The Gospel of St. John
X. What occurred at the Baptism by John?
3 July 1909, Cassel
Among the events in Palestine at the beginning of our era, there is one in particular to which attention has repeatedly been drawn; it is known as the Baptism of Jesus of Nazareth by John. It has also been emphasized that all four Gospels agree in all essential points with regard to this Baptism by John. Today it will be our task to concern ourselves once more with this event from one particular point of view.
As we have seen, the manner in which this Baptism by John is presented in the Gospels embodies an indication of that other event, also explained by the Akashic records, the event which we described in the words: When Jesus of Nazareth had reached about the thirtieth year of his age, the divine Being whom we call the Christ entered into the threefold bodily sheath of this same Jesus of Nazareth. We have therefore — this is the result of Akashic investigation — to distinguish between two stages in the life of the Founder of Christianity. In the first place, we have the life of the great initiate whom we call Jesus of Nazareth, in whom, as we have seen, there dwelt an Ego which had passed through many incarnations, had lived repeatedly on earth, had risen higher and higher in each succeeding life, and had by degrees developed the faculty for the great sacrifice. This sacrifice consisted in the following act: When Jesus of Nazareth had reached about the thirtieth year of his age, his Ego, having purged, purified, and ennobled his physical, etheric, and astral bodies, was able to renounce these, so that a threefold bodily sheath was left — a most pure and refined human envelopment, consisting of a physical, an etheric, and an astral body. At the Baptism by John this threefold bodily sheath received into itself that Being who had never before descended to earth nor passed through former incarnations. This is the Christ-Being, who up to that time could only be found in the universe beyond our earth. At the Baptism by John this individual Being united Himself with a human body and dwelt therein for a space of three years in order to accomplish in that time the work which we are called upon to describe in ever-increasing detail.
What I have just said is the result of clairvoyant observation, but the fact is clothed in the descriptions of the Baptism by John given us by the Evangelists. The meaning of these descriptions is as follows: whereas the others who were baptized by John underwent various experiences, in the case of Jesus of Nazareth what happened was that Christ descended upon him and entered his threefold bodily sheath. In the second lecture I explained that Christ was the same Being of whom it is said in the Old Testament: ‘And the Spirit of God moved (or brooded) on the face of the waters.’ This same spirit, the divine spirit of our solar system, entered into the threefold bodily sheath of Jesus of Nazareth. We must now discuss what took place at that moment, but I would beg you to realize from the beginning that it cannot be an easy matter to comprehend what actually took place at the Baptism by John, because it is indeed the supreme event in the evolution of the earth. Is it not natural to believe that the less significant events are easier to understand, and that the greatest of all events presents the greatest difficulty? For this reason, what I am about to say to you may in some respects shock those who are unprepared for such things. But even one who is unprepared should acknowledge that the human soul comes to Earth for the purpose of growing ever more perfect, also with regard to its knowledge, and that what may seem repellent at first sight, comes to appear perfectly comprehensible in the course of time; otherwise we should have to despair of the possibility of evolution for the human soul. We must therefore always remember that, whatever we may have already learnt, our soul is always capable of improvement and will acquire an ever increasing understanding of the subject.
