Acts 10:44-48 – Good Gentiles calling for more insight

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.


This is the Acts reading from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B 2018. It will next be read aloud in church by a reader on Sunday, May 6, 2018. It is important because it tells how the Holy Spirit is for all human beings who seek the truth and hear the word of God speaking to them, individually. As non-Jews hearing the word and receiving the Holy Spirit, this means bloodlines that share no DNA with the tribes of Israel, as those not direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and those not educated in Mosaic Law, Gentiles have the capacity to be reborn as Jesus, the Christ promised to the Jews.

Certainly, the key element in this reading that makes one worthy of being awarded the Holy Spirit is, “the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.”

It descended like a dove.

The limiting caveat is the Holy Spirit is not something everyone receives. It is not guaranteed to devoted Jews who profess to adhere to Mosaic laws; and it is not guaranteed to all Gentiles who gather around a true Christian who speaks.

As a reading presented on the Sixth Sunday of the Easter season, the key theme of the Epistle and Gospel reading is clearly “God’s love.” We see that here when we read, “The Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God.” The Gentiles – Romans who worshiped pagan gods – who were filled with the Holy Spirit were highly praising [the One] God, which is a sign of the love that overcame them – a love from God.

When Peter asked, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” the focus was on how rules, dogma, laws, or edicts that state a right to symbolically wash a body clean of sin, plays no role in true baptism. When we learn that Peter “ordered [the Gentiles of Cornelius] to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ,” they had already been baptized by the Holy Spirit, filled with God’s love, and reborn as Jesus Christ. This states that baptism by water can ONLY truly be done after the presence of God has transformed [or Transfigured] one of faith, by His presence in one’s heart.

It is natural for Christians today to want to claim this presence; but after centuries of training by the various denominations of Christianity the majority opinion has been reduced to a belief that baptism by water (done first, as early as infancy) is the call for the Holy Spirit to come to one. We believe ministers, priests, pastors, preachers and educated church leaders are the “Jesus Christ tamers,” who command Jesus to surround a congregation, by invoking that name (“in the name of Jesus come!”). Unfortunately, this reading from Peter’s acts as an Apostle says the truth is quite different.

Prior to these verses from Acts chapter 10, Peter and fellow Apostles spoke to Cornelius and fellow Gentile soldiers.  Peter said the following:

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:39-43)

Significantly embedded in that text is the truth that states, “[Jesus, the risen Lord] was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen.” That says that after Jesus has resurrected from death, he appeared to the ones who had been prepared to see him. This is why he appeared in unrecognizable form to Mary Magdalene, to Cleopas and his wife Mary, and to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee (an event that was actually a dream). It was after Jesus spoke to those disciples that they knew who it was speaking “the word” to them. Because they had been prepared, as “witnesses whom God had already chosen” (during three years of Jesus’ ministry and lessons), they saw Jesus in the flesh and received the Spirit.

This same selectivity that is relative to who can know God’s presence is nearby and to know Jesus is the Messiah can be seen when John told of Jesus predicting his death as the Passover Festival neared. There John wrote, “[Jesus said,] “Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.” (John 12:28-29) The point of that is it says not everyone heard the voice of God speak. It was only heard by those who had opened their hearts to God, with faith in Jesus as His Son.

This inability of some to hear the voice of God is still in effect today. It is reminiscent of the event that was witnessed by an estimated crowd that ranges between 30,000 and 100,000 people. It occurred in Fatima, Portugal on October 13, 1917, as the sixth (and final) Marian apparition before three shepherd children (all on the 13th of the months from May and October). The children had prophesied that a miracle would take place on that final date, attracting a much larger crowd than prior. The “voice of God” can be read then as visual words (a picture is worth a thousand words), rather than spoken words. (source: Wikipedia)

The three shepherds of Fatima.

The voice of God for that event is called the “Miracle of the Sun.” According to the Wikipedia article about that event: “Newspapers published testimony from reporters and other people who claimed to have witnessed extraordinary solar activity, such as the sun appearing to “dance” or zig-zag in the sky, careen towards the earth, or emit multicolored light and radiant colors. According to these reports, the event lasted approximately ten minutes.”

This event was officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1930. However, there are critics of this recognition, such as reported by Wikipedia:

“According to theologian Lisa J. Schwebel, claims of the miracle present a number of difficulties. Schwebel states, “not only did not all those present not see the phenomenon, but also there are considerable inconsistencies among witnesses as to what they did see“. Schwebel also observes that there is no authentic photo of the solar phenomena claimed, “despite the presence of hundreds of reporters and photographers at the field.”

That is basically restating what Peter said about people not being able to see the risen Lord, as he spent time teaching the disciples for forty days before his Ascension. In John’s Gospel, where his words say, “The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him,” become a precise parallel to the criticism of “inconsistencies” that occurred in witnesses to the Miracle of the Sun. It is what should be expected, because not everyone is prepared by God to hear His Word.

In addition to the prophesied miracle that some witnesses claimed took place, no one in the crowd of onlookers said he or she saw the Virgin Mary. The three children knelt at the same spot they had been told to kneel each month (by an angel), with the crowd gathered each time seeing their gazes fixed upward, as if there was something above and before them. No one in the crowds gathered ever witnessed anything other than three children kneeling and gazing upward.  However, after each visitation of the Virgin Mary, the accounts given by the children was how all three children had vividly seen the Blessed Mother, but only two could hear her speaking to them.

This too fits what John and Peter said, as the voice of God is relative to how well prepared one is to hear that word.  The boy shepherd was said by the Virgin to need to do more repentance, which was why he could not hear.  Still, he was uplifted by the visions he was allowed.

The proof of someone hearing the divinity of apostolic words being spoken is then found in Peter’s statement that the Gentiles began “speaking in tongues and extolling God.” That statement in Acts is actually divided into two separate segments (denoted by a comma), such that the word “and” has caused translators to omit the comma.

The Greek states, “lalountōn glōssais , kai megalynontōn ton Theon,” with a literal alternate translation saying, “proclaiming with languages , and enlarging (or increasing, or magnifying) the God.” This translation then allows one to stop being mesmerized by a concept that is misinterpreted by man – “speaking in tongues” – so that “languages” is more appropriate when the “voice of God” and “speaking the word” is the motivation for this reaction.  Rather than them “extolling God,” the separation allows one to see how it was “the God” within them that was “increasing” their ability to speak the word, which the Gentiles suddenly were doing.

This means that the miracle of hearing God’s voice, from listening to the voice of God through Peter (an Apostle-Saint of Jesus Christ), those Greco-Roman-Gentiles began speaking fluent Hebrew and Aramaic, rather than Greek or Latin. As they spoke in those “languages,” they not only quoted from the Torah, Psalms and Prophets (a task they had no training in), but they expanded on the word of Scripture. Peter saying they “magnified” the “languages” of Holy text says the Gentiles began divinely explaining how those words prophesied Jesus Christ. They “spoke the word” just as Peter had been speaking.

This means the proof of having the Holy Spirit “fall upon” one is the God-given ability to explain and defend the books of the Holy Bible, without prior explanation or defense being taught one.

Arthur being knighted by Merlin

That proof was clearly visible to Peter and his companion Apostles, as there was only one way such automatic utterances could come to be. God had sent His Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, transforming their souls to a purely righteous state (i.e.: Saints). That then moved Peter to mark the event with the element of water, where they were not so much “baptized” as we Christians understand that today, but “christened” with water.

The purpose of that naming (the definition now applied to the word “christening”) was to officially proclaim those Gentiles were in the name of Jesus Christ. That is the truest form of one’s right to profess Christianity; and it is the root of the word “christen,” such that one is given a Christian name: Jesus.  Therefore, the ritualistic pouring of water (or a river dunking) was done after the soul had reached a state of righteousness, through a Spiritual rebirth.

When we then read, “Then they invited him to stay for several days,” this is vital to grasp.  That statement is not a simple element thrown in at the end. It is actually what links this reading to two others that have crystal clear themes of love. 

The whole of Acts 10 is about God preparing Peter to accept non-Jews in his ministry (through a vision).  This reading’s event occurred soon after Cornelius sent men to request a visit from Peter, asking Peter to go to Caesarea Philippi. Because of a vision Peter had experienced prior, he traveled with Roman soldiers and entered a Gentile home, which was a forbidden act of Jews. Cornelius (a centurion) and his closest soldiers were good human beings and had treated Jews with kindness and fairness. He had heard some Jews speak if Peter, who was then in Joppa, so he sent for him.

Still, neither Peter nor Cornelius expected what happened in this part of Acts 10 to happen; however, when it did, Peter was moved to recognize Cornelius and his men as brothers in Christ. Because they were then of the same “church” (those who gathered “in the name of Jesus Christ”), staying together “for several days” was then an important act of acceptance, out of love for one another, their love of God, and the love of the Holy Spirit.

As a Easter lesson, it is this aspect of God’s love that instantly came over two groups of strangers that fits into a theme of the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B 2018. The Easter lessons are all about a personal Resurrection of Jesus Christ needed in each of us.  This Resurrection is only possible when one willingly surrenders oneself to God, dying of ego so one can be reborn as a soul cleansed by the presence of God and the Mind of Christ (which allows one to know everything about Scripture, so a Saint can “speak the word of God” fluently).  Thus, from this reading we are to see ourselves as Gentiles who have been prepared for God’s presence, which “falls upon” us by our acts of goodness and fairness towards those who serve the One God faithfully.

Still, being prepared through acts of human love does not fully make one a true Christian.  This reading says we need to strive for more.  We need to know the love of God.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ in us can be seen reflected in this story from Acts. Cornelius did good, but he went beyond by sending for Peter. As a Gentile, he wanted to know more. He wanted someone to convince him to convert to Judaism, rather than remain a polytheistic Roman. He reached out to find the truth.  God saw that, so He prepared Peter to be His servant who would offer the truth to Cornelius.

We must become opened to receive God. We must pray that the truth will open our eyes and minds. When the bearer of truth comes, we need to listen to the word and let the Holy Spirit fall upon us, so we see the meaning. We must seek to see the truth where others have not seen it. We must desire to know the truth where others have only heard its sound. We must surrender ourselves so our brain is freed to know the truth of the Mind of Christ.  When one experiences that knowledge, it is because one has been truly baptized by the Holy Spirit, with one’s soul cleansed by the presence of God, with one then in the name of Jesus Christ.

When that state of existence has been reached, one knows love. One then can recognize all others who have the same state of love surrounding them. Once one knows that love, one enjoys spending a few days with others of the same Godly heart and the same Christian mind. It is like a newfound reunion, where joy abounds.

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John 15:1-8 – The fruit of the true vine

Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”


This is the Gospel selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B 2018. It will next be read aloud in church by a priest on Sunday, April 29, 2018. This is important as Jesus taught that his disciples must become part of the true vine, required to bear fruit into the world. The symbolism of the vine fits his command to “lift up your stakes and follow me,” as the “cross” that IS oneself is that which raises the vine off the ground and allows the good fruit to come forth.

To grasp the context of this reading, one has to understand that John alone wrote of Jesus teaching the disciples this lesson, which took place during the evening of the Passover Seder meal (commonly called “The Last Supper”). While Matthew and Peter (the writer of Peter’s account of the Gospel is Mark) were present at these lessons given by Jesus, they were busy getting drunk on wine that is part of the Seder ritual (a standard objective into the night).  John, on the other hand, was paying attention to what Jesus had to say.

This is how Jesus could make a reference about “going to my Father’s house to prepare a room for you,” only to have Thomas say, “We do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:1-5) Thomas was getting drunk, so he was not thinking clearly.  So, Thomas would he recall these lessons. John, however, was a child, so not freely welcomed to drink. Therefore, he stayed alert and listened to Jesus speaking, which was recalled in chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17. This reading then focuses on the second phase of Jesus’ Passover teachings, after the group had left the upstairs room (John 14:31).

