The enlightenment teaching of the Essene was known as THE WAY. The Way became the final interpretation of the Law and the Prophets, as revealed by Yeshua Messiah. The Way also became the enlightened transitional teaching into the early church.
The episode concerning Lazarus is intended to substantiate Jesus as the fully awakened Son of God, but also raises the issue of soul-identity for you, and demonstrates fundamental lessons of the Way.
RENDING THE VEIL
“The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going. That’s how it is with everyone who has been born from the Spirit” (Jn. 3.8).
The sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, send a messenger to find Jesus and inform him that Lazarus is sick. John 11.3, initiates the action. The messenger presents the problem. Jesus says with some surety, (4) “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
He infers the sickness is not what it appears to be. As is written in v. 4, Jesus seems to comprehend a different principle at work: “that the Son of God might be glorified.” He says that the sickness is for the glory of God, an incongruous statement at best, then adds the reference to himself. This brief statement properly orders events. God is glorified first, and it is by reflection you become elevated, enlightened and brought into the light, glorified. God is the first cause, He comes first.
Much of the crux of the Lazarus story lies with Jesus’ soul-identity, and what will later be his revealed identity. However, the story lends itself to our identity as a soul as well. Who you are right now, your relationship to God (just as Jesus has a relationship), serves to point to the united glory of person and relationship. The Lazarus story offers a profound understanding of Oneness when perceived through the identity of Jesus, but this understanding also pertains to each individual. Jesus understands his relationship to God. He also understands himself at the moment. He is at One, and at peace within that relationship– he can only be glorified when he sublimates himself.
As our years lengthen, every soul who walks in the Way needs to attend to his place with God. This settlement, or place with God, will be more important the longer you travel this pathway. More and more this settlement will deal with your identity as a soul. The spirit may pierce the veil, but it is the mind that must comprehend. This deepening of knowledge, perception, and willingness to become revealed in your soul-nature becomes necessary to the Way.
BEYOND the VEIL
Jesus speaks to purpose immediately, and perceives this illness is not what it appears to be. He is presented with an earthly problem. He sees in the physical, but perceives in the spiritual. Looking from the deeper places within requires development within the soul. This nature of perception often relies upon how God is building your soul-identity. Souls who deal with children, for instance, are built up from within and according to mission. Others are built to their missions.
God works to develop the soul-identity according to the nature of that soul. The nature of Jesus is not the same as our soul nature, or identity, either one. Yet, we both have nature and identity, just as Jesus does. Those who practice in the Way need to give thought to the matter of your individual nature, strengths, and weaknesses, and perhaps give contemplation or meditation time to the matter of your identity as a child of God. These considerations can lead to real breakthroughs in the practice of your pathway. It can help a soul avoid getting into a soul nature rut, or perhaps the development of spiritual bad habits (false humility, arrogance, condescension, legalism).
Within scripture, it is easy to see the fresh approach Jesus provides in context to each individual situation. Jesus lives in the physical world but perceives from the spiritual world. Likewise, it is good to look at the world from the inside out– get oriented to the kingdom within—instead of viewing the world from the outside in, as Mary and Martha do. This nature assists in not being improperly judgmental and thus assists in culling wheat from the chaff. It assists in a higher level of decision making, instead of reacting at the moment. The calm and wise reserve we often see Jesus demonstrate takes on a greater measure. The strict mental-emotional nature begins to make way for the witnessing of the spirit, seeing more clearly, and the greater substance of wisdom.
Why has this problem arrived at this time? Jesus seems to ask this question. That is, he considers the problem first, but allows time for the wisdom answer. His answer arrives from beyond the veil– not the veil of physical life and physical death, which concerns the death of Lazarus, but beyond the veil between the spirit and the conscious mind– that is from whence Jesus perceives.
When you notice many of his responses, Jesus seems to perceive something no one else does. Do you render taxes is not a question about taxes, nor even money, but an attempt to bring either Rome against him, or the people? ‘You render unto that thing (Caesar) that which is proper to render, and unto another something else– “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s (Mt. 22.21).” All riddles, mysteries, perplexities, and bewilderments become resolved within the enlightened understanding, as Jesus repeatedly demonstrates. Sometimes development occurs by unconscious growth (Parable of Unconscious Growth), as is often the case within the enlightenment discipline. Regardless, the enlightened understanding arrives from beyond the veil, from the spirit (kingdom within) into the conscious mind.