We have therefore before us a threefold human vehicle, a physical, an etheric, and an astral body, into which the Christ, as it were, descends. This is indicated by the words which resound from cosmic space: ‘This is my son, filled with my love, in whom I manifest myself!’ For this is the rendering of the words. That mighty changes must have taken place in the bodies of Jesus of Nazareth when the God entered into him, we can well imagine. But we can also easily realize that great changes took place in the whole of the human being in the old initiations. After a long period of study and meditation, the pupil to be initiated into the divine mysteries was thrown into a deathlike state lasting three and a half days, during which his etheric body was separated from his physical body, so that the fruits which had been garnered in the astral body could be imprinted upon the etheric body during that time; that is to say, the initiate rose from the state of ‘purification’, as it is called, to the state of ‘illumination’, and his eyes were opened to the spiritual world. Moreover, an initiate of the old times acquired a certain power over his whole bodily organization, so that when he returned once more to his physical body, he could exercise a marvellous control over certain of its finer elements. Perhaps you may be inclined to ask: ‘If one approached such an initiate, who had acquired an extraordinary mastery over his various bodies — even over his physical body — could one recognize this in his appearance, could one see this in him?’ Yes! It could be seen by one who had acquired the ability for such vision; to the rest he usually appeared as an ordinary, unpretending man, with nothing remarkable about him. Why is this? Simply for the reason that the physical body, considered with physical eyes, is only the outer expression for that which is behind it; and the changes affect the spiritual part that is behind the physical body. Now all old initiates, in consequence of the special processes they had undergone, had succeeded in acquiring a certain degree of mastery over the physical body. There was one thing, however, which no old initiation had succeeded in bringing under the dominion of man's spirit. Here we touch the fringe, as it were, of a great secret or mystery. There was something in human nature to which the power of a pre-Christian initiate could not penetrate, namely, to the fine physical and chemical processes in the bony system. Strange as this may sound, it is nevertheless true. Before the Baptism of Christ Jesus by John, there had never been a human individuality in the evolution of the earth, either among the initiated or the uninitiated, who could exercise power over the physical and chemical processes of the bony structure. Through the entrance of Christ into the body of Jesus of Nazareth, the Individuality of Christ henceforward gained dominion over the bony structure itself. As a result, there once lived on earth a body able to use its forces in such a way that it caused the spiritual form of the bony structure to become embodied in the evolution of the Earth. The sum of everything that man has undergone in the course of his evolution would be irretrievably lost unless he were able to incorporate the noble form of his bony structure into the evolution of the Earth as an evolutionary law over which he could by degrees gain mastery. An old popular superstition is connected with this fact (as it so often happens that old traditions are connected with the occult), inasmuch as certain communities symbolize death by the image of the skeleton. This betokens that the laws governing the rest of the human organism were so perfect at the beginning of Earth's evolution that we find the same laws again, transformed and in a higher form, at the end of Earth's evolution; but no vestige of Earth's evolution would be carried over into the future, if the bony frame were not preserved. The form of the bony structure conquers death in a physical sense. Hence He who was to conquer death on Earth must necessarily gain dominion over the bony system in a similar way to the control I have indicated in respect of certain lesser qualities. Man's command over his circulatory system is very slight; when experiencing shame, for instance, he drives his blood from within outwards; that is, his soul works upon his circulatory system. When he turns pale, under the experience of fear, he drives the blood back to its centre, back to the heart. When oppressed with sadness, the tears rush to his eyes. All this denotes a certain mastery of the soul over the body. Far greater is this command over the bodily organization with one who has attained a certain degree of initiation; he acquires the power to control at will and in a definite manner the movements of the different parts of his brain and so on.
Thus the human body of Jesus of Nazareth came under the dominion of Christ, Who, of His own free will and choice, penetrated with His Dominion into the very bones; His influence extended even into the bony system for the very first time. The significance of this fact may be described in the following words: The present form of his bony structure was acquired by man upon Earth, and not in an earlier incarnation of our planet; yet he would lose that form had not the spiritual Power whom we call the Christ appeared. Had not Christ established His dominion over the bony system, man would have nothing to carry over into the future as the harvest and fruit of his earthly existence. It was therefore a stupendous power that penetrated the threefold bodily sheath of Jesus of Nazareth, piercing into the inmost marrow of the bones. We must retain the impression of this moment, for it is one of the great events that occurred at that time.
When an ordinary birth takes place, the fruits of a man's former incarnations unite with the elements which he inherits. The human individuality who was there in former lives unites with the physical and etheric bodily sheath which is provided for him. Something which comes from the spiritual unites with the physical and sensible. Those who have often heard lectures by me know that, with regard to external appearances in the spiritual world, everything there appears as in a mirror and reversed. When clairvoyance is developed in a man by rational methods and his eyes are opened to the spiritual world, he must slowly learn to find his way in that world, for everything there appears in a reversed form. When a number is seen, for instance 345, it must not be read as in the physical world, but as 543, that is, in reversed order. This applies not to numbers only, but to everything else as well. When Christ united Himself with the bodily sheath of Jesus of Nazareth, this event was revealed to one whose spiritual eyes were opened, also in a reversed sense. Whereas at a physical incarnation the spiritual descends from higher worlds and unites with the physical, in this case the element which was offered up in order that the Christ-Spirit might enter, appeared above the head of Jesus of Nazareth in the form of a dove. A spiritual principle appears as it detaches itself from the physical. This is an unquestionable clairvoyant observation, and it would be far from right to say that it is meant merely as an allegory or symbol. It is a real, clairvoyant, spiritual fact, actually visible on the astral plane to one gifted with clairvoyant sight. Even as the spiritual is drawn down at physical birth, this birth was a sacrifice, a surrender. The possibility was thus given for the Spirit ‘that moved upon the face of the waters’ at the beginning of our earthly evolution, to unite itself with the threefold bodily sheath of Jesus of Nazareth and to permeate it with fire and strength in the way we have shown.
