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The Inner Meaning of the Baptism of Jesus

The Baptism of Jesus - Jesus baptized by John

A Continuation of Abbot George’s Commentary on the Four Gospels
(Abbot George’s writing on this new book is nearing completion and we hope to publish it in late Spring.)

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:13-17).
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age (Luke 3:23).

  • Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

Eighteen years before, when Jesus was twelve, he proved that the elders of the Essenes had nothing to teach him, that he already knew more than they. Having demonstrated this, he made arrangements to depart for India where he learned from the Wise Men, who had visited him years before, that wisdom which he then brought back to Israel, and for the teaching of which he was martyred. (For more regarding this, see The Christ of India.).

Yet, when he returned he went to Jordan to be baptized by John, the Master of the Essenes. Why did he do this, since he had overreached anything the Essenes could impart? The reason will be made clear to us.

  • But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

What a great lesson there is for us in these words. Here John stood, surrounded by a multitude of disciples and seekers, the Master of the Essenes, whom many believed would be revealed as the Messiah. And in the hearing of all he declares that he needs the baptism of Jesus, not the other way around. How assiduously we guard our egos, never exposing them to disregard by either ourselves or others.

Even in India it is common for religious figures to refuse to visit other leaders lest it seem that they are recognizing that person’s superiority. I have met them myself and been astounded at their open admission. But here we see Saint John readily expressing before others that Jesus was his spiritual superior. Yes, he was being humble, but he was also being clear-sighted and honest.

It is important for us to realize that Jesus had nothing to receive from Saint John–just the opposite. So, why was he there, petitioning for baptism, which was the first step for aspirants to membership in the Essene order?

  • And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

Jesus began his ministry with a lesson in spiritual humility. Although his baptism was going to be the first public revelation of his Messiahship, he came to Saint John, his cousin, and appeared to recognize him as his spiritual superior.

He was also presenting a symbolic, esoteric teaching as well. Symbolically, Jesus represents the inner light, and Saint John is the initiate’s will. The light only emerges at the action of our will, and remains subservient to our intelligent will. We must always be in charge and using our intelligence. This is fulfilling all righteousness.

  • And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.

Saint Matthew (3:6) has told us that the people were coming to Saint John “and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” So they would spend some time in the water confessing their sins to Saint John, but Jesus “went up straightway out of the water,” attesting that he had no sins to confess.

The opening of the heavens

“And, lo, the heavens were opened unto him.” This is the core purpose of spiritual life: to open the heavens of infinite consciousness to us; for it is the consciousness symbolized by the boundless sky that is the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God. This opening occurs when we become immersed in the purifying waters of spiritual consciousness.

The heavens of divine consciousness could not be opened to us if the capacity for such consciousness was not actually innate in us as our very nature. Spiritual life is the path of realizing the truth of ourselves, the affirmation that: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (I John 3:2).

Because of this Jesus did not rant about sin, damnation and hell-fire, but instead his preaching was: “He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him:… and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:21, 23).

Regarding the Holy Spirit, in whom he planned to baptize us, Jesus said: “Ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17). Jesus was also being our example when he said: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).

So those who follow Jesus are united to God and are one with him. Jesus is not a mediator with God in the sense of a go-between, but rather as one who unites us with God, making us as much one with God as is Jesus himself. This is true, original Christianity.

Not new

Were Jesus’ promises of divine union and identity something new for the people of Israel–at least those who knew their scriptures? Not at all, for: “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26, 27).

This possibility was destined for humanity from the very beginning, even before human beings were created. David said: “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). Obviously we have always been united to and living in God, but our consciousness has been separated from awareness of that eternal union. Reunion of our consciousness with the Consciousness of God is the mediatorship of Jesus with God. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15).

Here are some more scriptural citations that present the true Christian perspective.

“Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit” (Romans 8:9).
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,… therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19,20).
“Ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (I John 2:24).
“Ye are of God, little children” (I John 4:4).
“We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (I John 4:16).
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).

This is the teaching of Jesus Christ and his apostles about the essential nature and destiny of humanity.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the son of God?” (John 10:27-36). Jesus was referring to Psalms 82:6: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”

Descent of the Holy Spirit

Jesus saw the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove, a form of radiant light that had two rays coming out from it like wings. In early Christian writings the Holy Spirit is called “the Dove of Light.” All creation-manifestation is the embodiment of the Holy Spirit, but for anything to be manifest there has to be a duality, a dual polarity, , and this is represented by the two wings of the Dove. We have spoken a goodly bit about the right-and-left-hand paths; these too, are the wings of the Dove.

In yogic science the “third eye” of intuition, the center between the eyebrows, is a reflection of the ajna chakra that corresponds to the medulla oblongata. It is said that this chakra has two “petals” or rays; so the descent of the Holy Spirit is also the opening of the “third eye” of spirit.

Saint Gabriel had told Jesus’ mother: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the son of God” (Luke 1:35). By the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit Christ Consciousness becomes manifest in us.

The heavenly voice

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God speaks out of heaven, out of the higher regions of our being. In the past five centuries Catholic mystics were usually misunderstood and even persecuted unless they had a Jesuit as their spiritual director. This is because one of the most important discoveries of the Jesuit order in their dealings with many mystics was that visions are sometimes symbolic projections of the mystic’s superconscious mind to convey a spiritual truth or symbolize a spiritual change that has taken place in them. A vision therefore, unless obviously literal, should be interpreted symbolically.

It is not uncommon for mystics to given something to eat or drink in vision. This symbolizes many things. For example, in a vision one saint was given a dish of shining, white substance by Jesus. He tasted it, and it was sweeter and more delicious than anything he had eaten, so he asked for more. Then he was given a dish of something black which tasted more horrible than anything he had ever tasted. Jesus then told him that without the black he could not get the white, meaning that the bitter is what gains for us the sweet. So a vision may not be literally real, but it may be true.

One mystic saw Jesus reach into his chest and draw forth his heart, then take her heart out of her chest and put his in its place. To think that this actually took place, that Jesus did a heart transplant on her, is absurd. But as an indication that from that moment on she had attained to “the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16) is absolutely true.

Sons of God, beloved

“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This is a statement of eternal truth: now are we the sons of God. Divine sonship is not something to attain or become, but something to manifest, to realize in our own consciousness. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). God’s Self is our Self.

And we are not just sons of God, we are beloved sons. Because however much the divine likeness may have been hidden or distorted in us, “it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” What an amazing truth: When we see God we see our Selves. For we and God are one. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14).

The work of the Dove

As already stated, the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus did not make him God’s Son, as has been erroneously supposed by some theologians, but rather it revealed that he was already the Son of God. This revelation or uncovering of our divine sonship is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are not clods of dirt that get turned into lumps of gold, we are gold hidden by the coverings of earth and ignorance. We already are children of God, and have been eternally with God. Though eternally free, we have been seized by the illusion of bondage and live accordingly. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit eventually reveals to us that we are the immortal sons of God. The faithful aspirant to Christhood says: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17).

“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23). At the age of thirteen Jesus left Israel for India, arriving there when he was fourteen. The next sixteen years he spent in India, arriving back in Israel when he was almost thirty. After being in Israel for three years, he returned to India and lived in the western Himalayas for thirty years or so.

More on Esoteric, Mystical Christianity:

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