Jesus operates beyond the veil. Once this approach to the pathway is entered into, much of walking in the Way becomes more apparent, and your pathway changes. Each precious child of God and where they are on their pathway at this moment, and too often having been diminished, then press very hard to break through this veil. Mistakenly, they often are looking outside themselves, they do not realize that the veil is within themselves.
Many who read this work think that parts of a certain manuscript seem too orthodox, and many perceive the text to be too liberal– mentioning the Essenes and the like– but the whole of it conveys the enlightened mind of Jesus. Jesus speaks of life and death, and heaven and earth as a matter of everyday knowledge; and, who is it that reports that he can give others the keys to the kingdom (Mt. 16.19)? How can this man teach directly concerning heaven? How can he see that Lazarus’ death is somehow not a final death? Why is ‘Lazarus’ death’ meant to glorify the Son of God?
Jesus’ identity is the subject of many sermons every week. The Lazarus episode deals with soul-identity at its core. Yet, soul-identity does not only concern Jesus’ identity, the subject reflects upon each soul just as certainly. In the teaching of the Way every soul is encouraged to allow the spirit to reveal their soul nature. Soul nature, in turn provides glimpses into soul-identity. It can be a very rewarding adventure, and opens the soul onto avenues of real soul growth. When Jesus tells the listeners to remove the board from their own eye, he is also telling each person that they may not know themselves as well as they think (Mt. 7.3). And truthfully, who does? We all tend to assume the better portion of ourselves. It is the kingdom within that often reveals the alternate view.
In the Lazarus story, the outlying problem is described by how the working-mind of Martha and Mary understand the issue. However, the resolution does not look anything like what Martha and Mary would comprehend. Nor does the real solution appear to be attached to the problem at all. Lazarus is unalterably dead, Jesus has come too late, and that is the end of it. However, the underlying working principle seems something altogether other. In this case, it resides in the identity of Jesus himself.
Our situation is similar. We face problems as an out-picturing, what is outside of ourselves. However, everywhere we take ourselves and with every issue we confront we bring ourselves unto what is motivated from within, from us, from ourselves. We become our own logos. Jesus certainly understands this principle. Just as is true of all souls, our conscious mind stands at the border crossing of what we see on the outside, and what can be revealed from the inside.
The scripture written in the pseudepigraphic text, Gospel of Mary Magdalene, relates this principle very well: Chapter 5.10, “I said to Him, Lord, how does he who sees the vision see it, through the soul or through the spirit? (11) The Savior answered and said, He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind that is between the two that is what sees the vision and it is […remaining text lost]. It is clear that the awakening process and the understanding that comes with it must come into the conscious mind. It is important to note that in this text, considered gnostic (Essene), Jesus is referred to as the Savior, as do many more similar texts.
We perceive our problems as ‘over there’ or at the ends of our hands. Seldom do we see the inner working that brought us to this place. Questioning our own motives, we may take note of our shortcomings, but we rarely see these attributes as a current part of our identity. Even if we see the attribute, but we do not see ourselves in it. We may ‘deal’ with things, but we keep ourselves at cognitive dissonance, to use a modern phrase. We seldom truly see the board in our own eye.
As the messenger relates the news of Lazarus, and at the moment of this happening, the veil between the spirit and the conscious mind is rent, and the understanding follows. Sometimes problems appear as if from nowhere. But especially concerning a matter of importance, we secretly know that the problems emerge from us. We would all be much better off if we look at our problems straightway, allowing the spirit to witness into the conscious mind, just as Jesus does in this circumstance. Looking at oneself with an eye toward what your responsibility requires, understanding the good and the bad of it, opens the door into the mysterious veil that we see Jesus so easily move between. From this action, we become offered our first glimpses into who we really are, our soul-identity.
In part, for Jesus, his identity resides in the manner in which he conducts himself, or perhaps better stated, how he walks. Much like many real solutions, not merely patchwork, Jesus’ solution lies beyond the veil. As we observe his ministry we see him walking there quite often. Likewise, our solutions carry much of the flavor of this walk beyond the veil. Real answers to life’s problems lie in the realm many choose not to visit. They never tread beyond the veil, and they can never truly know themselves, nor have revealed their nature as a child of God.* We lie in who we are right now, our identity as we are in the moment.
*“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,” (Mt. 5.9). “…the good seed are the children of the kingdom,” (Mt. 13.38).