Now you will understand that at that moment something more was engaged in that event than the small area in which the Baptism by John took place. It would be an instance of human short-sightedness to believe that an occurrence affecting any being is confined to the limits of eyesight. That is the great illusion to which people fall a prey when they trust their physical senses alone. What is the boundary of the human being for the outer organs of sense? Speaking superficially, his skin would be regarded as his boundary, for he comes to an end with his skin on all sides. One might even say: ‘If I cut off your nose, which is a part of you, you are no longer a complete human being. By this I recognize that all your members are parts of your being.’ This, however, is a very short-sighted observation. If we confine ourselves to what we can see with our eyes, we must hold that nothing belonging to the human being can be found a few inches distant from his skin. But only reflect that, with every breath you draw, you inhale air from the whole atmosphere surrounding you. If your nose is cut off you are no longer a whole human being; but you are just as incomplete if the air you breathe is cut off. It is an arbitrary view, to imagine that a man is bounded by his skin. Man's whole environment belongs to him, even in a physical sense. So that if something happens to someone in a particular place, it is not true that nothing but the spot occupied by the human body is engaged in the occurrence. If you poison the air to a sufficient extent at a distance of a mile from a man and in circumference, so that the vapours extend to him, you would very soon observe that the whole space for a mile round shared in his vital process. The whole earth participates in every life-process. Since this is true of a physical life-process, you will readily understand that, with an event like the Baptism by John, the spiritual world engaged therein in its widest periphery, and that a great, great deal was necessary in order that it should come to pass. If you vitiate the air for a mile in the periphery of a man so that his vital functions are affected, and then cause someone to stand near him, the latter will also suffer from the same effects. Perhaps the effect may vary in proportion to his nearness or remoteness from the vitiated zone. If far removed from it, the effect will be weaker, but some effect will be there none the less. Hence you will not find it strange that the question should be raised, whether there were no other effects in conjunction with the Baptism by John. Here we touch upon another profound mystery to which expression can be given only in words of awe and reverence: for mankind will only by degrees become fitted to understand such things.
The moment when the Spirit of Christ descended into the body of Jesus of Nazareth and the transformation already described took place, an effect was wrought also upon the mother of Jesus of Nazareth. This effect consisted in the circumstance that in the instant of the Baptism by John she regained her state of virginhood: that is to say, her inner organism reverted to the condition of the feminine organism before maidenly puberty. At the birth of Christ the mother of Jesus of Nazareth became Virgin (due to the transformation of her inner organs to the state in which they existed prior to her puberty).
These are the two most momentous facts, the great and awe-inspiring effects indicated to us, though in veiled terms by the writer of the Gospel of St. John. But when we read the Gospel aright we find that it is all there, in a certain sense. In order to recognize this we must revert to some of the points raised yesterday and considered under various aspects.
We said that in ancient times men were under the sway of ‘near marriage’. This means that marriage was contracted only within the ties of blood and within the same tribe. It was only in the course of time that marriage outside the tribe and into a different race was introduced. The further we recede into antiquity the more do we find men under the influence of this blood relationship. Through the circumstance that family blood flowed in man's veins, intense magical forces were rendered possible in ancient times. As he looked back along his line of ancestry — a line of exclusive blood relationship — a man had magical forces working in his blood, so that influences could be exerted from soul to soul, in the way described yesterday. Even the simplest people were aware of this in former times. Now it would be entirely wrong to conclude that consanguineous marriage at the present day would produce similar conditions, and that magical forces would appear. There you would fall into the same error as the lily of the valley, if it said: ‘I will no longer bloom in May; henceforth I will bloom in October.’ It cannot bloom in October because the conditions necessary for the lily of the valley are then absent. It is the same with the magical forces. These cannot unfold at a time when the necessary conditions are no longer present. In our day the magic forces must develop in another way; what has been described holds good only for ancient times. Of course the learned materialist is unable to understand that the laws have changed in the course of evolution; he thinks that what he experiences today must always have happened in that way. But that is nonsense; for physical laws change. People who derive their beliefs from modern natural science would have marveled at the events which occurred in Palestine as related by the Gospel of St. John, and have considered them something extraordinary. But those who have lived in the times of Christ Jesus were by no means so much astonished, for traditions of earlier times were then still alive — times in which such things were altogether possible. For this reason I mentioned yesterday that the people were not very greatly astonished by the sign performed at the marriage at Cana in Galilee. Why should they have been astonished? Outwardly it was only a repetition of something which they knew to have been observed again and again. Turn to the second Book of Kings, chap. 4, verses 42-44:
‘And there came a man from Baal-Shalisha, 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, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they 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.’
