List of articles
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The Gospels do not speak anywhere of the Second Coming. The words that occur in the Gospels are:
Traditionally, Christians refer to three statements of faith:
In the Act of Consecration of Man these statements of faith are reframed. They must live in us as a present reality: “Christ’s suffering and death”, “His resurrection” and “His revelation through all ages of the earth to come”.
Our understanding of the Gospels and of Christ comes through the worldview of Anthroposophy. Rudolf Steiner first spoke of the next appearance of Christ in a lecture in Stockholm in December 1909, but there is no record of this lecture. He next spoke of the appearance of Christ in a lecture in Carlsruhe in June of 1910, this lecture was titled: “The Event of the Appearance of Christ in the Etheric World”. On 7 March 1914 he spoke about the Deeds of Christ before his incarnation into Jesus of Nazareth at the Baptism in the Jordan. These Deeds worked into the development of the human being at various stages of the Earth Cycle of Time and he will continue to work at specific points in the future ages of time. These deeds can be represented in time as an extended U descending to the central deed of Golgotha and ascending again in the next three deeds. The deeds of Christ before the present are so much a part of humanity that they are recapitulated in the development of each person. This recapitulation is experienced as:
The Christ worked into human evolution through the etheric body of a human spirit that had not yet incarnated. This human spirit is the twin spirit of Adam who remained in the worlds of spirit when Adam incarnated on the earth and was expelled from the Garden: Adam Kadmon. This soul then incarnated into the child described in the Gospel of Luke to receive the incarnation of Christ at the baptism.
The first Deed of Christ occurred during the Lemurian Epoch when human beings could be described as ‘fiery beings’. In this deed Christ wrested the spiritual forces of human beings from the forces of Lucifer and Ahriman that would bind us to earth. In this deed the human being became vertical as a being between heaven and earth. The Christ worked from the “starry aspect of the Sun”and so from the Cosmic Realm of the Zodiac when he performed this deed for humanity.
The second Deed of Christ was in the Atlantean Epoch when humans ‘swam’ through a watery atmosphere as cartilaginous beings. By this time Christ had approached nearer to Earth and worked from the sphere of the spiritual Sun. The human being acquired the power of audible speech.
The third Deed of Christ had brought Christ even nearer to Earth and was accomplished from the spiritual realm of the Moon. This deed made human speech objective and hence created the possibility of meaning being expressed by one person and comprehended by another.
The fourth Deed of Christ was performed in the physical body on Earth at the death on the cross and the resurrection. This brought the I-organisation of the human being into the physical material constitution of the human being.
The fifth deed of Christ is in the realm of the Etheric. This is the appearance to which the Gospels allude and Christianity has ascribed the concept of the Second Coming. It is a reality that can truly be experienced in the 20th and 21st centuries. However, the experience of this appearance of Christ is not automatic for human beings. The Archangel Michael is tasked with taking hold of human development so that human beings will ever more experience this appearance of Christ. Whether this real appearance becomes a true experience for humanity will depend entirely upon our inner working under the influence of Michael.
The sixth deed of Christ will occur in the lower Astral Realm in the time when the Earth and the Moon have reunited. And the seventh deed of Christ will occur when the Sun too is reunited with the Earth-Moon and will occur in the higher Astral Realm. Our constitution will be very different when these deeds of Christ occur and are not of interest to us yet.
The words of John the Baptist that the Kingdom of God is drawing near is based on his experience of the first three deeds of Christ. Christ changes everything for the human being and is able to declare that the Kingdom of God is now within. This is an experience that must grow stronger and become a living reality for humanity with time.
As we move from the time of St John’s Tide to Michaelmas we are asked to take on board the reality that only under the influence of the Spirit of our Time, Michael, will the deed of Christ in the Etheric become an experience for us in the spiritual formation of an organ of perception through our inner development. The idea of our experience in The Christian Community is to come to know the reality of the appearance of Christ in the Etheric and not just to be able to speak of it.
