"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (Christ Jesus in John 10:10).
"…Henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth, know we him no more. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (Paul the Apostle in II Corinthians 5:16, 17).
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (Paul the Apostle in I Corinthians 15: 53 & 54).
Christmas Celebration: Time of the Universal Christ
Another year is now passing into human history, and Christmas--the celebration of Christ Jesus' birth--is here again. Many people and cultures, along with Christians, celebrate this event, all in their own special ways. Even today among Christians, the meaning of his birth and what he tried to reveal in his teachings, healings, death on the cross, and resurrection, is an on-going topic of debate and individual belief.
All of God's prophets, messengers, and enlightened ones create such debate, and even discord, among the populace. This stirring up of beliefs happens as each of us attempts to decipher what is Truth. Showing that he comprehended the stirring up of consciousness that occurs in the darkness of human beliefs, Jesus once said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it." (Matthew 10: 34, 35, 37, 39).
Thus, he indicates that finding 'him' is the way to find our own eternal life, and our own, innate holiness. But here's where it gets tricky on the comprehension side of things: trying to decipher the spiritual meaning behind the words someone speaks, and the many translations written about such words, makes it difficult to accept what is true, until we struggle with and find our own understanding in the matter.
When I was a little girl, I used to sing, "Jesus loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so…." Basically, I was taught that I should love Jesus because he was God's own son who was born to sacrifice himself for all the sinners (wrong-doers) in the world, because an angry God punishes wrong-doing with death. Jesus was supposed to have 'paid the price' for all of us, appeasing God's wrath. To be one of the excused, and one of the ones who would go to heaven when I died, all I had to do was accept that Jesus was God's son and that, if I only believed that he was my savior (from all my sins) I would truly go to heaven when I died. That's all I needed…just faith in this divine person, without much thinking about it. To me, it was really a very sad story: sad for Jesus and sad for all of us terrible sinners who needed such a sacrifice.
But despite this sad approach, Christmas, during my childhood, was really a happy, birthday celebration for Jesus, so gifts to each other were part of the festivities. Gifts to each other were to commemorate the gifts which were brought to baby Jesus in the manger. It was primarily to thank him for the love he'd shown for all of us, to have suffered and died that way. Each year, our church programs enacted Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus in the manger, with the three wisemen and stable animals. And we called him Jesus Christ, like a first and last name, such as the familiar, John Smith; although historically speaking, Jesus the Christ was the more accurate term.
As I grew, pondered, and grasped a few things more spiritually, I realized that there had to be something deeper to "get" about Jesus than merely our willingness to let someone else suffer death for us. I also had a struggle reconciling the God I knew who loved us dearly, and the God that let his own son be killed to pay for something the rest of us did or didn't do. In fact, if sacrifice and suffering was all there was to Jesus' mission, and if he already paid this price of death for everyone's sins, then, logically, no one else (especially those who believed) should have ever had to go through this same death process. Death, itself, should have ceased to exist for believers. So, clearly to me, we didn't have it quite right.
Now it wasn't that I doubted that Christ Jesus was the savior, capable of bringing eternal life to all who followed him; for his demonstrations of spiritual power over disease, death, sin, and lack all proved that he knew something the rest of us didn't know. I just felt that my early teachings in Christianity were at a grade-school level, and never got much higher. They were missing the infinite love of God I was detecting in all my own experiences. These early teachings were missing the power and presence of God's love in our daily lives. They were missing the universal healing which Jesus and his disciples practiced in the here and now, rather than some distant time in a next life. It felt as though the Christianity I'd been taught was like swimming on the surface of the water, instead of finding the infinite universe in its depths.
As the years went on and my own spirituality began to ripen, I realized that catching the meaning of the mission of Jesus the Christ depends upon one's view of who and what Christ Jesus was. For example, when Jesus used the pronouns, "I" and "me," many assume he is speaking of his human identity--the personality and character of the man Jesus. After all, despite his more spiritual birth, he did make his appearance here in fleshly form, just like the rest of us. The name, Jesus Christ, indicates a singular identity, with a first and last name. This view misses the divine part.
Others see him as a dual identity: part of him fleshly, part of him spiritual and of God. This brings in the divine part of him. Here again, on the surface of thought, following and worshipping a dualistic man Jesus (the fleshly part) and Christ (the spiritual part), can seem accurate assessment, for the flesh and his divine spirit did seem to reside in one being.
But, for me, an even deeper spiritual view suggests that Jesus the Christ indicates the Christ to be a title or description of a separate identity, such as Jesus the Savior, Jesus the Holy One, Jesus the Spiritual Man. Viewed from this perspective, Jesus was the human persona, but it was connected to a spiritual name or identity. And rather than combining these two identities into one individual (or showing that he can be both), casting off the fleshly identity in favor of the spiritual identity is indicated in this directive from Paul the Apostle: "Henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth, know we him no more..." (Please see full quotation at top). Thus, the Christ identity denies and replaces the fleshly Jesus identity.
