by John-Peter Gernaat
The Gospel Study continued the study of John’s Gospel beginning at the fourth sign: the Feeding of the Five Thousand, immediately followed by the fifth sign. Although the group had discussed these in October in the absence of Rev. Michaël Merle, the group wished for his input to these signs.
The Feeding of the Five Thousand is related to the Sacrament of Communion, the Eucharist. The two fish represent Pisces, the sign into which the axis of the earth has been pointing from shortly before the birth of Jesus until now. The sign of the zodiac directly opposite Pisces is Virgo which is represented by the sheaf of domesticated grain which make the five loaves of bread. This points to a relationship between the bread and the one who blesses the bread. It connects Christ (Pisces) with the bread (Virgo). The bread is the result of the human being taming and transforming nature to make a new substance. This is the new sacrifice. What the disciples gather up is that which is ‘over and above’ what was needed to feed the people. This over-abundance is carried by the full span of the community. It is the substance from which Community can grow. The five thousand is the full volume of the community of the human being.
The fifth sign is the sign of the etheric force of Christ that walks on the water. The fifth sign is the sacrament of the one who can ‘take the boat to the other side’. It is the Sacrament of Ordination. Though ordination the spiritual world is opened up for others. Crossing a threshold is difficult. It is with the ‘I’ in me that I can overcome the fear of the world. The ‘I am’ is related to priesthood.
These signs are followed by the first of the ‘I am’ statements of the Christ. The seven ‘I am’ statements are related to the seven-fold human being. The first: “I am the Bread of Live” relates to our physical body and what it is to be in a physical body as a spiritual being living an earthly life. Jesus accuses the people who question him that they are looking for signs but that they are not recognising the signs that he has given to them. They are unable to connect the signs to a spiritual reality. If they see only the outer sign and miss the spiritual reality that the sign reveals, they are missing the purpose of what they have witnessed. It is this that causes the tension that we read in the verses between the first and second ‘I am’ statements.
Jesus has arrived as the ‘Anointed One’ but this is not obvious in the outer world and therefore many cannot see this reality as it differs from their expectations. The greatest deed of Christ is not witnessed by anyone. After His death there are witnesses to Him being placed in the tomb. After His Resurrection there are witnesses to Him being alive, but there are no witnesses to the event of His Resurrection. His Resurrection is not just an act of overcoming death, it is the overcoming of death so that there is new life. The Resurrection brings something new to the human being. The Buddha saw as the ultimate aim the release from death (the release from the cycles of rebirth), whereas Christ takes this aim of the Buddha a step further, that beyond death there is life, not just release and a return to the essential oneness of existence; there is a future.
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