We are thus being encouraged in this time of the approach to Michaelmas, and for the duration of a year until the next approach of Michaelmas, at which time The Christian Community will celebrate one hundred years of the first celebration of the Act of Consecration of Man, the new ritual that carries all of this insight, not as a party, but as a unified endeavour, to read the extracts of the writings of Hans Werner-Schroeder on the subject of The Second Coming of Christ. This is a central aspect of our Movement for Religious Renewal and in working together in small groups for a year we can gain a sense for this understanding so that we can experience the Christ in the life-forces around us. The presencing, the movement, the revelation, the manifestation in the life-forces is now. It is not some hoped-for future event.
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Humanity and the earth experience an ebb and flow of the presence of the Christ. Sometimes his presence is felt more intensely and sometimes that which his presence brings into earthly human evolution unfolds. The Deed of Christ in this Earth Cycle of time is really one deed with seven interventions that unfold. The Mystery of Golgotha was the central of these. We are living in the unfolding of those interventions.
In order to appreciate the Deed of Christ it is necessary to gain a picture of the imagination of the human being “in beginning”, and we can gain this from Genesis chapter 1. The human being “eating” of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil prematurely had a consequence that needs to be understood. This act on the part of humanity is not something unknown to the Divine. The Divine works into the evolution of creation to restore that which creation influences in a way that is different to the original conceptualisation. The restoration in the development does not take things back to the way they were; development is always a progressive movement, and restored creation is on a higher level than before the restoration became necessary.
It is as a result of The Fall, eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil when humanity was still in the Garden, that the Deed of Christ which we experience became necessary in the development of the human being.
Rudolf Steiner describes matter as: “matter is Spirit burst into visibility”. This is what was conceived by the Elohim and occurred at the beginning of Creation of the Earth Cycle. Spirit became visible to Itself in matter.
We can gain an understanding of the Creation as conceived in Genesis chapter 1 from Spiritual Science. The human being is created in the Imagination of the Spirits of Form, the Elohim or Exusiai. This form provides a structure in which Spirit can be housed. This form is then permeated by the Inspiration of the Spirits of Movement. This places the human being is our own special place above the animals. The human being is further permeated by the Intuition of the Spirits of Wisdom. The Second Hierarchy of the Spiritual World was tasked to work in harmony to create the human being. The human being was then gifted by the Thrones, the Spirits of Will, with an aura that provides the human being with a space. This is a gift from the First Hierarchy.
When, as the human being, we ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we became conscious of our physical nature. The result is that the human being became bound into the physical. The physical body gained a bony skeleton that bound the form. The Imagination of the Spirits of Form became bound in the bones. The Inspiration of the Spirits of Movement became bound in the muscles of the physical form. And the Intuition of the Spirits of Wisdom became bound in the nerves.
The first Deed of Christ was therefore to endow the bony skeleton with the capacity of being upright. The second Deed of Christ was to loosen the muscles of the larynx in order to develop speech. This also shaped the mouth and teeth, for our teeth are not primarily instruments for eating, but for the development of speech.
In the unfolding of the human being from the first post-Atlantean Epoch until the middle of the fourth post-Atlantean Epoch, the human being experienced the Ego, or I-constitution, as an accompaniment in life, not as something indwelling in the human being.
In the Gospels we see how the Christ takes hold of the human constitution in all its aspects. The Mystery of Golgotha begins with the Baptism in the Jordan when a Cosmic Being begins to permeate the entire constitution of a human being. Immediately after the Baptism there is a period of forty days during which the Christ takes hold of the astral body in order to be able to withstand temptation. The Christ has completely taken hold of the etheric body when it radiates with light at the Transfiguration. The death on the cross and dematerialisation of the physical body in the tomb is the Christ taking hold completely of the physical body to rematerialise as Spirit Human. This is a new expression of physical existence. It is the complete mastery of the Spirit over Matter. This is the condition of Creation on a new level.
Christ permeated the astral body and established a new balance between the Ego and the astral and, as a result, can face the temptations. Christ permeates the etheric body and a fully transformed etheric body radiates light and is in energetic conversation in a stream of time with Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration and a balance is restored between the astral and the etheric. The balance between the etheric, the living formative forces, and the physical, material condensation, is established in death in the decomposition and resurrection of Christ. In the grave the physical body can dematerialise as a result of the three years in which the balance that was disturbed between the four members of the human constitution is re-established.
