For theologians, the crucifixion of Jesus has been regarded as a monumental turning point in the history of mankind. Those famous words from Christ, “It is finished,” have represented the completion of God’s unmerited grace poured out for humanity through the death of his Son. This has always been the exoteric view, but what does the crucifixion mean esoterically? Is it possible that the church missed something of great importance because it failed to interpret the deeper meaning of the text? The answer of course is yes, and today we’ll uncover the highest meaning of the crucifixion.
Side note: If this is your first time here, you might want to read the first two posts in this series which discuss the esoteric Jesus through his coming out of Egypt, his baptism, and the Transfiguration.
We can discover the esoteric Jesus and true meaning behind the crucifixion through a mysterious statement that Christ he made at the 9th hour. I quote from Matthew 27:46:
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
I don’t know about you, but that phrase always used to bother me. Why would God forsake his own son, especially after going through all that suffering? I remember sitting in the pew Easter service and hearing the pastor gloss over that statement like it wasn’t even in the Bible. When I began researching and questioning the true meaning for this statement, I got the usual unsatisfactory reply: Jesus said that because he took all the sin of the world upon himself, and he had to be separated from God at that moment because God can’t look upon sin.
So…God could be reunited with him only after the sin of the world killed his flesh? Um, sorry, that didn’t cut it for me. The truth is that this answer (and many others like it) was simply a vein attempt to satisfy a scripture exoterically that in truth can only be satisfied esoterically. This is because the scriptures are esoteric in nature. However there is some truth to this answer when we see it as a process that happens within us, where Jesus said the Kingdom of God resided. In order to see how the crucifixion is really about a process in the heart of man let’s start with Gaskell’s definition for the number nine:
Nine, number: The number three is the number of perfection and completeness. Nine, which is three squared, refers to the attainment of perfection on the three lower planes [material plane, astral and mental planes].
The above defines why Matthew 27:46 starts out with about the ninth hour. It was about the ninth hour because Jesus’ soul was about to become perfect through the death of his lower nature. Now let’s look at Gaskell’s definition for the crucifixion itself:
Crucifixion of Jesus, according to the Canonical Gospel’s: A symbol of the final anguish of the incarnate Soul as it reaches perfection, and the lower nature drops away from it.
Now Jesus’ statement about God forsaking him is starting to make some sense! The ego, which represents the passions and desires of the lower man, truly feels forsaken as its dissolution and death. Of course it’s going to cry out that it is being forsaken. We ourselves do this every time we feel like we aren’t getting the attention we feel that we deserve!
A couple of people have asked me recently why the Bible depicts the ego as being crucified since crucifixion paints such a barbaric image. The reason crucifixion imagery fits so well is because when the lower self is extinguished it truly can be a painful and agonizing experience, at least at first. The bliss described by many gurus after union with the higher self is achieved makes the entire process seem worth it.
Consider the fact that so many people have had an “awakening” under circumstances of extreme distress. Many take place during a near-death experience. Everything from car wrecks, extreme physical illness, and even serious depression can help the soul make the transition.
Jesus made the statement “My God, my god, why hast thou forsaken me” then not because an outside source like God had to turn his head, but because the entire scene is symbolic of the ego being put to death. It’s about a process within the individual, not something separate from ourselves, and it is painful at first because the joy of bliss one experiences after the ego has been extinguished doesn’t happen until the process is complete. Remember, when Jesus made that statement, he hadn’t died yet. Jesus of the Gospels represents the soul in a state of transition to perfection, and his final transformation happens in the resurrection and ascension.
The next few scriptures in the crucifixion scene will solidify this esoteric interpretation for you. Consider what they gave to Jesus after asking God why he had forsaken him:
“And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink” (Matthew 27:48).
Have you ever asked yourself why someone in the crowd would give him vinegar? Water would have been better, wouldn’t you think? The truth is that the vinegar serves as another important symbol. Gaskell states vinegar is “A symbol of the experience of suffering and sorrow.”
No elaboration needed there, but we do need still need to discuss Matthew 27:50-51:
“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the Ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom…”
The veil is symbolic of the separation between the lower and the higher self. The temple in the verse above has nothing to do with a building. It’s the temple of the individual body. This is where the renting of the veil takes place. I have already discussed how Jesus’ death represents attaining the spiritual perfection of his personality by dropping away the lower self to achieve a union with his higher self. The ripping of the veil symbolizes this union.
It can also be said that there is no atonement for the lower self until all identification with the natural man has been severed in order for higher consciousness to be achieved. That is atonement. Remember Jacob’s ladder which is about the process of involution and evolution. The higher self lays down life in order to incarnate (involution), and then takes it up again after the ego has been crucified (evolution). It puts a whole new meaning on the crucifixion and resurrection, doesn’t it?J
Just like Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, the crucifixion then is another universal symbol for the death of the lower self and the subsequent raising of consciousness.
In the next post we’ll finish the esoteric Jesus series with the resurrection in ascension.