Here we find related in the Old Testament the feeding of the five thousand in the corresponding situation for olden times. Why should the people have marveled at the sign when their own documents bore witness that such a thing did not happen for the first time? It is essential that we should understand this.
Now what took place in one who had partaken of the old initiation? He gained entrance into the spiritual world, his eyes were opened to the spiritually operative forces; that is, he obtained an insight into the connection of the blood with these active spiritual forces. Others had a dim presentiment of these things; but the initiate could look back to his earliest ancestors from whom the blood descended to him. Such an one might reflect: the blood courses down through the generations and the whole Ego of a people finds expression therein, even as the individual Ego expresses itself in the blood of individual man. Such an initiate looked back to the source of the blood-stream which coursed through the generations, and he felt his soul identified with his folk-spirit, whose physiognomy was expressed in the whole folk-blood. One who thus felt himself united with the whole blood of his people had attained a certain grade of initiation, and was, to some extent, master over certain magical forces in the old sense.
Now we must bear something else in mind. The male and female elements cooperate in the propagation of the human race in a way which we may briefly describe as follows:
Were the female element to predominate, the development of human beings would be such that identical characters would continually appear. Children would invariably resemble their parents, grandparents, and so on. All the forces that bring about resemblance are inherent in the female principle. All that alters the resemblance and introduces differences is inherent in the male principle. When we find within a national community a number of faces that resemble one another, we may ascribe this to the female element; but in these faces there are certain differences distinguishing one individual from another; this is the male influence. If the female alone prevailed, it would be impossible to distinguish between one individual and another; on the other hand, if only the male element operated, you would never be able to recognize that a group of people were of the same stock. Thus the male and female elements cooperate to the effect that the male individualizes, specializes, separates, whereas the female generalizes. In which of these forces, then, do we find the element which is common to the whole folk? This element is inherent in the female principle. Or we might say: the forces of the woman bear along, from generation to generation, the element which is otherwise expressed by the blood flowing from generation to generation. If anyone wished to describe more explicitly wherein the magic forces connected with ties of blood actually lie, he would say that they are bound up with the female principle which pervades the whole folk and lives in every member of it. What, therefore, was the essential characteristic of a man who had acquired, through initiation, the power to wield the forces implanted by the female element in the blood flowing through the generations?
In the old initiation there were definite stages in the ascent to spiritual heights. To these stages certain names were attached, one of which — to use the expression peculiar to the Persian initiation — is of particular interest to us. The first degree of the Persian initiation was designated by the term ‘Raven’; the second was called the ‘Occult’, the third ‘Warrior’, the fourth ‘Lion’, the fifth degree was known in every nation by the name of that nation; thus it was said of a Persian who had ascended to the fifth degree of initiation that he was a ‘Persian’.
The initiate first became a ‘Raven’; that is, he observed the outer world and, being the servant of those who were in the spiritual world, he bore tidings to that world from the physical world. Hence the symbol of the raven as the messenger between the physical and the spiritual worlds, from the ravens of Elijah to the ravens of Barbarossa. The initiate of the second degree is fully within the spiritual world. The third degree is yet further advanced; here the initiate is called upon to enter the lists on behalf of the truth of occultism; he becomes a ‘Warrior’; an initiate of the second degree was not allowed to contend on behalf of the truths of the spiritual world. In the fourth degree the initiate becomes firmly established in the truths of the spiritual world. The initiate of the fifth degree was one of those who, as I explained, learnt to control the forces which were transmitted in the female element of reproduction and in the blood of the generations. What name then must have been given to one who had been initiated within the Jewish people? He was called an ‘Israelite’, just as he would have been called a ‘Persian’ in Persia. And now note well what follows.
