Spiritual Self-Assurance

#26 John 2: 22-25

Hello Lightworkers,

In the Gospel of John, Jerusalem is the place of controversy while Galilee is more likely to be populated by Jesus’s disciples and friends. Accordingly in John 2, there is a contrast between Cana — where Jesus trusts his mother to serve him as he does a “sign” by converting water to wine — and Jerusalem, where Jesus finds false-friends.

In Cana, Jesus has performed his first miracle while just afterwards in Jerusalem, Jesus engages in controversy at the Temple. He makes a cryptic prophecy. If the Temple should be destroyed (as it was to be destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE), then Jesus’s own body will be the new Temple, a prophecy that his disciples unravel in retrospect after Jesus is raised.

The last verses of chapter 2 contain a puzzling comment by the narrator, which serves to distinguish the few (his disciples) who understand Jesus’s prophecy about the Temple and the many who simply put their faith in Jesus’s “signs,” i.e. his miracles. Jesus does not entrust himself to those who favor his “signs.” Jesus requires no testimony from human beings, even while he is able to see into the hearts of all.

Jesus models spiritual self-assurance.

When we are self-confident and grounded in the Spirit, we are protected and self- aware. Because our self-assurance is rooted in a divine source, we are not vulnerable to the fluctuating opinions of others, based on our popularity or impressive deeds. A certain  insight or intuition about humanity is the byproduct, too, of spiritual maturity. We can sense danger and the motives of others.  Yet, because of being divinely protected, we do not hold back from speaking out in favor of justice as the occasion demands.

Question: When are you spiritually self- assured and protected? If you were grounded in the Spirit, how would you live? Which fears would fall away?

Passage: John 2:22-25

22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

23 When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

Jesus and Violence

 

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Sicily mosaic Jesus and the money changers

Gospel of John #25

Hello Lightworkers,

John 2:15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

John’s Gospel accentuates the violence of Jesus, in the Temple incident, as compared to the other gospels. Only John gives Jesus a whip for driving out the Temple personnel. Just as Jesus throws people out of the Temple, so later in the Gospel those who confess Jesus as his disciples are thrown out of the Jewish synagogue. The controversies between the Jesus movement and the Jewish establishment are fierce and polarized in John’s Gospel.

As to the whip, many critics claim that it is used only on animals, to drive out cattle (the sheep and the oxen), not on human beings. The grammar makes this point plain. Others maintain that the whip is symbolic of divine rage against the Temple’s corruption. Since the Greek word for whip indicates a scourge of small cords, some minimize the actual damage that such a diminutive implement could cause.

As Malachi 3:1 describes, with the advent of the expected Messiah (who is Jesus Christ according to this Gospel), the Lord will descend upon the Temple to make it a holy and worthy place for the divine to dwell.

The money changers had the job of converting the coins offered by pilgrims (from many lands) into a Jewish currency for use at the temple. They charged interest in the meantime.

If we detach ourselves from all theological rationale, which makes apologies for and defenses of Jesus, it is quite striking that the Gospels record an act of overt assault by Jesus, which would be fair grounds for suspicion by the religious authorities.

The one who preaches, “Blessed are the Peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) also advises “The one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one,” while proclaiming, “I have come not to bring peace, but a sword.” (Luke 22: 36, 38; Matthew 10: 34).

For those who are inspired by Jesus’s example, how shall we handle these contradictions? and the violence (or: harshness) that is sometimes espoused?

One Holy Place

Gospel of John #24

John 2:13-12 (text is reproduced below)

Hello Lightworkers,

Think about some beloved place, where you go for prayer, or a sacred building. Maybe you feel God’s presence everywhere — or the Spirit’s presence — so that all of creation is saturated by the holy.  But, when you are at this one place — whether it be outside (on a mountain top or in a forest) or inside (in a church, mosque, Temple, or at an altar of your own) — you are in touch with the Spirit in a special way.

