"Man shall not live on bread alone..." (Matthew 4:4)

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)

Is Jesus quoting Moses?

Yes, Jesus is quoting Moses here. It is very interesting that Jesus would quote Moses on a fast through the desert for 40 days. Is this a coincidence?

No. Moses fasted for 40 days:
Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 34:28)
So did Elijah:
So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. (1 Kings 19:8)
So we find precedent for such a fasting period in ancient times. It is likely that many other saints and pilgrims fasted for 40 days in ancient times.

Thus we can conclude that Jesus' fast would have a commemorative aspect: A dedication to Moses and his commitment to the Supreme Being.

We also find some additional symbolism with Moses' teachings, and his trek through the desert for 40 years with the Israelites. Jesus was drawing attention to the dedication of Moses to the Supreme Being.

Indeed, the three temptations of Jesus during this fast all include quotes from Moses. 

Here is the passage Jesus is quoting from - spoken by Moses to his followers after they had traveled through the desert:
"He [the Lord your God] humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 8:3)
What does this passage mean and what does Moses and Jesus mean by "man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD"? This is discussed below.

What does 'bread alone' mean?

Moses and Jesus were speaking of our spiritual connection with the Supreme Being. "From the mouth of God" is a metaphor. It means to rely upon the Supreme Being. Moses was speaking of the Israelites taking refuge in God.

This is also a spiritual supposition. Not needing physical food is a topic relating to our spiritual identity.

Each of us is essentially made of spirit. We are not these physical bodies. These physical bodies are temporary vehicles. They will last no more than a few decades and then they will die and begin to decompose - eventually turning into dirt.

Each of us is a spirit-person living within a physical body.

We can see this when we look at a photo of our body when it was a child. That body is now gone. Every molecule that made up that body has been replaced by new molecules - as every molecule in the body is replaced within five years.

Who is looking at the photo? And who was there when the photo was taken? Don't we say "this is me"? If the childhood body is gone now, yet we still say "this is me" - this means that we - "me" - is not the physical body. We are the personality who pervaded - who existed - within both the child body and the body we wear now.

This spirit-person is invisible to the physical eyes, because these eyes cannot see into the spiritual dimension. The spirit-person is of another plane of existence. It is of the spiritual dimension - a dimension not seen by the physical eyes. The physical eyes were designed to see a particular range or spectrum of wavelengths and not others. They see certain frequencies of lightwaves as those light waves bounce off of the molecules of the forms of the physical world.

This is why we cannot see any difference between a living body and a body that just died. We don't see the spirit-person leaving the physical body.

Because our identity is spiritual, we require food that is more than physical "bread." The physical body may need constant fuel in the form of "bread" in order to remain functioning. But the spirit-person that Jesus and Moses are speaking of needs something more. What is it?

What is our spiritual food?

It is the food that feeds the spiritual self.

Our spiritual food is our relationship with the Supreme Being. This is what gives each of us real life. And this is the only thing that will make us happy.

Just think about it. We are each looking for happiness in this physical world and never finding it. We look for happiness in the objects of the senses. We look for happiness by achieving wealth. We look for happiness by achieving fame and the acclaim of others. We look for happiness by having a big house. We look for happiness by achieving some goal of accomplishment.

Yet none of these physical things make us happy. We are still empty within. Even those who have the most of these things are still empty within.

So we look for happiness through our relationships with those around us. We look for happiness in our spouses, our children and our family. And to a degree, we do find a glimpse of happiness within these relationships.

But this fleeting happiness fades as these people leave us or break up with us. Our spouse may divorce us or die. Our children will grow up and move out. Our mother and father and grandparents will all die one day. Each of these events will leave us empty and alone.

Because they are temporary relationships. Yes, we might see them in a different lifetime but we won't recognize them as we knew them before. We will have to start a brand new relationship with them and won't remember the last one we had with them.

In other words, all the relationships of the physical world - these relationships of the physical body - are all temporary. They don't last. And the happiness we are looking for in the physical world does not exist. The world only offers us the illusion of happiness. And the illusion that we are these bodies and we are permanently these physical bodies.

Who is the 'tempter'?

This description provides a combination of events and symbolic parable. We see a historical connection between Jesus' fast in the desert and Jesus' departing John the Baptist and then beginning his teachings.

But the events of the fast also take on a symbolic theme. For example, there is no mountain on the earth for which one can see every kingdom of the earth.

Similarly, this is not describing a specific person - "Satan the tempter" - as though God has lost control over this person and he has the power to deceive God and bring us over to his team.

Rather, the "tempter" is symbolic of an aspect of the physical world that constantly tests us.

This is the illusory nature of the physical world - designed by the Supreme Being. And this is "the tempter" being spoken of in Matthew 4:3.

The physical world is constantly tempting us with promises of wealth, popularity and sensual satisfaction. All of these are magnified for someone who is attempting to serve and honor the Supreme Being.

The physical world provides a constant testing ground for the soul. These tests come in the form of temptations, which are repeatedly offered to us with promises of self-satisfaction. The test is whether we succumb to those tests during our temporary stay in the physical realm.

But this is not the case in the spiritual realm. The Supreme Being is eternal and our relationship with the Supreme Being is eternal. And we find true happiness within our loving service relationship with the Supreme Being.

We have forgotten this relationship with the Supreme Being. This is the purpose of the physical world and these physical bodies. This is the purpose for the illusory nature - "the tempter": To help us escape from and forget God.

But our relationship with Him is forever. We simply have forgotten that relationship.

This is because the Supreme Being gives each of us the freedom to love Him or not. Love requires freedom.

So those of us in the physical world are here because we chose not to love the Supreme Being.

Even so, the Supreme Being wants us to come home to Him. He wants us to return to our loving relationship with Him. This is because He loves us and He knows we will only be happy when we have resumed our relationship with Him.

And what is that relationship? It is the loving relationship we are perpetually looking for as we seek love within the physical world. This is the loving relationship we seek as we look for our soul mate and seek love with family members. We are looking for our lost relationship of love with the Perfect Person.

What does 'living on every word' mean?

"Living on every word that comes from the mouth of God" means living for the Supreme Being - taking refuge in God and dedicating our life to Him.

When we are in love with another person, we will do what pleases them. Should they want to go somewhere in particular, we will go there. Or when they say they want to eat a certain food, we go get them that food.

What are we doing as we are doing all those things? We are living off of "every word that comes from the mouth" of that person.

Yes, "every word that comes from the mouth" is an expression. It is an expression - used by Moses and even still used today - that refers to doing what is pleasing to that person. It refers to having a loving service relationship with that person.

And this is what Moses and Jesus were asking of their followers: To renew their loving service relationship with the Supreme Being.