In this reading, Jesus said, “I am the true vine,” where the Greek word “ampelos” more specifically means “grapevine.” This statement generates mental imagery, especially in those who have never grown grapes as produce, nor possessed a vineyard, where it is easy to mistake a grapevine as being like power lines and telephone lines along the roadside – seeming to go on endlessly. This concept that lacks a farmer’s mentality leads one away from the power of Jesus’ statement.

To say he is the “vine” is similar to Jesus saying he is the gate to the sheepfold. Both are self-contained, with limits, where the parameters or boundaries are of optimum value when those limits are full of purpose: a grapevine is full of grapes; and a sheepfold is full of sheep. This view of a “vine” being one (thus the “true vine,” implying others exist that are false), one can see how a vineyard is many grapevines together. Here is a diagram of one grapevine and a picture of a vineyard of grapevines in winter:

In the aspect of growing grapes as produce, the grapevines are not let to just grow year after year, without pruning. They must be maintained by a “vinegrower.” The Greek word here is “geōrgos,” which means “vinedresser” or “farm-laborer,” as the owner will order his laborers and inspect the maintenance process commanded.  The pruning of grapevines means cutting the vine down after each growing season, with each vine’s growth carefully manicured so the best grapes can be produced from season to season. It is vital to cultivate the main vine into a sturdy cross shape, which (along with the cross-wire) will support the weight of the full fruit. Here is a diagram and photo of the grapevine that is pruned to a trellis (the cross or stake that keeps it from growing along the ground):

By seeing the seasonal reduction of the vine, where the pruning acts to stimulate new growth, one can begin to see the original growth came from planting seed in the ground. Once established in the earth, the planter-farmer-laborer tends the vine garden over time, where the root-stock is firmly set. That root-stock of the Father becomes the true vine that produces good fruit. However, over time the grapes produced may become less flavorful or desirable, such that the vine will be cut down to the root-stock and new cane vines grafted to it. This becomes the metaphor of Christianity, where the fruit of Judaism had lost favor, such that: “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1)

This imagery can then be used to see how the books of the Holy Bible tell of the previous harvests of good fruit, from Adam to Noah, from Abraham to Moses, and from David to the Prophets, with all being from the seed of God and the true vine of His Sons. In this reading from John’s Gospel, Jesus told his disciples how Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah, was the true vine of God. He was speaking to the flowers that would soon bud into the branches that would produce his good fruit, the product of the Father. By understanding this terminology properly, everything Jesus told his disciples becomes crystal clear metaphor.

John remembered Jesus saying, “[The Father] removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” This is routine maintenance of a grapevine that bears good fruit. As such, at the time Jesus said this Judas Iscariot was absent, having gone to betray Jesus. He was a branch that would never bear any fruit in the name of Jesus Christ. Judas would never submit his ego to God and become Jesus Christ reborn. He was pruned the day Judas hung himself from guilt. Still, the branches that would bear the fruit of Jesus of Nazareth – the Apostles – they would all lose their lives so more Apostles could be produced. They were pruned for the good of the true vine.

Here is a branch that was pruned so the vine could bear more fruit.

When Jesus then said, “You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you,” the word “katharoi” was used and translated as “cleansed,” and the word “logon” translated as “word.” This states in two segments, “Already you are pure [or clean]” and “by reason of the word that I have spoken to you.” The element of cleanliness loses focus on the metaphor of vineyard cultivation. The root meaning of “katharos” is “purity,” such that the example of grafting a shoot system (scion) to rootstock (the “true vine”), then the shoot will develop buds based on the root system. This means the “word” is the command of the true vine to regenerate cleanly from the rootstock, not from the root system the shoots were pruned, for the purpose of grafting. Thus, this verse told of Jesus informing his disciples their grafts had taken hold and they were then prepared for producing good fruit in the coming new season.

From common stock to disciples attached to the true vine to branches one with the true vine (Apostles).

“Abide in me as I abide in you” is then a statement that the eleven (and John) were no longer separate, but had become one (each individually) with Jesus. While all the disciples had mortal mothers and fathers, such that the DNA of those mortals was what made them reproductions in the likeness of their parents, they had become spiritually grafted to Jesus, whose Spiritual DNA was from the Father. Because of that linkage, the souls of the disciples were one with the soul of the Son of God, such that the Spirit of Jesus Christ was then within each of them.

Jesus then moved beyond this oneness to explain, “Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches.” A branch (scion) that has been cut off from its root system is incapable of bearing fruit by itself. Once it is grafted onto good rootstock, the flow of growth is then passed onto the attached shoot (branch). The ability to bear fruit comes from the root. Since Jesus is the true vine (i.e.: rootstock for Apostles), his disciples were the newly budding branches, which were budding with the holiness of the Father, through the Son. Therefore, Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” where each was grafted individually to the true vine.

It is important to grasp the implication of his next two statements. John wrote that Jesus said, “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” Rather than a statement of warning or threat, this was a statement of truth and fact. It goes beyond those who were gathered around Jesus, and well beyond the implication of Judas Iscariot being a discarded, as a withered branch.

These statements of Jesus say that the “true vine” is the only path to heaven and eternal life. Not only were the Jews not abiding in Jesus [as Jesus would soon be arrested by the Jews], neither were the Romans – who had their own religion that worshiped pagan gods. This truth says (without saying overtly) that no religion (as religion was known at that time) abode in Jesus, such that Islam (to come later, after Mohammed), Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Taoism (or Daoism), Shintoism, etc., etc., and all forms of pagan worshipers all around the globe (monotheistic or polytheistic) are rootstock of death, not eternal life.

Because a religion is defined as “belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power,” there is no “faith” that defines the process of a grapevine.  Just as Jesus was the “true vine of the Father,” there was no philosophy held by Jesus that defined what Jesus believed.  Jesus taught in parables that require one experience the meaning, rather than learn a set of rules to follow.  Because all ‘religions” fall into the error of belief in dogma, rather than being extensions (as reproductions) of the true vine, no “religion” seeks to become one with God.  As such, no “religion” abides in Jesus, who IS the true vine of God, the Father – the ONE GOD. Therefore, for Jesus to say, “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit,” the whole world was, is, and is destined to be scions of false vines – the philosophical thoughts that act as “religion.”  The misled and misguided branches of philosophies will have to sever their shoots from their rootstock and seek to be grafted onto the Apostles … in order to become extensions of the oneness of true vine.

This broad stoke view of what Jesus said to his disciples should then be seen as John remembering a lesson for all who will sit and learn the lessons of Jesus Christ. The vast majority of proclaimed Christians around the world today are far from being branches that are producing the fruit of the true vine. The creation of branches within the “family tree” called “Christianity” (a religion), which veer wildly in many different directions, is not indicative of a grapevine producing fruit that carries the seeds of Sainthood. Instead, the millions who call themselves Christians seem to be at war with each other, more than simply being one with God’s love. It is more like the branches from the true vine have been pruned from truth and grafted onto false vine rootstock, making the present state reflect “Christianity” as weakened varieties of Jesus grapes, with none of them capable of producing good fruit.

Does this shape resemble the grapevine T-cross?

In this regard, I recommend the reader here look up the term “Cathars” and get a grasp of the original concept of true Christian. Much of their history has purposefully been destroyed, due to the hatred held by the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church against the Cathar people. Their name (as a group of people) was not theirs, as if they chose that name to be new branch of Christians. The name comes from the Greek word seen earlier – “katharoi” – which means “pure.”

Others, those who called themselves Christians, came to know these people (who primarily lived in Southwest France between 1,000 and 1230 A.D.) as those who were “pure” in their devotion to God.  They acted as those who were reborn as Jesus Christ, possessing profound knowledge of the word spoken by Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church exercised their first act of genocide to kill the Cathar people, because they would not convert to Roman Catholicism. To justify the first of several crusades known as Inquisitions, the Church called the Cathar people heretics, accusing them of being dualists and Gnostics, whose ways of life were not consistent with those philosophies held dear by the Vatican. In reality (in my opinion), the Cathar people were those who had “already been cleansed by the word that” Jesus had spoken, because they were true vine reproductions of Jesus Christ and knew the deeper meanings of Scripture, unlike typical Catholics.

Look up the Albigensian Crusade (aka Cathar Crusade).

From this awakening, which says true Christians should have more in common with Judaic teachings, where the communal commitment the Cathar people had to one another was similar to that of Jews living separately from Gentiles, the Cathar people were together as a Church of reproductions of Jesus Christ, as those reborn of his Spirit.  Jews, on the other hand, represented those branches growing from the vine of Moses, only to have grown wildly along the ground of the Promised Land, losing the “purity” of the “true vine” that Moses offered the Israelites through Law. Western Christians have likewise become wild grapes, through the ground clutter of philosophies that place more emphasis on the equality of inferior vines and branches, rather than seeking to maintain the “cleanliness of the word of Christ.”  American Christians today live among multicultural people they barely know, where governments force them to accept principals that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Unlike the Cathars, American Christians readily convert to the will of empires, with few willing to die for the way of the true vine.

This destruction of the true vine model can be seen in the statement of Jesus to his disciples, which said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” The promise that “whatever you wish will be done for you” meant – that night in Jerusalem, following Jesus’ last Seder meal – “whatever miracles you need to be able to perform in my name” – as the good fruit of the true vine – “you will have the power of God the Father available to you.” Modern Christians have mutated this statement into a weakened promise that makes Jesus Christ out to be some magic genie in a lamp, where you make a wish for wealth and it will be granted. All wishes today are selfishly based, with no one trying to heal any of the ills of the world, one Gentile convert at a time. All of this failure is due to no one abiding in Jesus Christ and he in one as Jesus Christ, Without that state of being reached first, all wishes can ONLY BE selfish, thus never granted by the One God.

In the last verse of this reading, John wrote, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” The literal Greek makes this easier to understand, in terms of having one’s wish come true. The first segment says, “In this is glorified the Father of me.” That clearly says that “In this” abiding in the true vine, so the true vine becomes one’s Spirit leading one’s soul, then God the Father has made all desires for Oneness with God come true. By saying, “the Father is glorified,” where “edoxasthē” (from “doxazó“) is translated as “is glorified,” the reward of that wanted can only come from the sacrifice of self-ego, in “honor” and “praise” of the One God having entered one’s heart (and soul). When Jesus said, “the Father of me,” the intent is for a disciple to feel the power of the LORD within, such that one has to seek to become a rebirth “of me,” via “the Father.” Therefore, all desires cease to be of selfish motivations, only being wishes to serve the LORD’s needs, where “the Father is glorified” by the obedience of His servant.

The second segment can then be read literally as, “that fruit much you should bear.” This means that a branch extending from the true vine will produce grapes filled with the word of the Lord Christ. The succulence of full grapes from the true vine is then due to the holy water that has coursed through the xylem of that vine. From root system to branch to fruit, everything is filled with the word of God.  It becomes a repeating of holy water poured out as in the miracle of Cana, which tasted as the finest wine that is usually served first. By keeping in mind how this “living water” that tasted like fine wine was taken from “purification” jugs, one can then see how the wedding guests had been cleansed by the word Jesus had spoken (to fill the jars with water).

The miracle of the purification water tasting like good fruit goes well beyond the physical.  It signifies the fermentation of the soul.  This means the disciples will produce more disciples, all who will become Apostles.  This miracle is opposed to the norm seen in the various denominations of churches gathering. like guests coming to celebrate a would-be marriage.  The norm can only expect a tithing pew sitter, who knows nothing that glorifies the Father, to show success by recruiting another tithing pew sitter, who also will know nothing of the Father.

The reason is a tithing pew sitter is a selfish ego and not one possessed by God’s love, reborn as His Son, Jesus Christ – the true glorification of the Father.  Today’s churches can be said by the master of the banquet to be typical, as the best wine of Jesus in his Apostles was served first, until the world was drunk and unable to notice that poor wine is now pouring freely.  Today’s Christians mistake their drunken state as being the fine wine from good fruit that glorifies the Father, when so much more is expected.

