The Gospel of St. John
in Relation to the Other Three Gospels
10. What Occurred at the Baptism?
3 July 1909, Kassel
Among the events that occurred in Palestine at the beginning of our era there is one in particular to which repeated reference has been made: the Baptism of Jesus of Nazareth by John, and the fact was emphasized that regarding its essentials all four Gospels are in agreement. What we shall do today is to consider this Baptism from one particular aspect.
From the manner of its presentation in the Gospels we gather that the Baptism points to an event of the utmost import — an event also explicable by means of the akashic record — which had to be characterized somewhat as follows: In about the thirtieth year of Jesus of Nazareth's life there entered into His three sheaths that divine Being Whom we call the Christ. We must distinguish, then — and this is revealed through a study of the Akashic record — between two stages in the life of Christianity's founder. In the first place we have the life of the great Initiate Whom we call Jesus of Nazareth. In this Jesus of Nazareth there dwelt an ego-being which we showed to have passed through many previous incarnations, to have lived repeatedly on earth, to have ascended ever higher in these succeeding lives, and to have risen by degrees to the capacity for the great sacrifice. This sacrifice meant that toward Jesus of Nazareth's thirtieth year His ego was able to renounce His physical, etheric, and astral bodies, which hitherto He had purified, cleansed and ennobled, thus providing a threefold human sheath of incomparable purity and perfection. When the ego of Jesus of Nazareth abandoned these sheaths at the Baptism, these received the Being Who had never previously dwelt on earth, Whom we cannot think of as having passed through previous incarnations. The Christ Being could formerly be found only in the world existing outside our earth. Not until this moment of the Baptism by John did this Individuality unite with a human body, in order to accomplish, in the three years following, what we must endeavor to set forth in ever greater detail.
What I have just told you was gathered by means of clairvoyant observation. The Evangelists clothe this event in their descriptions of the Baptism; and what they meant was while a variety of experiences came to those whom John baptized, in the case of Jesus of Nazareth there occurred the event of the Christ descending into His three sheaths. I told you in the first of these lectures that this Christ is the same Being of Whom the Old Testament says:
And the Spirit of God moved (or brooded) upon the face of the waters.
This same spirit — that is, the divine Spirit of our solar system — entered the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth.
I shall now set forth what actually occurred at the Baptism by John; but inasmuch as this was the supreme event in Earth evolution, I must beg you to realize from the outset that it is necessarily difficult to comprehend. The minor events of Earth evolution are naturally easier to understand than the great ones: who could doubt, therefore, that the mightiest one of all must present the greatest difficulties? I shall presently make various statements that may shock those who are insufficiently prepared; but even they should remind themselves that the purpose of the human soul's sojourn on earth is to keep constantly perfecting itself — in the matter of gaining insight as well as in others — and that what at first comes as a shock must in time appear — wholly comprehensible. Were this not the case one would needs despair of the possibility for development in the human soul. As it is, however, we can remind ourselves daily that regardless of how much or how little we have learned, it is our task constantly to perfect our soul, that it may ever better comprehend this matter.
We have before us, then, a threefold human sheath, a physical, etheric, and astral body, and of these the Christ takes possession, so to say. That is indicated by the words resounding out of the universe:
This is my Son, imbued with my love, in Whom I manifest myself.
That is the right translation of this utterance. One can readily imagine that mighty changes must have taken place in the three-fold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth when the God entered it; but you will understand, too, that in the old initiations great changes were involved, affecting the whole human being. You will recall that I described the last act of the old initiation for you. After the neophyte, initiated in the divine mysteries, had undergone long preparation by means of study and exercises, he was reduced to a deathlike state for three and a half days, during which his etheric body was separated from his physical body; and this enabled the fruits garnered by the astral body to express themselves in the etheric body. This means that the candidate rose from the rank of a “purified one,” as the term is, to an “illuminated one” who envisions the spiritual world.
Even in those old times — or rather, especially then, when such initiations were still possible — one who had reached this stage had a certain power over his entire corporeality; and after returning into his physical body he controlled it superbly in respect of certain finer elements. Here you might ask, In facing such an initiate, one who achieved so great a mastery over his various sheaths — even the physical body — could one notice this — did he show it? — Well, it was observed by anyone who had acquired the faculty of that sort of vision. Others as a rule saw him as an ordinary, simple man and noticed nothing remarkable about him. Why? Simply because the physical body, as seen by physical eyes, is merely the outer expression of what underlies it, and the changes mentioned refer to the spiritual element that underlies the physical body.
