In this broadcast I am going to present a point of view concerning the Scriptures which, though extremely old, may seem quite revolutionary to many orthodox Christians. This is that the Four Gospels do not merely record the history of external events in time. The inspired authors of the Gospels also reveal eternal truths, and describe spiritual attainments, experiences and powers - sensory and supersensory <> of every human being.
Thus the Gospel narrative is, in general, of threefold significance. It is the story of the life of Jesus, the Christ. But it is also, as St. John informs us in his first five verses, the story of the universe from its beginning, or "Nativity" on to its end or "Ascension". In addition to this the Christ life is told as a universal human life. It is your life and my life, especially after we are spiritually awakened, or as it is said "reborn" and our supersensory powers begin to be developed.
The Gospel tells of the formation - or "birth" - and the evolution both of the whole Universe to perfection, and of the Soul of individual man to Christhood Especially does the deathless story reveal the final stages of the Way of Holiness, treading which every man ascends through sainthood to the development of great mental and spiritual powers, culminating in the stature of perfected manhood, or Adeptship.
Before I proceed to explain this point of view, I wish to make it clear that I have no desire whatever to weaken the faith of anyone who believes in the literal reading of our Scriptures. Neither do I want to complicate an essentially simple story. I wish only to offer, quite un dogmatically, some possible interpretations from these three points of view of the life of Jesus, the Christ. Let us look at the immortal story, and more especially from that third point of view descriptive of the development of the soul of man.
There are three main types of men and women introduced into the Gospel stories. First the unheeding, work-a-day people of the world, unawake to idealism and uninterested in the possible existence of the super physical worlds and the Way of Holiness. This was the contemporary population of Palestine amid which the Lord Christ moved. Second, however, there were these people who were awakening to spiritual realities and beginning to hear the call of the Divine Voice within them.
The rich young ruler who approached the Master in search of eternal life is an example of those who are spiritually awakening, but are not yet quite ready to meet all the conditions necessary for the life of discipleship. You will remember perhaps how, in answer to his first question as to how he could attain to eternal life, he was told by Our Lord to keep the Commandments. He said that he had done this from his youth up. And then came the acid test. Our Lord said to him: "Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me." Then there is given what surely is one of the most poignant sentences in the whole Bible. "He went away sorrowful for he had great possessions."( Matt. XIX.16-20).
We need not regard this decision as final, however. Perhaps later in life the rich young ruler may have found himself ready to forsake the world, or rather, the attitude of mind which has a purely worldly motive and setting, to follow the great spiritual ideal of service and selflessness. Reincarnationists probably would tell us that, even if not in that same incarnation, the opportunity for discipleship would again present itself and, in due course, be accepted.
The third type of men and women introduced into the Gospel narrative are those who were quite ready wholly to dedicate themselves to spiritual ideals. And the Gospel has a special message for these. For these were the awakened ones who had answered the inner call to the Higher Life and who were determined, even amid worldly duties, to "enter in at the strait gate" and follow the narrow way of which Our Lord spoke. The "Way of Holiness" Isaiah had called it. These people became disciples and other immediate followers of Our Lord, and it is they who afterwards transmitted so much of His message to the world.
These three types - the spiritually asleep, those who are awakening, and those who are fully awake - all exist today. You and I belong to one or other of the three types. For all of these people, whatever their outlook on life, the Christ life is a perfect pattern. It is a perfect example, especially for those spiritually awakening, the seeking and the aspiring ones among men and women, of whom there are so many today, I especially believe. For all of these the Christ life provides more perfect guidance.
For those today who thus accept and really try to live Our Lord's teachings, then, a very wonderful thing occurs, a kind of miracle. As so many have found, a mystery is en<>acted within and around them. Those who are thus awakened experience within themselves and enact in their own lives the major incidents in the life of Our Lord and His disciples. The particular interpretation of that life which I am now going to offer you applies to these inner experiences, which I believe are far more common than is generally realised. Let me explain.
The five major recorded stages in the life of Our Lord are passed through by those who are spiritually awakening. The Nativity, the Baptism, the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion and the Ascension of Our Lord are recorded in the gospels in such a way that they portray, by allegory and symbol, the experiences of every human being who at any time finds the Master’s feet. They are trained by Him. Their supersensory powers are awakened. And then, in due course, they are presented for a wonderful experience, a ceremony for what is called spiritual Initiation, spiritual dedication to the swift ascent of the evolutionary Mount, to the attainment in a relatively short space of time of the stature of a perfect man.
I am well aware that this view of the Gospel narrative as a description of events occurring within the Soul of spiritually awakened man may sound strange to some of you who are listening and may be hearing it for the first time. Please do not hastily discard it. Let us just glance at the first phase of the life of Our Lord, the Nativity.
The first references to the historical birth of the Christ Child occur in the Old Testament and they refer to the coming of the Messiah. They are followed by the mission of John the Baptist, whose call to the people of his time represents the voice of the Higher Self of individual man, a voice which, if heeded, eventually becomes the impelling summons of a fully awakened conscience. As a result the daily life is purified of selfishness, cleansed of sensuality and of self-indulgence. Possessiveness begins to be outgrown, Service on behalf of others assumes an ever increasing place in the life of the aspirant. Eventually the Inner Self rules the outer man, and a spiritual mode of life, a veritable rebirth, an inner Nativity, occurs, even amidst worldly duties.
After a kind of interior Annunciation, which is the call from the Highest Self, the "Dweller in the Innermost", then power descends, a kind of creative power within the spiritual soul. This produces profound psychological and spiritual developments. A real spiritual birth from within the soul occurs. New faculties are awakened and a Christ-like attitude towards life is quite naturally adopted. A deepening sense of unity with God and with all beings develops, and this leads to a life of self-surrender and sacrificial love. Thereafter this new-found realisation dominates the thoughts and motives, the words and the deeds of the outer man and his life. These become completely reformed, reorganised. Mystically he is said to be reborn, or as Our Lord said, "born again".(John 111-3)
St. Paul also said to his disciples: "I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." This is a very real possibility, a kind of interior transformation of the soul of man into a Christ like nature. Beauty and love can occur within the individual who will dedicate himself to the service of God and his fellowmen. A certain amount of surrender of worldly pleasures and activities may be necessary per<>haps, but they are in reality outgrown. This is symbolized by the birth of Our Lord in poverty, in the more stable of an inn, among the animals. The inn itself was full. It represents the worldly life. But the stable of the inn represents the whole of Initiation, the cave of the heart wherein the mystical new birth occurs.