“Matter is spirit burst into visibility” and this reality is restored by Christ in the appearance and dis-appearance in the physical. Spirit that was frozen in material form is freed to transform matter. The body that Christ reconstructed is no longer the Imagination of the Spirits of Form, the Inspiration of the Spirits of Movement and the Intuition of the Spirits of Wisdom, it has become something more, something the human being can now truly master, at will. This is the new Spirit Human constitution.
This idea was alive in the thinking of early Christians. Paul speaks of the Second Adam as a quickening spirit. In the First Adam humanity died into matter while in the Second Adam we are quickened into life. This is the redemptive capacity that provides a future for the human being. We are no longer bound into further and further death into matter.
With the advent of the Holy Spirit, the Christ infused human Ego became incarnated into human beings, fully incorporated into our being. We operate from within, no longer through a companionship from without. This reality, that is the gift of the fourth Deed of Christ, unfolded while Christ was withdrawn from perceptible involvement in the development of humanity, so that humanity is ready for the reappearance of Christ in the Living Space, the fine space between the etheric and the physical, imagined as the realm of the clouds. It is a refined space where life is experienced within the dead physical reality. The nature of the physical reality is that nature disintegrates the body. Through the etheric the disintegration is held at bay and life forces continue to unfold.
The reappearance of Christ in the etheric can be experienced as a period in history when in a different, transformed way a renewed presence or renewed full pressure of Christ near to us can be expected. Experiencing this reality depends on our work and on us taking hold of the Michaelic impulse. It means that we feel in the formative life forces the full power of Christ. While the Christ works in the whole constitution, it is in the life forces that we experience within ourselves and in the world of nature that we can feel the renewed presence of Christ.
In a very real sense, we are now starting to feel ourselves at the moment of the Transfiguration, where we can become aware of the life force of the Christ that makes it possible for living bodies to ray forth light. We can begin to experience that this is how we are constituted. It is the way that the world is constituted. Science concurs with this in that in the subatomic structure of the atom is a photon of light and it is through this photon of light that the atom can remain intact and actually exist. The photon of light holds the relationship between the protons and electrons which, because of the opposite charges, should annihilate each other. Ralph Waldo Emerson describes the human beings as thickened light which is an etheric reality that also manifests as a physical reality.
The question is how to hold our form and dematerialise the physical so that the light can shine. This is the great development of the human being that is to come. Humanity has reached a point in our evolution where this process is beginning to occur. We can begin to enter into the transitional space that will lead to this evolutionary outcome.
In the Gospel there is a concept that aligns with this appearance of the Christ. In the translation from the Greek this word has become translated as ‘judgement’ and has even had the ‘last’ or ’final’ connected to it. Yet, Christ clearly states “I have not come to judge the world”. The judgement is not that of a Cosmic Being standing in judgement, but rather the Christ forces in me – in each one of us – allowing me to discern that which I have not managed. I will, and each one of us, will discern for themselves, judge themselves through the Christ-in-me. This discernment is the correct use of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Since the I-constitution has become an integral part of the human being the human being has become the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the fruit thereof is ours to ‘eat’. The Greek word has come into the English language with its correct meaning, is ‘crisis’. With the presence of Christ in the etheric comes crisis.
A crisis is not an external event, like a war or a pandemic. It is, correctly, the reaching of a critical point at which we recognise that we must take hold of ourselves in a challenge. The conditions of the world may challenge us, but the crisis we experience is within. We enter into a transitional space at a threshold when we enter a crisis. The transition of recognising the power or force of Christ in the living formative forces puts us into crisis.
A journalist, whose identity is not pertinent to this explanation, said that the Bible as we have it is “written in the heavily embroidered draperies of puritanical Jacobean English, very beautiful, completely out of date and tremendously misleading”. The Bible, every translation of it, is an interpretation and it can be misleading. By thinking of the appearance of Christ in the Etheric as the ‘Second Coming’ we are robbed of the history of the great Deed of Christ which manifests as seven parts. The central Deed of Christ is the Mystery of Golgotha for us, because what came before cannot continue without it and what flows on will not occur.
It is now possible to place the Deed of Christ into a context. This context takes into account that the deed is not simply to restore the created order but to extend it.