Finally, the last segment says, “and you shall be disciples of me,” where the glorification of the Father comes from “disciples of Jesus Christ.” This does not mean those who ONLY learn of Jesus Christ as pupils are true disciples. It means those whose hearts are afire with learning the power of Scripture, so their minds are filled with the knowledge of God – the Christ Mind – are those who thirst for truth. The purpose of learning is not to forever claim student status, but to graduate and become the teacher. The teacher (rabbi) was and is Jesus, who enlightens his disciples with a desire to become the Christ Resurrected. This is the call to all who seek the promise of eternal salvation, as that reward demands commitment to learn (deeply) and to apply that “education” freely, so others who are seekers of truth can find it alive in other human beings.

As a Gospel reading during the Easter season, a season when all lessons are calling disciples of Jesus to become the Resurrection of the Christ, we must grasp the concept of the grapevine and the branches that come from the “true vine.” In Scripture is the crucial point in time, when Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) That command needs to be understood in terms of this reading and the dressing of grapevines.

First, the word translated as “wishes” is the Greek “thelei.” The same root Greek word, “theló,” was written here in John’s Gospel, meaning “wish, will, desire, intend, and design.” The intent of the word is therefore not to offer one a “wish” fulfilled, but to ask one if he or she “seeks” God, as their “desire, will, intent, design, or wish.” This means Jesus told his disciples on the evening of the Passover Seder, “whatever your heart desires, it will be fulfilled.” The result may or may not be God and the Christ Mind – thus the wisdom of “be careful what you wish for, as you just might get it.” When Jesus told his disciple to choose their path, he said, “If you desire to become me, then you must sacrifice your ego [deny oneself] and accept my righteous goals.”

Second, when Jesus told his disciples the path to “follow him” required one “take up his cross,” there are two grapevine elements contained in those words. First, the Greek word “aratō” means, “take away,” but it also means “raise” and “lift up.” It implies “hoisting,” as well as “carrying” and “bearing.” This becomes a demand for the strengthening of a grapevine, where years of growth and the crafting of the vines along a cross-wire create a T-cross that is capable of bearing weight. In terms of Scripture being the word spoken by the Christ Mind, like a tendril of a vine, one should always be close to Scripture and ever-reaching to see its deeper meaning.  That reflects a design to reach the optimum height, so the shoot strives to be uplifted and amplified in strength.  A vine does not reach high due to a philosophy or written plan.  It does so naturally, so it can not only produce branches, but also so it can grow to support the fruit produced. In spiritual terms, being “raised” means to go beyond self (“deny self”) and “[be-]come” Jesus Christ “after” him. This “uplifting” is in soul Spirit, where Christ abides in one and one abides in Christ.

In reference to the Roman Catholic Church and their genocide of the Cathar people, one can see how this can be reduced to a level of symbolic focus. The Church reveres the crucifix and loves to nail the body of dead Jesus to dead wood – not a living vine. The original symbol of Christianity was the fish, which is associated with the astrological sign Pisces. Pisces represents self-sacrifice for a Spiritual reward. Therefore, to read Matthew 16:24 as if Jesus were telling his disciples to foresee his crucifixion as his end and the disciple’s time to follow on without him, that avoids the point of self-sacrifice (which may or may not be death by crucifixion) for a higher soul self (as Jesus reborn).

See how dead driftwood has been fashioned into a symbol that screams “dead branch”?

See the difference in imagery when we have become grafted onto a living cross within?

The second element in “take up his cross” is the word that translates as “cross,” which is “stauron.” It has been the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church that has taken this Greek word and absorbed its meaning into the dead timbers of a crucifix, as though the word solely means the pain and suffering of Jesus of Nazareth. The reality is “stauros” means “stake in the ground that forms a T.” The stake hold the cross-wire, which symbolizes the inner strength the Holy Spirit offers.  A crucifix forms a T, but many other T formations existed long before anyone figured out how to nail human beings to two dead tree trunks hewn and nailed together, in the shape of a cross. People cultivated grapevines into the shape of a T-cross well before the Romans saw that shape was strong enough to bear heavy weights. Thus, Jesus was telling his disciples to form a strong shape, just as he had shown through his strength in supporting his disciples and the Jews who sought him.

In this fifth Sunday in Easter, in the year 2018, this message to become branches of the true vine, as the fruit of the Father’s vineyard, goes along with the reading from Acts, where Philip produced good fruit in the Ethiopian eunuch. He did that be being tested in the wilderness, led by an angel of the Lord, where his strength was proved to bear the weight of Sainthood. It also accompanies the Epistle reading from 1 John, which defines God as love. The fruit of the Father’s true vine is the love of Christ, which is only found in true Saints – the fruit of the true vine.

The Easter call is to heed the word of Jesus and become “clean” and “pure.” One must be washed clean of past sins, in order to be given the reward of eternal salvation. To desire that reward, one must be a living branch of the true vine and produce good fruit. To be a living branch, one must be resurrected as Jesus Christ, so he abides in one, as one abides in him.

The purpose of Jesus dying on a cross was to show his disciples how death is not a permanent state of being, as a soul can never die. The soul will graft itself to another root system and be reborn according to that root-stock. Therefore, the purpose of the seven Sundays in the Easter season is to drive home the point that it is not enough to let Jesus die and be Resurrected, then Ascended. Christians miss the point of the price they too must pay.  If they do not follow that same path to salvation, by being reborn as the fruit of Jesus Christ, they will lose as fruitless branches thrown into the fire.

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1 John 4:7-21 – All you need is God’s love

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.


This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B 2018. It will next be read aloud in church by a reader on Sunday, April 29, 2018. This is important because John goes into great detail about the love that is the bond between a Saint (Apostle) and God, which brings about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ within those lovers. John also makes it clear that not everyone knows this love of God.

In the 326 words of this reading selection, the word “love” (or “loved) appears 27 times (roughly 8.3% – a high frequency), according to this English translation. According to the Greek text, variations of the words “agapē” or agapō are found.  The breakdown is as follows: agapē – 15 times; agapō – 1 time; agapōn – 4 times; agapōmen – 3 times; ēgapēkamen – 1 time; and ēgapēsen 3 times. Those words translate into (in order of listing here): love; [I] love; loving; [we should] love; [we] loved; and [he] loved. These are in addition to the two times John referred to the recipients of his letter as “Beloved” (“Agapētoi”), which addresses the objects of one’s love.

This preponderance of words placing focus on “love” is reminiscent of the translation of John 21:15-19, where Jesus and Peter had an exchange about “love,” when Jesus told Peter to “feed my lambs,” “shepherd my sheep,” and “feed my sheep.” The reality of the Greek in that selection is that Jesus asked asked Peter twice, “agapas me pleon toutōn?” (“Do you love me more than these?”) and “agapas me?” (“Do you love me?”), using the word “agapas.”  The word “agapas” asked in the second person singular, “do love you.” The response Peter gave to those questions was the same each time: “sy odias hoti philō se.” (“You know I have affection for you.”)

The word “philō” says, “I have affection for.” In a reading where it is important to see oneself as Peter, which makes it YOU who was asked by Jesus Christ, “Do you love me?”  One then has to see how one, like Peter, will hear the question and respond to the question of love as if asked, “Do you have human affections for me?”

That reading demonstrated how there is a difference between LOVE and the warm, fuzzy feelings that a human brain automatically thinks to remember, when that word (in all its shapes and forms) is heard. What John was writing about in his epistle goes beyond the physical sensations that are interpreted as “love” and explains the Spirituality of LOVE that is so much more. That is why Jesus asked Peter if he understood what “love” meant, but Peter (not yet filled with the Holy Spirit) was blinded from seeing the intent of Jesus’ question.

That prompted Jesus to ask Peter a third time, “phileis me?” (“Do you have affection for me?”) That time Peter (who was grieved at having been asked the same question about love three times – remembering that Peter had denied knowing Jesus of Nazareth three times) said, “panta sy odias” (“all things you know”) ,sy ginōskeis hoti philō se.” (“you realize that I have affection for you.”)  Peter responded (according to John) with two different words that translate as “know.”

Each time Jesus heard Peter’s answers, Peter had equated “love” to caring for others.  Peter was like all those disciples who loved Jesus. Still, Peter failed to grasp the significance of what questions about love demanded as acts that proved Spiritual love and human affection for family.

When Jesus said “feed my lambs,” he meant give the knowledge (food for thought) of God’s love to those newly in the fold (newborn sheep), who are then hungering for it. When Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep” (or “Tend my sheep”), he meant to support those who would grow into Apostles and Saints, in the name of Jesus Christ, with God’s love. When Jesus then to Peter to “have affection for” him by “feeding my sheep,” he meant for Peter to show human feelings toward other Christians, as a support form of God’s love. In all cases, the follow-up Jesus made, using my, projected Peter as being Jesus Christ, through the love of God.  Thus, the question,  “Do you love me?” is also a command: “You do love Peter,” when you become “me.”  Therefore, Jesus said, “When you become me via God’s loveyou as me will feed and shepherd lambs and sheep as have done with you.”

The conversation John remembered, via the Holy Spirit, was the same that Jesus has with all disciples that are about to be tested as metal is proved by fire.  It is the conversion requirement all true Christians will face.  The irritation Peter displayed (as felt by John), where he mildly snapped at Jesus, “You know all things,” represents the hesitancy disciples have receiving God’s love.  Still, to be Christian, one cannot expect God knows all things, so words of “affection” prove a commitment of the heart.  After all, Peter – Jesus’ lead disciple – still held onto the raw guilt of having denied “knowing” this man three times.  It is easier to deny “knowing Christ,” than it is to receive God’s love.

For John to use Greek to recall a conversation most likely held in Aramaic, where there may or may not be different words for “love,” one must realize John wrote both his Gospel and his epistles from the Christ Mind.  John, therefore, knew the intent of the questions, by knowing the mind of the questioner.  The Greek then becomes a guide to find the intent and purpose, from language subtleties.

Again, this lesson shows the differences of speech and language that the human brain misses (like Peter’s had).  It is human tendency to think we understand the words, when in reality we do not.  Three times Jesus asking the same question is symbolic.  His changing of terms is also symbolic.  The exchange between Jesus and Peter says we can depend on our human emotions as signs of our Christianity, hearing “love” in human ways.  However, because we have not yet elevated our minds to spiritual abilities to truly grasp the meaning of LOVE, it becomes easy to mistake the love in Jesus (from God) as a lesser human emotion.

From this understanding, look at what John wrote, by taking his explanations of love and examining the meaning, step by step.

First, John wrote, “let us love one another, because love is from God.” That is not explaining that love is a physical attraction to someone, due to increased levels of hormones making one’s head swell from desire to have sensual contact with another. That becomes a human emotion that stimulates outreach to another, where the cause is based on laws of attraction and not based on love from God.  That is a low concept of “love,” because sensual “love” is fleeting, always seeking new sensual experiences.

To love another because love is from God means one emits God’s love to another, simply by one being in love with God. God’s love becomes one with the core of one’s being, which naturally projects outwardly to others, attracting them to one. The misunderstanding of “love” is to seek external sources that fill one’s inner lack. Thus, without God’s love within, one is incapable of projecting anything other than human feelings to another, which will be a love that changes (like emotions do) to varying levels (or definitions) of love.

To understand this concept better, I recommend reading The Path to Love, by Depak Chopra. (Disclaimer: Depak Chopra may not claim this love source to be  identified as the One God, the Father of Jesus Christ, but his concept is valid as sourced within, not external.)

Second, John wrote, “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” This is actually a divided statement in the Greek, with a comma separating the two.  It should be read as: “everyone loving , from God has been born.” This has a double meaning (as Scripture has intended multiplicity), where true LOVE is not something that adult human beings freely exude. As babies (having been born into the world), love is natural and from God.  Everyone is naturally attracted to infants and babies. Over time, however, this love becomes hidden and diminished, eventually lost and confused with a plethora of human feelings that make it difficult to mentalize what “love” means. Therefore, the dual aspect here is being reborn as Jesus Christ, which comes from the love of God having been born again.

Third, John wrote, “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” The Greek word “egnō” is used here, as a form of “ginóskó.” which means “has known.” Thus, “has not known God” means to have not personally experienced God. It is a word that is at the root of “Biblically know,” which has sexual connotations, but really implies two who have never joined together as one have not known the other … even though the two recognize each other. When John said, “God is love,” the meaning is Spiritual love requires one having been joined with God as one, as the prerequisite for being able to love.

