That’s a bold statement. I know. But perhaps we can make some headway to the above statements with a few simple explanations that need not ever be deep nor hard to understand. We only have to think like the writers who wrote both the New and Old Testaments. And that means going nonliteral. Only then will all the locked doors of contradictions be opened.
First of all, let’s consider some facts: The Jewish and Christian perspective are at odds with each other about who Christ and Jesus are. Oddly enough, the Christian accepts the Jewish Old Testament completely, whereas the Devout Jew does not accept the New Testament as taught by the Christian view. Of course the Messianic Jew may disagree, but that’s natural. Surely there would come a group that would try to reconcile both concepts and try to make sense of it all in a nice, neat little framework. Who can blame them? But doesn’t a literal reading of the scriptures cause a huge conundrum. Consider just one of many blaring problems to the traditional Christian view: the Book of Ezekiel. Is the Christian really to accept that the messiah will return and do future blood sacrifices again in a new temple, after Jesus ascended? If you accept a literal view of scripture, you can’t really get around this Old Testament reading; the Christian first has to believe all the words of the Old Testament if he or she is to remain true to their faith. Many Christians have come up with over-the-top ideas about the Ezekiel Temple that explain the blood sacrifices, but in ways that further divide and explain things with more theories rooted in nothing but man’s resistance to the cold hard facts of the literal word. The truth is conundrums like the Book of Ezekiel aren’t matters of faith, they are written words that the literalists have to face. And the Book of Ezekiel is only one of hundreds of problems a literal rendition causes.
One thing I’ve noticed over my spiritual journey is that anyone who believes in a literal rendition of scripture automatically assumes that a non-literal view is must be negative. Understandably so. But what they may fail to understand is that the Bible is still one of the greatest roadmaps to the soul ever contrived and means so much more spiritually than it ever will literally! Paul plainly tells the Christian this more than a few times throughout his prolific writings, sometimes veiled and other times openly. Let’s take a look at a few of them below, beginning with 1 Corinthians 2:14:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he KNOW them, because they are SPIRITUALLY discerned.”
Being able to spiritually discern has nothing to do with faith in the blind and then receiving revelations because you have chosen correctly. Being able to spiritually discern means not thinking like the “natural (literal) man,” who always misses the deeper revelations that are buried within the seemingly literal interpretations of a higher spiritual truth. The scriptures are not alive because they really happened (which really wouldn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things), but because they are able to express unconfined (non-literal) concepts about a higher reality than that which we currently experience through the senses. Consider, Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3:
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual, but unto you as CARNAL (literal), even as babes unto Christ. I fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hirtherto you were not able to bear it. Neither are you able to bear it. For ye are yet carnal…”
The carnal aspect of man is the illusion of physical life and all that it entails. And a literal interpretation of the scriptures is immersed still in the physical aspect of life. We have to climb higher through our interpretation of scripture. The life in the written word that the authors talk about is something spiritual. Therefore spiritual life has nothing to do with life on the physical plane of existence. Paul was simply trying to explain to the Corinthians that he only fed them with milk (a literal story) to serve as a foundation in order to get to the meat (spiritual understanding) when they were ready. The literal story is the milk. The spiritual understanding (which can only come through non-literal interpretation) is the meat. In other words, Paul was essentially saying, get your head out of the literal story, and see a higher spiritual level of interpretation. It should have been time for you, but you are stubborn.
Christ the Mediator
Now let’s shift gears and look at Christ. Who is Christ? As my heading states, Christ is the mediator. Mediator of what? Christ is the mediator between heaven and earth, the physical and the spiritual, the lower man and the higher man. What does that mean? Let’s closely look at Hebrews 4:13-14:
“The blood of Christ…cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. And for this cause he is the mediator of a New Covenant…”
There is a lot to digest here. First off, what is the New Covenant? Perhaps we should look at covenants in the Old Testament. Covenants were established to cause a change of course in heart and action. A covenant between God and man caused a great paradigm shift. Consider Abraham. When God established a covenant with him, it meant that he would change his course of action to please and God and devout himself to serve God’s purpose. Abraham was to become the first Jew. And the underlying theme here is a change in Abraham’s thinking and action: consecration through circumcision. According to the Christian, that is the literal rendition of what happened. But Paul throws a huge wrench in it! He tells us something that should cause a pause of consideration, which will be related to the New Covenant:
“No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the spirit, NOT IN THE LETTER, who’s praise is not of men, but of God.”
What is the letter? The letter of the law is the literal written word! In other words, literal circumcision meant nothing. It had nothing to do with a Jew, but rather it is a change in thought and action through spiritual consecration that makes the Jew. This is the deeper spiritual significance here. It is one of the heart. As you can see, Paul is forcefully guiding us into a non-literal understanding.
So who is Christ ultimately? Christ is symbolic of the energy which has the potential to unite the divine with the human. Ask yourself: how can literal blood cleanse anything? Does God really need literal blood to cleanse the conscience? It seems a little barbaric, doesn’t it? That literal blood has some magical power to actually erase the conscience of mistakes or a wrong course of action? The Bible itself speaks against this: we reap what we sow. In the East it is known as karma. One only renews the mind when one changes their way of thinking. It wasn’t the shedding of literal blood that did or does this. Any man today can better himself through a course correction of action and thinking, which is where the cleansing of the conscience truly happens. It does not take a man dying on a literal cross to make one see this truth. Any significant event in one’s life can do this.
So who is Jesus?
Whereas Christ is the symbolic energy of the Holy Spirit which is the mediator between the divine and the human, Jesus is symbolic of the advocate who mediates for us in the physical life. Consider the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. He was so stressed about it that he sweat drops of blood! This is a completely human thing to do. Jesus the man represents the one who is on the path to perfection, but it is not until the cross is accomplished that that perfection is realized. Then the Christ is born within the individual! Jesus becomes the Christ. And the words of Paul can truly be realized through his statement in Galatians 4:19:
“My little children, whom I travail I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…”
Notice how Paul is not stating that some quick belief and accepting Jesus into your heart is the be all end all. Rather, Paul compares this process to a pregnancy. Why? Because it is not about believing in a death on a cross that is meant to cause the paradigm shift: it is the birth that happens after months of pregnancy. It is the process of both joy and hardship that is true to the human experience. Jesus is our symbolic advocate because he learned obedience to the process through the things that he suffered, just as we do. Hebrews 5:8 states:
“Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience through the things which he suffered.”
Think on the statement by Paul above which is so true to our own life experience…Even God’s son, his prized possession, had to learn obedience to the spirit through SUFFERING. In other words, the suffering, or trials of our lives, force us to begin considering what the meaning of life really is. The person who begins the spiritual path will suffer, just as everybody. However, unlike the carnal man, the spiritual one will begin to put two and two together and think…there is more to life than the physical aspect of it. And isn’t that where anyone begins to meet God? Suddenly an awakening happens where the soul begins to cry out for something other than life through the senses. And Jesus’ advocacy for us begins here. When the journey of the cross is finished, Christ is born within us.
This is a long process that is not the subject of this article. But hopefully you can see that this collaboration of spiritual ideas between Jesus and the Christ is the beginning of understanding the New Testament. I hope you were able to glean something from it.
For a better historical and spiritual explanation of the above scriptures about Paul and what he really believes, clink on the following link to the following 5-part in-depth series: