefore, by washing his hands he will appear to be made clean.” G.W. Barkley, Origen, Homilies on Leviticus: 1-16 (Fathers of the Church, 63; Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2010), pg 204-205. Even Pilate’s wife, through a dream [the old way of spiritual inspiration], knew this man was innocent and that Pilate should remain ‘clean’ in the outcome. Many high ranking officials in this time had sought and received initiation into one or another Mystery. His washing of his hands after handling the freeing of either Jesus Christ or Jesus Barabbas could be seen as the action of a cultic priest after handling a sacrifice.

The Gospel of Nicodemus has an appendix entitle The Acts of Peter and Paul in which the words of Pilate’s letter to Emperor Claudius is contained as follows

Pontius Pilate unto Claudius, greeting.

There befell of late a matter which I myself brought to light (or, made trial of): for the Jews through envy have punished themselves and their posterity with fearful judgements of their own fault; for whereas their fathers had promises (al. had announced unto them) that their God would send them out of heaven his holy one who should of right be called their king, and did promise that he would send him upon earth by a virgin; he then (or this God of the Hebrews, then) came when I was governor of Judea, and they beheld him enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing the palsied, driving devils out of men, raising the dead, rebuking the winds, walking upon the waves of the sea dry-shod, and doing many other wonders, and all the people of the Jews calling him the Son of God: the chief priests therefore, moved with envy against him, took him and delivered him unto me and brought against him one false accusation after another, saying that he was a sorcerer and did things contrary to law.

But I, believing that these things were so, having scourged him, delivered him unto their will: and they crucified him, and when he was buried they set guards upon him. But while my soldiers watched him he rose again on the third day: yet so much was the malice of the Jews kindled that they gave money to the soldiers, saying: Say ye that his disciples stole away his body. But they, though they took the money, were not able to keep silence concerning that which had come to pass, for they also have testified that they saw him arisen and that they received money from the Jews. And these things have I reported (unto thy mightiness) for this cause, lest some other should lie unto thee (Lat. lest any lie otherwise) and though shouldest deem right to believe the false tales of the Jews

Pilate likely had been initiated into a lesser Mystery and, perhaps, to an even higher degree. His inscription INRI shows remarkable insights into who Christ Jesus was but like other initiates of this time, he could not fathom the depth of what was about to take place, the Turning Point in Time, the Fulfillment of the Mysteries, The Great Mystery of All – the Mystery of Golgotha.

 

INRI and Pilate

Normally I hate to quote so much but this time it is important to set the scene as described in Matthew chapter 27:

“And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate, the governor. …

And Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked Him, saying, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said unto him, “Thou sayest.”  And when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.  Then said Pilate unto Him, “Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?”  And He answered him never a word, insomuch that the governor marveled greatly.

Now at that feast, the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.  And they had then a notable prisoner called Barabbas.  Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, “Whom will ye that I release unto you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him.  When he had sat down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.”  But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

The governor answered and said unto them, “Which of the two will ye that I release unto you?” They said, “Barabbas!”  Pilate said unto them, “What shall I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?” They all said unto him, “Let him be crucified!”  And the governor said, “Why, what evil hath he done?” But they cried out the more, saying, “Let him be crucified!”

When Pilate saw that he could not prevail, but rather that a tumult was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person. See ye to it.”  Then answered all the people and said, “His blood be on us, and on our children!”  Then released he Barabbas unto them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole detachment of soldiers.  And they stripped Him and put on Him a scarlet robe.  And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head and a reed in His right hand, and they bowed their knees before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  And they spat upon Him, and took the reed and smote Him on the head.  And after they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear His cross.  And when they had come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a Place of a Skull, they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall. And when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink.  And they crucified Him and parted His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They parted My garments among them, and upon My vesture did they cast lots.”

And sitting down, they watched Him there, and set up over His head His accusation, written: This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews.

Then were there two thieves crucified with Him, one on the right hand and another on the left.  And those who passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself! If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross!”  Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.  He trusted in God; let Him deliver him now, if He will have him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

The thieves also, who were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth.  Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This man calleth for Elijah.”  And straightway one of them ran and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed and gave Him to drink.  The rest said, “Let be; let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom, and the earth quaked and the rocks rent. …

Now when the centurion, and those who were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

And many women were there beholding afar off, who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto Him, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. When the evening had come, there came a rich man of Arimathea named Joseph, who himself also was Jesus’ disciple.  He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.  And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher and departed.  And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the sepulcher.

Now the next day, that following the Day of the Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said while he was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’  Command therefore that the sepulcher be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away, and say unto the people, ‘He is risen from the dead,’ so that the last error shall be worse than the first.”  Pilate said unto them, “Ye have a watch. Go your way, make it as secure as ye can.”  So they went and made the sepulcher secure, sealing the stone and setting up a watch.”