Fourth, John wrote, “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” As a Saint, John was speaking for all Apostles of Christ, who all had “God’s love revealed in this way” of becoming one with God. It says that God’s love is what brings forth the presence of His Son, Jesus Christ, “so that we might live through him.”

Living as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is how one comes to know God’s love. It was “not that we loved God,” because human beings know only the changing emotions of which “love” is one of many. Human beings are therefore incapable of loving God before He loves them. Through submission to God, in a way that never tries to be equal to God … always saying, “You know” (ex.: Ezekiel 37:3), with head bowed down … God will love us by joining His love to us. Only by receiving His Son, sent by love, can one’s sins be atoned through the sacrifice of self to God, allowing one to become holy, which is what warrants the presence of the Savior … as a Saint.

We are all dried bones awaiting life, through the love of God. That is initiated with repentance.

Fifth, John wrote, “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.” This says John wrote to another Saint, who was likewise loved by God. The correct translation from the Greek is, “If so the [one] God loved us,” where the condition of love is from “atoning sacrifice” (Greek “hilasmon“), that gift is not for one, as many have been harmed in one’s history of angering God.  Thus, “since God loved us so,” that love is not to be held selfishly.

Just as Jesus was send by the Father to offer salvation of sins to all who know God, that presence cannot be limited. By saying, “we ought to love one another,” there is a debt of thanks owed by each Saint.  That debt is repaid by loving support of one another; and that is the essence of a Church of Jesus Christ, whose cornerstone is the love of God, through His Son.  We shine a light that attracts the sinful to salvation (feed the lambs); we guide the disciples to receive the Spirit (shepherd the sheep); and we love one another as ourselves (feed the sheep).

Sixth, John wrote, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” When John said, “No one has ever seen God,” this is the reality that the Spiritual and Heavenly is beyond the detection of physical sense organs, such as eyesight. This is the meaning of God telling Moses, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20) That means human beings can only face God after death, through the soul’s sense of sight; and then that can only be by wearing the face of God, as the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we do not know God by sight. We know God through the new life given to us by the presence of His love.

A “Near Death Experience” means a soul release through death. While death is not permanent, God may be seen. Returning to life with this vision is like the Resurrection of Christ within.

That brings the desire to support the lives of others who have the same love of God in them. This means that when God lives in us, then we are alive in His love, with the “perfection” being the “completion” (the Greek word “teleioó”) of the Trinity within each Saint, where each have the love of the Father, as the Son reborn, through that presence sent via the Holy Spirit.

This theory is based on human “love,” but it can be translated on Spiritual terms: Submission to God = Commitment; God’s love within = Passion; the Resurrection of Jesus Christ within = Intimacy.

Seventh, John wrote, “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.” This more fully states the reason for saying, “his love is perfected in us,” by reading the Greek literally.  In that way it states (in translation), “The love of him having been perfected in us is.”

The word “is” is a statement of “being.” We have meaningful being through the Trinity – we in him and him in us, through the Spirit. The creation of Saints (reproductions of Jesus Christ in human form) allows God to speak through His Son (as we do testify), and the Saints then confess “that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God,” as the Son reborn. That union as One is “so we have known and believe the love that God has for us.”

This is the essence of “being there.”

Walking on water is symbolic of doubt having been overcome by God’s love.

Eighth, John wrote, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” The first segment of this verse is often repeated – “God is love” – so much so that many Sunday sermons have taken those three words alone and preached them alone as the intended meaning of this reading. God is not the same “love” that human emotions know and which everyone in a congregation hears and identifies with having felt. However, when one adds the remainder of the verse, one knows the completeness of “God is love,” where one knows that presence of God within, as to abide in God, with God One with a Saint.  That is to truly know love.

Ninth, John wrote, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.” This verse is separated into four parts by three commas, rather than the presence of a colon and two commas. The literal translation of the Greek adds more insight into the intent of this verse (17).

Literally it states, “In this has been perfected [the one] love with us , that confidence we might have in the day of judgment , that even as he is , also we are in the world this.” Again, the “perfection” is the joining of three as One – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We abide in the Father and He in us, bringing about the Resurrection of the Son as us, through the power of the Holy Spirit in our souls. Just as Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate, so are all Saints in his name.

The day of judgment is the death of a mortal body (our personal “end of the world”); but with a saintly presence, as Jesus Christ reborn, our souls are confident not to return to the earthly realm (via reincarnation). Just as was the righteousness of Jesus Christ, as God incarnate, we are also Jesus Christ in this world (as many have been, are and will be) … when we have been perfected by the love of God with us.

Art projects God’s love as a halo.

Tenth, John wrote, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” Human beings are mortal creatures, which mean their bodies are temporal and destined to cease having a capability to support physical life for a spiritual soul. Once one learns to fear, one loses touch with the God love one is born possessing. Fear is a human emotion, much like doubt, shame, guilt, and remorse; but fear is felt and then repressed, just as is human “love.”

There is no fear in God, so there can be no fear in the Saints with whom God unites His love. The unity is the perfection of the Trinity, such that love casts out fear in the One. The fear of punishment is the soul’s fear of reincarnation (or worse – eternal damnation). Thus, anyone who fears anything (except God) is afraid of His judgment at a human host’s death.  Such doubts being present means that one’s soul has not “reached perfection in love.”

Without the love of God, one is a fool controlled by human emotions. Fear is not of God, but a sense of worldly danger.

Eleventh, John wrote, “We love because he first loved us.” We are loved by God when our soul is allowed reentry into a human form, as a newborn. We are therefore first loved before our brains develop beyond a point that keeps it from knowing love. The time spent living acts to pare away the love of God from us, as sins bring fear, doubt, remorse, guilt, and shame (all human emotions), which takes the place of God’s love. We live as children and adults thinking “love” is occasional moments to cherish, as God’s reward for the good things we do; but that is not God’s love. Only when we submit ourselves to God can we first know God’s love as having been reborn back into our souls.

The mythological rebirth, from fire and ashes comes an immortal resurrection.

Twelfth, John wrote, “Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” This becomes a further assessment of what a true Church is. What a true Church is cannot be seen as a general collection of people who say, “I “love” God.” This is at the root of the argument over what defines one’s relationship with Jesus Christ: Faith or works?

The Holy Bible is primarily a work that tells the stories that project the living vine of God’s love, which led to Jesus Christ and his living vine Saints.  The peripheral figures that come and go are like those who say they “love” God, but cannot produce the works or acts God demands.  They cannot hear God’s voice, due to their own voices speaking to them so loudly.  The Church that was originated by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, devolved into the Judaic religion, which professes a “love” of God. From that (and due to that devolution) stems Christianity, the direct result of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  The original spread of Christianity has to be recognized as ONLY being based on the proclamation: “I love God,” from the truest meaning.

When the statement of John says that there cannot be a state of God’s love, if members of a Church are those professing devotion to the One God, but then saying or demonstrating otherwise means that “church” is a lie.  To say, “We are Christians,” and then “hate their brothers or sisters,” those said to believe in Jesus Christ, is a lie of “love.”  To profess Christianity without love means to be a disciple in need of a guide (someone to feed the lambs with love). God’s love raises oneself above the pettiness and mutability of human emotions, such that love cannot change with the winds of time. To say one “loves” God, but then “hates” another male or female within a congregation means one is a liar.

The weak of heart will seek and find liars to follow.

The Greek word written by John, “pseustēs” (“a liar”), says one is not telling the truth, which is a statement (the duality of meaning) of not knowing the truth, such that lying is a common state of flawed humanity. As such, an alternate translation can be “a deceiver,” where one’s rejection of God’s true love means one deceives others by saying “love” and preaching “hate.” That causes disciples to mistake human “love” for God’s love.  However, the “deceiver” is more dangerous when seen as one’s punishment of oneself, where the denial of God’s love is mostly harmful to that self’s soul.

It is vital to realize that a “brother” and a “sister” are statements of familial relationship. As God’s love is the foundation of a Church, where the reproduction of His Son, Jesus Christ, IS the cornerstone of that Church.  That resurrection in male human beings (“brothers”) and female human beings (“sisters”) means all members of that Church have been reborn as the Son of God, completely enveloped in God’s love. That righteous state of being joins with others in the same state, so true love is shared between all Saints, all brothers and sisters in God’s love alike. Therefore, when John wrote, “The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also,” this is stating the rule that makes a Church true and strong.

A Church of Christ cannot have members that are not related to the other members, as family, born of the same Father, as the Son reborn in multiplicity.  It can act as a place of refuge (a sheepfold), but all who enter the gate (Jesus Christ) must recognize the shepherd’s call to come to him.  The sheepfold becomes discipleship, with the exit from it being one’s holy ministry with the Shepherd.  Each individual is responsible for his or her own reception of the Spirit, meaning all must listen for the voice of Jesus Christ – their Shepherd.  Once heard, one must act as the Good Shepherd, filled with God’s love.

By understanding this truth about God’s love, one can then see that the Church of Christianity is only One, with no denominations. A separate denomination means the rejection of another denomination, where that rejection can be classified as “hatred.” The Greek word written by John, which has been translated as “hate” is “misē,” also means, “to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e. to renounce one choice in favor of another.” (HELPS Word-studies).

Forks in the path?

That definition source further presents the word’s usage as an example found in Luke 14:26.  There the statement by Jesus, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (NASU).” The source above states how the word “miseo” translates better when meaning, “to love less than the LORD.” To be a disciple of Jesus, one must love God, first and foremost, with all others “loved” less (i.e.: “hated”).  That interpretation then leads one to understand Jesus meant his statement was directed to all who would have a lesser concept of “love,” than the love of God.  Familial love is the love of brothers and sisters in Christ, which may or may not include those who share physical lineage.

One cannot become the disciple of Jesus Christ if one cannot turn away from self and human emotions, and go beyond human relationships and physical bonds.  To transform, one must seek to begin the process that brings about the love of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ within oneself (one’s soul).  When one submits to God in marriage, one is then welcomed into the Spiritual family that is the true Church.  That personal Transfiguration means one has been transformed from disciple to saintly Apostle.

As a lesson during the Easter season, when one is in the process of transformation from disciple to Saint, when the love of God will elevate one above the changeability of human emotions to the steadiness of Jesus Christ, one must realize a need to sacrifice human dependencies and take a leap of faith. When one has a human view of family, one becomes lost in the justifications of one family’s way, versus another family’s way, even if multiple families propose to be going in the same direction – to God, through Jesus Christ. Human paths lead in circles, which mean the birth, death, reincarnated rebirth cycle for eternity. This is opposed to a straight path of heaven and eternal life for a forgiven soul. The threshold to that path and the path one must find is God’s love.


In the title of this article is a modification of the song by The Beatles – All You Need Is Love.  The lyrics of that song make it clear to understand the total misinterpretation of love they intended, where the hippy-dippy days of peace and “love” had nothing to do with Christian Spirituality.

The multitude of Christian denominations are confused today about love because of this past focus on human “love” being the answer that had been missed since Jesus died.  When the Beatles suggested “love is all you need,” that was more a political recommendation than a demand to submit oneself to God, the Father of Jesus Christ.  No human “love” can fix a world that has always been in “love” with “hating” one another.


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Acts 8:26-40 – Willing sacrifices for the greater good

An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.

In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.


This is the Acts selection for the Easter season, coming from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B 2018. It will next be read aloud in church by a reader on Sunday, April 29, 2018. It is important because it tells of an Apostle following in the path of Jesus (fulfilling his “Follow me” instruction), as Philip was led into his own wilderness experience. The Ethiopian eunuch then epitomizes the mission of Apostles as reaching out to Gentiles and not being limited to Jews.

This selection begins by stating, “An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went.”