Now what Paul was telling people in the two statements at the beginning of this article (from his letters to the Corinthians) was that each of us was to recognize and 'put on' (mentally accept as ourself) the universal, Christ-identity only. We don't put on Jesus' human identity, because we don't share that identity with him; that was his own experience in the flesh--merely the human part he was playing. Instead, we put on our own Christ identity--our spiritual selfhood that is not of the flesh, but rather, has its origin in divine Spirit, God. In spiritual (and every level of reality) we're actually the son and daughter of God, just as Jesus expressed his spiritual selfhood as the son of God. This would reverse the order of the two names to Christ Jesus, putting the higher and true identity first.
This is the invisible love-gift he brought to humanity. This love-gift is the knowledge of the Christ Self--the divine self of each of us. We are to realize that our fleshly identity is not the truth of being, and declare our true identity as Spirit's perfect and beloved off-spring. This Christly Sonship is not of the flesh or fleshly line of inheritance. Thus, the physical identity is a false sense of ourselves that needs correcting, before we can fully awaken spiritually to our real, spiritual selfhood. As we awaken to this presence of our real identity, (right where the physical identity seems to be, but is not true) we can also come into the perception of God's invisible, spiritual kingdom right here in the material plane. We then begin to comprehend what Christ Jesus meant when he said to Pontius Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world:" (John 18:36).
This view gives a deeper meaning to everything Christ Jesus said and did, and it discards the notion that sacrifice and suffering is God's will for any one. In statements like, "…He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." (John 8:37) he shows that everlasting life is always present to be demonstrated by God's own children, just as he demonstrated the health of those who came to him for this correction concerning their health. There was no condemnation from God there, when Christ Jesus healed the sinful, sick and dying around him. Instead, he lifted those who thought themselves to be miserable sinners, deserving sickness and death, above this identity altogether.
He showed God's whole law to be one of love, and therefore, the very nature of God to be eternally loving and forgiving to his children, for whatever they'd done while under a false perception of themselves. Love alone is the only Law in God's creation, for only love is immortal and non-destructive, forever. Christ Jesus also showed God's invisible kingdom, heaven, to be an ever-present reality, even on this seemingly material plane of existence. And in this invisible, spiritual kingdom, God (not man or physical so-called law) is still the authority over all. He showed death to be a lie that never touches our true selfhood. Eternal means without beginning or end; thus, one can't possibly die to become eternal. Rather, it means that we've always been eternal (though we don't remember it here, on this lower level of consciousness) and death is unreal for us and anything God has created.
Christ Jesus died on the cross because of our own belief that someone had to appease God and pay a price to end all our misery of mortal existence. In this false, material state of consciousness and identity, we've all committed wrong-doing or sins to which our beliefs in self-preservation have erroneously led us. He paid the price our false, human and material perceptions of reality expected and demanded, or we'd never stop accepting the lie of fleshly, mortal existence. It wasn't God's anger he was appeasing; it was man's belief about God and reality, and man's belief about a mortal, sinning identity, that needed a savior--a truth teller. That's how one is saved from a lie--by discovering and perceive the truth.
For God has never had a death-price. The divine Intelligence has never held anything against us, knowing that, on this mental plane of existence, we've not been in our right minds--our spiritual Mind. Hear Christ Jesus' words from the cross, before all those who tried to shut him up: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34). In a false, mental state of identity, we never know what we're doing. Both God and Christ Jesus knew that, so forgiveness isn't so impossible.
I remember when it first dawned upon me that there is only one price I need pay. I should forgive others for a very practical reason: under the delusion of a false, material identity, I had done plenty of things wrong. Since I wanted God to be deaf, dumb and blind to my own sins, to forgive them all, then I must be fair and do the same for anyone here (under this same delusion of a material selfhood) who had wronged me. This was the only price to pay for my own forgiveness: love for those who had humanly been my enemies. That's because love is always the only Law of God. Outside of expressing this unconditional love that harms no one and forgives all, we have infinite freedom in God's creation.
The Christ Mission
Perceiving the fuller mission of Christ Jesus' visit to erring humanity turns us to a more positive view of the whole thing. While Christmas time can be a celebration of his entry here, on our mental place of existence, can't we now celebrate the gift of love (the revelation of our own Christly selfhood) that under-scored his whole purpose?