Let’s look at two themes from this story:

  1. What was the significance of the plaque above Jesus where “INRI” was written by Pilate
  2. Who was Pilate?

INRI means Jesus Nazorite Rex Judeaorum which means Jesus the Nazorite, King of the Jews.  Many translations will read Jesus the Nazarean, King of the Jews. The Greek word is Nazoraios.  It does not mean from Nazareth but, rather, the one singled out. Such an inscription meant that Pilate knew something key about Jesus – that he belonged to the secret Jewish sect, the Essenes. Books of the Essene community in Qumran are discovered in 1947 and are today known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In this word Nazoraios, the Alpha and the Omega are the first two vowels as well as the first and the last.  Was Jesus, from approximately age 12 to age 30 part of the Essene sect? Did Pilate know this? Does the inscription INRI point us to this?

His wife is so deeply troubled by the unfolding of this event she sends word to Pontius “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” In some dreamlike way, could Pilate foresee that this man would need to die to save “the nation” but he does not want to be morally connected to those who condemned him?

Within the Gospel of Peter we find a narrative that places responsibility for the crucifixion not on Pontius Pilate but on Herod Antipas, one of three sons of Herod the Great. As a Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate would have been the region’s supreme judge, not ruler. He had the sole authority to order a criminal’s execution. His principle duty was to maintain law and order. Additionally his duties included mundane tasks such as tax collection and to oversee construction projects. He had up to 3000 soldiers at his command to enforce his orders.

It was in 26 A.D. that the Roman Emperor Tiberius had appointed Pontius Pilate as prefect of the Roman provinces of Judaea, Samaria and Idumæa succeeding Valerius Gratus. While the typical term for a Roman prefect was 1–3 years, Pilate would hold this post for 10 years. In my next post we’ll look more at this interesting historical figure, Pontius Pilate and ask, could he have been an initiate?

 

Ishtar and Easter

In a conversation today, the Goddess Ishtar was mentioned.  Her rites, it was suggested, may be a possible forerunner to the Easter bunny and egg festival. I looked up Ishtar and found this interesting passage in Wikipedia: (keep in mind Ishtar is an immortal, Gilgamesh is a hero but a mortal).

Ishtar in the Epic of Gilgamesh [from Wikipedia]

The Epic of Gilgamesh contains an episode involving Ishtar which portrays her as bad-tempered, petulant and spoiled by her father. She asks the hero Gilgamesh to marry her, but he refuses, citing the fate that has befallen all her many lovers:
“Listen to me while I tell the tale of your lovers. There was Tammuz, the lover of your youth, for him you decreed wailing, year after year. You loved the many-coloured Lilac-breasted Roller, but still you struck and broke his wing […] You have loved the lion tremendous in strength: seven pits you dug for him, and seven. You have loved the stallion magnificent in battle, and for him you decreed the whip and spur and a thong […] You have loved the shepherd of the flock; he made meal-cake for you day after day, he killed kids for your sake. You struck and turned him into a wolf; now his own herd-boys chase him away, his own hounds worry his flanks.”
Angered by Gilgamesh’s refusal, Ishtar goes up to heaven and complains to her father the high god Anu that Gilgamesh has insulted her. She demands that Anu give her the Bull of Heaven. Anu points out that it was her fault for provoking Gilgamesh, but she warns that if he refuses, she will do exactly what she told the gatekeeper of the underworld she would do if he didn’t let her in:
“If you refuse to give me the Bull of Heaven [then] I will break in the doors of hell and smash the bolts; there will be confusion [i.e., mixing] of people, those above with those from the lower depths. I shall bring up the dead to eat food like the living; and the hosts of the dead will outnumber the living.”
Anu gives Ishtar the Bull of Heaven, and Ishtar sends it to attack Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull and offer its heart to the Assyro-Babylonian sun-god Shamash.
While Gilgamesh and Enkidu are resting, Ishtar stands upon the walls of the city (which is Uruk) and curses Gilgamesh. Enkidu tears off the Bull’s right thigh and throws it in Ishtar’s face, saying, “If I could lay my hands on you, it is this I should do to you, and lash your entrails to your side.” (Enkidu later dies for this impiety.) Then Ishtar called together “her people, the dancing and singing girls, the prostitutes of the temple, the courtesans,” and had them mourn for the Bull of Heaven.
Now, what is the Bull of Heaven? Recall that in the time of this myth, we were in the midst of the sun in Taurus at the vernal equinox. The Bull represents the basic sensory experiences of the physical body. Later, when we enter Aries, the Lamb, we also have the rise of Mithraism whose descendant is the bull fighting in Spain (and Latin America). Mithra must kill the Bull to rise to higher consciousness. Overcoming the bull is also in the Greek myth of the Minotaur which is a word from the combining of (King) Minos and Taurus. The wife of Minos wanted to copulate with the Bull of Heaven and in so doing gives birth to the Minotaur. Each year the Athenians must offer up virgin boys and girls to the Minotaur until Theseus slays the Minotaur and escapes from the labyrinth (we could go into what labyrinth means another time) with the help of Minos’ daughter Ariadne. Here we have a story of the human soul who, in the wife of Minos, wants to “marry” the physical body, to enjoy the sensuality provided by the body. Theseus represents the spiritual man and Ariadne the soul who desires the “mystical marriage” with her spiritual member Theseus. (Next comes the part of Icarus in the story and flying over the “sea” from the island to the land of the spirit. But such a path is narrow; one cannot soar too high (into Lucifer’s realm) or too low (into the earthly, Ahriman’s realm)). One may ask, what is the relationship of Mithraism to Christianity? Mithraism could be called a cosmic Christianity in the time of Aries.
For me, Easter is the beginning of the Fulfillment of the Promise, the New Adam, the Overcoming of Death that began at baptism when the Logos entered the body of the man Jesus making this entity Jesus-Christ (I-CH in German or IX in Greek). The God whose name is I AM entered not just as an avatar into the body of Jesus, but fully becomes Man on Golgotha with death. The blood had been transformed to the blood of this God-Man (or Man-God) and flowed into the Earth. The transformation is stated when His side is pierced and out flowed blood AND WATER. On the third day, the stone in him is removed (as is the stone to the tomb). His physical body has been transformed – the Third Temple arises, rebuilt in 3 days. His body is real but has no mineral composition so even Mary and the disciples cannot at first recognize Him. By doing this, He has made it possible for each of us to do so. He is the New Adam.
Avatar comes from ancient Sanskrit and means ‘ descent ‘ as in descent of a divine being to earth. Such a spiritual being descends into a human body not for it self but in order to intervene in evolution as a human being, Nothing of any significance is experienced here in the physical world. An avatar enters a physical body for the blessing and advancement of mankind.
May you all have a blessed Easter.