The Lord’s Prayer can therefore also be used to understand the evolving reality of the future three stages of the Deed of Christ. The appearance of Christ in the Etheric allows the human being to move into a space where we can ask for forgiveness of our debts and forgive others their debts. We are entering into that space where we can ‘give’ to the other: “for-giving”. By giving we come into a new realisation of ourselves and of the other. We will be able to overcome temptations as Jesus, imbued with the full forces of Christ, could overcome temptations. In our baptism into becoming Spirit Human we can overcome, or be delivered, from the Evil, from The Fall and the evil that inspired it. This brings humanity not back to the point of Creation, but to a new Creation: not in the Garden, but in the New Jerusalem.
We are not waiting for Christ to appear in the etheric but rather we should be working in such a way that we can recognise Christ in the etheric. That is our challenge. It is a central understanding of The Christian Community, Movement of Religious Renewal, that we renew our concept of what it means to engage with Christ. We are not a people waiting, in prayer, for an event in the future, we are a people, actively working with the current effect.
The aim is to unpack all of this understanding over the course of the next year by working in groups with the writings of Hans Werner Schroeder.
by Rev. Michaël Merle
We know very little about James the son of Alphaeus, even from apocryphal literature. In apocryphal literature the two James’ are often confused.
Michaël postulated an idea based on what we know from Rudolf Steiner about Lazarus. After Lazarus was called forth from the tomb, from the 3 days of temple sleep, he became known as John and the soul contents of John the Baptist poured into John Lazarus. John the son of Zebedee withdrew from the circle of the twelve to make room for John Lazarus. In John Lazarus we encounter a community of John. Adam was the first person to enter into the state of a temple sleep and upon awakening experiences a new level of consciousness, experiencing his full humanity so that he recognises his own parts in the new Eve.
It is possible that there is a similar story for James. We know that Jesus had a brother called James and it may be that James the son of Zebedee withdraws, as his brother has done, to give prominence to James the brother of Jesus. This is suggested because the spiritual leader of the community in Jerusalem was the “Brother of the Lord”. It is therefore possible that there was also a community of James.
James the son of Alphaeus is also called James the Lesser (Minor) and this may be that he did not have a prominent role to play in the early community of Christians.
James the son of Alphaeus is connected with Cancer which is associated with Topaz (actually peridot olivine). The soul quality connected to topaz is warm, tender, loving mercy which must transform to the spiritual quality of heart’s sacrifice.
Report by John-Peter Gernaat
The month began with Rev. Michaël Merle speaking on Discovering the meaning of Christian Symbols on Sundays 1 and 8 August. Michaël drew a clear distinction between signs, which give direction, signals, that are messages sent over a distance between a sender and a receiver, and symbols that go beyond telling a story. Symbols carry a world of meaning and allow us to gain a deeper meaning of life. But we need education to understand symbols.
The ultimate symbol of Christianity is Christ. Christ fully represents everything we experience in Christ. So, when the disciples ask: “show us the Father”, Christ can truly respond: “if you know me, you know the Father”. A symbol, therefore, is a representation of something that cannot by shown. Symbols can be represented in form, in tone or in words. Michaël shared several symbols and what each represented, starting with simple symbols such as the vertical line and the horizontal line.
The ox and the ass that are integral to the nativity scene with which we are familiar do not come from the Gospel story, but rather from the signs of the Zodiac. In the heart of the sign Cancer, the faintest of the signs of the Zodiac, is a cluster of stars called ‘the manger’. The symbology that was understood before the birth of Jesus shaped the unfolding symbols in the story of his birth.
In the sacraments of The Christian Community there is a lot of symbology. The vestments that the priests wear are symbolic. The first vestment the priest dons is a black cassock. This is not often seen and represents the physical body. The white alb that covers the black cassock represents the etheric body. The belt represents the astral body that holds everything together. The priestly stole represents the I-constitution. The chasuble, which means ‘little house’, represents the future bodies that are being worked on by the I-constitution.
There are symbols in the architecture of cathedrals, in the height of the spires on the western façade of Chartres Cathedral, for example, and the difference between the respective spire heights. This gap is the gap between the lunar year and the solar year, the twelve Holy Nights. There will be future talks that will focus more specifically on certain symbols.