And Jesus' lived this instruction as well. Consider this statement he made:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
Jesus is stating that his pleasure ("I seek") is derived from pleasing the Supreme Being. He also states this elsewhere - for example:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
Jesus is referring to his loving relationship with the Supreme Being. He wants to do whatever the Supreme Being wants him to do. This means he is living off of "every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

And because the Supreme Being wants each of us to return to our loving relationship with Him, Jesus' efforts were focused upon encouraging and teaching those around him to return to their loving service relationship with the Supreme Being. This was also clearly communicated in the most important teaching of both Jesus and Moses:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

"It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" (Matthew 4:7)

This is Jesus' response:
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" (Matthew 4:5-6)

Is the 'devil' literally quoting scripture to Jesus?

If we take this story literally, then yes. But since this story is not directly narrated by Jesus, where is it coming from? If we assume that one of Jesus' followers recorded the Book of Matthew, then this story was retold. Was this event originally told by Jesus?

There was no one else present. So Jesus would have had to tell this. Unless of course, it is more of a legend. It could have been originally told by Jesus in a metaphorical manner and then expanded by the writer of the Book of Matthew.

We should also note that the same event is described, nearly precisely the same, in the Book of Luke as well. In the Book of Mark there is a brief mention:
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Mark 1:12-13)
The Book of John makes no mention of this. 

Most Biblical scholars agree that Matthew, Mark and Luke have a source in the same document - some describe as the Q source.

But once the full Gospel of Thomas was found and translated, many scholars have agreed that this text - which appears to have predated Matthew, Mark and Luke - is the source of these three Gospels.

Since there is no source mentioned - where Jesus or someone else describes having observed this event - and no event portrayed in the Gospel of Thomas, we have to accept the possibility that this event may have been added later by scribes.

Why would scribes have added this text later? There are some interesting parallels between this event and the events of Moses narrated in Deuteronomy:

1) Both Moses and Jesus fasted for 40 days.
2) Both Moses and Jesus went away to the desert
3) Moses returned with the Ten Commandments
4) Jesus began his teaching mission upon his return from the desert

This has led many to assume that Jesus was the new Moses. As if Moses was the old guard and Jesus is the new guard. This opens up the potential motive related to conversion many centuries ago.

Such a premise is possible specifically due to the presence of this event - which has no source. (For example, a source would mean that Jesus described this event to someone else, or someone observed it.)

The other possibility is that Jesus did describe his ordeal to his followers later on. If this is the case, it is possible that Jesus described the devil in a metaphorical manner - not literally, in other words.

We can easily assume it is not literal, since there is no location in the Judean desert where a person could see every kingdom in the whole world.

Otherwise, we have a situation where the "devil" is quoting scripture to Jesus.

What is the devil quoting from?

The verse the "devil" is quoting comes from David's Psalm 91. Here is the Psalm in its entirety, with the verse quoted by the "devil" in bold:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.If you say, "The LORD is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent."Because he loves Me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My Name.He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation." (Psalm 91)

Who was David referring to?

In other words, who is the subject of this Psalm? Is it the "Son of God"?

The subject of this Psalm is clearly stated at the beginning with: "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High..."

Then the subject of this Psalm is further elaborated with: "Because he loves Me..."

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High." This means it is a conditional description of anyone who takes shelter of the Supreme Being. Anyone who surrenders and dedicates their life to the Supreme Being.

David is also considering himself in this position as he states:
"I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
This indicates that while David is explaining what happens when a person takes shelter of the Supreme Being, he is also engaging himself.

And he is engaging the reader as well:. "Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence" and so on. David is telling the reader that if we take shelter in the Supreme Being then we will be protected. The Supreme Being will give us protection.

And according to this Psalm, the Supreme Being's protection also utilizes God's angels:
For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11-12)
This is clearly stating that if we take shelter in the Supreme Being, then God's protection of us will extend to His angels, as they also will watch over one who is taking shelter of God.

So what does this have to do with Jesus being the "son of God" then?

Is 'Son of God' a mistranslation?

The word "son" here is being translated from the Greek word υἱός (huios). According to the lexicon, this word can only mean "son" "in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)." Outside of this "restricted sense, it indicates another type of relationship: "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower." In other words, a devoted follower or loving servant.

Now we can match up the person David is speaking of in Psalm 91 - "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High" and "because he loves Me" with the attribute given to Jesus - υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ - which is typically versed as υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. The word θεοῦ is the Name of God - the Supreme Being. And τοῦ means "of".

This means that υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ doesn't translate to "son of God" but rather "devoted follower of God" or "loving servant of God." This is not only confirmed by the Greek alone, but with Psalm 91 referring to "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High" - which is precisely what a "devoted follower of God" or "loving servant of God" does.

And how about the word εἶ in this particular verse? εἶ is the second person singular - which translates to "you are" or "thou art" in the King's English.

In other words, the "devil" is stating the conditional just as Psalm 91 is: "If you are the loving servant of God then throw yourself down..."

Why would the "devil" be saying this? Because Psalm 91 defines clearly that if a person takes shelter in the Supreme Being then the Supreme Being will protect him. Since Jesus was a "devoted follower" or "loving servant" of the Supreme Being - then he would be protected. This is the challenge the "devil" is giving Jesus.

Who is Jesus quoting?

Jesus is responding with a statement from Moses:
"It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Jesus is quoting Moses as Moses instructed his students:
"Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah." (Deut. 6:16)
Moses is referring to a time when his followers the Israelites tested God:
And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7)
Thus we find the foundation of this exchange between the "devil" and Jesus during his 40-day fast in the desert. We find that Jesus was being encouraged to challenge and test the bond God gives those who take shelter in Him, as said by David:
If you say, "The LORD is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. (Psalm 91:9-10)
Jesus refused to test the Supreme Being as he was challenged by the "devil."

Why is this important? Because Moses, David and Jesus are all discussing the same thing: A relationship with the Supreme Being.

They are discussing the love that exists between the Supreme Being and someone who takes refuge in the Supreme Being.

What is this relationship based upon?

It is a relationship built upon trust.

The very notion of taking refuge or shelter in someone is a proposition of trust. By taking shelter, such a person is saying 'I trust in you.' 'I trust that you will take care of me.'

And by testing the Supreme Being, one abandons that very trust at the foundation of their relationship.

This illustrates precisely the relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being - also described by υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ - "devoted follower of God," "loving servant of God," or in this case, "Representative of God."

When a person puts themselves at the feet of the Supreme Being and becomes His devoted follower and servant, this is an expression of our natural position. Each of us was created by the Supreme Being to have a loving relationship with Him - to serve Him and please Him.

Doesn't love require freedom?

Yes. The Supreme Being gives each of us the freedom to love Him or not.

And those who chose not to love the Supreme Being - those who wanted to act independently of Him - the opposite of taking refuge - were sent to the physical world and given these temporary physical bodies. Why?

You see, when a person loses their love for the Supreme Being it leaves a hole in the heart. A hole where there once was love for the Supreme Being.

This hole in the heart creates self-centeredness. In order to fill that emptiness created by losing our love for the Supreme Being, our focus turns to ourselves. We want to become the greatest. We want to become the best. We want to become the hero.

