Old Testament theologies dealt with sacrificial rituals and sacrificial death for the remission of sin. Saying One of the Gospel of Thomas emphasizes embodied knowledge or knowing the pathway of knowledge, such that it becomes fully imparted unto the person: “Whoever finds the meaning of these sayings will not experience death.”
Progress within the teaching of the Way begins with belief-faith. Next, the discipline of love-forgiveness works through all attributes of character. Love-forgiveness prepares the substance of the soul for greater advances in enlightened understanding or knowledge-wisdom.
Thomas is always depicted as young, perhaps innocent.
The final characteristic of the Way is knowledge-wisdom, which provides greater order and discipline within both love and forgiveness, as well as faith. For the acolyte, the final phase of Nazarene priestly training dealt with parable understanding. Revealed wisdom and knowledge are the intended outcome.* These parable teachings later become one staple of Jesus’ ministry.
*Astrological teaching also occurred. See, Matt. 2.2, “…his star in the east.” Mark 14.51,52, refers to the young man clothed in linen. Linen is worn during certain teaching, instruction, or ceremonies, the nakedness within the ceremony references being open to God and the instruction being received. This form of ceremony and teaching was common throughout the middle-east. Astrological instruction would occur at night, for obvious reasons.
Saying 1. “Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience (spiritual) death (remain asleep).”
Saying One gives witness toward such gospel statements as “God is within you”, “the kingdom is inside of you,” and from Thomas 3, “Rather the (Father’s) kingdom is inside of you, and outside of you”—all lend themselves to the eternality of the soul. Similarly, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” from chapter 3 of John. Awakening and Eternality are consistent themes of Jesus. Jesus teaches a basic awakening to these higher truths.
If we look at the teaching of The Way, however, much more becomes implied. Realization is one beginning place, but it is possible that a person realizes only intellectually. Some who are more bent in another direction may understand with emotional confirmation, but in understanding have far yet to travel. Either approach may leave the awakening to wither. Interpreting these sayings makes for a good start, but meaningful interpretation realizes the sayings within a person’s experience. The Way is active teaching, one that is realized and practiced.
James 1.22-27, gives the jist of Jesus’ true intent, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (22).” But further, Jesus expects us to become familiar with the kingdom within, he points to it often. In short, Jesus walked in this relationship, and bringing the Father into the life experience seems more like Jesus’ full intent.
Of course, both knowing and doing are the intent behind sowing good seeds.
Sow seed for the spirit to assist in revealing knowledge.
WALKING in the WAY
Matthew 10.39-40, shares the essence of the enlightenment teaching, and perhaps provides the whole of the enlightenment journey. “He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it. (40) He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives Him that sent me.”
The first sentence, “He that finds his life shall lose it,” means that you as you now are, are not the person the spirit wants you to become, and therefore you must lose yourself as you now are to receive and to be operating more closely with the spirit. Attributes such as self-centeredness, false pride, and blaming others, block the spirit of God from moving through you. It is often that in these matters forgiveness can do its greatest work. However, deeply embedded attributes may need to be seen from more than one perspective, but as the revelation is received, all begin to function in better order—once released (loses his life), he shall then find the spirit (his true life).
At first, the mind gains the vision, the picture. The further interpretation, however, becomes the walk itself. Teaching interpreted into a pathway becomes the goal. This walk is achieved by sowing good seeds in good soil, which was Jesus’ basic message to the disciples. The word ‘interpretation’ now reaches a more substantive level and espouses greater depths to be reached. It surely does not mean to interpret words, for that could never be enough, but must be interpreted into the world with actions (Jm. 2.17).
Mystic secrets are often revealed within the intercourse of daily life. Many secrets will pertain to the person himself. Whether sowing for knowing, tolerance, or other matters, a person can sow for better performance as well as sow for knowledge. Do not remain within understanding alone, but put understanding into performance. Remember, The Way is a pathway that infers one step at a time. To a great extent, this became the teaching of the early Nazarenes; not only the gospel of the too-good-to-be-true-news but the walk which must then daily follow.
So, how do we do this? Jesus tells us to plant these good seeds and nourish them. For example, he gives us the attribute of willingness through the Parable of the Two Sons. The Two Sons parable suggests that the revealed pathway stretches before each person, will you take it? Honorable behavior and responsibility relative to the two sons seem part of the lesson.
This ‘how’ question brings us to the light and life-bringer, Jesus; as he himself says so, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jn. 14.6; “I am the light of the world,” Jn. 8.12, both scriptures provide person and teaching. Conversion, for example, is often associated with light, and in Jesus’ time, this was referred to as the Shekinah. Light does not come of itself, but travels within an order of understanding or knowing (thought), a certain discipline (truth).
Sow seed for the spirit to move through you in daily life.
Saying 3. “When you come to know yourselves,” seems to be the crux of the situation for everyone. How indeed do you come to know yourself? What is this process? How does this happen, and what is important?
Enlightenment is a process of unfolding from within, wherein you become acquainted with the spirit, which then takes you to what is commonly referred to as the higher self, or spirit self. This unfolding will be your soul’s nature, your renewed character, and how you express your character. That may seem like a lot, and it is, but walking in The Way orders the process by planting good seeds in fertile soil, nourishing the seed (giving attention), and being willing to accept the harvest when it arrives. By natural consequence, enlightenment proceeds one day at a time.
Sowing by prayer, speaking the Word, sowing, and even positive speech can lead to a better application as well as further revelation. These three basic elements foster the daily work which yields the best sort of progress. The daily pathway remains cognitively continual. Pathway forms a natural continuity from day to day, which provides natural velocity or impetus to the spiritual walk.
It should be mentioned again that walking in The Way emphasizes positive attributes. These attributes might focus on productive daily life within a business, speaking a good word within relationships, focusing on fatherhood or motherhood, and many other positive examples might be given. Walking in The Way is not intended to be a walk of drudgery always revealing but another problem. Its intent is resolution oriented toward the overall message of joy, love, and forgiveness which sets free.
Sow for application as well as a revelation;
Sow for joy and continuity within daily life.