It is easy to assume that Philip was the disciple from Bethsaida who chose to follow Jesus, as reported in the Gospel of John (John 1:43-48). That Philip was one of the eleven who were filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (the first day of the week), who was equal to Simon-Peter and John of Zebedee, and other Apostles who were prepared for ministry during the forty days Jesus spent teaching them, prior to his Ascension and the subsequent Fiftieth day. This means a holy call to the wilderness would not be required of Saint Philip; however, there is another Philip to consider.

In chapter six of the Acts of the Apostles, we are told of the need to choose “good men” from among the Hellenistic Jews and Hebrew descendants, who would attend to the needs of the widows that were being overlooked. Two of the seven named “good men” were Stephen and Philip. Although Stephen was said to be “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” the others were growing in their faith, so the Apostles could continue to devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (All from Acts 6:1-7)

It would make perfect sense to see the Philip named in chapter 8 of Acts as referencing this newly ordained priest named Philip. Therefore, when “an angel of the Lord said to Philip … go toward the south … to Gaza (on a wilderness road),” it was another Philip’s divine call to have the metal of his goodness tested.

When the reader is presented the translation, “So he got up and went,” it produces an image of Philip getting up off the sofa of his home and taking off, in order to do as told. That misses the point of Philip having just encountered “an angel of the Lord,” and it is a poor translation.  This is reminiscent of Peter standing up on the day of Pentecost, where Acts 2:14 says he “raised his voice,” giving the connotation of Peter speaking loudly.  The deep meaning says Peter’s voice was “lifted up” (“epēren“) spiritually.

The text shows pause (by comma or implied) in the words, “kai anastas , eporeuthē.” That pause says there was space between Philip “having been risen up” (“anastas”) and his “going on a journey” (“eporeuthē”) for the Lord. Because he was told to “Rise up” (“Anastēthi”) by the angel, that meant more than “stand up from a seated position,” as it spoke volumes as a command to become “Elevated” or “Raised” in Spirit. By seeing this language in this way, one can then see Philip was called to a test of his “Raised” Spirit, just as all Saints are called by God and Christ to prove themselves.

When the translation then transitions to say, “Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch,” importance is lost in the absence of pause, where the actual text says, “kai idou , anēr Aithiops,” or “and behold , a man an Ethiopian.” By understanding a pause, so one fully grasps “Behold,” one can then realize this is a one-word statement that can also translate as “Discern, Perceive” or “Experience.” That focus allows one to see how the information presented in Holy text says Philip went to be tested and “Experience” that test, before meeting a man who was an Ethiopian. Such a translation as “Now there was” [instead of “Behold”] can then be realized as a stand alone statement that Philip had been in the wilderness being tested for close to forty days. Then he came upon [following the pause of a comma]  “a man an Ethiopian,” after Philip’s testing had prepared him to impact a traveler in the wilderness.

In the Greek text, the “Ethiopian man” is identified as that, with commas offsetting the additional information that he was a “eunuch.” That was another stand alone statement, which was then followed by an explanation, such that his impotency was relative to the man being “a court official [a potentate or ruler] of the Candace.” That information is offering insight into the Ethiopian man’s character, more than some unnecessary words being written.

When the translation says, “the Candace,” that says a person’s name was not being stated, but a proper title. That title is more properly spelled as “Kandake,” which states how the “Ethiopian man” worked as an emissary of a Nubian or Kushite “Great woman,” who was then identified as a “queen of Ethiopians.” By use of the Greek word “dynastēs” [“a ruler, potentate, member of the court”] with control of “all her treasure,” this “man an Ethiopian” might well have been “a eunuch” (“eunouchos”) by choice (rather than by forced castration), choosing to “abstain from marital sex,” due to knowing the treasury could not be entrusted to one not having complete control of a rational (business only) mind.

Kush was where Sudan is now.

The southern edge of Kush came close to where modern Ethiopia is, with Meroë the place of the Kandake.

With that background established, it is important to catch that this man was important because he was “in charge of her entire treasury.” The history of the Kingdom of Kush (as a nation led by powerful women), it is believed Kush had been conquered by the Roman Empire (around 100 BC), and by the time of Nero’s rule (after Jesus’ crucifixion), Kush had become a “client state.” That would have made Kush like the Herodian kingdom, which included Judea and Galilee and other regions.

The Herodian “client states.”

Rather than jump to a conclusion that this Ethiopian man was in some way Judaic, it would be better to see him as a traveler to Jerusalem so he could do business with the Romans there. The modern Ethiopian connection to Judaism was still hundreds of years its onset, although this man might have descended from the Makeda of Ethiopia (Queen of Sheba).  For the Ethiopian man to have a scroll of Hebrew text, from a land that did not commonly read, that says he was of royal status and thus educated; however, he did not understand the meaning of the text, which would indicate that scripture was being read for the first time.

The “passage from scripture” that he was reading aloud was from Isaiah 53:7b-8b. The verse-plus that leads into those two verses quoted in Acts says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:6-7a, NASB) The last segment of the total three-verse selection (Isaiah 53:6-8, NASB) adds, “For the transgression of my people he was punished.” Because all of that was not read aloud, the Ethiopian man was touched by words that made sense personally to him, as he knew the silent sacrifice, humiliation and justice denied him, even though he was “of the court of the Kandake.”

This view then takes one back to the statement (separated by commas, so it stands alone as important) that the “man an Ethiopian” was a “eunuch.” This becomes the sacrifice that had been made by the Ethiopian ruler, whom Philip met. The removal of his lusts and desires of the flesh – by whatever means necessary – ensured his subservience to “the Kandake,” so the valuables of the kingdom would be in safe hands.  This says that it was because the Ethiopian man was a eunuch that he understood the scripture of Isaiah as his own self-allowed humiliation for the better good. The Ethiopian man had given up his life (as it normally would have been otherwise) on earth, in the same way the writer of the scroll had prophesied the Messiah of God would.

Now, twice we read the word “chariot” (from “harmatos” and “harmati”) and can get the impression of a warrior’s vehicle, as depicted in the old movie Ben Hur.

The word can equally translate as “vehicle,” and the image one should get is more like a “stagecoach,” where the Ethiopian man rode comfortably inside a horse-drawn carriage, driven by attendants. Inside this “vehicle” is space for a scroll to be unrolled and read, without getting in the way of any other passengers.

The reading of scripture can then be seen as a standard pastime of long-distance travelers, where one goes to the airport newsstand and buys a book to read before a flight. Probably, this scroll was just one of the choices he had to read during a long ride back to Egypt, before taking a boat to Kush (going south along the Nile).  The Book of Isaiah might have been one of several that seemed interesting. Perhaps one of the high priests in the Temple of Jerusalem had an extra scroll for sale in the book store there?

We then read, “Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah.” The word “Spirit” is capitalized, as “Pneuma,” which can also translate as “Wind” or “Breath,” meaning it was a divine “Whisper” within the mind of Philip. This can be seen as the Mind of Christ that spoke to Philip as he was in the wilderness; and it not only told him to approach the vehicle and enter it.  As Philip was running to reach the carriage, the Mind of Christ was telling him what was being read inside, by the Ethiopian man. Thus, more than Philip asking the man inside the carriage if he understood the meaning of what he was reading, it was the knowledge of Jesus Christ that was pouring from Philip’s lips, to one known to be thirsting for insight.

It is important to see how the Ethiopian man asked Philip about the meaning of the scripture he was reading, rather than expect “someone to guide” his knowledge. For Philip to ask, “Do you understand what you are reading?” was like the thoughts the Ethiopian man was having.  Because he could not possibly understand without guidance, his response was to ask, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”

His asking becomes an example of “Ask and you will receive.” Because the Ethiopian man felt a personal connection to the scripture he was reading, even though he did not understand it, he wanted to know more. The scripture was touching him to cause him to want to know more.  His asking was then like a prayer, with Philip’s appearance being the answer to that prayer.

In this reading selection, the Ethiopian man is called “the eunuch” four times, after having first been identified as “a eunuch.” He was not identified as a man, or as an Ethiopian, or as a potentate, ruler, or court official. The fact that this man traveled in a vehicle of luxury, with a driver and attendants he commanded, as a man of power who controlled the entire treasury of a nation means little in this story. At the core of this man’s identity was the fact that he was a man who voluntarily abstained from marriage, such that he was not led by his innate drives to procreate, regardless of whether or not he had been willingly castrated to physically prevent that or if he somehow used extreme powers of will to quell all dangerous emotions that might overcome him.

The aspect of the Ethiopian man and Philip (driver, et al) coming upon a body of water on the wilderness road to Gaza means they came upon a wadi where rain had collected. The knowledge Philip had imparted a thirsting man led them to water for cleansing. The baptism Philip performed was symbolic with physical water, but because the Holy Spirit was upon him at that time, the Holy Spirit also came upon the Ethiopian man, cleansing his soul.

A human being whose emotions had been sacrificed to serve a queen were suddenly overwhelming, as he “went on his way rejoicing” knowing he now willingly served the Father and the Son. Philip, however, did much as Jesus was known to occasionally do, which was suddenly disappear.  When we read that “Philip found himself at Azotus,” his wilderness journey might well have led him physically there, instead of along the road the Ethiopian man’s carriage took.  Thus, when Philip reappear in Azotus, it was after he had spiritually left his body, so the Lord could show him the power of the Holy Spirit to find seekers, wherever that may be.  This is the element of synchronicity.

As I have stated previously, reading scripture should have the effect of placing the reader in the scenes depicted, where the one of least value is who the reader must identify with first. One must ask oneself, “How do I have the same flaws of character?”

In this reading, it becomes too easy to identify with Philip, as if one is a truly devout disciple of Christ, who is married to God in one’s heart, so one can hear “an angel of the Lord” speak. Few are able to make that claim, as such people would be explaining scripture to the world of Gentiles (and Jews) who read it, but do not know how to understand, “unless someone guides me.”  On the contrary, most Christians shun study of the Holy Bible, leaving that “head trip” to the professionals.

This means the vast majority of readers AREThe eunuch.” That symbolism can bring with it elements of being intelligent, yet pagan controllers of wealth. It can mean one spends more time at work than with family – always on the road for another dollar bill. It can strongly suggest that one is most sacrificing of the emotions of the world, because one is more driven to acquire the things offered by the earth. However, the biggest element of being a eunuch is to see oneself as barren, thus unable to reproduce baby Jesus within.  It is the absence of sperm or egg, where being fruitful and multiplying … for the purpose of supplanting one’s religious values into those personally brought forth into this world … has been lost.

From the Game of Thrones comes a prototypical eunuch, who may parallel the heart of the Ethiopian man met by Philip.

The lesson of this reading, which is presented during the Easter season of personal Resurrection of Jesus Christ in Apostles, is to rejoice in knowing that one’s ill-advised life decisions have not kept one from redemption and everlasting life. Just as children brought into the world maintain a lineage of physical genetics, spreading the Gospel of the Holy Spirit maintains the lineage of Jesus Christ, allowing one’s soul to become one with God as a truly Spiritual being. Just as Philip was a good man who was chosen to serve, he was then then called by the angel of the Lord to be proved by fire.  Philip responded and was made a reproduction of Jesus Christ, so that body could then pass that Spirit onto a Ethiopian man, who felt a need for redemption and a new life purpose.

Because a eunuch acts as a statement of a lack of desire to join with a partner, for the purpose of sexual release, that is rejecting the basic notion of joining oneself with another self, so a child can result.  It represents the epitome of selfishness. This lack of physical emotions (either forced upon or willingly chosen) makes one’s heart cold and hardened.

That symbolism is then one’s inability to love God with all one’s heart, either because one feels forced to doubt (from flimsy explanations or “in your face” examples) or one willingly chooses not to believe in the unseen (from peer pressures and philosophical teachings). Being a eunuch is then what keeps one from understanding Scripture, because one’s own personal troubles keep one from seeing the truth that has already been rejected.  Without a personal wilderness experience that tests you as potentially being the weak link to God, the purpose in waiting for redemption is seemingly never worthwhile.  One cuts off any chance of knowing God, choosing impotency over fruitfulness, from big brains that are blind to the truth.