Report by John-Peter Gernaat
The Old Testament Study continued the story of Moses. The stories of Exodus are allegorical. The staff of Moses is a metaphor for the condition of the human being, that by taking hold of oneself the human being is upright. Similarly, the ten plagues that are brought upon Egypt are symbolic. The Egyptians suffered the anguish of these plagues, but not as a physical reality, rather as a soul reality. Each plague represents the loss of the power that one of the gods had for the people of Egypt. Ultimately, YHWH (Yahweh) of the Elohim is the only god who has real power for the future of humanity and Pharaoh has no connection with YHWH. Ten is the number of completion. By the tenth plaque Egypt is completely plagued. (The Ten Commandments represent the complete law.)
The first plague of the water of the River Nile turning to blood represents the loss of power of Hopi the water-bearer of the Nile. Water flows, blood congeals. The Egyptian soul had lost a fluidity which the Israelite soul bore in a new way. This plaque was experienced for seven days or a full cycle of time.
The second plague of frogs is the loss of power of the goddess Heqet, goddess of fertility, represented by the frog. The frogs constrict the soul breathing of the Egyptians while the Israelites have the flexibility of soul to expel the frogs.
The third plaque of lice is beyond the understanding of the priests of Egypt, who could copy or aggravate the first two plagues through their knowledge. Geb, the god of the Earth, is associated with lice. The Egyptian soul lost its sense of being at home on the earth.
The fourth plague of flies is a loss of connection with destiny for the Egyptian people. The god Khepri, god of rebirth, is connected with flies.
The fifth plague of the death of livestock is a loss of protection. The goddess Hathor, goddess of love and protection is no longer able to offer protection, while the Israelites are protected.
The sixth plague of boils is the loss of the power of Isis, goddess of medicine and spiritual healing. That which is contained bursts open.
The seventh plague of hail is an annihilation of the soul. The goddess Nut, goddess of the sky, has lost connection with the Egyptian people. The spiritual world no longer works through the priests of the Egyptian Mysteries.
The eighth plague of locusts is the disconnection with Seth, god of storms and disaster.
The ninth plague of three days of darkness is the ultimate soul sleep of death. This is the exclusion of the sun god Ra. The Egyptian Mysteries have suffered a final death.
The first born of the Pharoah is the next Pharaoh or god on earth. Pharaoh is the son of Ra. The death of the son of the son of Ra, the protector the people of Egypt is the final destruction of the souls of the Egyptian people. To ensure that the death of the son of the Pharaoh is not a coincidence, the first-born son in each family is killed. The people of Israel are protected by the Passover – the lamb’s blood on the door lintel, Aries taking over from Taurus – and the principle of the first-born is exclusively carried forward by the Israelites.
Exodus says that with the Passover a new calendar begins. Now the lamb represents animated life. The lifeblood becomes a force of protection. The real blood of life will be the blood that flows from the cross bringing a renewal of what we can attest to and can carry.
There is no historical record of the Israelites having been in Egypt! So then, what is the Old Testament all about? The influence of Egypt stretched well beyond the borders of the country we know as Egypt. The experience of the Israelites could have been a soul experience; one of being oppressed by a culture that hindered their own progress. This would have been an experience akin to living enslaved. The story of Moses parting the Red Sea is then also not a physical or historical event. It is likely that the Israelites travelled across the Egyptian empire and regularly made a crossing of the Red Sea.
The story of Exodus is thus one of the Egyptian people experiencing in their souls the loss of the power of their gods and the Israelites, who had once, through Joseph, experienced something beneficial from the fading Mysteries of Egypt, experiencing these Mysteries as an unbearable oppression. The Israelites, led by Moses, has a baptismal experience of entering into water and emerging with a new freedom. The first experience was to feel themselves in a wasteland (also translated as a desert – John the Baptist operated in a wasteland, of soul).
The experience of wandering for 40 years is also a soul experience. The gestation of a human baby is 40 weeks. Elijah wandered in the desert for 40 days. Jesus sent 40 days in the desert after the baptism. Something new is born after the number 40. An early Christian Scholar determined that the number of campsites of the Israelites in the wasteland was 42 and the number of generations from Abraham to Jesus was 42. The symbolism of numbers cannot be overlooked. There is a cosmic picture being prepared for humanity. For the Israelites the 40 years were a period of establishing a new relationship with YHWH and with each other. The Law became the foundation for their mutual interaction.