This is why everyone in the physical world is striving so hard to win. Each of us wants to win because winning represents being on top. Winning represents being the best.

But this is God's position. Yes, the citizens of the physical world are all competing for God's position, because we have lost and forgotten our loving relationship with the Supreme Being - so we are trying to fill our emptiness with self-centeredness.

But this is not our natural position. This is why even a person who wins seven or even eleven gold medals at the Olympics is still empty inside. That person might be called the greatest athlete ever, but that person is still empty inside, and is still searching to become fulfilled.

This indicates two things: First it indicates that we are not these physical bodies. These bodies are vehicles that we get in and drive for a while. This body will only live a few decades and then it will die.

Just consider if a driver of a car is hungry and pulls up to the gas station to get some gas. Will putting gas in the gas tank make the driver less hungry? No. Because the driver is not the car. The car and the driver are distinct.

In the same way, each of us is distinct from our physical bodies. Even if our bodies get the best food, the most wealth, and the most fame - we will still be unfulfilled. Because we are spiritual beings. We are not physical bodies.

And we - the spirit-persons within this temporary body - need spiritual food. What is that?

What will satisfy us?

The only thing that will satisfy us is our loving relationship with God. This is the only thing that will satisfy us because this is our natural position.

Our natural position is our loving service relationship with the Supreme Being. Our natural position is to take shelter in Him, and serve Him, and love Him, and He takes care of us. He protects us - the spirit-person. And He gives us the love that we are always looking for as we search the world for fulfillment.

This is the basis for the relationship that is being described between Jesus and the Supreme Being. Jesus confirmed this relationship elsewhere:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” (Matthew 4:10)

“Away from me, satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” (Matthew 4:10)

Who is 'satan' or 'the devil'?

This ends the exchange described in Matthew during which Jesus was tempted by the devil or satan. Just who is this person that Jesus is having conversations with? Is it really a person? Is the devil really someone who is challenging God and whom God cannot control?

The event unfolds during Jesus' fast of forty days and nights. Jesus was hungry:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. (Matt. 4:1-2)
"The devil" is introduced in the text as "the tempter", translated from the Greek word πειράζω (peirazō) - meaning "to try, make trial of, test:"
The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." (Matt. 4:3)
Jesus responded by describing our identity as spiritual and our relationship with the Supreme Being:
“It is written : ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)
But next we find that "the tempter" - the "devil" - now takes Jesus to "the holy city" - apparently Jerusalem:
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. (Matt. 4:5)
And then he tempts him with another possibility:
"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" (Matt. 4:6)
Jesus responded to this latest temptation:
“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matt. 4:7)
And this is precisely what "the tempter" is asking of Jesus - to put God to the test. And what is putting God "to the test" mean? We'll discuss this below.

Next "the devil" takes Jesus to another place and tempts him with another possibility:
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." (Matt. 4:8-9)
So we must ask: Who is this person who can not only tempt Jesus with turning stones to food but can take him many miles away to Jerusalem and then also take him to a mountaintop to show him "all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor"?

Who has this kind of power of transport? And who has the power to give someone "all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor"?

And what about God? Does God not have such power? Doesn't God have the power to remove those powers of satan? Doesn't God have the ability to strike down the devil? Why, then, is the devil still around?

Who has 'all this' to give to Jesus?

Some sectarian institutions and their teachers threaten us that "the devil" or "satan" is a person who has somehow gotten out of God's control and is now going around tempting people. They also teach that all the suffering in the world is caused by "the devil" or "satan." That he has somehow gotten out of control and now he is going around messing things up for us and God.

It makes no sense to say that there is the existence of a Supreme Being - who is all-powerful - yet someone has gotten out of His control. As if God - which means omniscient - cannot control His creation.

This is an atheist concept: If someone has gotten out of God's control there is no God: A God who is not in control is not God.

This is hypocrisy. To say there is a God but God lost control over part of His creation is a nonsensical doctrine.

The reality is that there is a Supreme Being and He never loses control. There is never anyone out of His ultimate authority and control.

Is anything out of control?

This would mean that such a "tempter" or "devil" or "satan" is ultimately within God's control.

And this means that all the temptations that we are presented are ultimately taking place with God's authority and permission.

The reality is that the Supreme Being arranged temptation. It is part of His energy that deceives us into thinking we will be happy if we act in a self-centered fashion within the physical world.

Temptation is ultimately designed by God to give us freedom of choice. Each of us has the freedom of choice to act in a myriad of ways.

Ultimately, we each have the choice to love others or love ourselves. We have the choice to be God-centered or self-centered.

We can also waiver between the two, in various ways. These are part of the choices each of us is given by the Supreme Being as He created us.

God created each of us to love Him and serve Him. But love requires freedom. We cannot be forced to love someone.

So the Supreme Being created each of us with the option to love Him or love ourselves.

The option of self-centeredness also has a number of gradients. We can still be self-centered and inflict less harm to others. Or we can not care at all, which can lead to becoming violent and even hateful.

Loving others also has gradients. These range from sacrificing oneself to help others to just trying to be kind when possible. We can love others more or less.

Regardless, this world provides choice: It requires us to make a choice in one respect or another - and at one gradient or another.

Isn't temptation a form of choice?

As such, the physical world continually gives us the choice, through temptation.

Temptation is set up through the mind and the senses. The senses, through nerve conduction and neurotransmitters, feed the mind physical attractions. And the mind concocts designs for us to try to enjoy those attractions.

The combination of these sensual attractions and the mind's concoctions create the temptations that pull us into the physical world's net.

And this net of the physical world keeps pulling at us - constantly giving us the choice of remaining away from the Supreme Being. This, as stated in Matthew 4:3, is what a test is: A choice.

Yes, we can certainly personify this system - as it has been personified by ancient teachers. And it is not incorrect to say that the Supreme Being has others help Him manage things. Yes, the Supreme Being has many servants and those who don't serve Him - who help maintain the physical world from different aspects.

For example, there have been many cruel leaders in the past who treated their subjects with painful consequences. Where was God in these circumstances? Was God not around when millions of Jews were persecuted by German leaders? Was He not around when millions were slaughtered and raped by African overlords? Did He lose control during these times as some institutions like to teach?

Certainly not. None of those evil leaders were challengers to God. None of them are out of God's control. Yes, each abused the power they were given by virtue of their own consequences, and they will each have to suffer the consequences of their actions, just as their actions executed the consequences of others' previous actions.

What we do not understand about these circumstances is that we are not these physical bodies. They are temporary vehicles. The pain we feel when they are damaged are nerve impulses to our brains. Just as the driver of a car is not harmed when the car breaks down, the spiritual person within is not harmed when the body is harmed or killed.

We might compare this to a video game. The video game icon we identify with might be shot or even killed, but we are not shot or killed. We simply turn off the game and walk away from the computer. In the same way, the spirit-person leaves the physical body when it dies.