Now, all the old initiates achieved a certain degree of mastery over their physical body as a result of the procedure to which they were subjected; but there was one capacity that no old initiation could ever bring under the dominion of the human spirit. Here we touch the fringe, as it were, of a profound secret, or mystery. In the structure of man there is one element to which the power of a pre-Christian initiation could not penetrate: the subtle physicochemical processes in the skeleton. Strange as it may sound to you, that is the case. Previous to the Baptism of Christ Jesus there never had been a human individuality in earth evolution, either among initiates or elsewhere, with power over the chemico-physical processes in the skeleton. Through the entry of the Christ into the body of Jesus of Nazareth the egohood of Christ acquired dominion even over the skeleton. And the result was that, as a unique event, there lived upon earth a body capable of employing its forces in such way as to incorporate the form of the skeleton — that is, its spiritual form — in Earth evolution. Nothing of all that man passes through in his earth development would endure were he not able to incorporate in Earth evolution, as a law, the noble form of his skeleton, were he unable gradually to master this law of the skeleton.
There is a connection here with an old popular superstition — indeed, old traditions are frequently associated with the occult. In certain circles it is customary to employ the skeleton as a symbol when death is to be represented. This stands for the idea that at the beginning of Earth evolution all the laws governing the systems of the human organization other than the skeleton were so far advanced that at the end of the Earth's evolution they would be present again, though in a higher form; but that evolution would carry over nothing into the future unless the form of the skeleton were taken over. The form of the skeleton conquers death in the physical sense, hence He Who was to vanquish death on the earth must have mastery over the skeleton — in the same manner as I indicated this mastery over certain spiritual attributes in connection with lesser faculties. Man has control of his circulatory system only to a slight degree: in feeling shame he drives his blood outward from within which means that the soul acts upon the circulatory system; in turning pale when frightened he drives his blood back inward into the center; in sorrow, tears come to his eyes. All these phenomena represent a certain dominion of the soul over what is bodily; but far greater mastery over the bodily functions is enjoyed by one who has been initiated beyond a certain stage: among other powers, he has the ability to control arbitrarily the movements of the various parts of his brain in a definite way.
The human being, then, that was the sheath of Jesus of Nazareth came under the dominion of the Christ; and the will of the Christ, His sovereign will, had the power to penetrate the skeleton, so that it could be influenced, so to speak, for the first time. The significance of this fact can be set forth as follows: Man acquired his present form, given by his skeleton, on the Earth — not during a previous embodiment of our planet; but he would lose it again had it not been for the coming of that spiritual power we call the Christ. He would carry over into the future nothing in the way of harvest and fruits of his sojourn on Earth had not Christ established His dominion over the skeleton. It was therefore a stupendous force that penetrated to the very marrow of the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth at the moment of the Baptism by John. We must visualize this moment vividly, for it is one of the events we are considering.
In the case of an ordinary birth the attributes deriving from a previous incarnation unite with what is given through heredity. The human individuality that had existed in former lives merges with what is provided for him as his corporeal-etheric sheath; in ether words, something from the spiritual world unites with the principle that is physical, of the senses. Those of you who have frequently attended my lectures are aware that as regards outer appearances everything presents itself as in a mirror, reversed, as soon as we enter the spiritual world. So when a person becomes clairvoyant by rational methods, when his eyes have been opened to the spiritual world, he must first gradually learn to find his way about, for everything appears reversed. When he sees a number, say 345, he must not read it as he would in the physical world, but backwards: 543. In like manner you must learn to observe, in a certain sense, everything else as well in reverse — not only numbers. Now, the event of the Christ uniting with the outer sheath of Jesus of Nazareth appears, to one whose spiritual eyes are open, in reversed order. While in a physical embodiment something spiritual descends from higher worlds and unites with the physical, that which was sacrificed — in this case in order that the Christ Spirit might enter — appeared above the head of Jesus of Nazareth in the form of a white dove. Something spiritual appears as it detaches itself from the physical. That is factually a clairvoyant observation; and it would be far from right to consider it a mere allegory or symbol. It is a real, clairvoyant, spiritual fact, actually present on the astral plane for clairvoyant capacity. Just as a physical birth implies the attraction of spirit, so this birth was a sacrifice, a renunciation; and thereby the opportunity was provided for the Spirit, Who at the beginning of our Earth evolution moved upon the face of the waters, to unite with the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth and to permeate it with power and fervor, as described.