Christ Jesus was addressing our collective, false beliefs of reality. It's as if he were saying to us, 'All right: you've all been taught through the ages, that, due to two ancient ancestors, you were born into sin and corruption; and that the price which you, like all ancestors before you in the fleshly line of creation, must pay, is that you became mortal and must die. So now, I'll do this for you. I'll die for you, paying the price for sin and destructiveness, so you won't believe any longer that you're miserable, unclean sinners instead of God's own, beloved and holy children. Whatever you've done while believing in this false, material identity, whatever earthly wrongs you've committed, I'll take that guilt upon my own shoulders so you will know that you have no great penalty of death to pay. (Even if you've already gone through the death process, you'll find that it isn't you that died, but only the mortal sense or belief of yourself as a mortal that had to be given up.) If you believe God requires your death for any reason, I'll pay it so you'll believe the debt is paid to God; although my Father and your Father doesn't delight in your pain, suffering or a physical death experience. God loves us, his true children. All your divine Parent wants from you is to turn from your wicked, earthly ways and come home again, to the knowledge of Its presence, power, life, and eternal harmony. It wants you to awaken back to your spiritual remembrance. It wants you to come home and find your true self again, (just as I did) and your Father/Mother's house. Find the You who knows no fear, for there's nothing in God's kingdom, and certainly no physical power, that can hurt you; God wants you to find the importance of love, for love alone sustains the harmony and life, without destruction, forever. In universal love, nothing is ever hurt. Here in God's ever-present spiritual kingdom, Love is the law. Love is the only law of God. So, here's my love for you: I will lay down my earthly, fleshly, sense of life to do your penance for you. That's part of my love-gift to humanity. And after I've done this for the world, then awaken to yourselves again. Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven (eternal harmony) is perfect. Don't believe in good and evil (a dual creation) any more, for God created good alone, and the evil done here, or believed to be here, has no power against your spiritual, Christly, self. Did not I prove this when I healed you of every manner of disease you believed yourselves victims of? Did not I prove this when I, and my disciples, raised people from the dead? When I have paid your price, I, myself, will arise afterward, to show you again that neither death, nor any evil conjured up by the imagination of man is able to touch true being. So, when this occurs, when you see this final proof over the beliefs of the power and presence of the flesh and all evil, then believe in the Christ. Believe in the spiritual, holy one you really are. This is my real gift to you--the knowledge of your spiritual, holy and immortal Self. Learn of this Self. See why it's spiritual body isn't touched by anything in this world. You will learn to heal with this knowledge. You will learn to change the flesh back to wholeness with the understanding that you are always whole in God. This will be your salvation and dominion over the flesh. This Christ identity will save you from 'all the ills that flesh is heir to'. Believe in your Sonship and Daughtership to God. Put on this identity like a new garment. Wrap it around you until you accept no other. If the Sonship and Daughtership of God shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. This is the way, the truth, and the life. None other exists, except in your collective imagination.'
Now, perhaps these wouldn't be his exact words, but you get the drift of what I imagine Christ Jesus was trying to say during his time here. And if, from all the educated beliefs in the world, you can't accept the idea of our spiritual innocence from sin, there is a logic to it. The Christ of us (our Christ Consciousness) doesn't sin (err in any way) because it knows too much spiritual truth to do so. Our awake, spiritual consciousness doesn't have the human sense of amnesia, so it realizes spiritual reality and the absence of evil in creation. Material cause and effect doesn't exist in Spirit's creation. The Christ of us, therefore, never believes itself to be mortal or fleshly, neither sinning nor needing to be punished for sin. These are the lies of that which is called satan--the false sense of a life and creation apart from God--which come to our thoughts daily. This is what we are mentally and spiritually to overcome. This is what Christ Jesus left as our own task to do. "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." (The Spirit, God, speaking to humanity in Revelation 21:7).
Whoever believes in their own everlasting, spiritual identity, (the Christ Self) will realize that the physical death is as much a falsity as physical life. Our life, substance and essence is in and of Spirit. As the everlasting children of Spirit, God, we can't die. Death, at its most, is physical illusion. That's why Christ Jesus was also able to raise from the dead those who had physically died around him. He knew that their real self, their divine consciousness and spiritual self, never really died.
So, this deeper way of viewing Christ Jesus sees a spiritual brother, sent from God (the infinite Intelligence) to awaken humanity out of the dream of mortal, fleshly existence. This is what is meant by the phrase, 'the coming of the Christ'--bringing to human awareness the universal Christ selfhood of being.