Among the first to be led to Christ Jesus, in the sense of the Gospel of St. John, was Nathanael. The others who were already disciples of Christ said to him: ‘We have found the Master, He who dwells in Jesus of Nazareth!’ Whereupon Nathanael answers: ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ But when they bring Nathanael to Christ, Christ says to him: ‘Behold, truly an Israelite in whom there is no guile!’
Truly an Israelite in whom the truth dwells! He says this because He knows Nathanael's degree of initiation; and Nathanael recognizes that he is speaking with One who knows more than he and who is above him. And Christ says to him, in order to indicate that He is really alluding to the initiation: ‘I saw thee not for the first time when thou camest to me, but before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee!’
The word ‘fig-tree’ is used here in exactly the same sense as by Buddha. The fig-tree is the Bodhi-tree — the symbol of initiation. Christ says to him: ‘I know thee as an initiate of the fifth degree!’ From this we see how the writer of the Gospel of St. John indicates that Christ sees through one who has been initiated to the fifth degree. We are led step by step, and are shown that in the body of Jesus of Nazareth One dwells who dominates an initiate of the fifth degree. Furthermore we have just seen that an initiate of the fifth degree can control the occult, magical forces inherent in the blood flowing through the generations. He becomes one with his folk-soul; and we have seen that the folk-soul expresses itself in the forces of the woman. Thus an initiate of the fifth degree has to do with the female forces according to the manner of antiquity. You must picture all this to yourselves in a spiritual way. But Christ deals in a manner entirely new with the female forces. He has to do with her who regained her virgin state at the Baptism by John and has within her again the fresh budding forces of virginity. This was the new element which the writer of the Gospel of St. John wished to indicate, when he said that a certain current of force passed from the son to the mother. It was familiar to all those who possessed occult knowledge at that time, that a son who had been initiated even only to the fifth degree was able to use magically the folk forces which express themselves in the folk-element of his mother. But Christ showed in a spiritually higher manner the forces of the woman who again became virgin.
We thus see what preceded the marriage at Cana in preparation of this event, and we understand that these actions must necessarily have been performed by an initiate who dominated the fifth degree of initiation. We are also shown that this is connected with the folk-element inherent in the female personality. A marvellous preparation precedes what the writer of the Gospel of St. John here shows us. (As I have said, we shall deal later with the conception of the miracles, in another way.) Now you can easily imagine that freshly drawn water is a very different thing from water that has stood for a while; just as a plant freshly plucked is different from one that has been withering three days. Of course a materialistic view of things does not make such distinctions. Water still connected with the forces of the earth is a very different thing from water used at a later moment. Relying upon the forces still inherent in freshly drawn water, an initiate of sufficiently high grade can operate through the forces now bound up with a spiritual relationship such as that of Christ with His mother, who had again become virgin. He carries on the work of the earth. The earth can change water into wine in the vine. Christ, who has approached the earth and has become the spirit of the earth, is Himself that spiritual force which works in the whole body of the earth. As Christ, He must be able to do what the earth does, what the earth does when it changes water into wine.
Thus the first of the signs performed by Christ Jesus, according to the Gospel of St. John, is one which stands in relation to what might have taken place in ancient times at the hands of an initiate who controlled the forces extending through the blood-ties of the generations.
But now the power which Christ develops in the body of Jesus of Nazareth increases apace — not the power which Christ has in Himself! Do not therefore ask: ‘Does Christ then need to develop?’ Of course not. What needed to be developed was the body of Jesus of Nazareth, however pure and ennobled it already was. Into that body were to be poured the forces which were to come to effect in the immediate future.
