The enlightenment teaching of the Essene was known as THE WAY. This teaching became the final interpretation of the Law and the Prophets, as revealed by Yeshua Messiah. The Way also became the enlightened transitional teaching of the early church.
Parables are intended to stretch the mind toward a higher understanding or to provide an enlightened vision. In Mark 4.13 Jesus alludes to the importance of understanding parable teaching, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” Directly after, Jesus gives the disciples the Parable of the Sower of the Word.
From the scripture above it seems apparent there are many more parables to which Jesus refers. This would include parables not mentioned in the four gospels. Although our references for this work primarily remain within the four gospels, here is one example from the Book of Philip:
If one goes down into the water and comes up without having received anything, and says “I am a Christian,” he has borrowed the name at interest. But if he receives the Holy Spirit, he has the name as a gift. He who has received a gift does not have to give it back, but of him who has borrowed it at interest, payment is demanded. This is the way it happens to one when he experiences a mystery.
Jesus taught by parable, imparting esoteric knowledge.
He taught by his own example and by questioning.
Jesus’ teachings are diverse in style and content, often mixing teaching styles within one speaking.
Teaching parable near the treasury
The above parable illustrates the difference between the truer enlightenment or conversion, and the conversion which arrives content with words only. The spoken-word agreement is better than nothing, and many modern religionists believe that only words are necessary. However, a words-only conversion may not embrace any true awakening. The person’s intent is sincere, but they are not necessarily awakened to the spirit within, or ‘born of water and of the spirit’, meaning physical birth (water) and spiritual birth (Shekinah, or awakening). The higher relationship with God is thus left to flounder.
How does the above parable relate to the Way? Without receiving the Shekinah (Holy Spirit) the debt mentioned in Philip’s parable ends by being paid through unnecessary limitation, or lack. This type of practitioner pays a heavy price. Limited by a staid faith that plods along through one day and the next, they may live uninspired lives, valuable opportunities may elude them, they may remain an unteachable spirit, or what they seek always slips away. After all, the Pharisees believed in the sanctity of their sacrifices, but it did not do them much good. They, much like the modern religionist, may be able to explain their practice, but the assumption of the true awakening arrives by entering a different door. The awakening is more than heartfelt, it is the awareness and the confirmation, the light and the knowing; it is the direct relationship with the spirit of God within. This blessing of the spirit soars far beyond words.
Philip’s ‘mystery’ refers to what for us is an unknown quality, the ‘dark mystery’ in that we cannot see it, nor can this mystery be experienced in any other way but through deeper revelation. Even the Buddhist announces his or her enlightenment experience as shades falling from the eyes, ‘and now I see’. We are all born spiritually blind, and then born again with the second awakening or birth which begins the journey into the spirit of God, truly walking in the enlightenment Way.
For Christians, it also means the awakening to the person of Christ. As a religious practice, this added awakening intends the full measure of God in His person. Jesus, however, in most of his speakings refers to the omnibus awakening—the awakening to the kingdom of God within.
When one awakens, Philip’s parable mystery becomes solved: if you receive the gift it is yours, if not, you have only taken the gift as a pretender. Within the parable, Philip’s resolution directs us to a full confirmation of the spirit. This confirmation is not performed by the individual, but can only be received from God. Likewise, meditations or prayer may lead one forward, but the true conversion can only occur by the acceptance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, that is, the awakening to the kingdom within. The Way cannot be properly engaged without this awakening. Sowing good seed can engender this awakening.
Similar to Philip, Jesus speaks of this mysterious engagement in Luke 8.10 and gives the disciples an almost cryptic message concerning the nature of parables. “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that: ‘Seeing they may not see [(perceive) Mk. 4.12], and hearing they may not understand.’ Luke’s version separates those who have a more comprehending mind from those who do not, or perhaps those who seek and knock as opposed to those who wonder where the door is.