Your heart is calm and peaceful. Your mind is concentrated. It is easy for you to contemplate your life, to forgive others, and to be inspired to take new and beneficial actions.

Based on a vision, Joseph Rael – aka Beautiful Painted Arrow – constructed numerous peace chambers of optimal acoustic design, which are portals to the divine. (See link: Peace Chambers) Some believe that certain places in the USA —  like Mount Shasta or the vortexes in Sedona — are gateways likewise.

What if there were no holy places on earth? Either in nature or man-made?

In this passage from John (see below 2:13-22), Jesus drives money changers out of the Jewish Temple, using a whip. This incident, which is found in all four gospels, is often called the “cleansing of the Temple,” a title that reflects a bias in favor of Jesus over against the religious establishment  (note, however, that in the Gospels, the word “cleansing” does not appear).

What does Jesus oppose here? Commercial exchanges in the Temple, which corrupt its holiness? Or does Jesus strike at the very existence of the Jewish Temple itself as mediator between God and  the people in Judaism? Could it be that Jesus objects to the whole notion of there being a “holy place” – a building or portal to the divine – on earth?

The Gospel of John may contemplate that Jesus attacks not the Temple itself but instead the centrality of the Jerusalem Temple – and its priesthood – for worship. Accordingly, although Jesus himself is a Jew, the Jerusalem authorities nickname him a demon-possessed “Samaritan,” an ethnic slur which casts aspersions upon his religious rectitude.

For the Samaritans (who were also Jews) Mt Gerizim rather than Jerusalem housed their beloved shrine. Yet, in John 4, Jesus predicts that people will worship God neither in Jerusalem nor on Mt Gerizim but instead “in spirit and in truth”.

Jesus may object to the notion that there may be holy places and buildings, which mediate the divine presence. OR he may be critiquing the sectarian politics of his day, which created competition and tension among different sites that were sacred to different religious and ethnic groups. Today, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is fraught even still by conflicting cultic claims (among Jews, Christians, and Muslims).

Question: Where is a holy place for you? What does worship in “spirit and truth” mean?

Passage:

John 2:13-12 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

The Wine of Joy

This post is for our Lightworker’s Study of the Gospel of John. On the left, click the folder icon, then sign up.  

John #23

John 2:1-11 (Text is reproduced at the end of this post)

Gospel of John 

Hello Lightworkers,  We move ahead to John 2, where Jesus performs his first miracle or sign (John 2:11). The Gospel calls Jesus’s miracles “signs”, which is also the Old Testament (i.e., the Hebrew Bible) term for the miracles of Moses.

At a wedding party in Cana of Galilee, Jesus turns water into wine. The water is contained within six stone jars for the Jewish rites of purification (2:6).  Note, here, that Jesus is himself a Jew. So, although the scene suggests that the new “wine” of Jesus replaces the old water of Jewish purification, in fact no super-cessionist or replacement theology is required. Jesus here is a Jewish prophet not a Christian god.

According to John, Jesus is also more than a prophet. He is the divine Bridegroom. The spiritual message, as I see it, has nothing to do with religious politics or sectarian disagreements: once the divine Bridegroom is present, enjoy the wine. You don’t need to keep purifying yourself, or waiting for the bliss to come. Religions, in general, often put people through rituals – for purification or as a means to an end, so that one will later on…meet and experience God, once one is holy enough or pure.

What if God has already arrived but we are in church so we miss it?  Drink the wine now.

The Wedding at Cana John 2:1-11
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Jacob’s Ladder: music, mysticism, marvel

John #22 

Hello, Lightworkers:

Today I’ll refer you to some different perspectives about this fascinating text in the Gospel of John, pertaining to the ladder that extends from earth to heaven. What is this ladder?

John 1: 51 (Jesus’s saying) alludes to Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28:12 (Jacob’s dream)

John 1:51: “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Genesis 28:12 “He dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.”