When the Mind of Christ led Philip to join with the Ethiopian man, that Mind knew the Gentile had just read a passage that opened a wound, causing the heart to pump extra blood of emotion. The eunuch saw himself in the sacrifice of Jesus, as prophesied by Isaiah. Such and opening sent the Holy Spirit to the man, in the form of Philip, so the Ethiopian eunuch could feel the Scripture totally being about him.  That truth came to him when he became one with Jesus Christ. His sterility would be undone by being reborn as Jesus Christ – his guide to Scripture meaning within – so he could then have new children in Christ, just as Philip could then claim a relationship with the Ethiopian man.  They were then brothers in Christ.

When we then read that Philip immediately was no longer seen by the eunuch, but “the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away,” so he “found himself at Azotus,” this is the life purpose of a Saint. Paul wrote frequently about the dependencies adult human being have with sexual relationships. It is how some say that men are led more by their little brain than their big brain, which means sexual drives make many human beings forget about spiritual purpose when physical emotions control their bodies.

When one is led by sexual appetite, one can break any number of religious rules. Doing that too often makes one less able to sense the error of those ways, so that people defend themselves with excuses that prevent their hearts from receiving the Holy Spirit – opening up their hearts for God with love. A Saint is ready to receive God and Christ, when one has made the sacrifice to become a eunuch, where the castration is not the removal of sexual organs, but the removal of an ego that can be misled by sexual urges.

That is what Paul wrote of. It is how Jesus said, “These [strangers] are my mother and brothers,” because family is less about physical bloodlines, and all about being a productive “living vine” of Christ. Thus, being called to proclaim the good news in all the towns means one is always going home to family, wherever one goes in ministry and evangelism.  Those we are led to by the Holy Spirit will be those who we will be related to, through being Jesus Christ.


Note: The cover art depicts The Hanged Man Tarot card, specifically from the Mythic Tarot deck.  The character from Greek mythology that is used to depict the “willing sacrifice for a higher good” symbolism of The Hanged Man is Prometheus, who gave fire to humanity against the orders of Zeus.  In the spirit of the Easter season, it would be worthwhile to read about Prometheus, whose name in Greek means “Foresight.”  Since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ within a Saint requires a willing sacrifice be done first, reading this mythology can help enlighten one as to the impact the reading from Isaiah had on the Ethiopian eunuch.

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John 10:11-18 – The goodness of shepherding

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”


This is the Gospel selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B 2018. It will next be read aloud in church by a priest on Sunday, April 22, 2018. It is important as it tells of Jesus being the good shepherd, with all pretenders being hired hands. In this message, Jesus spoke of the power to lay down a life in order to take it up again, which becomes a prophecy of the Good Shepherd’s resurrection in Apostles.

The tenth chapter of John’s Gospel begins with Jesus telling the preceding parts of this well-known metaphor of the Good Shepherd. Prior to this reading, Jesus had explained how sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd, with the sheep’s shepherds calling the sheep from the gate of the sheepfold. False shepherds hop the fence or wall of the sheepfold, with the intent of stealing them. The sheepfold is implied to be a place of safe keeping, such that Jesus said he was the gate through which the sheep (flocks of all true shepherds) enter. As an entrance point into a place of safekeeping, the whole sheepfold represents salvation; and as the gate, salvation can only come through Jesus.

In this part of the reading, John quoted Jesus as saying, “I am the good shepherd,” where Jesus then went on to explain that a good shepherd will be willing to die to protect his flock. Jesus pointed out the difference between a true shepherd – one who leads his or her flock of sheep to the sheep fold as evening draws near – and a good shepherd.  That difference can be seen as WHY one is a shepherd in the first place.

There are sheep; but sheep will become wild (led by dominant male rams) if unattended by humans. As valuable possessions, for milk products (goats = sheep), wool, and meat, they can be domesticated (led by shepherds).  Domestication, through ownership, requires constant care: letting them out to graze, rounding them up for nightfall, milking them, sacrificing them for food, and shearing their wool.  That work makes one earn payment for their care. This means domesticated sheep need to be watched by shepherds, to protect one’s investment flock from wild predators, such as wolves.

This means shepherds can be hired to fill that position as “hired hands,” if the owner profits enough from his flock.  Such a paid employee is not one who typically cares more about the well being of the flock, than oneself’s well-being. Shepherd work is a lowly position, such that a rancher usually assigns his younger children to watch his flock. When one’s children are grown, however, it will force a rancher to hire other young children to do that work.

When faced with the danger of a predator, where the predator could easily turn on a child shepherd that is paid to watch a flock owned by someone else, such a threat will always force one into a point of decision: Do I risk harm protecting someone else’s sheep? Or, do I sacrifice someone else’s sheep for my own safety? A “hired hand” will always choose to save oneself, at the expense of the safety of the sheep.

When Jesus then said, “I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father,” this touches on the element of family that produces a good shepherd. Just as shepherds were typically the young sons that tended the flocks owned by their fathers, they knew the responsibilities of their job included laying down their lives in protection of their extended family. Just as their father would lay down his life protecting his children, the children would honor their fathers by doing the same for the livestock own by their fathers. This means a “hired hand” also knew the responsibilities of a son (or daughter) to their father; but when wolves were threatening someone else’s flock, the offering up of one’s life for someone else’s family became the deeper issue that caused a paid outside employee to turn away.

By seeing that issue of family, one can better grasp how Jesus then said, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” Jesus was saying that all sheep not having a shepherd that is totally committed to protecting the flocks of another family, Jesus will be the one who will take on that responsibility of laying down his life to protect them. Of course, “other sheep that do not belong to this fold” (the one of which Jesus then tended) was relative to father Moses (ie.: the Jews sheepfold).  The “other sheep” are then Gentile sheep.

When Jesus said, “I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice,” he was prophesying the spread of Christianity, where the voice of Jesus would flow from the mouths of Good Shepherds that were Apostles in the name of Jesus Christ. Those sheep would hear the voice of the family of God the Father, sounded by His Son the Good Shepherd.

When Jesus then said, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again,” that can be seen as a prophecy of Jesus saying he would be killed by the predators that were attacking the flocks of Judaism. Jesus was the Good Shepherd tending to that scattered group of sheep, where the Roman wolves had been left to devour the ones left unprotected by the “hired hands” that were the Sanhedrin.

Those elitist “rulers, elders, scribes, and all who were of high-priestly descent” in Jerusalem (from the accompanying Acts 4:5-6 reading) were not related to the Father. They were only in their positions for the money, fame and glory, not the sacrifice of lives protecting lowly sheep. The Sanhedrin, Pharisees, and Sadducees did “not care for the sheep” of Israel.  It would be their negligence that would cause Jesus of Nazareth to be thrown to the wolves, losing his life, “in order to take it up again” in apostles who would go out seeking all the lost flocks of the Father (which included Jewish flocks, Samaritan flocks, scattered Israelite flocks, and Gentile flocks).

When Jesus said, “The Father loves me, because I lay down my life,” he was repeating what he had said to the Sanhedrin representative Nicodemus, as Jesus had begun his ministry. John wrote how Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” That sacrificed Son (spoken to Nicodemus) is now called the Good Shepherd (spoken to Jews of the Temple). The rescue of Jesus, so those who believed in him would not die, would be to to collect the lost sheep for eternal life. They would be raised up again as the lambs of God, each reborn as the Good Shepherd.

Look at this picture as one’s sacrificed ego becoming as meek as the lamb, while one’s human form covers the Christ risen within.

When John then wrote how Jesus said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord,” this was his choice, which was taken completely from a love for his Father as a willing sacrifice for a higher good. It is the lesson learned from the Father’s love of the Son. It is how the Good Shepherd sees the flock as his willing responsibility, because of the love shared between the Father and the Son.  This is how all Apostles must first be adopted by the Father, through marriage that makes one’s heart become the seat of the LORD.

This means the Sanhedrin “hired hands” and the Roman “wolves” were known to exist, but they would not be given the ability to control “good” through fear. The love of God surrounds one like a sheepfold, with Jesus the gate.  Jesus knew neither the Sanhedrin nor the Romans held any lasting power. They knew better than try to jump the fence or wall and be caught stealing (a Commandment).  Therefore, Jesus would knowingly walk into the trap set by those who did not care for anyone and lay down his life.  He would make that sacrifice as a “witness” to the power of God. The Greek word for “witness” is “martus,” the root for “martyr,” as “martys.”

This is why Jesus then said, “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” This is the power of Resurrection, which was the “spiritual matter” Jesus tried to tell Nicodemus about, only Nicodemus’ big brain blocked him from grasping the concept of rebirth (a common flaw of thinking to this day). Jesus proved he had been given the power to lay down his own life and take it up again with his Resurrection from death. However, “the command from [the] Father” extended well beyond the limits of one man’s life on earth, as Jesus would lay down his life so it could be reborn in all those who believed, who laid down their egos to be raised up as the Son, again and again and again.

This is clearly the Easter lesson that is to be grasped by Christians on the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Everything John recalled said by Jesus has to be seen in personal terms, where this reading is intended to make those listening to hear themselves being called, “Wolf!” Christians are to ask themselves, “Why do I attack, scatter, and devour Christians who are lost and cannot defend their religion?”  “Why do I attack anyone and use Jesus Christ as my excuse?”

Are you of one denomination or branch of Christianity that possesses the “Us vs. Them” mentality, where no other flocks are worthy of God’s protection? Do you see your denomination superior to others?  Do you seek to kill first and ask questions later, because you see eternal salvation as a war against flawed dogmatic philosophies (blind to the flaws you believe), where only the righteous will survive?

Then you need to ask yourselves, “Why do I run away, when I see wolves attacking the innocent?”

Why are you not a “hired hand” of Christianity, if you cannot truthfully look towards heaven and swear to God, “I am you Son, here to do Your work!”?

The Easter lesson of the Good Shepherd is more than the simpleton belief that Jesus died so we could all run and play in fields of green pastures and lie down beside crystal clear, cool, still waters, having all our needs met. We must stop seeing ourselves as little lambs of innocence, when the reality is we always get in trouble (sin, sin, sin), so Jesus is always running to our rescue.

As long as we walk the face of the earth, we are always walking through the valley of the shadow of death, because the earth is where evil calls home. Satan lords over the earthly domain; and he lures human beings with things that call them away from the flock, to where innocent sheep can be ripped to shreds and torn apart, limb from limb. Because the laws of nature explain that as “survival of the fittest,” we think nothing of another weak sheep lost.  Still, we fear that end is always a heartbeat away from being our demise.

This means the lesson of the Good Shepherd is we each must be free of fearing evil. We must know, “I fear no evil; for Jesus is with me.”  We must be able to claim: “Jesus restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Christians become the “namesakes” of Jesus Christ when they have been Resurrected as him.

Only then, as Jesus reborn, can we see ourselves as protectors of the flocks. Only as Apostles, seeking to protect lost sheep, can Christians see a reflection of the good this story tells in themselves.

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Acts 4:5-12 – Retrial for rebirths

The rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is

“the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.’

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”


This is the Acts selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B 2018. It will next be read aloud in a church by a reader on Sunday, April 22, 2018. This is important as it identifies a hierarchy of devotees to religious practices and dogma, which can equally be applied to all organizations, branches and sects in the Judeo-Christian category, with only Jesus Christ being the bearer of salvation.

In this reading, Peter and John had been arrested for having healed the lame beggar at the gate of the Temple, bringing him walking into the morning prayer service with them. Following that service, Peter gave a sermon to the pilgrims still in Jerusalem, along the breezeway known as Solomon’s Portico (or Porch). The crowd must have discussed that miracle healing for hours, talking with them and the healed man, as the arrest occurred late in the afternoon, in the evening of day. Because of the lateness of the arrest, Peter and John were placed in the temple jail overnight, with them appearing before the Sanhedrin the next morning. That is the setting leading to this reading scene.

Standing before the high-priestly family.

Whenever Christians today read or hear read aloud the stories of the Holy Bible, it should not be done as if looking back from a perspective that seems superior. By knowing the story and its ending, such separation in time makes one feel that he or she identifies solely with the “heroes” of the story, and never the “goats”. This is what I mean when I refer to the Big Brain Syndrome, as Christians tend to identify totally with Peter and John (the Apostles) in this reading, and never as “the rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.” The purpose of all Biblical readings is to see oneself in that darkness, before one can ever begin to shine with the light of a Saint.