So these experiences that produce pain within the physical body are merely teaching opportunities, just as being shot in a video game can teach us.

The bottom line is that the physical world - the physical senses and the mind - were set up perfectly to offer us temptations that allow us to exercise our freedom to not love God.

Did God create this world as a place of choice?

Ultimately, in order to provide us with the choice not to love Him, the Supreme Being created a separate world - a virtual world - to allow us the ultimate dimension of choice. Here we get to make choices regarding love and selfishness. But we can also choose to completely forget God, or even deny God's existence.

This physical world was created for those of us who chose not to love Him to play out our self-centeredness without having to see Him.

Why would He make the choice complete? Because only this will allow us to make a real choice to love Him out of freedom. The option of not loving Him has to be real and it has to be executable. What is the benefit of having choice if we have no way of exercising one of the options?

So the Supreme Being created this dimension - the physical world - in order for us to exercise our choice not to love and serve Him.

And these physical bodies are the vehicles that we use to access the physical world. These bodies are not us - they are vehicles we utilize temporarily. They are like a car a person gets in and drives for a while. After a few decades, the physical body dies and we move on.

We are spiritual in essence. But our spiritual identity and the Supreme Being are hidden from the perception of the physical body and mind. Why?

To give us the complete freedom to exercise our desire not to love and serve God. If God was ever-present to our physical eyes and mind as He is in the spiritual realm then how could we play out our fantasies to be independent of Him and seek out our personal pleasure, fame and glory?

We couldn't. If we were faced with His presence we'd be unable to ignore Him.

We might compare this to how parents will give a child their own bedroom. While they own the house and have complete control over the house including the bedroom, they give the child their own room so the child can have some privacy and not have to have their parents looking over their shoulders all the time.

But this privacy is only perceived. The parents can go into the room anytime they want. They can look through all the kid's stuff as they want. But they may not because they want to teach the child respect. They may respect the child's privacy as part of their raising of the child.

Just as the child is given their own room and the perception of privacy, the Supreme Being has given each of us the physical world and this physical body and mind to act out our self-centered desires. The perception of privacy from Him gives us the freedom to choose as we want, without having Him "in our face" so to speak.

After all, how could we make an objective choice to love God if we couldn't get away from Him?

And just like the child's bedroom is always within the control of the parents, the Supreme Being is always in control over the physical world. He just set up things so that the world seems independent from Him, and yet still feeds back to each of us the consequences of our various choices.

And this is why there is suffering in the world. It is not because some guy (devil or satan) got out of control. It is because the Supreme Being designed the physical world to produce precise consequences for our activities. When we do something good, there is a good consequence, and when we do something that harms another, we get harmed in return.

This consequence system is designed to teach us, just as the best way of parenting has been shown to be consequence training rather than physical discipline.

So while the physical world is set up by God to allow us the freedom to choose, it also teaches us. Why? Because our innate identity is spiritual - and our innate behavior is loving. So the physical world has been designed to point us towards our innate spiritual nature.

But it still gives us the ultimate freedom to choose whether we want to love and serve God or love and serve ourselves. This is God's perfect design.

Is this a symbolic conversation between Jesus and the 'devil'?

There may be a practical element to Jesus' fast and walk through the desert. But this exchange between Jesus and the devil is certainly metaphorical - and symbolic.

The symbolism used in the event that played out between Jesus and "satan" portrays our freedom of choice precisely. It illustrates how Jesus was given the choice to exercise his self-centeredness, by being offered the notion of seeking wealth, power, and fame within the physical world.

But Jesus did not choose those. He chose to love and serve the Supreme Being - and "worship" Him - rather than "testing" God.

This is the teaching purpose of this event portrayed using personification and symbolism. We each have this choice to make: we can love and serve ourselves by chasing the various concoctions of our mind as fed by the senses - and executed through the chase for wealth, fame and power.

Or we can love and serve the Supreme Being. We have that choice.

This is the lesson provided by this event, and this is the sum and substance of the real teachings of Jesus. Jesus came to deliver to us this message that if we make the choice to love and serve the Supreme Being as our Best Friend and Soul Mate, we will be fulfilled, simply because this is our innate spiritual nature.

This is why Jesus states clearly:
"‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’"

*Here is the translation of this verse from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
“Go away, enemy of God! For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD your God and Him only shall you serve.” (Matt. 4:10)

“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 4:15)

Why did Jesus get baptized by John?

This is how Jesus responded when he approached John the Baptist for baptism. John had been preaching to thousands of people who came from towns and villages. They traveled miles into the wilderness to hear John's teachings.

John was an acclaimed messenger of God in line with the great Prophets. Thus Jesus' baptism by John also put Jesus within this same lineage of messengers of God.

John's Jordan River baptisms and sermons brought large crowds of people to hear from this extraordinary teacher of wisdom. Though the text records John’s humble statement praising Jesus, it is apparent that John the Baptist was a spiritual teacher renowned throughout Judea.

The texts describe John as a devoted and dedicated preacher. His teachings were critical of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He called them a “brood of vipers!” (Matthew 4:7) In other words, he was not a preacher of the established institutional religion of that time and era.

Yet at the same time, John the Baptist taught the same essential teachings of Moses, Abraham, David, Samuel, Eli, Isaiah and so on. In his sermon to the Pharisees and Sadducees, he comments about Abraham as their father - a term often used to describe one's teacher.

Where did John get his authority?

John the Baptist was also the student of another glorified messenger of God. Luke details John’s father, Zechariah, and how John’s birth came to be. Zechariah was a priest “who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah” (Luke 1:5).

Luke further describes Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth: 
“Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly” (Luke 1:6)
As Zechariah and Elizabeth were older and Elizabeth was thus far barren, the birth of John was preceded by the visitation of Angel Gabriel, who identified himself, declaring that,
“I stand in the presence of God,” (Luke 1:19).
In this visitation, Gabriel proclaimed that Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a child. Gabriel spoke of this child, John the Baptist:
“... for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:15-17).

Was John Jesus' teacher?

From this statement, we find that John the Baptist was more than the provider of Jesus’ baptism. He was God's messenger. He brought people back to God. This means he was qualified to teach the same message of love for God that Jesus taught:
“They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” Finally they said “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (John 1:21-23)
Thus John humbly described himself. Though Gabriel may have proclaimed to John’s father the greatness of John the Baptist, John saw himself humbly, as a simple messenger of God. 

The phrase “make straight” - translated from the Greek term εὐθύνω (euthynō) meaning "to lead or guide straight" as a "helmsman" might - is about one's personal life. John certainly was not involved in governmental affairs or crowd control. “Make straight” is a personal process of preparing oneself.

“The way for the Lord” has been assumed to be some sort of description of Jesus' arrival. This is not consistent with the text. The Greek word ὁδός (hodos) means "a course of conduct" according to Thayer's lexicon. 