Seeing at the Tomb, An Easter Mystery Revealed

John’s Gospel was revered by early Christian fathers and mystics alike. Not only is its structure deeply esoteric, so is each scene. Let’s examine one such scene of Chapter 20, the Easter scene.

descent from the cross RubensThe chapter begins with Mary Magdalene coming, “on the first day of the week”, i.e. Sunday, to the tomb where the body of Jesus Christ had been laid. The tomb was owned by Joseph of Arimathea.  This Joseph had asked Pilate for the dead body. When he took the body down from the cross, Joseph was accompanied by Nicodemus as secret disciples. They prepared the body according to Jewish customs and placed it in the tomb. This all was accomplished before sunset on Friday as, in these times, the new day began with the day’s darkness.

Although John’s gospel does not state this, we learn from Mark and Matthew that Joseph had a large stone rolled to seal the entrance to the tomb. That too happened before sundown on Friday. The next morning, Matthew [27:62] writes that the Pharisees petitioned Pilate to place an armed guard at the tomb so that no one would be deceived by grave robbers that Jesus had risen from the dead as Jesus had predicted.  John’s gospel does tell us that Mary “seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” [John 20:1, KJV]. Using a Zondervan Interlinear Bible the sentence reads “sees the stone having been taken out of the tomb.” The verb “sees” is the Greek word “βλεπειν” (blepo).

Here is esoteric writing indeed! The meaning can be read both from the physical reality and from the spiritual reality. The stone has been taken away! The mineral element of His body was gone. Mary at this point could only see with her physical eyes and thus could only see the mineral part of His body. But His body was not there – the stone had been taken away or more exactly “taken out of the tomb”!

Now I want to reference a deeply moving paper by Jos Verhulst entitled The Esoteric Content of Descent from the Cross (P.P. Rubens 1612).[1] Jos explains John 20:5-6 as a mystery. Here we find the disciple whom the Lord loved sees “lying flat on the ground the pieces of linen” while Peter when he looks, he sees “the pieces of linen lying flat on the ground.” Like other esoteric writers, the writer of this gospel embeds esoteric content directly into the story by using not only imagery but in this case reversing the word order. What has changed from the disciple’s viewing to Peter’s? Is the wording reversal just literary technique? Jos makes clear the esoteric quality herein.

