Again we live in the time of Advent, during which we are in expectation of the birth of Christ. What does this mean to us? Are we remembering the birth of Jesus Christ who was born 2000 years ago, or are we expecting the birth of the Christ, the awakening of the Christ Consciousness in ourselves? Traditional Christians are totally committed to the first, and many people who left their church and turned to spirituality are convinced of the second. But do we really have to choose?
For me, both are true, albeit that my interpretation of Jesus as Messiah has changed. I see him as one of probably many avatars (meaning, in this context, people who already have consummated the whole process I am writing about below, and who incarnate purely in order to help others), all of whom incarnated on earth in a period of time when mankind had lost its way, and had totally forgotten who they were. Every one of them addressed the problems of his or her time, and within the culture of the place and time in which they lived.
In the Gospels there is a lot of emphasis on the term, the “Son of Man,” and the question, “Who is the Son of Man?” The church has interpreted that question to mean that Jesus came to show us that he is the Son of Man who has come to save us from the consequences of our sins. However, in Hebrew, Son of Man is ben adam and that means man(kind), human being. So I interpret this to mean that Jesus came to remind us, to show us, that we ourselves are the Son of Man, the Son of God, who temporarily descended into the world of matter in order to have experiences there, and then totally forgot who we are. He showed us how to regain [conscious awareness of] our divine identity by teaching the way, and by going this way himself as an example.
As to the question of whether the story of his birth should be taken absolutely literally or not, I believe that the Bible itself shows us that that is not the intention in this case. Although we probably all grew up with a moving, beautiful, all-encompassing story around the birth of Jesus, this story was deducted from two stories in the Bible that are not at all the same, and even contain contradictions. Luke has a moving story about how Joseph and a heavily pregnant Mary, who lived in Nazareth, had to travel to Bethlehem, where on arrival they could not find a place to stay except in a stable, and that is where Jesus is born. Matthew mentions none of this, and in his story it looks like Joseph and Mary were living in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth.
However, Matthew mentions King Herod, who proves to be afraid of the birth of a possible messiah and wants to kill the child, which is not even mentioned by Luke, although the consequence of this intention is that Joseph and Mary have to flee to Egypt, where they have to stay until the death of Herod. This also is not mentioned by Luke.
There are many more differences between the two stories, which do not necessarily contradict each other, but do make you wonder why they each write a completely different story that leaves out some 90% of what the other writer mentions. Besides that, they each give a list of generations, leading from Abraham (Matthew) or Adam (Luke) to the birth of Jesus, or the Christ. These lists are also different in several places.
In my view all this leads to the conclusion that, yes, Jesus was born some 2000 years ago, but that the stories about this birth are not to be taken literally. They are meant symbolically, and in this way, also teach what Jesus came to teach mankind and both writers emphasized different points.
This message is very important to us as well, as we are living in times that are very similar to those of 2000 years ago. Again we live in a time in which one astrological cycle is ending and a new one is beginning. These transition times are known to be times of upheaval, disasters, wars and terror, but with the promise of a new and happier earth to come when we go through these times in the right way. At that time, Jesus taught us unconditional love, which was not completely understood and followed up on later, but the same choice and challenge lies before us now. And we had better take it and see through the horror and terror of our society today, where almost everybody seems to be afraid, which leads to attitudes and actions that cause even more fear. For in those days the situation was no different, and when we look at the symbolic meaning of the Bible stories, then we can find meaning in the suffering that so many people are also going through these days.
When Jesus was born, Herod was king in Judea. The name “Herod” is derived from the Hebrew verb charad, which means ‘to tremble, to fear’. Herod was the personification of fear, and fear ruled in Judea. Judea, Yehuda, contains the meaning of thanks and praise, of majesty. When fear rules, all those are gone. Herod is also called tetrarch, which is Greek and means Ruler of the four. In this context that means Ruler of the Fourth World, which is the world we are still living in today. And it is obvious that today Herod rules again.
Herod did not only make other people fear him. He himself was also afraid, and that showed in his command to have all male children under the age of two killed, just in order to be sure that this messiah, called the “King of the Jews,” would not grow up and live to become just that. And what does that remind us of? Did not the same thing happen long before that, in Egypt, when the Hebrews, as they were called then, were slaves in Egypt and the Pharaoh, the par’oh – symbol of the ego that had grown out of proportions and in total control – had commanded to kill all new-born male babies? They were a symbol of the spirit of man that had to be silenced. Neither Herod nor the Pharaoh succeeded in what they intended, as both Jesus and Moses survived and took their appointed tasks upon them.
So Herod, under whatever name, did not succeed then, and will not succeed now, if only we follow the teachings of Jesus, which is to love our neighbors, all seven to eight billion of them, regardless of where they come from, or what religion they profess, unconditionally.