This means this verse is describing a person's choice to align one's life with "the Lord" - that is, with the Supreme Being.

In other words: John wanted to encourage people to have a change of heart and decide to return to their relationship with God.

These are the teachings common to all of the prophets. Every prophet, from Abraham to Ezekiel, requested from his students that they turn to the Supreme Being and learn to love and serve Him.

Now when Jesus approached John for baptism, John immediately recognized Jesus, and indicated Jesus' position:
“I need to be baptized by you and do you come to me? (Matt 3:14)
Jesus did not accept such a question born of humility. He understood John's authority and was determined to be baptized by John:
“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” was how Jesus responded.

What is the purpose of baptism?

We might stop to consider carefully the meaning and purpose of baptism. While some sectarian institutions might consider baptism to be the process of cleansing the sins away from a person, there is certainly another intention involved in the process.

Today sectarian baptism is conducted by a priest or minister, but during John and Jesus' time it was the process of a spiritual teacher accepting followers, who could then become spiritual teachers. It was not a ceremony to join a sect or cleanse sins. It was to symbolize someone becoming a follower of that spiritual teacher.

This process of accepting a teacher, who has accepted a teacher creates a lineage of teachers who are essentially passing on the same teachings.

Moses, Abraham, Isaiah and so many others who were shown to have authority in the Gospels all themselves were followers then teachers within the same succession or lineage of teachers.

John the Baptist was a teacher and follower of a teacher within the lineage of Abraham.

Jesus had no need to accept the position of John’s follower. But he did so to illustrate the process of accepting a teacher within the lineage of God's messengers.

Did Jesus follow John's example by taking on his own disciples?

Once Jesus received the baptism from John he began taking on his own disciples. If Jesus were to gather his own disciples and baptize them prior to his baptism by John, we would probably not see the importance of accepting a teacher.

However, Jesus did indeed accept not just any teacher—not just any Pharisee from the local synagogue. He did not just walk into any church and take the baptism as a mechanical process. He approached a specific person, a dedicated preacher and the student of an esteemed priest named Zechariah, “who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah” (Luke 1:5).

Thus we can understand that Jesus accepted a bonafide teacher before he became a teacher. This is the example that Jesus set for his own students, who eventually also became teachers.

This is why Peter, James, Thomas, John and other disciples began their own ministries after Jesus departed.

Is this about a family lineage?

From Jesus' life we can see that his disciples were not his family members. Yes, there were a few, such as James, that were part of his physical family. But the bulk of his followers were not part of his physical family.

This and other indications tell us that the lineage of ancient teachers is not about family heritage.

Much of the teachings of the Old Testament were presented and handed down through the generations of the teaching lineage of Abraham. Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Josiah and other saints and teachers who were all students of Abraham’s teachings. Some were related as in the same family, and some were not.

This is also confirmed by the fact that Jesus chose someone who was not his father to take baptism.

It should be pointed out that Joseph did not take up the priesthood or become a teacher. Yet because both Zechariah and John were students before they were teachers, and Zechariah took his training in the lineage of Abijah, we see that the lineage from teacher to disciple was not necessarily a family thing.

As we look deeper into the Old Testament, we find that many of the descendants of Abraham were kings or leaders of their day, but a priestly lineage was present yet often separate from the family. Though we find Jacob, Lot and Isaac were students of Abraham during the time of Elijah, we find instructions were “in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun.” (1 Kings 17:1)

We also find many other cases where a descendant of Abraham’s family did not “walk in the ways of the Lord” as did others, while many, such as David and Solomon, certainly did walk with God. This confirms it is not simply a bloodline - but a spiritual family.

Were the teachings of Moses and Abraham lost during these times when the Abraham bloodline did not worship the Supreme Being? Certainly not. The teachings were carefully being passed down through the priestly lineage. And it was such a lineage that Jesus decided to take baptism from.

This bears a discussion regarding the current state of affairs among some sectarian institutions. Though we know that Jesus took on and baptized students, and he instructed them to go out and preach the gospel and take on their own students, the lineage coming from Jesus has been given up by ecclesiastical institutions that appoint and elect their teachers much as politicians are elected. Thus the lineage has been effectively abandoned by these organizations.

Was Jesus indoctrinated?

Jesus chose a teacher who was not part of any organization or “church.” John was considered an outcast, teaching the Truth in the desert, where people had to travel to hear him speak. 

John was also critical of the local organized institution and its teachers:
You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matt 4:7-8)
These words obviate that John was his own man - serving the Supreme Being - and not part of the establishment. The fact that he instructed them to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” is clear. He was obviously requesting that they give up their pride and become devoted to God.

“And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’” (Matt 4:9) John said. He made it obvious that producing fruit is connected to devotion to God and not related to belonging to any particular family, club or group.

Jesus chose a particular teacher of the Truth, not an organization to join. Jesus never went around saying he was part of a particular church or organization either, just as John did. Herein lies the “righteousness” of the situation. Jesus was teaching us by example not to join a club or organization, but to carefully choose a teacher who keeps the Truth close, and focuses on devotion to God.

Jesus' purpose was to serve the Supreme Being and please God with his activities. He didn't make up his own system or just appoint himself. He didn't set up an electoral college or a council of deacons to pick the teacher through politics. Before he began preaching and taking on students, he accepted a teacher, stating:
“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17)

Is this the correct translation?

This statement by Jesus has been translated differently among the different Bible versions:
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (New International Version 2011)
"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (King James version)
“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (New Living Translation)
“Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Christian Standard Bible)
"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" (Hebrew Names Version)
"Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn nigh." (Darby Translation)
'Reform ye, for come nigh hath the reign of the heavens.' (Young's Literal Translation)
"Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (American Standard Version)
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Revised Standard Version, English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible)
“Change your heart, for the sanctuary of God is readily available.” (Lost Gospels of Jesus)
These are all translated from the same Greek phrase, μετανοεῖτε ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

Isn't this also what John the Baptist taught?

Regardless of the translation, this teaching was also taught by John the Baptist before Jesus taught it:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 3:2)
These teachings were only taught by Jesus following his hearing of John the Baptist’s imprisonment:
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. ... From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:12-17)
This means that this teaching was not solely Jesus' message. And just as Jesus was passing on the same teachings of his teacher John the Baptist, Jesus also instructed his own disciples to go out and teach this same message to others:
"As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.'" (Matthew 10:7)
What does this mean? It means that this very same teaching was taught by at least three generations of teachers: John, Jesus and Jesus' disciples, and presumably, those who followed them.

Was this teaching taught before John?

This teaching did not originate with John the Baptist. We find in David's Psalms and other texts of the Bible:
But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm 73:28)

We praise you, God, we praise you, for Your Name is near (Psalm 75:1)

Yet You are near, LORD, and all your commands are true. (Psalm 119:151)

The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)

“In the morning the LORD will show who belongs to Him and who is holy, and He will have that person come near Him. (Numbers 16:5)

He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near Himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. (Numbers 16:10)

What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? (Deut. 4:7)

Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey.” (Deut. 5:27)

And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night (1 Kings 8:59)

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while He is near. (Isaiah 55:6)

They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. (Isaiah 58:2)

"Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’" (Luke 10:9)

What does 'repent' mean here?