Remembering the First Holy Family
Now, to take human form so he could communicate with us on our mental plane of existence, Christ Jesus needed a fleshly mother; and the spiritual heights of Mary enabled her to conceive of God as the only Source, or origin, of man. Thus, she was the choice for his entry, here, on our plane of consciousness. This also explains the 'only begotten son' reference in the familiar Bible statement, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). It wasn't that Christ Jesus was the only son of God, for we're all the sons and daughters of God. It was that Jesus, born of the flesh, was the only son who was "begotten" of God; that is, the only one that was conceived in the flesh without a physical male or sperm. Spirit alone took part in his formation and entry here, showing that divinity lies behind all identity, and God is the only, real creator, not material laws of cause and effect. Even human reproduction occurs due to the underlying, spiritual laws of God, not man. Remove God's laws of infinite creation, and even humanity would cease to reproduce.
But having come in the flesh, Christ Jesus turned all of us to Spirit as our only source or parent: "Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." (Matthew 23:9). "…Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." (Mark 3: 33-35). Notice that even though Mary was the probably the holiest of women born of the flesh, Christ Jesus was pointing to a great truth of origins--showing God to be the only creator of man, and the only origin, or Mother and Father of all creation, including himself. Spiritual beings can have only a spiritual origin.
Accepting the Gift
Note that from early times, the celebration of his birth wasn't called Jesusmas; it was called Christmas. This emphasizes, once again, that it is the Christ identity to perceive and accept about yourself. So, when Jesus said words that sounded divisive instead of harmonious, such as when he said that those who don't leave their family members for him aren't worthy of him, couldn't he have been indicating that those who don't accept their own Christ identity, (even if others in the family oppose this view) and behold the Christ identity in everyone, are mentally remaining in the false, mortal identity? Wasn't he saying that our everlasting life and divine goodness reside only in our spiritual selves, for the false, physical identities and personalities we've adopted can only result in mortality and corruption, since they've always been a case of mistaken identity? Perhaps he was telling us not to allow anyone (no matter who they are) to take the knowledge and practice of our own, spiritual selfhood from us.
Once a year, the celebration of Christmas reminds us of the visit from this spiritual brother whose love reaches us throughout time. And, no doubt, this brother knew that, putting back on an immortal, divinely-good identity, (or for that matter, accepting any identity for ourselves other than what we've come to accept) isn't something that occurs in a moment. It's a gradual, spiritually mental process. Even children who've been adopted humanly and didn't know it, or those who did know it, but later learned more of their earthly heritage, can all agree that it's quite difficult to become grounded in one's sense of self, when two senses of identity have been at play in the mind.
But the awakening out of a mortal, fleshly identity into an immortal, spiritual selfhood, is a shared experience for us all--we all have to do it, before awakening fully. While still here, on the material plane of consciousness and seemingly locked into a material form, the 'putting on' of our innate, divinely-created Self, is a gradual transformation. We get used to it in degrees. It has always been a gradual awakening. Paul wrote this to the Ephesians: "If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24). You see, this issue of the two identities, the fleshy versus the spiritual, is all there in the Bible, scattered about in several places.
So, to summarize: perhaps before we can see the universal nature of Christmas, and the great gift of love it brings, we must first recognize our human condition to be a case of mistaken identity. This mistake a spiritual brother, two thousand years ago, came to rectify, by showing us our real selves, which (perhaps in merely a cosmic moment) had been collectively lost in memory.
Each year, the celebration of Christmas is really the celebration of the Christ identity, or spiritual identity, that we each are. Our gratitude for Jesus' birth is really the recognition that this individual, whoever he is spiritually, loved his spiritual brothers and sisters enough to enter our plane of mental existence, go through temporary physical suffering and death, to re-acquaint us with the truth about existence--to show us our real selves and the fact that our true life is deathless. He came to show the fullness and glory of our true existence. Life can't be crucified, for Spirit can't die, and we're the everlasting children of Spirit, God. He went through the physical death process for us, to show us the deathlessness of our real and forever Life as God's children. Like creates like. A spiritual God creates spiritual children.
So, when people, through the ages, have focused on the fleshly, human personality of Jesus, they've missed the fact that the human identity was just a part he was playing to communicate with us. His body, soul and mind, was and still is, spiritual. His own Christ identity or individual soul, we don't know yet; just as we don't know the true, spiritual identity of anyone else on this seemingly physical plane of existence. But this brother of ours, whom we called Jesus, was telling us that his Christ identity, his spiritual Self, was just the same as our Christ identity, or spiritual selves. He told us we all have the same Father, Mother and Source of being. We are of one Mind, when all know the truth of this existence.
This means that, despite the wars, terrorism, greed, lust, and all the other destructions that occupy us, we all belong to only one family and one religion--the family and religion, or truth, of divine Spirit. We have no other real family, no other real truth; and we can all celebrate Christmas, any time, any where, realizing, at last, the fathomless love that is behind this everlasting love-gift our spiritual brother brought to us, once, so we could find our way home.