The Self-Humiliating Prophet Adored
By Rome Does Not Exist in the Gospels
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
Jesus Christ According to the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 11
For millennia there have been religions which persecute other forms of thinking, and religions which are persecuted. The evolution of Christian faith perfectly illustrates these two faces of organized religion.
After suffering persecution for some time, Christianity was adapted and adopted by those who had political power and became a State Religion, an imperial faith with its headquarters in Rome.
It was after such a transfiguration that the image was spread from top-down of a Jesus Christ who is the Master of Obedience, of Sufferance, Passivity and Submission.
As we read the New Testament Gospels, however, we see such a blindly obedient Jesus does not belong to the Bible.
There are in the Gospels a number of evidences that Jesus was, in fact, a warrior of the Light.
He challenged the social and religious structures of his time. He did not found nor gave orders to found any centralized or authoritarian church. Jesus did not adapt himself to the surrounding routines. He questioned them all.
Esoteric philosophy rests on the fact that a universal wisdom is present under different garments in every cultural tradition around the world. This is why Theosophy stimulates the comparative study of religions and philosophies. Theosophists know that the Jesus of the New Testament legends is more than a Master who lived in ancient times. The idea of Jesus symbolizes above all the Christic or Buddhic energy which is ever present in the souls of human beings.
The Sanskrit word “Buddh” means spiritual light, and “Buddha” is not the surname of Gautama, but means “the Enlightened One”. Thus, the Christic light is the Buddhic light. Jesus is the voice of the immortal soul, the still small voice of our conscience. The spiritual energy does not get attached to the automatic procedures of institutions.
The voice of the soul questions routine and threatens it, and as a result it is often persecuted, suppressed – and replaced by blind obedience. It is true that the birth of the Christic or Buddhic wisdom in human soul produces inner peace. On the other hand, this very “rebirth” provokes external contrast, conflict, fight and struggle. Hence the need for students to be warriors.
Such an intense contrast corresponds to what the great religions call “tests” and “probation”. A few fragments from the Christian Gospels will serve as examples of that. On Chapter 2 of the Gospel according to Luke, Simeon announces:
“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against…” (Luke, 2:34).
Jesus, the symbol of one’s spiritual soul and of initiation, makes people face difficult choices. Years later, Jesus is an adult and uses the subtle sword of truthfulness and discernment. In Matthew, 10: 34-39, he stands as a warrior and a symbol for the spiritual soul. He says:
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loves father or mother more than me [the spiritual soul] is not worthy of me. And he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me [the spiritual soul]. He that finds his life shall lose it; and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.”
This passage has a strong correlation with some special sentences from Exodus, in the Old Testament. In Exodus, 32: 27-29, Moses says to his followers, in the name of Jehovah:
“The Lord of Israel commands every one of you to put on his sword and go through the camp from this gate to the other and kill his brothers, his friends, and his neighbours.”
The absurdity of such a command, if taken literally, is evident. It makes no sense for a number of reasons, and one of the Ten Commandments issued by Moses was precisely “You shall not murder.” In fact, both in the passage previously mentioned of the Gospel and in these words ascribed to Moses, we have – under the appearance of absurd statements – a severe lesson of impersonality.
It is necessary to look at our personal relationships with detachment. In this a battle is fought during which the sword of truthfulness is one’s main weapon. It is a struggle against the false peace of routine and attachment to comfort. It is not our duty to fight those who are nearest and dearest to us. It is our duty to fight and kill our own attachment or rejection to them.
Jesus promises no personal comfort. He announces a hard and challenging life for anyone who decides to “take his cross” – id est, to take responsibility for his own karma – and follow the path to wisdom which the Master symbolizes. In Matthew, 10:22 and 10:23, Jesus warns:
“And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake (….). When they persecute you in this city, flee you into another.”
The need to transcend emotional attachment and personal routine is mentioned again in Matthew 12: 46-50:
“While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him: ‘Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.’ But he answered and said unto him that told him: ‘Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?’ And he stretched for his hand toward his disciples, and said: ‘Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother’.”
According to Matthew, therefore, there was no real spiritual link of affinity between Jesus and his mother. One must conclude that the legend about Mary’s divinity was created not by Matthew.
We should also examine what precisely is the “heavenly father” Jesus talks about. According to the esoteric philosophy, the “father which is in heaven” is the seventh principle of human consciousness, “Atma”, the silent divinity living in the conscience of every individual. It is no external authority. Jesus therefore did not build a centralized church. He did not believe in spiritual authorities situated outside individual consciousness.