You will now understand that when this took place an area was involved far greater than the spot on which the Baptism occurred. It would be very shortsighted to imagine that an event associated with any being whatever were circumscribed by the boundaries visible to the eye. That is one of the powerful delusions to which men succumb when they put their entire faith in the outer senses alone. Where is a man's boundary, as the outer senses see it? A superficial verdict would say, in his skin. That is where he stops in all directions. Someone might even add, If I were to cut off the nose that is part of you, you would no longer be a complete human being; which goes to show that everything of that sort is part of your being. — But how short-sighted that is! When we limit ourselves to physical perception we do not look for any integral part of a man even ten to twelve inches or so outside his skin; but consider that with every breath you draw you inhale air from the general air of your environment. Well, if they cut off your nose you are no longer a complete human being; but the same is true if your air is cut off. It is quite arbitrary to imagine that a man is bounded by his skin. Everything surrounding him is part of him as well, even in the physical sense; so that when something happens to a man at a given spot, it is not only the space occupied by his body that participates in the occurrence. If you were to try the experiment of poisoning the air in a circle having the radius of a mile, surrounding the spot where man stood — poisoning it virulently enough for the fumes to reach him — you would discover that the entire space within the mile radius takes part in his life processes.
The whole earth takes part in every life process; and if that is the case even in a physical life process, you will not find it difficult to understand that in an event such as the Baptism the whole spiritual world participated, and that much, very much, occurred in order that this might take place. If within the radius of a mile you poison the air surrounding a man to the extent of influencing his life processes, and if then another man approaches him, the latter will suffer an effect as well. This may differ, according to his proximity to the poisoned area: if he is at a greater distance, for example, the effect will be less; but some effect will nevertheless result. It will therefore no longer seem strange to you if today we raise the question concerning the possibility of there having been other influences resulting from the Baptism. And here we touch another profound mystery of which we are constrained to speak with awe and reverence, for the preparation needed to understand such things will come to mankind only by slow degrees.
At the same moment in which the Spirit of Christ descended into the body of Jesus of Nazareth and the transformation occurred as described, an influence was exerted upon the Mother of Jesus of Nazareth as well. It consisted in her regaining her virginity at this moment of the Baptism; that is, her inner organism reverted to the state existing before puberty. At the birth of the Christ, the Mother of Jesus of Nazareth became a virgin.
Those are the two momentous facts, the great and mighty influences indicated, though cryptically, by the writer of the John Gospel. If we are able to read this Gospel aright, all this can be found stated there in one way or another; but in order to recognize its meaning we must link up with various matters upon which we touched yesterday from other aspects.
We have said that in olden times people lived under the influence of endogamy, meaning that marriage was entered into within the same tribe by blood relatives. Only as time passed did it become customary to marry outside the tribe into other blood. The farther back we go in time, the more we find people living under the influence of this blood relationship; and the flowing of the tribal blood through men's veins brought about the strong, magical forces of which we spoke. One who lived at that time and could look far back in his line of ancestry, finding there only tribally related blood, had magical force working in his own blood, making possible the influence of soul upon soul as described yesterday. And people knew that very well, even the simplest of them. But it would be utterly wrong to conclude from this that nowadays consanguineous marriages would produce similar conditions, that magical forces would come to light. You would be falling into the same error as would the lily of the valley if it were suddenly to announce: Henceforth I shall no longer bloom in May: I shall bloom in October! It cannot bloom in October because the necessary conditions are lacking; and the same is true of the magical forces: they cannot develop in an era in which the requisite conditions no longer exist. In our time they must evolve in a different manner; what was described applies only to the older epochs.
