Eternal Lives, Chapter 15

This entry is part 15 of 17 in the series Eternal Lives

Who Was Jesus?

The greatest mystery man of all time is, of course, Jesus himself. What is his history? There is not a lot of information in the scriptures about his past, but there is some.

One of the strongest hints of an ancient past is found in the gospel of John:
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” John 21:2

Now according to orthodox belief, the apostles only knew Jesus for three years and this was not enough association to even write a book. Each of the gospels that were written about him was only the length of a short story, not enough material for one book let alone books so numerous that they would fill the earth.

When did Jesus do all these thousands, perhaps millions of deeds so numerous that they would fill thousands of volumes??? There is no way that so many works could be done in a mere 33 years. Such a voluminous history would have to span many lifetimes.

Another hint of the Past of Jesus is given in this scripture: “And John saw and bore record of the fullness of my glory, and the fullness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed. And he bore record saying: I saw his glory, that he was in the beginning, before the world was. (In other words before the “age” was or before the days of Adam.) Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, EVEN THE MESSENGER OF’ SALVATION” D&C 93:6-8.

Thus we see that in the dawn of time here on the earth that Christ was one who was called the “messenger of Salvation.” It is quite obvious that he must have had many lives of service to become what he was when he appeared to the Jews and one or more was as a “messenger of salvation.”

The scripture continues: “And I, John, saw that he received not of the fullness at first, (In his first life), but received grace for grace; and he received not of the fullness at first, but continued from grace to grace, (life to life), until he received a fullness; And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fullness at first… I give you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, (That is he, the Christ, is a man like unto ourselves, but with more experience), that ye may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time (after sufficient incarnations) receive of his fullness… He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” D&C 93:12-14,19,28.

The scriptures make it obvious that Jesus lived more than one short life of thirty-three years: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but WAS IN ALL POINTS TEMPTED LIKE AS WE ARE yet without sin.” Heb 4:15. Before I accepted the doctrine of reincarnation I often wondered how Jesus could have been tempted in all points as I have been for I have often thought that I have been in many circumstances that he could not have been in. But if we consider reincarnation, we can see how this scripture is actually true, that during his long probation of lives he has been tempted in every way possible and came off victorious in his last life without sin.

This helps us understand another scripture: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” Heb 2:18. Now we see that he is able to succor us because in his vast experience he has undergone every temptation imaginable. We see that “though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Heb 5;9-10

Now we can apply a larger perspective to the interpretation of this scripture. Christ learned obedience by the things which be suffered in past lives. His suffering in his life as the Christ took place after he was already perfected, but he learned obedience by the things which he suffered in past lives which prepared him for a life as the Son of God. We are told that after he learned obedience by suffering that he was “made perfect” and “became the author of eternal salvation”. What does this mean, and what is perfection?

Perfection seems to mean different things to different people, and from a human standpoint it could be defined as the highest ideal of any individual. But since the highest ideal of each individual is somewhat different, then perfection would be different for almost everyone. For instance Jesus was by no means perfect in the eyes of the learned Pharisees and Scribes. They thought the perfect Messiah would idolize their law and traditions as they themselves did. The Christian world in the days of Joseph Smith thought he was far from perfect for they thought a prophet should be very pious. Of course, he did not live up to this standard and even many converts were disappointed when they met him. Joseph once said that if Jesus himself were with them they would find many faults with him.

Thus we come to a question. If perfection by human standards is the highest ideal of an individual, is there any such thing as real perfection? After all, no matter how high a person’s ideal is, there is yet another higher throughout all eternity. There is no limit to a person’s will-to-good. Unfortunately when something higher than a person’s ideal is presented, the individual cannot recognize it unless he elevates his thoughts. If he does not do this the person will stand in absolute blindness when faced with the greater reality, a blindness so great that nothing from without can penetrate it.

Therefore, the Jews were completely ignorant to the fact that Jesus represented a greater reality. They thought he was less than perfection and presented a threat to their perfection; thus they sought to destroy him. Would this mean that there is a greater reality than Christ? Yes, and he admitted it for he said: “My Father is greater than I am.” John 14:28 Jesus was able to recognize one greater than himself, but the Jews could not and this was why they were condemned. They saw perfection as only their highest ideal and could not accept the fact that there was nothing higher and were called “the blind that lead the blind and both shall fall in the ditch”. The first step toward eternal progression is to remove this blindness and always be “opened” to the possibility that there may be somewhere out there a greater reality than we have ever before imagined. Many who read these words now will be amazed a few years down the road at all of the greater realities they will discover.

Taking the above logic into consideration we may safely conclude that perfection as it is understood by humanity is an illusion and does not really exist, for there is no ultimate in achievement. Even as far as Christ is concerned, he is just a junior achiever in relation to his Father, and his Father is a mere junior executive in comparison to the Gods above him for his Father’s main responsibility is this planet whereas other’s govern solar systems and galaxies and have a consciousness above anything that can be imagined even by Christ himself.

If this is so then what is meant by the scripture which tells us that he was “made perfect?” To understand this we must examine the Greek. The words “made perfect” are translated from the Greek word TELEIOO which really has little to do with perfection as we understand it. As a matter of fact there is no Greek or Hebrew equivalent for the English word perfection as it is applied to deity for they had enough common sense to realize that such a word was meaningless. The word TELEIOO is more appropriately translated as “finish, fulfill, or consummate” and in the text of this scripture it implies “To accomplish an assigned mission” Jesus himself used this word in a similar context when he said: “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish (From the Greek TELEIOO) his work.” John 4:34. Paul also said: “Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish (TELEIOO) my course with joy.” Acts 20:24.

Thus we see that after the Christ had finished his assigned task that he became the author of “eternal salvation”. These are another interesting pair of words for neither one of them mean what they seem. “Eternal” comes from the Greek AIONIOS which can mean one of three things: (1) Something which can last for an age or a long period of time. (2) Having an ageless quality or (3) At the end of an age. One has to look at the content to see how the word was intended to be used and the key is given in the word salvation which comes from the word SOTERIA which is more correctly rendered “deliverance” or “rescue”. An equivalent Hebrew word is used in Joel: “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. and it shall come to pass, that WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE DELIVERED (saved): for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” Joel 2:30-32 Here we see that this word is used to indicate a deliverance at the end of the age rather than a spiritual atonement. We see that the righteous will be “saved” from the calamities which will come upon the world.

Taking this into consideration let us retranslate the scripture in question which reads: “And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all that obey him.” It could be more correctly rendered: “And completing the work which was expected of him he made possible our deliverance at the end of the age.” In other words the work of the Christ made possible and paved the way for our deliverance at this time thousands of years later. This deliverance could be multiform. It could be a deliverance from physical calamities, but could also imply a deliverance from our lower nature as the teachings of Christ finally sink into our consciousness at the end of the old and the beginning of the new age.

Copyright 1996 by J J Dewey

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