The pedagogy of esoteric philosophy sees two essential aspects in the way Jesus taught. The first one is the autonomy of the learner. Each pilgrim’s independence was respected and preserved thanks to the absence of any asphyxiating structure of centralized power. The second one is the frankness and authenticity of the Master.
According to some superficial new age thinking, Jesus Christ would be incapable of saying harsh words, regardless of the circumstances. The preaching goes that no spiritualized person can or should ever put a limit to wrong actions or defy wrongdoers. And if someone fights unethical actions, he or she is then labeled as “unspiritual” and described as “a scarcely advanced soul”, a “primitive individual”, or an “unbrotherly, intolerant fellow”.
Such a form of sweet pseudo-spirituality is not, however, what we can see in Mark. The episode of the temple’s purification shows the long-term, fierce conflict between sincerity and hypocrisy.
Says Mark 11:15-19:
“And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. And he would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, ‘Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the House of Prayer? but you have made it a den of thieves.’ And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. And when even was come, he went out of the city.”
According to the legend of the Gospels, Jesus does not use indirect ways in fighting organized ignorance. He says the holy temple became “a den of thieves”. As a result, the chief priests start conspiring to have him killed. For students of modern esoteric philosophy, there is an important lesson in this episode. The spiritual path is dangerous. It is a narrow, uphill path. Each step on it requires courage, detachment, discernment – and determination.
The metaphor of the spiritual pilgrim as a nonviolent warrior of the wisdom is therefore correct. The warrior dimension of Jesus is easy to see in Matthew, 23. All across that chapter, the Master challenges the dogmatism that dominates most churches and sects, and makes a severe warning against religious hypocrisy. Says a fragment of that sermon:
“… You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matthew 23: 24-26)
And Jesus adds:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Mt 23:27-28)
With no diplomatic care or attachment to outwardly nice words, the stern Master Jesus calls the hypocrites “serpents” and “vipers” (Mt 23: 33). Before that, he had already called them “fools” and “blind” (Mt 23: 17). Sincerity, in Christ, is more important than diplomatic courtesy. He knew that apparent kindness, when seen as too important in itself, becomes an outward procedure which leads to falsehood and illusion.
The theatrical practice of “brotherhood” and the need to attend above all the expectations which other people may have at personality-level also provokes an inability to make real choices and deep decisions.
Due to the resulting absence of conviction, many postpone decisions indefinitely, never choosing to look at life as a serious matter. Such persons go ahead or take steps backwards according to the tides of the moment. They behave as rudderless ships, or as ships whose rudders are in charge of no one.
On the need to make clear choices in life, Jesus says:
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God [divine Law] and mammon [material riches].” (Mt 6: 24)
The Christian Revelation strongly condemns indecision, explaining that it prevents spiritual progress. On chapter 3, a divine consciousness says these words to the angel of a certain church:
“I know your works, and you are neither cold nor hot: I would prefer you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will expel you from my mouth.” (Revelation, 3:15-16)
And the author of Revelation goes on to explain his severe language. He gives us a living example of that ancient and wise tradition according to which a true master and a true brother do not remain attached to words that are externally nice, but act instead with a rigorous honesty:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3: 19-20)
The “door of one’s house” symbolizes the portal between divine consciousness and our individualized levels of consciousness. The voice of the higher self knocks at the door of the pilgrim who makes his decisions in a serious and responsible way.
The same sort of direct talk and frankness emerges in other passages of the New Testament.
One day as Jesus was in a boat with some of his disciples a great storm of wind started. The waves were dangerously beating the ship, and Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat. The disciples got anxious. They awakened him and said:
“Master, don’t you care whether we die or not?”
Jesus got up, rebuked the wind, easily controlled the sea by using the force of his will, and said to the disciples:
“Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark, 4: 36-40)
In another fragment of the Gospels, Jesus tells his disciples that he must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders, by chief priests and scribes; he will be killed, and will rise again after three days. Upon hearing this, Peter took him apart and began to rebuke him. Peter defended the worldly logic of routine, comfort and falsehood. The Gospel according to Mark narrates the reaction of the master to Peter’s attitude.
“He rebuked Peter, saying: ‘Leave me alone, Satan, for you do not know the things which belong to God [the Law]; you know but the things which belong to men’.” (Mark 8: 31-33)
The master called the people unto him together with his disciples and told them:
“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8: 34)
The contrast between right and wrong is most clear at this point. Again we see the severe frankness which is needed among fellow pilgrims and between master and disciple. Jesus commands every would-be disciple to “deny himself and take up his cross” in order to be able to follow him. As we saw above, to “take up his cross” means to take responsibility for his own karma. It implies accepting the full authorship of his life. The learner must not reject nor attach himself to circumstances, both nice and painful. He must do whatever is correct and sow the goodness and the truthfulness he wants to deserve himself one day.