The crude materialistic scientist can naturally not understand the idea that the laws governing evolution have changed: he believes that what he witnesses today in his physics laboratory must always have proceeded in the same way. But that is nonsense, because laws do change; and those who have derived their faith from modern natural science would have marveled at the events in Palestine, narrated in the John Gospel, as something strange indeed. But those who lived at the time of Christ Jesus, when living traditions told of an age in which such things were wholly within the range of possibility, were not particularly amazed at them. That is why I could say yesterday that no one was greatly astonished at what occurred at the Marriage of Cana in the nature of a sign.
And why should they have been astonished? Outwardly it was nothing but a repetition of something they knew to have been observed time and again. Turn to the Second Book of Kings, IV, 42-44:
And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. And his servitor said, Should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that may eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the Lord.
There you have in the Old Testament the same situation we find in the feeding of the Five Thousand, narrated in a manner suited to that time. Why should such a sign excite wonder among people whose documents told them that it had happened before? It is essential that we understand this.
Now, what took place in a man who had been initiated in the old sense? He gained access to the spiritual world: his eyes were opened to the spiritually active forces — that is, he could penetrate the connection between the blood and the spiritually active forces. Others had a faint glimmering of this, but the initiate's vision reached back to the first ancestor from whom the blood had flowed down through the generations; and he could apprehend that an entire folk ego expressed itself in this blood, just as the individual ego is expressed in the individual's blood. That is the way an initiate saw back to the source of the blood stream that coursed through the generations, and he felt identified in his soul with the whole Folk Spirit whose physiognomy came to expression in the common blood of the people. Such a one was to a certain degree initiated, and up to a point he was master of definite magical powers in the old sense.
There is another thing we must keep in view. The male and female principles co-operate in the propagation of mankind in a manner that can be briefly characterized as follows. Were the female principle to dominate completely, man would develop in such a way as to keep constantly producing homogeneous characters: the child would always resemble his parents, grandparents, and so on. Forces that bring about resemblance are inherent in the female principle, while all that reduces it, that creates differences, lies with the male principle. When, within a folk community, you find a number of faces that resemble each other, you have what derives from the female element; but certain differences are to be seen in these faces enabling you to distinguish the separate individuals, and this results from the male influence. If the influence of the female element alone prevailed you would not be able to tell the different individuals apart; and if only the influence of the male element were in evidence you could never recognize a group of people as belonging to the same stock. So the manner in which the male and female principles co-operate can be stated as follows: the influence of the male principle individualizes, specializes, separates, while that of the female principle tends to generalize
From this we can see that whatever pertains to a people as a whole derives from the female element: the force in woman carries over from generation to generation the factor which otherwise expresses itself in the continuous blood stream. A further characterization of the origin of the magical forces residing in the blood bonds could be given thus: they are linked with the female principle that courses through the entire people and lives in all its members.
Well, if a man had risen through initiation to the point of being able to wield the forces, so to speak, with which the common blood was inoculated through the female folk element, what was his essential characteristic? The old Persian initiation adopted certain names to distinguish the various degrees rising to spiritual heights, and one of these names must be of special interest to us. The first degree in the Persian initiation was termed the Raven; the second, the Initiate; the third, the Warrior; the fourth, the Lion; the fifth degree always bore the name of the people in question: a Persian, for example, who had risen to the fifth degree of initiation was termed a Persian.
First the initiate became a Raven, which meant that he could carry on a study of the outer world; and being a servant of those who dwell in the spiritual world he brought to that world tidings of the physical world. Hence the symbol of the Raven as emissary between the physical and the spiritual world — from the Ravens of Elijah to those of Barbarossa. — On reaching the second degree the initiate came within the spiritual world; and one initiated in the third degree, having advanced past the second, is entrusted with the mission of interceding for occult truths: he becomes a Warrior. An initiate of the second degree was not permitted to contend for the truths of the spiritual world. — In the fourth degree the spiritual truths became established, to a certain extent, in the initiate. And the fifth degree is the one of which I said that here the initiate learned to control all that flowed in the blood through the generations, learned to deal with it by means of the forces descending with the blood through the female element of propagation. What name, then, would be applied to a man who had experienced his initiation within the Israelitic People? Israelite, just as in an analogous case in Persia he would have been called a Persian.
Now observe the following. Among the first to be brought to Christ Jesus, according to the Gospel of St. John, was Nathanael. The others, who were already followers of Christ Jesus, say to Nathanael:
We have found the Master, Him Who dwells in Jesus of Nazareth.