If “faith comes by hearing (hearing often), and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. 10.17, then it seems clear that the word of truth must be spoken. But, Jesus warns that only some will truly understand—only some might awaken. They may have accepted the kingdom on the basis of belief, and belief is very important, yet there is not enough faith to carry them over into the true revelation. For those who remain asleep the words fall on an unawakened spirit.
In the teaching of the Way, belief-faith are intimately connected. Belief lies dormant, thus to be awakened. Once awakened, faith then initiates action. James 2.17, which deals with ‘faith without works’, more correctly interpreted as ‘actions’, is often given as a primary scripture for this understanding. Faith provides a thought structure for how each person proceeds. Two men may believe the same thing, but faith may move them in very different directions.
Both the Philip and Jesus parables point out ‘the something that is missing’. Philip tells us that merely claiming but not truly receiving will result in a very different life than he who actually awakens. The one will strive because he owes, the others who receive stand satisfied. Jesus tells us that only at certain times will his words be truly perceived, and only by certain people, thus discerning the awakened from the unawakened.
As the Jesus ministry starts to take hold, and that some understand more completely and others less, this creates an important dynamic. For those who do not understand Jesus’ words, they will ask of those who gleaned more. Much sharing and conversation and teaching may then occur. This discussion took place among the disciples as well as other listeners. Beneath this ministry turbulence, God’s plan can be observed. That a part may be understood, but not the whole, engenders the further quest into the knowledge Jesus offers. The Jesus ministry comes alive as the inspection into parable begins.
TRANSITION into the WAY
Mark offers a slightly different version of Luke 8.10. Mark’s addition to Luke’s scripture is given in verse Mk. 4.12, “Lest they should turn [convert or return], and their sins be forgiven them.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary sums this up well: “Those that would improve in knowledge, must be made sensible of their ignorance.” His comment obviously points to the transition from the current old or dead condition of Judaism, practiced by ritual and enforced by legalism, as opposed to coming into the new enlightenment.
Mark separates those who not only hear but also gain or receive the new understanding—they awaken. Orthodoxy too often accepts the message without the burgeoning awakening, as indicated in James 2.17, “Even so faith, if it hath not works (actions), is dead being alone.” There is scant to recommend such faith. Faith without actions has very limited power to renew the mind. Sowing good seed is such an action, and leads to revelation, renewal of the mind. Without the revelation awakening, faith rescinds itself back into belief alone—potential, but very little progress.
Further, each person must also choose to enter into the enlightenment. Christians today sometimes refer to this as ‘kingdom consciousness’—their turn in direction faces the kingdom of God. Therein, concerning daily participation with the spirit of God, their life becomes measured by a different set of standards. Similar to faith, enlightenment is not something you have, it is what you participate in.
Luke speaks of “mysteries,” and therein leads us to accept a broader understanding of the kingdom. The kingdom is not only a place, such as heaven, but it is also a state of mind or awakening. His use of the word “mysteries” tells us there is much to understand, and points to the deeper elements of parable teaching. Many of the mysteries will concern the individual and how each person works within themselves, and how the spirit (the kingdom) is working within you. Luke’s scripture points to unfolding knowledge and wisdom, in fact never-ending. This unfolding knowledge will later become one important root within Christianity.
If a person truly repents of their heart, it is then a change occurs, and the ears open to the expanded teachings. Isiah 6.5-10 is paraphrased by Jesus, sumed up in v. 9 & 10:
And He (Isaiah) said, “Go, and tell the people: ‘Keep on hearing, but [you] do not understand; keep on seeing, but [you] do not perceive [awaken].’* This verse has the tone of mocking, essentially saying to the people to go on, ‘keep listening, but you never understand anything. You can see it, it’s right in front of your face!.. but you remain blind.’ It is much like the person who knows about sex, but has never had sex. There is no real comparison between the two.
*“Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.” V. 10 is considered a chastisement or a negative consequence for not truly listening.
