YouTube: A Deeper Look at Jesus
J Douglas Bottorff
Last week I introduced three categories of sayings that we find in the Gospels: Straightforward, modified, and evangelical. A straightforward saying is one that represents a pure, dogmatically free spiritual principle. A modified passage is one that expresses a spiritual principle but has been modified to fit the mainstream message. An evangelical passage is one that was likely created by the writer in support of the mainstream message. Learning to make these distinctions brings us closer to the Way, the original teaching of Jesus.
While considering a given passage, we may be tempted to ask, Does this sound like something Jesus would say? Of course, our answer will be influenced by what we believe about Jesus. A better question is this: Does this sound like something a Jewish mystic would say?
The Kabbalah, with which Jesus was likely familiar, is the embodiment of Jewish mysticism. The Jewish Encyclopedia says this:
Jewish Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between the unchanging, eternal God—the mysterious Ein Sof (The Infinite)—and the mortal, finite universe. It forms the foundation of mystical religious interpretations within Judaism.
For a few centuries the esoteric knowledge was referred to by its aspect practice—meditation, translated as “being alone” or “isolating oneself.”
Jesus referred to the “unchanging, eternal God” as the Father. We see this unchanging attitude of love expressed by the father of the prodigal son. Also, he often went alone to pray, and he taught the value of going alone into one’s inner room and praying to the Father who is in secret.
The Way was intended to explain the relationship between the unchanging, eternal God and the mortal experience, the daily life of his followers. “Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on … your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matt. 6:25, 32).
When viewed from this perspective, it becomes clear that Jesus’ objective was to help his follows make their life on earth (the finite) as it is in heaven (the infinite).