The next sign is the healing of the nobleman's son, and this is followed by the healing of the man 38 years in his infirmity at the pool of Bethesda. What increase was shown here in the forces with which Christ worked upon earth? The increase consisted in the fact that Christ could affect not only those who were present in His immediate environment. He had worked in this way among the guests at the marriage at Cana, so that when they drank water, it was wine. Here He had worked upon the etheric bodies of those surrounding Him. By sending forth this force into the etheric bodies of those assembled, the effect in their mouths was such that the water which they drank became wine — that is, the water was tasted as wine. But now the influence was not to affect the body alone, it was to extend to the depths of the soul. For not otherwise could He work upon the nobleman's son, through the agency of the father; and again, send His influence into the sinful soul of the man 38 years in his infirmity. It would not have sufficed had He poured His force merely into the etheric body. It was necessary to work upon the astral body, for it is the astral body which commits sin. By working upon the etheric body, it is possible to turn water into wine; but it is necessary to penetrate deeper in order to exercise a profounder influence upon another personality. For this purpose it was necessary that Christ should work still further upon the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth. Note well: Christ Himself does not become changed by the process; He works upon the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth, with the result that the etheric body becomes more independent of the physical body than it was heretofore. Thus there came a time when, within the threefold bodily sheath of Jesus of Nazareth, the etheric body became freer and more detached from the physical body. A greater mastery over the physical body was thereby possible; Christ could accomplish mightier works in the physical body; that is, He could use powerful forces really within the physical body. The tendency was given at the Baptism by John, and it was now to be developed with special intensity. But all this was now to be directed from the spiritual worlds. The astral body was now to work so mightily within the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth, that the etheric body could obtain this power of the physical. Now by what means can the astral body act so powerfully? By the acquirement of, and devotion to, the right kind of feelings with regard to everything that happens in our environment; above all, by the cultivation of the right attitude with regard to human egoism. Did Christ accomplish this with the body of Jesus of Nazareth? Did He act in such a way as to find the right relation to every form of egoism in His environment, so that the fundamental instinct of egoism in the soul was made plain to all? Yes, Christ did this. The writer of the Gospel of St. John relates how He comes forward as the purifier of the Temple, at the expense of those who exalt selfishness and who dishonour the Temple by selling all manner of merchandise therein. This enables Him to say that He had now made the astral body so powerful that, if the physical body were destroyed, He could build it up again in three days. This, too, is indicated by the writer of the Gospel of St. John:
‘Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
‘The Jews therefore said, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days?
‘But He spake of the Temple of His body.’
This indicates that the vehicle which had been offered up to Him had power to govern its physical part and master it completely. Then too this body, which had become so free, could move about everywhere, independently of physical laws; regardless of the laws of the world of space, it could bring about and govern events in the spiritual world. This is indicated to us in the chapter following the account of the Purification of the Temple.
‘There was a man of the Pharisees names Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; the same came to Jesus by night and said to Him. ...’
Why do we find the words ‘by night’? It is of course the most trivial explanation imaginable to say that the Jew, being afraid to come to Jesus in the light of day, crept through the window at night. Anyone can give an explanation of that kind. ‘By night’ means here nothing less than that this meeting between Christ and Nicodemus took place in the astral world, in the spiritual world, and not in the world of ordinary day consciousness. That is to say, Christ could communicate with Nicodemus outside the physical body — ‘by night’ when the physical body is not there and the astral body is outside the physical and etheric bodies.
Thus the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth was prepared by Christ for the deeds that were to come and for the work that was to be carried into the souls of men. To this end the soul in the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth must be so free that its influence can be transmitted into other bodies. To direct an influence into another soul is, however, a totally different thing from the working of the signs which we considered yesterday. The next increase of power is shown in the feeding of the five thousand and the walking on the water. Something more was needed in order that Christ should be visible in the body, without being physically present, and indeed visible not only to his disciples; so mighty had the power in the body of Jesus of Nazareth become that Christ was also visible to those who were not His disciples. Only here again we must read the Gospels correctly, for it might be objected that one can believe this of the disciples but not of others.
‘On the morrow the multitude which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there save one, and that Jesus entered not with His disciples into the boat, but that the disciples went away alone.
‘Howbeit there came boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they ate the bread through the Lord's uplifting His thoughts to God.
‘When the multitude therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they themselves got into the boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
I beg you expressly to note that it was the people who sought Jesus and that is then said:
‘And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?’
This means exactly the same as in the case of the disciples. It does not say that every ordinary eye saw Him, but that they saw Him who sought and found Him through the heightening of their soul forces. When it is said that ‘someone saw someone else’, this is not the same as saying that the latter ‘stood there as a fleshly form in space, visible to physical eyes.’ What is usually called taking the Gospels literally is in reality anything but a ‘literal’ reading of the Gospels. And if you bear in mind that a climax is in every instance observable, you will understand that something else must have preceded this sign. Once more, something must have taken place showing us how Christ had worked in the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth to the end that its forces should grow mightier and mightier. As a Healer did He work, pouring His forces into the souls of others! And He Himself now describes the manner of His work in the words spoken to the woman of Samaria at the well: ‘I am the living water!’ At the marriage at Cana He showed Himself to be one with the forces which are at work in the entire world. We find this in the chapter ‘Jesus has power over life and death’; over life and death because He is master of the forces which are at work in the physical body. This chapter therefore precedes the sign in which His power must appear in heightened form.