The word "repent" is being translated from the Greek word μετανοέω (metanoeō). This means "to change" or "to change one's mind" according to Thayer's lexicon. 

It means to have a change of heart. It means to make a serious change in one's life.

In other words, "repent" in this context would be to divert from those activities focused upon our own selves - exercised by our seeking satisfaction within materialism. To "repent" from these activities would mean to refocus towards regaining our relationship with the Supreme Being.

What does 'kingdom of heaven' mean here?

The word "kingdom" here is being translated from the Greek word βασιλεία (basileia). The lexicon describes this word to mean, "royal power, kingship, dominion, rule: not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom."

From this, we know that Jesus and John were speaking of accepting the Supreme Being's dominion - His ultimate authority. So the kingdom of heaven relates to the consciousness of accepting the ultimate authority of the Supreme Being. This is describing the refuge, the shelter, or the sanctuary, of God.

The use of "kingdom" here comes from a time when there were many different kings - who were basically tribal rulers - in different regions. Using their armies, these kings protected the people of the kingdom. As such, the people revered the king and took shelter or refuge under the king's protection. Using their assembled armies and barriers, the king would protect the populace from invading armies. As such the "kingdom" was the name given to that place of refuge, shelter or sanctuary.

Having a change of heart and taking refuge or shelter or taking sanctuary of God requires humility. It means accepting that we don't know it all. It means accepting that we don't have the means to protect ourselves. It means accepting that the Supreme Being is my only real protector and salvation.

The Supreme Being is a person, and each of us has an innate relationship with God. We have forgotten this loving service relationship as we seek our own satisfaction away from God. In order to regain our lost relationship with God, our approach must come with humility, because we were the ones who decided to leave Him.

This runs contrary to the popular connotation of "repenting" as professed by many sectarian institutions and their teachers. Many see repentance as some sort of public proclamation: To proclaim “I repent,” in a public ceremony, or “I surrender to Jesus” is not the same as having a personal change of heart - as Jesus, John and Jesus' disciples were requesting.

A real change of heart does not come with public proclamation or grandstanding. It is rather the opposite: It is an extremely personal and private decision to redirect one's life towards coming to know and love the Supreme Being.

Is this about the end of the world?

Even with this clear meaning, many sectarian institutions and their teachers have interpreted this statement relates to a coming end of the world or some kind of apocalypse. This is despite any evidence, from either the words or the context of Jesus' statement.

Consider first the audience of these teachings. Who was Jesus preaching to? Certainly, he was preaching to those around him at the time. And yet some 2,000 years later, the end of the world still has not come.

Was Jesus misleading his followers - telling them that the end of the world was "near" or "at hand" and it wasn't? Certainly not.

This hasn't stopped the unsupported interpretation. Below is a list of some of the many teachers who have claimed to represent Jesus, teaching that Jesus was predicting the end of the world on a certain date. (The date they predicted the world would end follows their name):

Hilary of Poitiers: predicted the world would end in 365 AD
Saint Martin of Tours: predicted several dates between 375 to 400 AD
Sextus Julius Africanus: 500 AD
Gerard of Poehlde: 1147 AD
John of Toledo: 1179 AD
Joachim of Fiore: 1205 AD
Pope Innocent III: 1284 AD
Melchior Hoffman: 1533 AD
Benjamin Keach (Baptist): 1689 AD
William Whitson: 1736 AD
The Shakers (Ann Lee): 1792 AD
Charles Wesley (Methodist): 1794 AD
Margaret McDonald: 1830 AD
Joseph Smith (Mormon): 1832 and 1891 AD
William Miller (Millerites): 1843 and 1844 AD
Ellen White (Seven Day Adventists): 1850, 1856 and "early 1900s" AD
Mother Shipton: 1881 AD
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses): 1914, 1916, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994, 'by 2000' and 2114.

Were Jesus and John deceiving their students?

Since John also taught this, and since the end of the world hasn't come, were they both misleading their followers? Were they both making idle threats about the end of the world coming?

What would be the purpose of threatening the end of the world to them - as "near" - since it would not happen during their lifetimes or even within the lifetimes of their children - or even in the next 2,000 years? Does more than 2,000 years later mean "near"?

Why, if John and Jesus were predicting an event that will take place more than 2,000 years later, would they use the word "near"?

The simple answer is that this statement has been mistranslated and misinterpreted.

What does 'near' or 'at hand' mean?

The word "near" (or in the case of other translations "at hand") is being translated from the Greek word ἐγγίζω (eggizō), which means, according to the lexicon:

1) to bring near, to join one thing to another
2) to draw or come near to, to approach

Thus it is clear that the interpretation of the word relating to time is incorrect. The word ἐγγίζω (eggizō) indicates "closeness" relative to distance - not time.

Therefore, Jesus is speaking of the kingdom of heaven - the sanctuary of God or the refuge of God - being close: Readily available.

The true meaning of “for the kingdom of heaven has come near” is that each of us can gain the refuge or sanctuary of God - the shelter of God - immediately by simply turning to the Supreme Being - by worshiping Him and relying upon Him - and dismissing ourselves ("repenting") from our search for happiness in a materialistic world of emptiness and physical gratification.

In other words, Jesus is speaking of surrendering to the Supreme Being - giving one's life to God - and thus taking shelter in the Supreme Being.

Is this about our consciousness?

Jesus is not speaking of a physical place being nearby. He is speaking of the fact that taking refuge in the Supreme Being can be accomplished immediately: Because He is near to us. He is available to each of us.

Certainly, if we accept that God created this world, we can also accept that He has the ability to be here. Nearby. Available. Jesus confirmed this in another statement:
"The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21 NKJV)
The Supreme Being designed the physical body in such a way so that our physical eyes cannot see Him. This is in order to give each of us the freedom to ignore God if we choose. It also gives us the freedom to love God - or not.

Therefore, we have to open our hearts in order to see Him from within. If God is with us - near - and we can refocus ourselves upon Him with humility and love, then we have the ability for our consciousness to enter the kingdom of God where ever we are. This translates to becoming focused on doing His will rather than our own will.

Jesus also indicates that this consciousness does have a place: Not a physical place, but a context - this is the spiritual realm - evidenced by Jesus' use of the word οὐρανός (ouranos) in this verse - mistranslated to "heaven."

Yes, since Jesus is indicating that this consciousness related to giving one's life to the Supreme Being is available - Jesus is not speaking of a location called "heaven." He is speaking of a heavenly consciousness, which creates "heaven" where ever we might be.