Today it is no different. To hear is to hear with the heart, not just the ears, and to truly see means to perceive with the mind. The underpinning and demonstration of the enlightenment of which Jesus speaks depends heavily upon such principles. Likewise, Isaiah addresses the complete change in the hearts and minds of the people. Yet, due to a sodden nature, lest they truly hear the message of Adonai they would rebel all the more; thus, this part of scripture is couched in the negative parlance and meant to convict.
Continuing through verse 13 tells us the truth about the Jewish people, that they had a hard time understanding the higher message of Isaiah. As Jesus quotes the same scripture he reveals the true message of God, yet clearly indicates he remains immersed within similar times. That so, many will hear with their physical ears and see with their eyes, even witnessing healing miracle; but only the tenth portion will avail themselves to the great blessing and cross the river into acceptance.
Isaiah chapter five deals with the impending judgment of the Jewish people. The judgment is based upon the inability to yield proper fruit.* Chapter five reads much like the ‘woes’ Jesus directs at the Pharisees (Mt. 23.1-39; Lk. 11.37-54). Isaiah six refers to God’s calling of Isaiah into his prophetical ministry, with the above scripture describing how hard it can be to call people forth. In Jesus’ times, Isaiah was considered the greatest of the prophets. Jesus pronounces the transition by referring to Isaiah, and clearly makes an allusion to himself while in Nazara (transposed into Nazareth), “sent to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives,” Luke 4.18 (Is. 61.1).
*“(the vineyard) brought forth wild grapes,” from Is. 5.2.
All higher spiritual teachings embrace parable. Parable allows for both those who may grasp the unseeable as well as those who may suffer a lagging step. A parable often foments many elements and requires the student to give thought not only to its meaning but what it means to them personally.
THE PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED AND THE YEAST
Matt. 13.31-35 (NIV) He told them another parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is
like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in the field.
Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows,
it is the largest of the garden plants and becomes a tree,
so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a yeast
that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour
(three satas, about 1/2 bushel) until it worked all through the dough.”
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables:
he did not say anything to them without using a parable.
So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world (ref.Ps. 78).”
The allusion to a tiny seed that yields a tree describes how the kingdom not only begins but how it grows. Jesus accounts himself as the tiny seed, yet his words proliferate throughout the countryside. As Jesus is in the flesh just as you are, you also represent the tiny seed. The seeds you plant proliferate within the mind; you become the bush which will provide shelter for the many.
Further, a good pinch of mustard seeds can yield many bushes. The ministry is intended to spread much like the mustard seed. The expanding heavenly kingdom will invasively spread across the land. Being an herb the mustard plant is at first hard to detect. That being so, it suddenly sprouts everywhere. Some can grow even unto the height of a small tree, large enough for birds to make nests—“…birds of the air come and perch” illustrates there is room for anyone and everyone.
There is a third factor concerning our spiritual vision. Even though the mustard seed is the smallest, what is within gives the seed its size and impact. Like a mustard seed, anyone may in fact qualify for the kingdom, even if at the moment there seems no hope. Anyone may contribute to the kingdom when at first there may seem no way, or believing time has run out. Anyone who decides to do so may awaken.
The Parable of the Yeast is similar. Yeast cannot be separated once mixed in the dough, but instead works throughout the dough to yield good bread. ‘You should let my yeast work in you the same way’, he is telling them. A small amount of yeast works throughout the dough to provide the finished product, alluding to a small work that may eventually spread to affect many.
When Matthew’s scripture was written (AD 40), the reader would be able to make the leap into Psalm 78, which locates the last sentence in Matthew, “…things hidden since the creation of the world,” but with a slight difference: Ps. 78.2, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark (not fully understood) sayings of old.” The psalmist is referring to lessons taught in the past, but lessons that now have to be repeated. Matthew sees this work done by Jesus since Jesus is the one giving the lesson.
Psalm 78 expresses God’s beneficence to a “rebellious generation” (v. 8), finally ending in v. 72, “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of His hands.” Those familiar with scripture could not miss Matthew’s reference to Jesus as he pronounces the current generation as rebellious, and then essentially refers to Jesus as he who shepherds, and then references Jesus’ skillfulness in doing so. Jesus’ statements would have a profound effect upon the disciples, and later with those whom they shared the understanding.