Prayer remains a solid solution to personal revelation, and it can produce startling revelations. Nor is it necessarily reserved for ‘bad’ things about yourself. Quite often God wishes to re-embolden his sons and daughters and provide the substance that gets the finished work of seeking accomplished. At other times, habits a person dismisses as small become revealed as larger than we thought. Contemplation, sometimes meditation, can bring one to a place of honesty within the self. Personally, I have found prayer much more effective than meditation, for it can be used scientifically and purposefully.
To be fair, the spirit also offers times of rest, rehabilitation, and times of contemplation for the nourishment of the soul. To sit quietly and share the spirit of God is highly recommended. ‘Spending time with God’, as Christians use the phrase, yields great benefits. Nor is it meditation in the strict sense. Sharing with God promotes wholeness, oneness, and assists in setting the stage for further activities. Promoted with the idea that God also wants to share time with you, quiet time with God yields many benefits.
The above principles and practice make up a portion of the Way, and also lend themselves to knowledge and the development of wisdom. “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” Matt. 6.16; John 8.32, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Matt. 13.11, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the heavens.” All of these scriptures deal with what you should know, and what God wants to show you. When addressed within a solid practice, spiritual revelation leads to a burgeoning understanding of soul nature and soul-identity.
John 11.4 is often analyzed relative to Christ’s identity, or the divine nature of Jesus;* yet, the other aspect becomes how Jesus handles the actual events now set before him. Thus, upon hearing from the sisters, most people would take such news as a call to action. They would react. However, Jesus tarries. He stays two more days in the place where John the Baptist had baptized before. (Jn. 10. 41-42) “Then many came to him and said, ‘John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this man were true’. And many believed in him there.” The further consecration of the ministry must come first, for many were converting.
*The Essene believed the Messiah would be a heaven sent being, (see, Jn. 12.45,49, 20.21; Lk. 10.16, 4.18; Mk. 9.37). These scriptures concerning identity were written to affirm Jesus as the Messiah or were words Jesus himself spoke.
Jesus was busy, and many lives were spiritually at stake. He finishes his work on the tributary of the Jordan, and then he says in John 11.7, “Let us go to Judea again.” The inference is to go into Bethany. The disciples object, reminding Jesus that Judea is where the priests tried to have him stoned, and they are astonished and ask, “You are going there again?” The disciples force the first roadblock to appear—doubt and perhaps fear.
Not to be too harsh on the disciples, but the disciples seem only able to extend their working-mind. They react to the obvious. Their tendency is not to seek the spirit within nor look with the eyes of the spirit, and seldom do they find God’s kingdom. They follow after Jesus, but pathway eludes them. The disciples seldom rend the veil to discover that which underneath moves all things. Scripture reflects that this is often the case with the disciples. They see the world with their eyes, but with their minds rarely capture the spirit.
If John 11.4 more closely attends Jesus’ spiritual relationship to God, and that “the Son of God may be glorified through it,” it also demonstrates on what spiritual plane Jesus operates. This begs the question, from which spiritual plane do you operate? Do you see as the disciples, or like Jesus? Do you take that brief moment to pierce the veil which allows the spirit to reveal?
The angst of the disciples, as well as the questions above, are addressed in 11.9. Jesus responds to the disciples with spiritual insight, for he speaks about walking in the light so that the feet may not stumble, and he finishes by saying, “But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him (10).” Jesus has received his guidance, and by the light, within him, he walks through the night of this world– he has captured the vision (Jn. 16.33). The light is within him and thus guides his footsteps. The working-mind would have rushed immediately to the side of Lazarus, and Jesus would have healed him just so. Yet, that is not what the spirit witnessed to him. In the midst of such a crisis, Jesus remains calm but quietly assertive and then leads them toward Bethany.
In this next part, we will see how Jesus continues to work from beyond the veil, while those around him continue with only the mortal working-mind. The second stumbling block actually comes first from Martha, Jn. 11.21, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” and in v. 32 Mary voices the same sorrow filled complaint. Mary and Martha’s recrimination almost certainly casts blame. If Jesus had come right away, then Lazarus would have been healed– is this not so?
Then Martha testifies to her continued faith is not just what Jesus can do, but also alludes to Jesus in his person, (22) “But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Mary and Martha, and in the midst of great trial, begin with the working-mind, unbelieving, uncomprehending as to why Jesus did not hurry to Lazarus’ side. To Martha’s favor, and when she recovers herself, she begins to respond to the greater understanding, the higher reality of life. By her statements and by her conviction, she parts the veil between the physical and the spiritual. In this case, the bridge is built by faith, and through faith, her understanding and sanctified nature are revealed. She also affirms it by speech and makes her statement openly known.