The Israelites, although advanced by having brain-based thinking, still experienced their I-constitution as something they were aware of but had only a distant connection to – it only incarnated for all of humanity with the Baptism in the Jordan through Christ. Humanity required rules of conduct in order to be protected so that the human constitution could be prepared for the incarnation of the I-constitution. With the incarnation of the I-constitution a new conscience arises, and the Law is fulfilled. Humanity is progressively able to operate from a space of an incarnated conscience.
David and I spent ten days in August walking in Namaqualand. I think most of us are aware that the flowers in Namaqualand only flower for a few weeks each year in August and September turning a very dry and arid area into a collage of colour that defies the lack of water in the area. The rest of the year the different plants are, to look at, simply green or brown, sometimes red leaves, stems and roots, the seasonal rhythm of growth and decay continues in the plant culminating in the annual burst of colour.
Contemplating this reality I realised that this is not unlike the life of the striving human being. A striving human being quietly practises such qualities as patience, care, self-ownership, love, openness, objectivity in their daily life with the people they meet whether it be in a business meeting, a community event, on the road in the traffic or washing the dishes, feeding the dogs. This quiet practise becomes visible in the individual in moments where a shared wisdom is spoken, where a warm hug is given to another in the moment that they really need it, where one notices a once angry person greets one with warmth and interest, where you notice a certain caring, patient attitude in a person in the manner they carry the dirty dishes to the kitchen, these moments of flowering in the human being are real. How often do we notice them, wrapped up in our own daily challenges, our own kaleidoscope of prejudices? How often do we celebrate them even if we notice them? We exclaim at a beautiful arrangement of flowers, we wonder at the beauty of the changing seasons, we “aaaah” at the full moon rising in the East, we share our photos on Facebook and WhatsApp. When and how do we celebrate the becoming human being bursting into flower whether it be in a deed, an insight, a shift in attitude? God has given us the eyes to see nature, have we properly developed the ‘eyes’ to see the ‘humanity’ in each other? How should we be celebrating this ‘humanity’.
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Nathanael Bartholomew from Cana in Galilee
an image of the Apostle for this month by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
Three times Bartholomew’s name appears in the Gospels: Mt 10, Mk 3, Lk 6, always in the context of all the disciples’ names and then every time connected with Philip. In the Gospel of John (Jn 1, Jn 21) he appears as Nathanael. One more time his name appears in the Acts of the Apostles ch 1. The name already indicates something of his character and mission: Hebrew, Nathan=to give and El=God, translated as ‘God has given’ or ‘Gift of God’. Bartholomew indicates that Nathanael is the son of Tholomew (Bar=son of).
St. John describes the individuality, the other evangelists describe the blood connection to family and ancestry: Nathanael Bar-Tholomew. It is possible to hear in this name the expression of a spiritual status.
When Philip leads Nathaniel to Jesus Christ, he exclaims: ‘He is truly of the rank of a true Israelite in whom there is no false nor untruth!’ A true Israelite: this is a spiritual stage of initiation, where the person can merge with the higher guiding spirit of the whole nation. This individuality has the ability to rise into an expanded state of waking consciousness where he becomes a spiritual guardian of the nation of which he is a part. He becomes an active participant in the life of the archangel. When a person goes through everything it means to reach this stage of inner development, then the archangel can ‘read’ in such a soul as in a book, to gain orientation about what a nation needs. It is necessary that souls with this ability exist on earth as mediators for the archangels, that they can know how to guide the respective nation in the right way. (See also a lecture by Rudolf Steiner: lecture 3.10. 1913.)
Nathanael asks: ‘From where do you know me?’ Jesus answers: ‘Before Philip called you, I saw you when you were under the fig tree.’ This image of the fig tree is like a code. Nathanael recognises that Jesus of Nazareth is able to live and master the sphere of renewing, nurturing life forces which normally work on us in our sleep. He acknowledges him as his master, as it was only through deep undisturbed processes of meditation that anyone could access this dynamic etheric sphere. Here was someone who was wide awake in earthly day consciousness and could be at home in that sphere at the same time. ‘Master, you are the Son of God, you are the (spiritual leader) King of Israel!’ Then Jesus opens up a new perspective of initiation into the world of spirit for them: ‘I say to you all: You will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending above the Son of Man!’