Then we see how the power gains in strength. We pointed out yesterday how, in the sign known as the healing of the man born blind, Christ touches not only upon the part of the human being which is subject to birth and death, but upon the individuality of the human soul which passes from life to life. The man was born blind because the divine individuality in him manifested itself in its works; he was to recover his sight by the power poured into him by Christ — a power so great that it caused that to be effaced which was due, not to his personality between birth and death, nor to inheritance, but to the deed of his own individuality.
I have often explained that Goethe's beautiful words, which spring from a deep knowledge of Rosicrucian initiation, are based upon profound occult truth: ‘The eye is formed by the light for the light.’ I have pointed out that Schopenhauer is right when he says: ‘Without the eye there is no light.’ Yes, but where does the eye come from? Goethe quite rightly says: ‘Without light there would never have been an organ sensitive to light — an eye.’ The eye is created by the light. A single instance will demonstrate this. When animals possessing eyes migrate into dark caves, they soon lose the power to see, through lack of light. The eye was formed by light. If Christ is to pour into the man's individuality a power enabling him to render his eye sensitive to light, then Christ must have in Him the spiritual force which is in the light. This must be indicated in the Gospel of St. John. The healing of the man born blind is preceded by the chapter in which we read:
‘Then Jesus spake again unto them saying: I am the light of the world.’
The healing of the man born blind is not mentioned until after the words ‘I am the light of the world’ have been spoken. Now turn to the chapter before the raising of Lazarus and consider the passage:
‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down myself. I have power to lay it down. ... If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. ...’
All that is said here concerning the ‘good shepherd’ is intended to show that Christ feels that He and the Father are One and that He will no longer speak of Himself as ‘I’ except in the sense of His union with the Father-forces. Having said previously ‘I am the light of the world’, He now says: ‘I lay down my Ego-power and receive the Father into myself, that the Father may work in me, that the primal principle may flow into me and through me into others. I lay down my life that I may take it again.’ This precedes the raising of Lazarus.
And now having concluded these reflections, let us try to grasp the Gospel of St. John with regard to its composition. Observe that up to the raising of Lazarus there is not only a wonderful climax of power shown in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, but we are also expressly told, before each increase of power, what is at work with regard to the body of Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, everything in the Gospel of St. John is so firmly welded together that, when rightly understood, not a single sentence can be omitted. And it is thus wonderfully composed for the reason that it was written by one who, as we have seen, was initiated by Christ Jesus Himself.
We set out today from the question: ‘What took place at the Baptism by John? And we saw how the conquest of death was first implanted in the world with the descent of Christ into the threefold sheath of Jesus of Nazareth. We have seen how the mother of Jesus of Nazareth was changed when Christ descended, and how the effect wrought upon her by the Baptism by John was such that she became again virgin. It is therefore a true belief, founded upon the Gospel of St. John: When Christ was born into the body of Jesus of Nazareth at the Baptism by John, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth became virgin.
Here we have the starting point of the Gospel of St. John. And if you understand it in the sense of the mighty cosmic event which was then enacted at the river Jordan, you will realize that the first description of such an event, in accordance with the true facts, could only be at the hands of one who had been initiated by Christ Jesus Himself — the risen Lazarus, ‘whom the Lord loved’, of whom it is henceforth always said that he was ‘the disciple whom the Lord loved’. The risen Lazarus has transmitted the Gospel to us, and he alone was able to weld together all the passages in the Gospel because he had received the greatest impulse from the greatest initiator, from the Christ. He alone could show us the truth which Paul grasped in a certain way through his own initiation: that at that time the germ which was to grow into the conquest of death, was implanted in the evolution of the earth. Hence the significant words spoken of Him who hung upon the Cross: ‘Not a bone of Him shall be broken.’ Why not? Because they were not to touch the form over which Christ must retain His power. Had they broken a bone of Him, an inferior human force would have interfered with the power which Christ was to exercise over the very bones of Jesus of Nazareth. None must lay hands on that form! For it was to be altogether subject to the dominion of Christ.
Starting from this point, we can proceed tomorrow to the consideration of the death of Christ.