To which Nathanael replies:
Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?
But when Nathaniel is brought to Christ, Christ says to him:
Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.
An “Israelite” indeed, in whom truth dwells! Christ says this because He knows to what degree Nathanael is initiated. Whereupon Nathanael realizes that he is dealing with someone who knows quite as much as he does — in fact, with One Who towers above him, Who knows more than he does. And then, in order to stress the reference to initiation, Christ adds:
I saw thee before thou comest to me: before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
The term “fig tree” is here used in exactly the same sense as in connection with Buddha: the fig tree is the “Bodhi Tree.” It is the symbol of initiation. What Christ says to him is, I recognize thee as one initiated in the fifth degree. The author of the John Gospel indicates that Christ surveys from above, as it were, an initiate of the fifth degree. Step by step this writer leads us on, in this case by showing us that in the body of Jesus of Nazareth there dwells one who stands above the fifth degree of initiation.
And more. We have just learned that a fifth-degree initiate commands the occult-magical forces residing in the blood flowing down through the generations: he has become one, as it were, with the Folk Soul; and earlier we learned that this Folk Soul expresses itself in the forces inherent in woman. Therefore one who is initiated in the fifth degree will be dealing — in accord with the old conditions — with the female forces. This, of course, must be viewed spiritually. But Christ's relation to these forces is an entirely new one: He is dealing with the woman who regained her virginity through the Baptism, who recaptures the new, sprouting forces of the virgin state. That was the wholly new factor which the writer of the John Gospel intended to indicate by saying that a certain current flowed from the Son to the Mother. Everyone with occult knowledge at that time knew quite well that a son, provided he was initiated in the fifth grade, was able to employ magically the folk forces expressed in the folk element of his mother, but Christ demonstrated in a loftier spiritual manner the forces of the woman who had become virgin again.
Thus we see what led up to the Marriage in Cana. We see that what occurred there had to be brought about by an initiate excelling an initiate of the fifth degree, and we are also shown that this fact bore a connection with the folk forces inherent in the female personality. In a marvelous fashion the author of the John Gospel prepares us for what came to pass there. As has been said, we shall approach the miracle question itself later; but in the meantime you can readily imagine that freshly drawn water is different from water that has stood for a time, just as a flower freshly picked is different from one that has been wilting for three days. Differentiations of that sort naturally do not occur to materialistic observation. Water until recently united with the forces of the earth is very different from stale water. In conjunction with the forces residing in the freshly drawn water, one who is initiated as described can work through the forces which are linked with a spiritual relationship such as that between Christ and the Mother who has become virgin. Christ carries farther what the earth is capable of achieving. The earth can transform the water in the grapevine into wine. The Christ, Who has approached the earth and become the Spirit of the Earth, is the spiritual principle that is otherwise active in the entire earth body; so if He is the Christ He must be able to accomplish as much as the earth. And the earth, within the vine, transforms water into wine.
The first sign, therefore, performed by Christ Jesus as set forth in the John Gospel is one that links up, so to speak, with what could be accomplished in olden times by an initiate who controlled the forces extending through the blood ties of the generations, as we have just learned out of the Books of Kings.
But now we find a continuing increase in the strength of those forces which Christ develops in the body of Jesus of Nazareth — not those that the Christ had within Himself. Therefore, do not ask, Can it be, then, that the Christ has to develop? Certainly not. But what did have to be developed through the Christ was the body of Jesus of Nazareth, however purified and ennobled: it had to be guided upward step by step by the Christ; for into this body were to be poured the forces intended to manifest themselves shortly.
The next sign is the healing of the nobleman's son, and the following one, the healing of him who had lain sick for thirty-eight years by the Pool of Bethesda. What intensification have we here of the forces through which Christ worked on this earth? It consists in the fact that now Christ could influence not only those who surrounded Him, those actually present in the flesh. At the Marriage of Cana He caused the water to become wine as the people drank it: He worked upon the etheric bodies of those present; for by the infusion of His force into the etheric bodies of the people surrounding Him the water became wine in their mouths — that is, the water tasted like wine. Now, however, the effect was intended not alone for the body, but for the very depths of the soul; for only in that way could Christ influence the nobleman's son through the mediation of his father, and only thus could He penetrate the sinful soul of him who had lain sick for thirty-eight years. To send His forces into the etheric body alone would not have sufficed: the astral body had to be acted upon, for it is the astral body that sins. By exerting an influence upon the etheric body, water can be turned into wine; but in order to affect another personality it is necessary to penetrate to something deeper. And this demanded that Christ continue to work upon the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth. — Note well that Christ does not thereby change, thereby become another: He merely works upon the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth; and this He does henceforth in such a way that the etheric body can become more independent of the physical body than it was previously.