Again this evokes a well-known image for those present: Jacob’s Ladder, another more objective image of the etheric sphere of life which works in us during sleep where truly there is a healing weaving between the angelic hierarchies and the human being. Also the mystery name ‘a true Israelite’ refers to Jacob as the first spiritual leader of a budding defined nation. Jesus draws attention to this connection. A new evolving of this reality is now beginning.
Is it coincidence that the Gospel then continues with the ‘first sign’ with which Jesus steps out into a public arena: the marriage at Cana -where Nathanael is at home- and the transforming of pure water (life-giving forces) into wine (an ‘I-conscious’ effective life force)? To be a disciple and a follower of Christ is a path of initiation to eventually be fully awake on each ‘rung of the ladder’, participating in the flow of creative life ascending and descending between heaven and earth. ‘This, the very beginning of his signs, Jesus fulfilled at Cana in Galilee. The radiating light-power of his being was made manifest, and a deep trust in him was awakened in his disciples’ (Jn 2:11). Was this possible, because Nathanael Bartholomew was part of their circle? Could Christ reveal himself on earth because each of the twelve disciples offered a different possibility for him to manifest his being? “There is no such thing as a lonely religion. Religion connects us with human beings, with our environment, with the earth, then in a right way with God” (John Wesley).
The Twelve Apostles of the New Jerusalem – Nathanael Bartholomew
an image as presented in January in a talk on the Twelve Apostles of the New Jerusalem
by Rev. Michaël Merle
When Andrew hears John the Baptist speak to himself: “There goes the Lamb of God” and grasps the significance of these words he goes in search of someone with whom to share what he has realised. Andrew finds Peter, his brother and they follow Jesus. Jesus finds Phillip, who is also a seeker and from the same city as Andrew and Peter. Philip finds Nathanael who is also seeking.
The suffix in his name – El – means God or God Most High. Nathanael is interested in the Father God. Philip tells Nathanael that they have found the fulfilment of the Old Testament, of the Law and the Prophets. This places Jesus in a clear lineage for Philip. Philip expects that Jesus would be of the Royal House of Bethlehem. He is therefore confused when Philip tells him Jesus is from Nazareth. Philip’s response to Nathanael’s disbelief is to suggest that he comes to see for himself and make his own assessment.
Bartholomew means that he is the son – bar – of Tholomew his father. It may be that he adopted the name Nathanael to signify his seeking of El, the full divinity of God.
When Jesus sees Nathanael approach, he describes him as a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit, or, more accurately, no crafty deceit. Crafty deceit was the condition of Adam and Eve. Jesus thereby signifies that Nathanael has developed to full consciousness; that he has reached a level of wisdom and that wisdom resides in him; Truth resides in him.
Jesus says to Nathanael that he perceived him under the fig tree. This places Nathanael on a particular spiritual path related to the town of Bethphage. Philip is also of this same spiritual stream. It is at Bethphage that Jesus curses the fig tree during Holy Week because this particular spiritual stream has come to its end.
There is now a community of Andrew, Philip and Nathanael, all three with a strong spiritual perception. They are meditants and thereby immediately recognise the Christ.
Nathanael is connected with Libra, the scales of Hermes to balance Law and Truth. The soul quality is contentment which must be transmuted to the spiritual quality of self control, harmony or composure. The stone connected with Libra is sard or carnelian.
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by Rev. Michaël Merle
It is good for us to consider that the Apostles may very well have come to know that the role of betrayer was, in fact, a very great and necessary role and that none of them knew who would be capable or willing to take on this difficult role. When the disciples sitting at the Last Supper become aware that Judas Iscariot is the one who will betray Jesus, they do not pounce on him and bind him. They are acutely aware of the significant and difficult role he is to perform. It may be that there questioning: “Is it me, Lord?” and “Not I, Lord, surely?” is a reflection of the process of discovering if they are worthy, so to say, to undertake such a very arduous task that will inevitably involve the sacrifice of their development.