“Where have you laid him,” Jesus says. Throughout these difficult incidents Jesus remains sure, he does not lose himself in the midst of circumstance. He allows for the “glory of God,” and “that the Son of God may be glorified through it (4).” The teaching message is that each person may also be glorified through a difficult set of circumstances, but that as they do so they remain spiritually cognizant to the other side of the veil. The basic principles, which is to look beyond circumstance and to rend the veil, to see with spiritual eyes, both reflect the awakened spirit and the teaching of the Way. The glory of God that runs through the spirit and unto each person now becomes prominent. From beginning to end Jesus reflects this godly reality and remains steady, sure and settled in the spirit.
Martha next says to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe you are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God, who is come into the world (27).” By some, this part of scripture seems contrived, as though someone has put these words in Martha’s mouth. However, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary had spent a good deal of time with Jesus, and knew Jesus quite well, and were dearly loved by Jesus. It would seem that Martha would have a good fix on who Jesus is by now.
This portion of the Gospel of John conveys Jesus’ identity as the Deliverer, the more usual term used in his own time, as Jesus speaks previously to the resurrection and the life in v. 25-26. This passage is described by most scholars as a very religious text. It is suspected for its obvious religious portrayal, mainly in confirming from Martha her belief. However, for the purposes of the actual teaching of the Way, it is most useful, for it is the person, the identity of himself, to which Jesus refers. “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, thou he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” The assumption of faith is the underpinning from which Martha speaks and affirms. By her steadfastness and her faith, she begins to rend the veil.
Belief, then faith must come forward and is foundational to the Way. Nothing much can be accomplished without faith in the work a person is trying to accomplish. Belief-Faith is intrinsic to the pathway, for early on one does not see, one does not know. With faith, Martha looks beyond the veil, and with that measure of faith Jesus then rends the veil.* Even though Jesus may have raised Lazarus in any case, for he dearly loved him and also saw the sister’s grief, but it is at this point that Martha’s faith propels the narrative of “thy faith has made thee whole,” (Mk. 5.34). The narrative of faith is observed in almost all aspects of Jesus’s ministry.
* Mt. 9.2, “Jesus seeing their faith.”
For walking in the Way this faith lesson becomes most important, and one often overlooked by those trying to assume knowledge: belief-faith forms the beginning, the first rung in the greater enlightenment into God, and the primary reason the conversion into Christ will always remain faith-based. Since a person actually knows very little, and yet seeks to change his life, the step of faith must come first. The disciples, and Martha and Mary, began with faith in only what the eyes can see, but when scripture closes the life of Jesus they end by seeing in a very different way. Jesus demonstrates this difference throughout scripture and does so again in the story of Lazarus.
His ‘knowing position’ with the Father is made clear, but essentially his ‘knowing position’ begins with his ‘faith position’. Many who are non-religious do not understand the valuable asset of faith. Faith should be and can be, demonstrated by continuing the daily walk, regardless of outcomes. Persisting in one area for growth demonstrates faith. Faith itself can add substance to the soul, whether in the moment active or not.
For those who seek, knowledge must surely follow faith, and it is then knowledge becomes the companion of steadying influence. If ‘faith without works (actions)’ from the book of James (2.14) is true, then knowledge becomes one work of faith, and just so Jesus leads us. If one inspects the Jesus ministry, each will find that the root of continued faith re-forms throughout the pathway Jesus walks. Jesus only assumes knowledge with the fulness of faith. It is always appropriate that belief-faith precedes knowledge-wisdom teaching.
Now comes the third stumbling block. First, the disciples did not want him to return to Bethany; second, came the recriminations leveled at Jesus that he did not come soon enough. Now, those who doubt, the Jews, will be next (36-37): And some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” The phrase “the Jews” refers to those who stand with the hierarchy of the old religion or Pharisaic believers. By now these individuals would be interested in the doings of Jesus, and would show up almost everywhere he went.