So the time came when the etheric body in the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth became freer, less closely bound to the physical body. This resulted in greater mastery over the latter: more powerful works could be accomplished, so to speak, in this physical body than hitherto — that is, powerful forces could be employed in it. The potentiality for this was given with the Baptism in the Jordan, and now it was to be further developed with special intensity. All this, however, was to come about through spirit. The power of the astral body was to become so great in the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth that the etheric body could acquire the control over the physical body that was indicated. Now, by what means alone can the astral body attain such power? By acquiring the right feelings, by devotion to the right feelings towards all that takes place around us; above all, by achieving the right attitude towards human egotism. Did Christ accomplish this with the body of Jesus of Nazareth? Did His work result in the right attitude toward all the egotism He encountered, in exposing the fundamentally egotistical character of the souls present? Yes: the author of the John Gospel tells us how Christ appears as the purger of the Temple when he meets with those who do homage to egotism and defile the Temple by making it into a trading center. Thus He was able to say that His astral body had achieved sufficient strength to rebuild His physical body in three days, should it perish. This, too, is indicated by the writer of the John Gospel:
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.
This indicates that the sheath which had been offered Him in sacrifice now has the power to control and master the physical body completely. Now this body, become independent, can move about at will, no longer subject to the laws of the physical world: regardless of the usual laws of the world of space, it can bring about and direct events in the spiritual world. Again we ask, does this occur? Yes: it is indicated in the chapter following the one in which the purging of the Temple is related.
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him ...
Why does it say here, “by night”? The explanation that the Jew was simply afraid to go to Jesus by the light of day, so he crept through the window in the night, is as trivial a one as could well be imagined. Anybody can make up explanations of that sort. By night means nothing else than that this meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus occurred in the astral world: in the spiritual world, not in the world that surrounds us in our ordinary day consciousness. This means that Christ could converse with Nicodemus outside the physical body — by night, when the physical body is not present, when the astral body is outside the physical and etheric bodies.
Thus the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth was prepared by the Christ, Who dwelt in it, for the acts that were to follow: for what was to be infused into the souls of men. This implied a degree of sovereignty in the soul dwelling in Jesus of Nazareth that would enable it to act upon other bodies. But acting upon another soul is an entirely different matter from the type of influence we discussed yesterday. It comes to light in the next intensification, in the Feeding of the Five Thousand and in the Walking on the Water. To be seen in the flesh without being physically present called for something more; and so powerful had the force become, even at that stage, in the body of Jesus of Nazareth that the Christ was seen not only by His disciples but by others as well. Only, here again we must read the John Gospel carefully; for someone might take the standpoint of readily believing this sign in the case of the disciples, but not in the others.
The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat the bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.
Let me emphasize that it says here, the people who sought Jesus. The narrative continues:
And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
That implies the same occurrence as in the case of the disciples. It does not say that every ordinary eye saw Him, but that He was seen by those who sought Him and who found Him, by virtue of an increase in their soul force. To say that someone saw another person does not imply that the person seen stood there in the flesh as a spatial figure visible to the physical eye. What in outer life is generally called "taking the Gospel literally" is really anything but that.
If you note that in all of this we have once more to do with what is essentially an intensification, you will understand that again something had to precede it, something to show that Christ had been working on the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth in a manner to render its force ever mightier. His work was that of a healer: He was able to transmit His force to the other's soul. This He could only do by working henceforth in the manner He Himself describes in His conversation with the Samaritan woman by the well:
I am the living water.
At the Marriage in Cana He had revealed Himself as an initiate of the fifth grade, having dominion over the elements: now He makes it clear that He works in the elements and dwells in them. Later He manifests Himself as one with the forces active on the whole earth and throughout the world. This occurs in the chapter dealing with
Jesus, who hath power over life and death:
over life and death by virtue of His power over the forces active in the physical body. That is why this chapter precedes the sign the performance of which called for a still greater force.