1. Jewish Mysticism – Kabbalah: Jacob’s Ladder as Prayer :

Kabbalah on Jacob’s Ladder

2. Here is a good article, summarizing Christian interpretation:

Christian Interpretation Jacob’s Ladder

3. African American Spirituals (see links below )

a) Angelic Choir

b) World War II Recruitment Film

c) Here is a Scottish Male Choir, singing the African American Spiritual   We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: African American Spiritual

4. Esoteric: Lecture by Manly Hall: The Physical dimension is a manifestation of an Invisible dimension. So taught Manly Hall, an esotericist and mystic.

Happy Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day: July 22

Hello All,

Happy Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day, July 22!  Notice from these passages in the Gospels that Mary Magdalene is :

  1. Witness at the Cross
  2. At the tomb
  3. Witness/Apostle to the Resurrection (the first to see the Risen Jesus)
  4. In some traditions, she is exorcised of demons by Jesus – and she may have been among the women who supported Jesus financially

Here are the relevant passages:

MARK 15:40, 47:

After death of Jesus and revelation of Jesus as Son of God, Mary Magdalene comes on the scene as WITNESS

39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,[d] and Salome.

See also Matthew 27:56

Then Mary Magdalene sees where Jesus is laid in the tomb:

46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

See also Matthew 27:61

BURIAL : ANOINTING

Mark 16:1, 9:Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

FIRST WITNESS TO RESURRECTION

16:9: When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.

See also Matthew 28:1

And Luke 8:2

This verse elaborates on Mary Magdalene’s exorcism: She is accompanying Jesus, perhaps among those women who provide for Jesus financially (8:3)

8:2 “as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out”

Luke 8:1-3 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them[a] out of their resources.

The Gospel of John elaborates the role of Mary Magdalene:

At the cross:

John 19:25 – “And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

At the tomb, where she meets the Risen Jesus

John 20:1 “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.”

(John omits burial anointing by Mary but includes tomb scene– see the entire dialogue in John 20)

John 20:11 “But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb”

Witness to the Risen Jesus

John 20:18: “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Angels Descending/Ascending on our Behalf

Gospel of John #21

John 1:43-51 (Note that the text is reproduced at the end of this post)

Hello Lightworkers,

This scene continues the so-called “call narratives,” where the disciples are called to follow Jesus. The attitudes toward Jesus of Philip and Nathanael are contrasting. Philip immediately recognizes that Jesus embodies the very Messiah, or anointed leader (the Christ), that Jewish tradition and scriptures predict.  Nathanael, in turn, is skeptical : “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (1:46).

Yet, when Jesus performs a simple feat of telepathy or clairvoyance — revealing that by a sixth sense, he has seen Nathanael sitting under a fig tree — Nathanael makes a sudden about-face, declaring that Jesus must be the Son of God and King of Israel. Note: Son of God was the title for the Roman emperor.

Nathanael has set his sights far too low. Jesus is appointed not merely to perform magical tricks — of telepathy or the like — nor is he merely a King, like the Roman emperor. Jesus is instead appointed to a more significant role as the Son of Man. He will open a pathway between heaven and earth, on which angels may ascend and descend.

One simple message of this passage is that heavenly things come in humble packages. In fact, our own humble attire – and vulnerability – may be hard for us to embrace and reveal to others, particularly when our needs are urgent and held closely to our hearts.

How would you like somebody to say to you, “Can anything good come out of XXXX?” where XXXX substitutes for your hometown, your workplace, or some other identifying characteristic of yourself?

Spiritually, however, to receive the Christ, who is compassion and truth, sometimes we are lowered, like servants, in the opinion of others. We may look foolish and lose our self-esteem. When others assist us — while in this humble or humiliating predicament– we receive the Christ and gain that much more faith in life itself.

Through such ordinary means and measures, heaven opens.  The angels descend and ascend on our behalf.

Text: Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you,[m] you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”