However, one might think:
“These are strange attitudes, especially coming from Jesus. The authentic Jesus is in fact that sweet master of Matthew, 5: 38-45, the Jesus of unconditional love.”
There is indeed a strong contrast between the stern attitudes of Jesus and some of his sayings on love and understanding. Would that be a sign of inconsistency on the part of the New Testament Jesus? Not at all. We must accept that a wise attitude before life is not monotonous. It is not rigid. To be consistent is not the same as being emotionally dead or unable to react to different situations. A wise pilgrim uses his discernment. He knows that he must be firm regarding essential questions, and flexible while dealing with nonessentials. Injustice must never be accepted, and the master says:
“You have heard that it has been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’; but I say unto you, that you resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue you at the law and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.” (Mt 5: 38-40)
These sentences do not mean that the good Christian must masochistically attach himself to every act of injustice committed against him and ask for its repetition and continuation. This would not be helpful to his enemies. The fact is well known that it is not good karma for our adversaries to commit injustices against us.
Therefore, if we want to help those who aim at dishonestly offending other beings or disloyally attack ourselves, we must take measures to prevent them from insisting in such mistakes. That which one sows, one must harvest. Him who is consciously unfair to another one is calling disgrace upon himself. If we respect our adversaries and wish their happiness, we must prevent them, as much as we can, from unnecessarily producing painful karma to themselves by committing injustice.
The true meaning of the above fragment is that the disciple must abstain from any act of revenge against those who may be unjust toward him.
The esoteric teachings of modern Theosophy also say that revenge is forbidden to anyone who intends to make progress along the path to wisdom. However, the establishment of right relationships and the building of a cooperation based on mutual respect are equally necessary, if we want to attain to a lasting progress in spiritual life.
Let’s examine now another passage from Jesus’ teachings that has been repeatedly used in attempts to legitimize the top-down suppression of diversity, as well as the promotion of blind obedience.
Jesus says in the Gospel according to John:
“A new commandment I give unto you: that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John, 13:34-35)
Such a statement is decisive. It corresponds to an ancient axiom of the Himalayan esoteric schools. The mutual help among co-disciples is much more than a merely emotional desire. It constitutes an unavoidable condition for the attainment of any true knowledge regarding the essence of life.  As long as this factor is not understood, there is no efficiency in the teaching, or in the learning. We must remember, however, that a few lines before this statement Jesus refers to the existence of a Judas among his disciples (John, 13:21-27). And what is a Judas? A Judas is a more dangerous variety of those whited sepulchres we saw above, which are loyal and devoted on the outside, but rotten and dirty inside (Matthew, 23). 
Rigour and brotherhood must go together and are inseparable factors along the spiritual path. In this point, among others, the New Testament is in harmony with the ancient and Eastern esoteric tradition. The middle path, which produces a balance between the two extremes of total rigour and total flexibility, is not the unfortunate combination of “half-rigour” with “half-flexibility”.
The middle way consists in using complete rigour in essential and decisive issues and complete flexibility in things of secondary importance. It is of course necessary to have discernment, in order to see the difference between essential and secondary issues; and a strong determination is needed in confronting the difficulties along the way. The path can only be successfully trodden if there is a degree of indifference to personal pain.
Rigour and good-will are like the two feet with which one walks. There is no reason to keep jumping ahead on one foot only. The middle path is open to us as we learn to consciously combine the use of our two brain hemispheres, the analytical one and the syncretic. Experienced pilgrims can be compared to adult trees, which are flexible in the leaves or issues of secondary importance, and firm in the trunk of essential and decisive questions.
As we live in harmony with feelings of brotherhood (John, 13: 34-35), we must examine ourselves and our relationships in order to see whether they are free from hypocrisy, from selfish astuteness and hidden motives or intentions (Matthew, 23). While fighting falsehood, we must examine our feelings and see whether our good-will towards all beings is preserved and expanding.
Frankness must not destroy friendship, and friendship or mutual help must never abandon truthfulness.
For love is truth, whenever love expresses itself on the plane of ideas, just as truth is love, when truth is expressed on the realm of emotions.
Mind and emotion are inseparable. Truth and love are one and the same thing.
 See the text “One for All, and All for One”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline. The article is available at our associated websites.
 For a closer examination of this topic, read in our websites the article “The Symbolism of Judas Iscariot”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
The above text is a 2014 translation from the Portuguese language article “Jesus Cristo, o Guerreiro da Verdade”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline. The text is available at our associated websites.
On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.