Then we see the force still increasing. Yesterday we pointed out that in the sign described as the healing of the man born blind Christ intervenes not only in matters pertaining to life between birth and death, but in that which passes from life to life as the individuality of the human soul. The man was born blind because the divine individuality in him manifested itself in its works; and his sight is to be restored by means of the force Christ infuses into him, a force that will wipe out that which happened — not through the man's personality between birth and death, nor as a result of heredity, but which was incurred by his individuality.
I have repeatedly explained that Goethe's beautiful aphorism, “The eye is formed by means of light, for light,” 1Das Auge ist am Lichte für das Licht gebildet which proceeded from a deep understanding of the Rosicrucian initiation, has a profoundly occult basis. I pointed out that Schopenhauer was quite right in saying that there can be no light without the eye; but how does the eye originate? Goethe says truly that had it not been for light, no organ sensitive to light, no eye, would ever have come into existence. The eye was created by the light. A single illustration proves this: when animals equipped with eyes migrate into dark caverns they soon lose their sight through lack of light. Light is what formed the eye. If Christ is to imbue a human individuality with a force able to create in him the capacity for making the eye into an organ responsive to light, such as it had not been previously, there must reside in the Christ the spiritual force that lives in light. Let us see where this is indicated in the John Gospel. The healing of the blind man is preceded by the chapter in which we read:
Then spake Jesus unto them, saying, I am the light of the world.
The healing of the blind man is narrated only after having been anticipated by the revelation,
“I am the light of the world.”
Now turn to the last chapter before the Raising of Lazarus and try to visualize some of the disclosures made there. You need only consider the passage reading:
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down ... If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
Everything said here about the “good shepherd” is intended to indicate Christ's feeling that He is one with the Father, that henceforth He will no longer think of Himself as "I" other than as He is imbued with the Father force. As earlier He said, “I am the light of the world,” so now:
I renounce my ego force by receiving the Father in me, so that the Father may work in me, that the primordial principle may permeate me and then flow forth into another being. I lay down my life that I may take it again.
That is what precedes the Raising of Lazarus.
And now, keeping all these considerations in mind, try to grasp the John Gospel in respect to its composition. Notice that up to the Raising of Lazarus, not only is a marvellous intensification indicated in the development of the forces residing in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, but before each increase we are told exactly what it is that acts upon his body. Oh, you will find everything in the John Gospel so closely knit that, if only you understand it, you will realize that not a sentence could be omitted. And the explanation of such marvellous composition is that it was written as we have said, by one who was initiated by Christ Jesus Himself.
Our point of departure today was the question, What occurred at the
Baptism in the Jordan? and we found that the potential capacity for
vanquishing death came into the world with the descent of the Christ
into the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth. We saw the change that
came over the Mother of Jesus of Nazareth with the coming of the Christ:
through the influence exercised upon her at the Baptism she became
virgin again. The assertion, then, that was to be vouchsafed mankind
through the John Gospel is indeed true: When at the Baptism the Christ
was born in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, the Mother of Jesus of
Nazareth became a virgin.
That is the point of departure of the Gospel according to St. John; and if you grasp it in conjunction with the mighty cosmic influence exercised in the event that occurred on the bank of the Jordan, then you will also understand that an accurate description of such an event — the first description of it — could only have been achieved by one whom Christ Himself had initiated, by the risen Lazarus “whom the Lord loved,” thenceforth always mentioned as the disciple whom the Lord loved. It was the risen Lazarus who bequeathed us the Gospel; and he alone was able so firmly to weld its every passage because he had received the mightiest impulse from the greatest initiator, from Christ. He alone could point to something that later Paul, through his initiation, comprehended in a certain sense: that at that moment the germ of victory over death had entered Earth evolution.
Hence the momentous words spoken of Him Who hung on the Cross:
Not a bone of him shall be broken.
Why? Because the form over which Christ must retain His dominion was not to be desecrated. Had they broken His bones, a base human force would have interfered with the power Christ must exercise even over the bones of Jesus of Nazareth. None must touch that form, for it was written that this should remain wholly subject to Christ's dominion.
This will serve as a starting point for a consideration of the death of Christ, which we will undertake tomorrow.