One summer day many years ago, I was sitting on a park bench in Manhattan, New York City. A small boy came to sit down next to me. “What’s your name,” he asked. “Who are you?”
I was feeling mischievous, so a poem by Emily Dickinson leaped into my mind. “I’m a nobody. Who are you?” He was quite surprised. I continued, “Don’t tell anybody, they’ll banish us, you know.”
The little boy looked very puzzled by now, so I got up, said “Good bye” and walked away.
He was a boy, I was young and it was nice to meet him and say a few words to each other. I found it enjoyable to laugh and love. Living and learning were a little more formidable.
With this new year, I encourage you to look at Jesus in a new way. For Jesus, his love for The Father and for humanity is awesome. It was his chosen way to live and it was worth risking everything.
When Jesus stated his love for his Father by saying, I and my Father are one”(John 10:30), he meant they were united in their love, purpose and service to humanity. He declared that he was sent to finish his Father’s work.
But some Jews of that time misunderstood what Jesus meant, and said that he claimed equality with God – “because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33). So they had a reason to call this statement blasphemy.
Most Christians also misinterpreted this statement, believing that Jesus claimed to be God and is God. Yes, Jesus claimed his divinity, but he did not claim to be The Divine Being. Jesus, like all of us, was made in the image of God. “So God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27).
We know what he said, but what did Jesus actually mean? What is the context, and what are the implications?
The context for Jesus’ statement was when Jews asked, “If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.” (John 10:24). This is when Jesus replied, “I and my Father are one.” Jesus was not claiming to be God or greater than God. The word Christ is a title, not a given name. Notice that Jesus uses the word “greater” to describe his unequal status when he declared, “for my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
Jesus unequivocally states to Mary, that he has a Father and a God, just like she does. “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. “(John 20:17).
In a previous blog, I described three psychological religious mind-sets: literal, allegorical, mystical. The literal mind-set claims extreme exclusiveness. The literal Jews still claim that they are the only chosen ones; the literal Christians still claim that only Jesus is God; and the literal Muslims still claim that Muhammad is the last prophet.
The implications of these exclusive claims cause unbelief, resentment, anger, war, and atrocities. These literally-minded religious believers claim their religion has the solution to the world’s problems. They all claim a future period of time on Earth will come when a leader will reign and bring universal peace and brotherhood without any evil. Some try to force everyone to accept their ideology.
Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, a governor politician obsessed with control, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). While Jesus is not interested in ruling in the world, he is determined to do the will of God in the world. “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34).
Jesus was not a nobody, but in a worldly sense he became a nobody having no worldly ambition of his own. To those whose entire orientation is in this world, Jesus is incomprehensible. To those who want individual and mass spiritual evolution, Jesus is a wonderful guide.
How ironic, that one becomes more powerful and memorable by relinquishing personal ambition and will! In other words, one’s will becomes more powerful and memorable by attuning to the Divine Will – the goal all Great Ones urge their disciples to attain.
Ego presents a difficult adversary. It fights tooth and nail to maintain its strangle-hold on the eternal soul. Jesus confessed his fight with this universal deceiver, when he said, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
This struggle results in establishing our identity as a soul to assist in the divine Cosmic purpose. Jesus realized that his soul’s power came from his Father, so he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Jesus showed us by example what a soul-attuned state achieves.
This is the challenge Jesus gives to all of us- to overcome our deceptive ego and to live up to our potential. “Ye are gods” (John 10:34).
Jesus is one of small number of extraordinary spiritual Masters I refer to as “the Great Ones.” These Masters serve the Divine by bringing about individual and mass evolution.
By careful reflection, choose a spirituality to expand, evolve and live by. Sathya Sai Baba said, “Let the different faiths exist, let them flourish and let the glory of God be sung in all languages and in a variety of tunes. That should be the Ideal. Respect the differences between the faiths and recognize them as valid as long as they do not extinguish the flame of unity.”
Recite the name of God!
Enthrone love in your heart!
Feed the roots of faith!
Receive then the warm breezes of Self-realization
The sunshine of social inclusiveness
The living waters of spiritual contentment.