That Jesus reaches beyond the veil to reclaim Lazarus has to become Jesus’ greatest miracle, his greatest healing. This miracle left no doubts about Jesus’ own identity as Messiah, and his relationship to the Father, just as Jesus says. His earlier words contain an impact that would be impossible for the layman of that day to grasp, at least until Lazarus was raised, “…but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Bringing Lazarus back from the dead becomes a pivotal point in the life and ministry of Jesus. Not long after a plot is hatched to kill Lazarus, primarily to injure the ministry of Jesus, and thus in the eyes of the people to diminish him. In Jn. 12.10 the description reads that the chief priests took counsel to put Lazarus to death, (11) “on account of him many Jews went away and believed in Jesus.” The fact that they killed Lazarus begins what becomes an unalterable split within the Jewish community. The tensions mount when word of this miracle begins to spread. There are more and more believers. That they would also murder to stop Jesus should not surprise us, and tells us much about the priestly hierarchy, the people, and these times.
By the time the Gospel of John is presented (c. AD 92), the followers of Jesus were becoming known as ‘Christians’, especially in Rome. Earlier scripture would describe them as ‘practitioners in the Way’, or Sect of the Way (Ac. 28.22, “…this sect that we know that everyone has spoken against”), or even more likely they would be called “Nazarenes,” (from, “sect of the Nazarenes,” Acts 24.5). John’s final composition seems likely written by a disciple of Paul and determining how much of the Book of John came from John’s own earlier writing or speaking poses some problems. Many scholars believe John’s gospel is in places heavily redacted by Pauline writers and believers. Others do not believe so.
The Pauline oriented text of John intends to create a more formal or codified religion, that much seems clear. John writes from the viewpoint of someone no longer a Jew. Already there is a ‘them’ and an ‘us’, as the times might dictate, especially as the Christian movement gains momentum throughout Turkey, Italy, and Greece. The Gospel of John gathers around Jesus in his person, and not just his teachings.
Academic considerations aside, it is attendant upon all who follow Jesus to understand that he preached a full or complete unity for mankind, which is referred to in John 10.16, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring.” This is a reference to Jesus’s ministry spreading throughout the world. This infers that Jesus knew very well who he was. In John 12.32, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,” confirms this spiritual identity.
Although the above scriptures deal with Jewish Messiah, and then later Messiah for the world (Lk. 24.47, “…preached in His name to all nations”), the person of Jesus is always revealed within his teachings, nor can the teaching be segregated from his identity.* If Jesus is at one with the father, then Jesus is at one within himself. John 17.21, “…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in me, and I in You; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”
*The Messiah would never directly reveal himself, or he would be stoned to death. Jesus alludes to his position often, Lk. 11.31-32, “a greater than Solomon is here…greater than Jonah is here.”
Surely the above statement reflects the lofty heights of consciousness, that which lies beyond the veil of our physical sight; but that perceived with spiritual eyes and understood with a spiritual mind. Much of the Gospel of John deals with Jesus elucidating upon the veil, not just for himself as he reveals it, but for us as well. For us, and as we read and then travel with Jesus into the other side of the veil, enlightened Jesus becomes revealed.
Chapter 12.1, Jesus returns to Bethany six days before Passover and eats with Mary and Martha, and Lazarus takes a seat at the table as well. Scriptures in chapter twelve verses 12-15, deal with the ‘Triumphal Entry’, and in v. 42 “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” It is clear that many rulers, various officials and some priests such as Nicodemus, believe Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews. Nicodemus, in fact, will arrive at the illegally held nighttime trial and will speak up for Jesus.
It is later Jesus will state in Lk. 24.47, “that repentance of sins should be preached in His (Jesus) name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” John the Baptist preached repentance of sin for forgiveness; Jesus preached repentance of sin under the identity of his own name. The progression of the teaching, whether one accepts it on a religious basis, soars into very lofty heights of consciousness.
In John 12, verses 44 through 50 Jesus reveals much of his identity, beginning with, “he who sees me sees He who sent me,” a teaching of unification and oneness, or the full enlightenment into God. A God sent being, Jesus is at one with God, yet pronouncing his own identity. Later he speaks of himself as the way, that not only is the truth in him but that he is the truth in his person, and thus the life (Jn. 14.6). Jesus rends the veil once more, revealing the nature of his identity, and then transcends all obstacles even unto the end.
The ‘ego’ of the Pharisees, those who “make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at the feasts, the best seats in the synagogues” (Mt. 23.5-6)– how deadly this false-self becomes. If the enemy will execute John the Baptist and murder Lazarus, which I believe they did, surely Jesus will be next.
Later will come the march to Golgotha. In between, many revealed dramas come to light, not only of the religious hierarchy, but of the disciples. Many will give testimony of devotion, and many will wonder what has actually occurred. The hierarchy will believe they have given good riddance to yet another messianic figure, albeit the most dangerous of them all.