Such a consciousness creates sanctuary: The safety or refuge of our relationship with God. The Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) indicates the consciousness of the spiritual realm, which can be accessed from any location - because after all, everywhere is part of God's creation. Thus, the use of οὐρανός (ouranos) indicates that consciousness where the Supreme Being is loved and worshiped.

This great teaching is suggesting that we can reject our self-centered chase for happiness within materialism and give ourselves to the Supreme Being. We can decide to dedicate our lives to coming to know and love the Supreme Person and learning to do His will (what pleases Him). This will immediately transport us to the sanctuary (or kingdom) of God, even as our physical bodies might remain here in the physical world.

Yes, according to Jesus' teachings, God and His sanctuary are near. God is available to us, and we can take refuge in Him at any time. We each have that choice.

“Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19)

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matt. 4:18-20)

What is Jesus asking them to do?

Is Jesus talking about these soon-to-be followers catching men in the ocean as they would fish?

The analogy Jesus uses regarding "I will make you fishers of men" is describing his request that they pass on his teachings to others - teaching them the Truth about our relationship with the Supreme Being.

This is what Jesus was doing in his preaching mission. Passing on the teachings about God. This was the mission also of Jesus' teacher, John the Baptist, along with the prophets that came before John.

Jesus was not making his teachings up. He often quoted David, Moses, Ezekiel, Isaiah and others in his teachings. Even Jesus' most important teaching - to love God - was quoted from Moses.

Now Jesus wanted his students to pass on those teachings. He wanted them to also carry forth the same teachings that he was carrying forth to others.

Is Jesus the only teacher?

It is ironic that even with verses like this and many others, some sectarian institutions and their teachers profess that only Jesus can teach, and only Jesus can save us. Yes, they are teaching that Jesus is the only teacher.

Yet Jesus himself was requesting that others receive his teachings and then become teachers to others. This is what "fishers of men" means.

Yes, Jesus is requesting that Peter and Andrew also become teachers.

Not only did Peter and Andrew become teachers. They taught to many others who also became teachers, or "fishers of men."

Note here that Jesus' statement offers no organizational or institutional regimen. It was simply these men following and learning under Jesus, after which they would become teachers ("fishers of men.") There was no pomp and circumstance involved. No official bathing or dipping ceremony was required. It was quite simply Jesus taking on these students and teaching them the truth, after which they were to teach others.

This is the custom throughout the ancient times of the Old Testament, as well as among every bona fide religious teaching in human history. The path to God is through His messengers that have themselves established a personal loving relationship with God.

Jesus' statement again evidences the succession of the time-honored process of passing on spiritual teachings gained from the great teachers that preceded us. Jesus honored this tradition. This is why he took baptism from John.

This is not about receiving a divinity degree and a paid position within a church. It is not a political process. God empowers those who are able to pass on the teachings of those pure teachers such as Jesus, Moses, Abraham and David.

This is also not about creating an artificial mental relationship with God based on emotional sentiment. God is a Person and if we want to come to know Him we must follow the path to Him that He gives us: This is why God sent Jesus and His other messengers: To guide us back to Him.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:1-3)

What does 'blessed' mean?

The word “blessed” - translated from the Greek word μακάριος (makarios), which means to be "blessed" or "happy" - imparts Jesus' confirmation that this is a state that brings joy.

While some versions of the Bible translate "Blessed are the poor in spirit" to simply “Blessed are the poor,” the Greek word πνεῦμα (pneuma) - which means according to Thayer's lexicon, "the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated."

In other words, Jesus is not speaking of being financially poor. Being "poor in spirit" is distinctly different than being "poor" - or having a lack of material wealth.

What does 'poor in spirit' mean?

This phrase is describing a consciousness of humility.

To be "poor in spirit" means to have a general disregard for oneself. It means to have abandoned the consciousness that I am the most important person.

This means to abandon the consciousness of self-centeredness. That the world revolves around me and my family, my house, my region, my heritage and so on.

This contrasts with what we see today throughout the physical world: We see practically everyone is in a consciousness that the world revolves around me. We think we know so much. We think we are so great. We consider ourselves the superstar, the boss, or the best at something. We think that the world is our 'oyster' and everything is meant for our enjoyment.

Then when some of us become philosophical, we think we are able to speculate our way to knowing the Truth. We think we can figure it all out.

This essentially boils down to pride: We think we are self-sufficient.

What about self-esteem?

Many today teach the importance of self-esteem. They teach that we should love ourselves, and cherish ourselves and believe that we are the greatest. How does this help us?

Some promote pride as the solution to all sorts of psychological issues: They recommend "self-love" and feeling that we can do anything we want to do. They recommend we need a dose of "I am incredible" and we will be fine.

Such a doctrine sounds fluffy and nice. But the reality is that self-love only leads to self-centeredness. And this is contrary to Jesus' teachings.

The world is not our "oyster." The physical world is a place of learning. We are in a type of classroom, one that teaches us about love and consequences.

Here we have the freedom to express ourselves as we wish according to the culture and restrictions therein. But the world teaches us back with reactions, laws and consequences.

Some of the meanest consequences come as a result of harming others in some way. Often this is a result of our acting with pride and self-centeredness. 

When we are proud of ourselves, and we are focused on ourselves (self-centered) we become oblivious to how our actions may harm others. In our attempts to get what we want, we may remove an opportunity for someone else.

Developing humility as we live in this world will allow us to learn more and grow more.

Humility begins with understanding our limitations. Understanding, first that I don't know it all. Our mind is only a storage device for impulses coming from the senses and the nervous system. It is not all-knowing. Our mind is like a computer hard drive. It stores what is fed into it.

Thus the mind has no entrance into the spiritual realm because the spiritual realm is not perceived by the physical senses. Therefore the mind has no entrance into the spiritual realm.

Our physical lifetime is strung together with one lesson after another. We emerge from the womb in pain - crying and gasping. Throughout our childhood, we deal with life's frustrations, pains and struggles as we try to cope with other children, our parents, and the general demands of the world. We deal with the ‘growing pains’ of peer pressure, school, and the demands of our family, versus our inclinations for freedom and independence.

As our bodies rise to adulthood, we find ourselves having to cope with learning a way to survive on our own. We learn to maintain jobs, finances, spouses, family and everyday aches and pains. 

Life becomes serious in adulthood, and survival is tantamount. In the early adult years, we may work hard at jobs with little future, and take care of children who are themselves confused about the world. 

As our bodies grow older, they begin to become diseased. We are treated with aches and pains inherent in temporary bodies with limited lifespans. Bones, teeth and muscles all age and weaken. Our eyesight weakens. Our hearing begins to fade. Our memory begins to falter. All of these elements make for a downslide towards the death of this body.

At the time of death, whatever wealth or assets we have accumulated - including our name, reputation and status - all disappear. In one instant - after a lifetime of struggles to accumulate them - everything we thought was ours is snatched away at the time of death.

Where does our self-esteem get us in this context?