At the Temptation of Jesus after the Baptism there is unfinished business, the changing of the stones to bread. The Spirit sends Jesus into the desert to face the masters of the earth who create separation. At the Last Supper before Jesus consecrates the bread, he dips a piece in the broth and gives it to Judas saying: “Do what you need to do”. At that moment the devil enters into Judas and Judas becomes the servant of Ahriman whom Jesus did not directly answer during the Temptation. When Judas goes out from the meal at this point, before the first eucharist is celebrated, the scriptures describe the night-time as follows: “And it was dark”. Judas experiences spiritual darkness. In leaving the twelve at the Last Supper Judas is alone. This aloneness and spiritual darkness is the experience of current humanity of whom Judas was the forerunner. Judas could not have fulfilled his task without the community of the twelve. It is through this that Ahriman has entered all of humanity in a deeper way and why all but one of the disciples are not at the foot of the cross.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas kissed Jesus for the love he bears him. This may strike us as being the very opposite of what we have thought and reflected upon previously. Judas does betray the Son of Man for the love that he does bear and the mission he feels compelled to undertake.
It is possible to contrast the mission of Judas with that of Lazarus. The chief priests wished to kill someone who had become a true follower of the Christ. They set their sights on Lazarus. John 12, which depicts the anointing of Jesus and records the intention to kill Lazarus, provides us with a ritual akin to that which we undertake at an altar. Lazarus (who becomes John – the one at the cross) has been called forth from the grave of his “temple sleep” (initiated) and so is able to resist the influence of Ahriman on the disciples. Lazarus, as a fully initiated follower, is identified by the chief priests as someone to kill, while Judas, who does not go through an initiation, is identified as deserving of a reward.
Judas intends to take on the mission of the betrayal. Judas was the treasurer among the twelve, and this placed him in a connection to Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector and would have been, perhaps, a more natural choice to be treasurer. Judas undertakes the task (appropriating it for himself) and also appropriates from the purse what is not his to take. This is the dilemma for Judas. He took on the mission within the twelve that we could rightly say belongs to him who replaces him, the disciple Matthias (whose name is so similar to Matthew). The position Judas held we could say was that of Matthias and was not his own alone.
Matthias had followed Jesus from the Baptism to the Ascension and was committed even though Jesus did not give him a mission during the three years of the incarnated Christ. Matthias is connected to Simon the Zealot and to Judas Thaddaeus (Jude). There is a brotherhood between these three men that may stem from their following Jesus from the Baptism to the Wedding Feast at Cana. They understood the event at the Wedding Feast of the forces of the sun that turns the water in the vine to wine. They recognised the forces of the Sun in the man Jesus and thereby the Being of the Son become flesh.
The thirty pieces of silver that were paid to Judas for the betrayal reflect the thirty years of Jesus before the Baptism. He received nothing for the three years of Christ in Jesus. The thirty pieces of silver are not kept in a purse as would be the case for payment of a job. Rather they are either scattered or used to purchase a field.
The act of betrayal required Judas to relinquish his will; he must become self-sacrificing and, ultimately, he cannot live with the sacrifice. It was as act of bravery that was greater than he could carry. He must make himself pure by sacrificing his will. When Judas kills himself there is still a mission to be accomplished. Matthias can take on the purity of Judas’ self-sacrifice and thereby fulfil the mission that he shares with Judas. Therefore, Matthias is the disciple elected to fill the place of Judas.
In killing Jesus, the life of Lazarus-John is spared so that John can become a witness to the Christ. Lazarus dies twice, once in the tomb to be called forth to a new consciousness by Jesus and a second time on the Isle of Patmos when he enters the Spirit in full consciousness. This dual death earns him the peace of a quiet final end to his life.
The stone connected with Judas is the Virgo stone which has no iron in it – no will in it. It is chrysolite. It is the iron-free form of forsterite containing magnesium and silicate. Chrysolite comes from the Greek “chrysolithos” or golden stone.
Chrysolite is connected to the human ability to perceive. Our sight is a free sense that serves us. This sight came about through a sacrifice of the Christ before the current Earth cycle of time. Without this sacrifice our eye would appropriate the light of sight.
The soul quality connected with chrysolite is courtesy. This soul quality must be transformed to the spiritual quality of a virginal heart or heart’s tact. Judas had to consider the needs of the whole and sacrifice his own mission.
The attributed Coat of Arm of Judas Iscariot with thirty pieces of solver and rope with which he hanged himself.
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