DISCIPLES of the WAY
Jesus tells us that God’s kingdom in everything, as in the yeast inseparable; expansive, as with the mustard plant, and abounding everywhere. A new spiritual order of events must now come into being, Jesus indicates. The Great Awakening must continue. We may be able to intellectually interpret the words but spiritually remain uncomprehending. Parable teaching leads us to the awakening, hopefully yielding nuance to each person’s knowledge and wisdom.
God abides everywhere, Jesus tells us. He is within us and He is without us. Both the Parable of the Mustard Seed and The Parable of the Yeast gives the kingdom of God not as a place, but as in every place, as an active presence. Those who practice in the enlightenment teaching of the Way find this creative component central to their understanding of how God works.
Jesus also lends himself to the mustard seed, for once it begins to spread it is very hard to rid the field. Jesus plants many seeds. He speaks to the new creation consciousness, or some might describe it as the new kingdom consciousness, and that if one wants to receive the harvest then these seeds Jesus sows begin the process. The “mysteries” mentioned by Luke, and the “things hidden” by Matthew, refer to deepening growth as the parable understanding develops. Most scholars recognize that the final teachings within the Essene priesthood training concern the study of parable knowledge-wisdom.
So, we see Jesus in three different roles: first, he enhances, he is the yeast; second, he or his message is invasive, even irritating, and certainly disturbing to many; and third, he is the one who will be casting seed upon humanity, as in v. 37 of Matt. 13, “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man (Anointed One).” Many of us are so familiar with these scriptures we think little about them, yet Jesus’ statements are far more startling than at first observed. If we give thought to this powerful message it becomes clear that he intended to change the consciousness of the world, not just reform Judaism. In essence, his ministry statements bring the enlightenment forward, and that every man may participate.
Jesus initiates the preparation of this ‘good soil’, specifically the disciples. He then sows the seed, especially when he speaks privately, for they will be the first to have this seed sown upon the grounds of their soul. This is reflected in the following verse, 13.38, “the good seed are the children [sons (family)] of the kingdom,” wherein he privately speaks to the disciples as The Parable of the Tares is explained. This certainly gives the disciples a special role. Yet, it is also true if “the field is the world,” with “the good seed are the sons,” rather this leaves the calling open to any who choose the kingdom, take upon themselves this sonship, and therein any good soil will grow this good fruit.
The above directly points to each individual, and not just the disciples, and offers universality and inclusion. Universality is a form of oneness, not only among individuals in what will become the body of Jesus followers, but lends itself to the principle of oneness itself, as in, “I in them, and You in me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent me, and have loved them as You have loved me,” John 17.23. Although not a parable, it reflects a speaking that lends itself to the revelation of “mysteries” and “things hidden,” likened to speaking prophecy or inspired sermon. What is this oneness Jesus speaks of so often? What is this absolute unity Jesus has with the Father, and that he wishes to share with us?
As to the disciples, being this good soil then they must also mature and spread new seed. For they are the first, they are the disciples. They will become like the mustard plant moving into every field. They must become this good fruit that will abound and yield an ever greater crop. A grave responsibility has been imparted. On a personal level, this part of the private message must have given them pause to consider, just as we may now consider ourselves in the same context.
With these few scriptures, we enter into the real beginning of the Jesus ministry. The grassroots if you will, the seed, these preparatory efforts will bring the disciples into the required soul development for such a mission. Our life grows in much the same as the disciples, inward out and then upward. What we put into life, the seeds, and what we actually cultivate, nourish, and then harvest, this gives us the daily walk and contributes to our personal vision.
By planting good seed Messiah Jesus reveals the most practical aspects of the Way. Parable combined with simplicity seems the teaching method. He explains cause and effect with simple but accurate examples, giving structure to thought itself. He essentially tells us how to build the mind, the enlightened godly mind he extolls.
Jesus said: If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. (Saying 70), Gospel of Thomas.