Now we come to the description of Peter and “the disciple,” upon hearing Mary say that the rock at the tomb is gone, running to the tomb. The first to arrive is the disciple. He stands outside the tomb and peers in seeing (βλεπειν) “lying flat on the ground the pieces of linen”. Then Peter arrives and with stronger will is able to enter the tomb. The first of the three reversals is that the disciple arrived first but Peter is the first to enters the tomb. This theme will play out in Chapter 21 where Peter will be asked to be the first to lead the Church.

Now come the second reversal. Within the tomb, Peter sees the same things as John saw from outside the tomb but now from a different perspective, namely from within the tomb. Of note, Rudolf Steiner often referred to the physical body as the tomb in which our pre-birth, living thinking is laid. To make clear this change in sight, the verb ‘to see’ changes from βλεπειν  to θεωρει (this is the root word for ‘theory’). My Greek Interlinear uses the verb “beholds” for its literal translation. At this moment, Peter is witnessing what reads as a reversal of the physical description. What Peter is perceiving is the next higher level called prana or chi or etheric in spiritual science. It is described in these traditions as reversed in sequence from the physical, as though what one reads left to right in the physical, here in the etheric one reads right to left. Note, Leonardo da Vinci practiced this reversal.

Then ‘the disciple’ also enters the tomb. In the Mystery schools of old, to go through initiation, one was put into a death like state. At first one’s perception was of the nether-world, the world of the dead. Later the neophyte would, through the guidance of the hierophant, rise into spiritual heights and be changed forever. The disciple “saw and believed” (eiden kai episteusen). Here is a third verb that again is translated to “see”; the Greek, in this case, is ειδεν (eiden which is the word horao) which, according to Strong’s Concordance means “to see with the mind” (i.e. spiritually see), to perceive with inward spiritual perception.”

Now the two men leave (my Interlinear says they “went away to themselves”) but Mary remains. She is crying at the tomb when she “stooped into the tomb” (‘into’ according to the Interlinerar) and now comes her spiritual awakening as she, like Peter, sees (θεωρει) at this etheric level. She beholds “two angels in white”.  One angel is where the feet of Jesus had been while the other was at the head. Jos Verhulst brilliantly compares this to the image on the Shroud of Turin! (I was so excited to read this.) Now Mary performs the third reversal! She reverses her gaze to behold (θεωρει) Jesus standing there. Keep in mind this beholding is within the etheric realm. At this point she cannot understand her perception until her hierophant calls to awaken her to a higher consciousness by using, as all hierophants did, her name. Mary’s initiation is complete. She too can now understand what it is she is experiencing.

This chapter closes with Thomas the Twin doubting the reports and claiming that “Unless I see (ϊδω – this is the same word as ειδεν) the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  When Jesus later appears, he has Thomas touch his wounds and then says to Thomas “Because you have seen (εωρακας – heōrakas) me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen (ϊδωντες – idontes) and yet have believed.”

In this one chapter, we have three different verbs all translated in English to “see”. Impoverished is English in this case to reveal the progression of sight, of spiritual sight in this chapter.  John’s Gospel moved from the sight of sensory perception to sight of the etheric realm to sight in the soul realm.  Note in the mosaic how all the sheep save the one being touched are looking in reverse.

Mausoleum Galla Placidia Ravenna
Mausoleum Galla Placidia Ravenna

In the next chapter, John’s Epilogue, we again have differentiating Greek words translated to a singular English word. In this case “love” applies to “eros”, “philia”, and “agape” (only the later two appear in Chapter 21). Here Karmic redemption is instantly bestowed upon Peter for his three denials. Christ asks him “do you love me?” three times. The first two questions use the word “agape”. Peter responds with “yea Lord, you know that I love (philia) you.”  After each answer Christ makes a request. First Christ asks him to “feed my lambs”. Next Christ requests Peter “take care of my sheep.” Now a third time Christ questions Peter thereby offering redemption for his third denial. Peter bemoans being questioned like this.  In this third question, Christ no longer uses the word “agape” but now uses “philia”. Peter’s reply tells of the level of love Peter is capable of, namely Philia, when he says ” Lord, you know all things; you know that I love (philia) you.” Peter cannot stretch the truth and he knows Christ knows the truth even of the level of love in one’s soul. Peter, the rock on which Christ was to build his church, honestly knows, at this time, that Philia, love as in the lover of Sophia, the philosopher, is the heights of his love. The disciple whom the Lord loved, however, was capable of agape. But the world was not. So the church must begin with Peter who first entered the tomb and must wait for a future time for the Christianity of Agape. Has that time arrived?

[1] Jos Verhulst, https://www.academia.edu/11734939/The_esoteric_content_of_The_Descent_from_the_Cross_P.P.Rubens_1612_our_ladys_cathedral_Antwerp_._Part_II_relationships_with_Johns_gospel

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