In this reading, the basic characters are: the falsely accused; the accuser judges; and the onlookers (including court employees).  The onlookers are invisible, as they have nothing to add to the scene; but we know justice requires a general audience. That invisibility is a sign of the public’s weakness, as commoners are not wealthy or influential enough to be in the class defined as “rulers, elders, and scribes,” much less be born into the “high-priestly family.”

The onlookers have no control over who is accused and who accuses. The judges then were those who are allowable extensions of the Roman Empire, set in place to control the population without military force.  The Jews were policed by the laws of Moses, with the rule of Rome a distant second.  This means the equality that connects all of the characters of this scene is religion, which makes all devoted to the One God. Thus the court is one of religious law.

Christians are likewise divided today, where (relatively speaking) only an elite few rule the hierarchies of the multitude of churches naming Jesus Christ as their Lord. Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, preachers, pastors, ministers and priests are all parts of the “high-priestly family” that is Christianity. Some Christians proclaim to be Prophets, which sets them apart from the ordinary and the elite, just as Peter and John were set apart.  The laws of our nation have superseded Church laws, so people claiming to be Apostles are rarely arrested and tried by congregations. Today, as in ancient times, most people who want to believe in the One God are still the bewildered onlookers who obediently follow those who would be their leaders, with politicians often given honorary “high-priestly” status.

How many resurrections of Jesus Christ are in this picture?

The rarity these days are the Apostles who heal lame beggars, while rulers and onlookers alike all know they themselves are that lame beggar … just too afraid to let that side of themselves be shown. More often than not, the ones proclaiming to work miracles are later found to be disgraced, like the Jim Joneses, the David Koreshes, and the Jimmy Swaggerts of the world. These “Prophets” proclaim to be divine leaders, making them be like the “rulers, elders, and scribes,” rather than be like Peter, who proclaimed, “this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” The missing element these days is we have no Apostles who heal and give full credit to Jesus Christ, pointing out how the man (like the one named Peter) had nothing to do with the miracle.

This means that when these verses from the Book of Acts are read, the same can be said of today’s churches claiming to be “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ cannot be resurrected in a building, any more than he cannot be resurrected in a tree, or an automobile, or even in a wafer taken from a box of purposefully manufactured religious wafers, placed nicely on a silver platter. Jesus Christ can only be resurrected in Apostles, like Peter and John of Zebedee … human devotees.

Unfortunately, since no modern churches have the ability to proclaim ALL ITS MEMBERS are the resurrection of Jesus Christ … as TRUE CHRISTIANS … then what we call Christianity is little more than cults of personality.  The personalities are popes, cardinals, bishops, preachers, pastors, ministers, and priests.  In other words, modern churches are also led by “rulers, elders, and scribes assembled” who judge against anyone who should dare to do as Peter did in Jerusalem, outside the temple.

What is the difference in having the man named Jesus, of Nazareth in Galilee, sentenced to death, as Peter said the rulers of the Temple of Jerusalem had done, and having the Spirit of Jesus Christ sentenced to death by not teaching how the whole point of Christianity is to die of self ego and be resurrected by the Holy Spirit as the Christ returned?

There is no difference.  One denies the Messiah has indeed come.  The other denies the Christ that has come can come again … many times over.

I accuse you of being ironclad in denial.

Just as Peter recalled Psalm 118:22 (“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”), the cornerstone of Christianity can be none other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Jesus was rejected by the “rulers, elders, and scribes,” along with “Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.” There was no denying that Jesus had lived.  Everyone in Jerusalem knew that, as his execution was still fresh on their minds.  Everyone in Jerusalem knew Jesus of Nazareth had done some miraculous things, prior to his death, much like Peter did, by healing a lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate. Peter stood there in front of his accusers and said Jesus Christ had healed the lame beggar, because Jesus Christ was back IN PETER.

Do you think all history would have changed if Annas and Caiaphas had listened to Peter and then proclaimed as their judgment, “Okay guys, Peter is right. God has sent our Messiah. All hail Jesus as the Christ!”?

If the Sanhedrin had reached that end, it would have been written into Law – “Jesus is God’s promised Messiah.”  However, if the Sanhedrin had endorsed belief of a prophesied Messiah by lip-service acceptance, agreeing to say Jesus of Nazareth was then and forevermore to be the Christ of the Jews, would the spread of Christianity have still moved across the world?

Probably not.  There would be no Christians in that case, as God would have proved He was happy with just Jews and scattered Israelites (even though it is hard to tell them apart from Jews) honoring Him.  All Jews would be for Jesus.  Of course, Judaism might be the religion of choice today … had the Sanhedrin just got on board way back when … and if God made Jews the rulers of the world’s governments afterwards.  Belief in Jesus might be commanded by Law, which would have made Judaic judges be very important in that alternate universe.

The reality is, however, that the spread of Christianity is more than professed belief. It is more than a command to believe like everyone else, without good explanation.  Christianity has to involve Jews and Gentiles, but it has to be founded on a relationship of love.  The religion grew exponentially from each and every true Christian having been reborn as Jesus Christ of Nazareth, possessing the Mind of Christ and having the power of God to perform miracles … in the name of Jesus Christ.  Christianity was spread by Apostles, to wherever they traveled.

That growth was severely stunted by a bunch of “rulers, elders, scribes, and high-priestly families” trying to hoard God and Christ for themselves, beginning around the time the Roman Emperor figured out it would be better to be the Roman Pope.  A Sanhedrin-like hierarchy that used its influence as force then left the onlookers silently following those leaders.  Churches began splitting at the seams over what was happening long ago.  New sects and branches began sprouting like weeds in the Garden of Eden, with no gardener around to pull them out and throw them into the fire.

Therefore, we stand today as disciples of the One God who are still waiting for Jesus Christ to come back and bring Heaven to earth.  That wait is no different than the Jews, who are still looking for his first arrival.

When Peter said, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved,” he said (in effect), “You better be already in the name of Jesus Christ when mean Jesus comes down from the clouds, à la The Revelation of John, because that returning spirit will be spitting a double-edged sword of justice from his mouth.

Only by becoming Jesus Christ in a mortal body (resurrected or reborn) can one’s soul find salvation, “as no other name under heaven given among mortals” earns an exemption to eternal damnation.  Titles are names, so what Peter said (as the words of Jesus Christ through an Apostle) includes such titles as: pope, cardinal, bishop, preacher, pastor, minister or priest.  None of those names will be able to produce the miracle of soul salvation, by edict, sermon, proclamation, or televised prayer services.  No titles can wave a wand, cast water from a sprinkler, or feed one a cracker, washed down with a sip of  fruit juice, and claim their position of piety has saved one from evil.  Jesus Christ is not controlled, like electricity, made to jump out on command, because one holds a “high-priestly” title.  Therefore, the Rapture can only apply to Saints on earth, yet to ascend to Heaven, and not those mortals who are full of fear, having done nothing to earn salvation … having never asked God to send him or her His Son to become one with him or her.

Peter and John stayed in a jail cell overnight and were paraded before all the big brains the next day, simply because the presence of Jesus Christ within them flowed out to one in need, healing him in the name of Jesus Christ. For breaking the status quo, where there was an order of family or chain of command that had not duly been recognized, some display of hierarchy had to be made as punishment. The question asked by the judges to Peter (“By what power or by what name did you do this?”) expected the accused to produce some certificate of authorization for working miracles, just like a vendor would need a license to sell wares. If Peter lied, the truth would be known, so he would have just committed a more serious crime.  If Peter had admitted he had no authority to heal lame beggars, then there would be reason to find Peter and John guilty of breaking the law, for having caused a social disturbance. However, Peter gave them a name … the name of the one the Sanhedrin had condemned to death … Jesus the Messiah had risen in Peter and John!  Jesus Christ of Nazareth gave them the authority!

Jesus Christ again stood before his murderers, but now in duplicates. Not only was Jesus Christ in Peter and John, but Jesus Christ had been resurrected in the lame beggar, who then stood alongside Peter and John, before the Sanhedrin. The lame beggar knew the presence of the Holy Spirit within him was what allowed him to walk for the first time in his life. Where there were two in the name of Jesus Christ, then there were three; and the judges knew the power of that name and feared the consequences (just as they did before killing Jesus). The silent majority watched and waited to see how the judges would act.

As a lesson from the book that teaches us that Apostles Act from their faith, having become resurrections of Jesus Christ, thereby following the theme of the Easter season, this falls in line with the Gospel reading from John, about the good shepherd. Lost, like a sheep in this story, the lame beggar becomes the one who has been given a new outlook on life. Jesus, the good shepherd, reached out to a lost sheep who knew his name and the lame beggar responded to his master’s call.

As Christians who have long been led by “rulers, elders, and scribes” that tell us Jesus sits with the Father in Heaven, only to come again at the end of the world to smite all the evil ones, we have been told there will be no miracles in our lives. We are to believe what we are told to believe, or be judged as boat rockers and dissidents. Those who feel there must be more to religion than that, they sit outside the mainstream, begging for assistance, only to get little in return. We, today, act like lame beggars with our hands out, with no expectations of ever being able to stand on our own two feet and walk … with no hopes of ever being able to help others to walk too.

Easter is when our Lord rises in us to transform us from cripples into Apostles. We must then stand before all judges to proclaim Jesus Christ is a name possible for all believers. We cannot make that proclamation from hearsay. It can only be made by Jesus Christ within us, making our mouths speak his words.

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Luke 24:36b-48 – Witnessing these things divinely

Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.


This is the Gospel selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B 2018. It will next be read aloud in church by a priest on Sunday, April 15, 2018. This is important as it tells how Jesus appeared to his disciples in his recognizable body, as proof that death had not maintained its claim on him. More subtlety, Jesus told his disciples, then and now, how repentance and forgiveness of sins can only be proclaimed in his name, which means disciples must be baptized by the Holy Spirit, so proof comes through being a reproduction of the Messiah.

In this Easter season, I have already compared the information in this reading with the information that comes from the Gospel of John. I have pointed out how Jesus saying “Peace be with you” is more than a greeting, being rather a command to become centered in spirit and emotionally stable from being soul-centered. All of that analysis still applies; however, I want to project a new light upon this event that happened then and relate that to how Christians now (and for quite some time past) are in this pre-state of Christianity, being disciples who are scared, where that uneasy state is due to a separation from the Lord.

When one immediately reads, “Jesus himself stood among the disciples,” the circumstances established is that a separate body, known to be that of Jesus, physically stood with his disciples in the upstairs room in Jerusalem. This becomes a parallel comparison to the Churches of Christianity (all denominations, including Jewish Christian), where congregations come into buildings that are designated as safe houses dedicated to Jesus. That means the upstairs room in Jerusalem can be seen as synonymous with the focus on special buildings where assemblies of disciples can sit and remember Jesus, as if reproducing that event in Luke (and John) when “Jesus himself stood among the disciples.”

It would not take much imagination to think that if an Episcopal priest were to be calling Jesus to come put his Spirit into some wafers and wine at the altar (or communion table) and if then a full-bodied Jesus were to suddenly appear beside that priest, he or she, the chalice bearer, the organist, the choir, and the rest of the assembly in that church would be “startled and terrified, [thinking] they were seeing a ghost.” The reason is that Jesus would have just appeared from out of nothing.

You called? I am here.

Additional information for the setting in the upstairs room is that Jesus had (not long before this) appeared (incognito) to Mary Magdalene early that Sunday morning, had appeared (incognito) to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and had appeared (as himself) already once prior to the disciples and their companions in the upstairs room (when Cleopas, Mary of Cleopas, and Thomas were not there).  That scenario of prior appearances was more normal (incognito) than shocking; but his first appearance to the disciples (as himself) says terror comes as easily as someone jumping out and yelling, “Boo!”

That natural shock can then be related to my present day imaginary appearance, as an example of people just not comfortable with people suddenly appearing in such a surprising manner.  Even though today’s Christian believe he did that before, long ago, there is no expectation of Jesus re-appearing before the end of the world.  Therefore, if Jesus were to likewise appear today, and stand among of people who profess belief in the piety of that Son of Man, it would be natural for Jesus to ask the members of this imaginary church, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?”

Jesus would most certainly ask the same questions if he appeared before any Christian congregation in that way in the year 2018. People would cry. People would scream. People would faint; and I imagine some would wet themselves, with a few children squealing with glee (if any still go to adult church services).  Hopefully, God would block all cell phone use, so no pictures, texts, or tweets could act as proof for their claims of witness.

After all, in 2018 we have hologram technology, where many would think the priest planned some hoax to frighten everyone.  Pictures can be doctored to make it appear Jesus was there (my insert as evidence).  This means seeing is not belief worthy.  Things are not always the way they appear.  This means the truth of Jesus’ question about doubting hearts is valid, because it is the same in all doubters (such as Thomas the disciple).  “No way I am believing that!”

If a pollster had been stationed outside this imaginary church on Sunday (or any other gathering day of the week), asking everyone entering, “Do you believe Jesus will appear here today, in full-body form, able to be poked and touched as proof he has resurrected?” The truthful answer would be “No!” No one would truthfully answer, “Yes” (save a few young children, perhaps, those who are known to have imaginary friends). Therefore, Christians today are just like the disciples were then, because without Jesus Christ alive and physically with them, they have doubts in their hearts.

Because Jesus asked his disciples to “Look at my hands and my feet” and then told them, “Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have,” he knew they did not trust their eyes. That means belief is not reliant on seeing.

The disciples had to experience the body of Jesus, which they did with touch. They felt his wounds, maybe even smelt his divine presence was surrounded by a sweet, flowery scent. Perhaps they could hear Jesus chewing the broiled fish he ate before them, hearing him swallowing. The combination of physical senses led them to come to a personal conclusion that Jesus was indeed alive and present with them, even after having been known dead, prepared for burial and entombed. Because the sights of that death seemed vivid and real, they doubted if they could trust their eyesight ever again.  However, the reality of touching Jesus’ body increased their faith to a solid level of belief.

The comparison that must be made is that the level of belief increased once the disciples were able to become one with Jesus physically.  Even though that oneness came from the sensations of his external body of flesh and bones, it is like how lovers feel they are one while entwined in a partner’s embrace. When two souls become so close, oneness is felt on a spiritual level … a soul level.  The symbolism then extends beyond Jesus being a separate and distant being, such that this “hands on” level of belief came from Jesus being one with each of the disciples, collectively and individually.

This is how Peter (in the accompanying Acts reading for Easter Three) explained that he was in the name of Jesus Christ when the lame beggar was healed outside the temple. Peter, as a separate disciple who knew Jesus of Nazareth, admitted he had no powers of healing in the name of Simon bar Jonah (Simon the son of John) … his human birth name. Therefore, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, as demonstrated by Peter, gains power from on high anytime the Holy Spirit of God has become ONE with flesh and bone … recreating the Father’s Son.

It is vital to see this union of one’s soul with the Holy Spirit, as that presence makes one capable of higher knowledge. When Luke then wrote, “Then [Jesus Christ] said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled,” that statement by Jesus accompanied vivid remembrances that each disciple had personally experienced with Jesus. “These are my words that I spoke to you” goes beyond the collective, to the heart of each disciple’s relationship with Jesus.  As Jesus spoke then, it was as if all of his disciples were reliving everything Jesus ever taught them, which they had heard but not grasped.

That was the same synopsis of what Jesus (as a stranger) had presented to Cleopas and Mary over a forty-minute walk along the road to Emmaus. That synopsis of everyone present having their lives with Jesus relived as he spoke can be grasped by realizing the commitment the disciples all had.  Their initial commitment was to God, as His chosen people, as they believed the prophets foretold of a Messiah.  Still, it was due to their devotion as Jews that led them to follow Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, more than them being less by Jesus claiming that.  They were led to follow Jesus (become his disciples) more from higher knowledge guiding them, recognizing their faith.  Their devotion to God led them to find Jesus (and vice versa).

This is where the religious practices of Jews have merit, as learning Scripture becomes the first basic step towards a union with the divine. The Israelite peoples raise their children to learn what it is they have been chosen by God to do: Serve Him by learning the laws of Moses, learning the prophecies of the prophets, and learning the wisdom of the psalms written by unified Israel’s two kings. This devotion to learning their religion continues into adulthood, so parents teach their children the same things, from generation to generation.

This level of rehearsed memory of Scripture makes the base knowledge of Christians pale in comparison. Finding more than ten percent of a congregation that has time for adult religious studies is unfounded.  Most Christians would fail a serious test that would be based on the writings in the Old Testament (Laws of Moses, psalms, prophets) … miserably.  Christian church services are not conducive for discussion about the deeper meaning of the readings presented, as one speaks and others listen (depending on whether or not they like the sermon).  A thirst for learning has been replaced by an arrogance of not needing reason to learn more than children’s church lessons.

Comparatively, the disciples of Jesus (which included all their companions, his family and followers) represented a minuscule number of all the sects of Israelites. For all who studied the Scriptures of the Jews, only a tiny sliver had been in touch with Jesus of Nazareth – Jesus the promised Messiah prophesied. Just as Jesus spoke and reminded about thirty disciples, “I have spoken about this being written in Scripture,” that went over as well as asking someone from a Christian church as he or she was leaving church, “What three points of the sermon were significantly enlightening to you today?”

The vast majority would stammer and walk on, not remembering anything when asked.  The same state of having short attention spans was present in Jesus’ disciples.  It is human nature to let one’s mind drift during boring lectures.  This means there is a sense of pleasure that comes from “basking in the glory of a religious talker,” such that the disciples of Jesus felt the power of his speech, even if they did not understand the depth of what he was saying.

This tendency to get in line behind someone who sounds wise means human beings commonly allow others to lead them.  Jesus was not the only Messiah “game in town” in his day, as the people were so much looking for the prophecy of the Messiah to come true, many jumped up to claim the right to pull that sword out of the stone.  Following someone else means “sheeple” will always follow charismatic leaders, in any time or age; thus the warnings about “false prophets” and “bad shepherds.”

This means the disciples of Jesus were converted to Christians in this meeting of the risen Lord.  The conversion of Jews (which all the first disciples were) to Christianity meant they had to actually hear the words, remember the past, and long for the future’s responsibility.  That level of commitment required being in touch with Jesus Christ as a basic requirement.  The same requirement is in place today.

It doesn’t hurt when I poke you there?

For all who have spent time studying and memorizing Scripture, the number who experience total enlightenment as to the meaning of the words of Scripture is comparable to the number of disciples who personally knew and lived with Jesus of Nazareth. It was a very small percentage; but that is always a number that is relative to the depth of one’s devotion. The more one devotes time to learning God’s Word, the more one will gain from that effort. When one understands that a “church” is the gathering of two or more in the name of Jesus Christ , that gathering is so two can compare spiritual notes and support the holy presence of Christ within each other.  This is the ultimate purpose of a church.

That state of knowledge did not exist in the synagogues or the Temple of Jerusalem.  It began small and spread, when Apostles allowed many to be in touch with Jesus Christ.  In Jesus’ day, the Jews were lost spiritually, in spite of their varying levels of devotion to discerning meaning; but many sought proof that the Messiah had come. The meaning of Jesus of Nazareth could not be seen by Jews who never knew Jesus personally; but being lost led many to beg for answers.  This is why Luke writing, “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures” is so important to grasp.  All the answers to their questions became known then.

Unless one’s mind is opened to understanding by the Holy Spirit (as written of in Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost), one has not become One with God (love and marriage through heart), bringing on the Christ Mind. The opening of human brains to the Christ Mind is the meaning of this verse. It is much more than a crack in the doorway of knowledge opening, as the Christ Mind allows all of God’s Knowledge to be at one’s disposal.

To fully “understand the scriptures,” one has to relive the writing of the scriptures. This means the “opening of the mind” is God’s ability to place a present day human brain in an ancient figure’s body of flesh and bones. For example, to know the meaning of David’s psalms is to become one with David’s mind. One must feel the flesh and bones of David, as if one has been reborn as David. This is the power of the Holy Spirit; and it was that power that Jesus knew his entire lifetime. That power was not born in a manger in Bethlehem and it did not die on a cross in Jerusalem. That power has always lived and will always live, through the Christ Mind in God-loving Apostles.

By having one’s mind opened to that understanding, one can then read Luke’s verses that state, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things,” and gain an entirely new perspective. Just as easily as one who is in possession of the Christ Mind knows the experience of writing prophecies that tell of the sufferings of the Christ, for the  forgiveness of sins, one can then know the sufferings of Jesus Christ personally, when one is One with Christ, in the name of Jesus Christ.

This is how Jesus could say, “You are witnesses of these things,” because you have become all the divine personalities of Scripture. To know Adam is to know God.  To know Noah is to know God.  To know Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David and all the other holy Apostles is to know the love of God. One becomes Jesus of Nazareth reborn when one’s mind is opened to seeing through His eyes.  One is Resurrected as Jesus Christ when one’s eyes see through an understanding brought on by the Christ Mind.

The spread of Christianity could never have expanded beyond the scope of Jews who knew the scriptures of the Israelites, had it not been for the ability of Gentiles to become the Israelites of Scripture, knowing the meaning of Scripture, by becoming Jesus Christ reborn, full of the knowledge of the Christ Mind. If anything can be called “a religious experience,” it is that. One does not come to a level of belief that one would sacrifice one’s life in a Roman arena, simply by being told about a man named Jesus, a Jew who lived in Nazareth of Galilee, who others witnessed dying and resurrecting, so they were confident that Jesus was the Savior that an Israelite God promised to send to his people.

Hearsay is rejected by rational minds.  Proof is required for belief.  No one can reach a reasonable, beyond all doubts level of belief by being told about Jesus or reading about him in a book.  Belief in Jesus as the Messiah can only come from being One with Jesus Christ and having one’s mind opened by the Mind of Christ.

This knowledge is then understood by all Apostles of Christ as meaning they too will be called upon “to suffer and to rise from the dead.” Early Christians did suffer physical death (most of the first Apostles, who knew Jesus of Nazareth), so their “rise from the dead” was as Saints venerated by their followers. Saints are worthy of special recognition because they have proven to have been the embodiment of Jesus Christ.  Still, the majority of true Christians are called upon to “suffer the death” of their devotion to self, where they prefer to be separate, worshipping in churches or synagogues, all the while being frightened and terrified of actually sacrificing themselves for the glory of God or His Son.

One has to die of self to become One with God and take on the Christ Mind. Only by that sacrifice can repentance be sincere and can one’s sins be forgiven by God. The sacrifice of self ego means one’s dependencies on selfish goals are self-forgiven … where “forgiven” means “forever given away,” never to be a distraction again.

From all of this, one needs to see how the Christ Mind has led whoever it has been who organizes the lectionary readings into groupings by season. Each Sunday readings and psalms are selected with deeper meaning, from a higher mind.  Thus, as the Third Sunday of Easter Gospel lesson, amid a season that places focus on the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must take firm hold of this lesson.  The Resurrection of Christ does the world no good if no one else is ever also Resurrected to become Jesus Christ … his Holy Spirit reborn in true Christians.  To wait for Jesus to suddenly appear from a cloud, at the end of the world, means to prophesy the end of a world that never knew Jesus Christ.

While that meaning has been lost from plain view, like so many other meanings of Scripture have been lost, we must see ourselves as devoted followers of the man named Jesus. Until he suddenly appears in our flesh and bones, placing each one of us in touch with Jesus Christ, we are full of doubts, which leave us full of terror at what might be … all natural fears when separated from the divine.

Thus, we must calm our souls – “Peace be with you.” We must prove to ourselves individually that Jesus has risen – “Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Then, we must let our brains be opened to the Christ Mind so we can understand this Scripture as a direct lesson for us to know personally.

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