Both Gospel writers agree on the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is Beth lechem, the House of Bread. Bread is made from wheat or rye etc. and making bread involves a whole process. And is one of the symbols for our process of raising our conscious awareness. There actually is a whole system of those symbols all through the Bible.
Wheat is the first fruit of the Kabbalistic system of seven fruits, which all in their own way stand for the above process, which has several phases. First of all the wheat is grinded, a painful process. Then yeast is added (the whole process of the ego and the emotions that has to be played out), and after that, the purification of the fire during the baking of the bread. The whole process is difficult and painful at times, but when we finally eat the finished product, the bread, then the Christ can be born in us.
Eating is achal in Hebrew, 1-kol, which means reconnecting kol, everything, with the oneness of the beginning. It means absorbing and digesting everything, and after that enjoying the nutrients that came out of all this. It means letting go of all bitterness, and acknowledging that all is Good without an opposite evil, because of all the positive things that may have come out of this experience, for ourselves and for others, because of the growth of our conscious awareness.
I do not know all the fruits of this Kabbalistic system, but I am pretty sure grapes belong to it too. They are crushed and fermented, among other things, in order to become wine. Wine is an essential element in the Bible stories, meaning the wine of the spirit as opposed to the water of ego and emotions. There, of course, the meaning can be found of the story in which Jesus turns water into wine during a wedding.
The fourth fruit is the fig, and that is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, also called ets-2 (tree of duality) or etsev, which means pain. We know how much pain and suffering the eating of that fruit has cost us, but in the end the eating and digesting of all the fruits of that tree prove to lead to the gaining of the higher awareness of the 50 through the word itsavon, ets-2 + 50, which also means pain, sorrow. Fifty is a symbol of higher awareness, and it provides the sought-after Knowledge, Da’at, which is shown in the picture of the Tree of Life in my article Hidden Symbols and Patterns Inside the Bible: Part 2 in which the tree of the knowledge and the tree of life prove to be one tree with two faces.
The sixth fruit is the olive, the fruit of the sixth day. The process of the olive proves to be Gethsemane, gat shemen, the oil press. Shemen, oil, is related to the number eight, shmona. This process involves again crushing and pressing, this time of the olives, in order to prepare the shemen, the oil, which is necessary for the anointment of the Messiah who will lead us into the eighth day, during which we will start to ascend out of this material world of the seventh day again (the Messiah being a force inside ourselves in this context). And by going from the descending sixth day to the ascending eighth day through this process of crushing and pressing the olives in order to prepare the oil, it becomes clear that Gethsemane itself stands for this material world of the seventh day, and that all the pain and sorrow we encounter in this world through that process are only meant to help us grow in conscious awareness and love.
This is confirmed again by the seventh fruit, the fruit of the seventh day itself, which is called tamar, 400-mar, or the bitterness of the 400. Four hundred is a symbol of slavery and addiction (the 400 years in Egypt) and the cross (the number 400 used to be written as a cross on its side in ancient days). This tamar that symbolizes the bitterest period of this seventh day proves to be a date that is sweet and nutritious. But again, we will only discover that when we eat it. When we absorb it and digest and process it.
Even the Hebrew word for cross itself shows it. It is tselav, or tsel-2, shadow of duality. It symbolizes our life in this world of duality, and by calling it a “cross,” it indicates that this life is not always easy, to say the least. Again it indicates suffering, but suffering with a purpose. After all is said and done, the word tselav also can be read as 90-lev, or the birth – after this whole process – of the heart, and of the Christ in us, that is, if we go through this process that is being symbolized by so many different symbols, and that brings us such a growth of conscious awareness, which I believe is the purpose of our descent into this world to begin with.
I have only explained very few symbols of the birth stories themselves because I wanted to concentrate on what the purpose and meaning of this birth actually is, and what leads to it. I also hope that it can be somewhat of a comfort for people who are going through a lot of suffering right now, to know that they are not alone in this, and that there is a purpose to all of it.
In the end, I want to return to the period we are living in right now, the darkest time of the year, just before the turning point, after which the days will slowly lengthen again. Also the seasons teach us the same lesson. And it is not just chance that we celebrate the birth of Christ right now. From the above we can learn that indeed the Christ is born in the darkest of circumstances, and that after that the light will grow stronger again. But we should also learn from this that after this tentative beginning, spring will not be upon us immediately. After this birth we will not be a totally changed being at once. First winter will be there, during which things may seem to get even worse. However, under the ground and inside the trees all sorts of growth is taking place, unbeknownst to us, and then suddenly, maybe when we least expect it, spring will be there in a riot of colours.
That is also what is happening right now – in ourselves when we are attending to this process -and in the world. It may seem that everyone is afraid and desperate and there does not seem to be hope of any change, but underneath it all a lot of change is underway, and many, many people are already involved in creating a more loving world. Let us all join them by striving to live a life of unconditional love as much as we possibly can.
I wish you all Happy Holidays with all your loved ones.