The various hopes and dreams we might have about becoming happy in the physical world through the acquisition of fame, wealth, family and so on are simply that: dreams. They are illusions. These things do not bring happiness. These things only bring more emptiness. They only bring more sorrow. Why?

Because we are not these physical bodies. These bodies are vehicles we drive temporarily. It is like a driver wanting to relieve his hunger by filling up the car with gas. Because the driver is not the car, filling the car with gas will not fulfill the driver.

In the same way, because we are spiritual in essence, physical things cannot fulfill us.

Rather, these physical bodies and this physical world facilitate learning.

Yes, this world and this temporary physical body were designed to teach us. But only if we are ready to learn.

How does humility help us enter the 'kingdom of heaven'?

Now consider what can be taught to a person who thinks they know it all, compared to someone who is humble. The know-it-all doesn't think they need to learn anything. They think they are just fine. So they learn little.

But the humble person is capable of greater learning because they are not so proud of what they might know already.

One might compare it to a cup. If the cup is full, nothing more can be poured in. But a cup that is empty can be filled easily.

In the same way, a humble state allows a person to learn about spiritual life.

Should we at some point realize the futility of thinking we are the center of the universe, we are ready to embrace our innate humble consciousness. This is not fake humility - acting humble. This is feeling humbled.

It is at this point that we become “poor in spirit.” We in effect, giving up on our consciousness that the universe revolves around me, and that I know it all.

At such a point, we are ready to begin our re-entry into the “kingdom of heaven.” 

The 'kingdom of heaven' Jesus is referring to is the place where love of God is the primary consciousness, leaving pride and self-centeredness with no place in our heart. It is a world where love replaces greed. It is the realm where our lust for 'mammon' (or materialism) is replaced by a thirst for pleasing God. 

That 'kingdom of heaven' is a world where we are truly happy because our care and concerns are about loving and serving our Best Friend and Soul Mate, the Supreme Being.

True humility is the realization that our self-centered nature has created our separation from God, and that we do not have the power to change this nature alone. We need His help.

Only in this condition can a person truly take refuge in the Supreme Being and allow Him to guide us. Once we understand that we have no strength of our own, and we need our relationship with Him in order to be happy, we become equipped to enter "the kingdom of heaven."

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

Is mourning the same as depression?

Some might consider mourning as depression. Is this the kind of mourning Jesus is talking about?

Depression is not what Jesus is referring to. Depression is typically based upon not getting what we want in the world - whether that be material things, accomplishments, or the attention of others.

"Those who mourn," refers to those who have lost someone. They were loving a spouse, family member or friend, and they lost them. This reveals an emptiness within the life of the person.

On the other hand, "blessed" is being translated from the Greek word μακάριος (makarios), which means "happy" according to the lexicon. 

How can a person be mourning and joyful at the same time?

What is the source of 'mourning'?

The source of depression is self-centeredness, exasperated by our temporary entrapment within the physical body.

The physical body is full of distress - suffering in many forms. But this physical body is not who we are. We are the spirit-person within. We are a spirit-person temporarily living within and falsely identifying with this temporary physical body.

As we put our faith upon our physical body, our physical family, and our physical relationships, we are met with distress. This is because each body and each material object, one by one, becomes destroyed or we otherwise become separated from them.

Mourning is different. As we lose our family members or the relationships of this world, we are left mourning for their loss. This is a natural feeling because we were designed for relationships.

Mourning comes from becoming attached to someone of this world. Another physical form. When we become attached to someone in the physical world, we are bound to be let down, because every physical body dies, and the soul or spirit-person leaves.

How can we be comforted?

The solution that Jesus provides is to realize this world is not our home. This is a temporary place, full of hostility and calamity.

This world is intended to teach us that we are empty without our innate relationship with the Supreme Being. We are nothing without God because we were created to be God's loving servant and friend.

And only when we begin to realize that this world is not our home and that we can be comforted if we seek refuge in our relationship with the Supreme Being will we be relieved of the distress of this physical world.

Should we become humbled with the realization that this world is not our home and we need to return to God, we will be comforted.

This is Jesus' message. Jesus was not preaching the importance of family life. He did not preach that we should take comfort in the family of this temporary physical body. While families can certainly help comfort us during times of physical and emotional distress, they are not the key to being comforted spiritually.

Being “comforted” as spoken of here comes only by way of a loving relationship with God. In reality, we do have a home, and we do have a loving family and a loving Father we can turn to and rely upon.

We will find comfort when we put ourselves at the feet of the Supreme Being. We can take refuge in the Supreme Being, and we will find our solution. This is Jesus' message. As we put our love and care upon God, we are comforted:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

What does Jesus mean by 'inherit the earth'?

Did Jesus really promise his students that they, if they were meek, would "inherit the earth" as interpreted from this statement by Jesus?

Did Jesus really suggest that these folks will literally inherit the earth?

Actually, Jesus is quoting David's Psalms:
But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. (Psalm 37:11)
This means that this concept of  "inheriting the earth" did not start with Jesus. It was something unrelated to Jesus. It was related to those who are not only humble, but devoted to God:
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth. (Psalm 37:9)
The word "LORD" here is translated from the Hebrew word הֹוָה (Yĕhovah). This is the name of the Supreme Being, also called Jehovah. In other words, David is not referring to Jesus. He is referring to those who take refuge in God. 

What is the 'inherit the earth' doctrine?

Some sects teach that their members will be put on a list and after Jesus' return they will be spared while everyone else will be slaughtered. Then those on the list will "inherit the earth."

But what about those who have died before Jesus' "second coming?" How will they inherit the earth? Or how about those during David's time? Will their decomposed bodies - their bone fragments - come back to life to inherit the earth? Or perhaps the worms that ate their bodies will inherit the earth?

How could they inherit the earth if their bodies are completely decomposed and turned into soil and ash? And what if their bodies were burnt in a fire at the time of death? Will their ashes rise up to inherit the earth?

If that were true, why did Jesus also say:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3-4)
Why, in Jesus' teachings, would entering the kingdom be of any importance if his followers would "inherit the earth"?

The fact is, Jesus did not teach that his followers would inherit the earth. He promised them that if they followed his teachings, then they would become eligible to enter the "kingdom of heaven" and the "kingdom of God."

This ridiculous doctrine of inheriting the earth also denies the existence of a spiritual living being that lives on after the body dies, while even conventional medical science now accepts that a person can exist after death, evidenced by millions of clinical death cases.

Is 'inherit the earth' a mistranslation?

It is evident from the original Greek and its context that "inherit the earth" is a mistranslation* of what Jesus said. The phrase "inherit the earth" is taken from the Greek words κληρονομέω (klēronomeōto) and γῆ (gē). Yes, κληρονομέω (klēronomeōto) can certainly mean "to be an heir, to inherit" according to the lexicon. But it can also mean, "to receive" and "to receive a portion."

And γῆ (gē) can mean "arable land," but also "territory," "region," or "one's country."

In this context, an appropriate translation of γῆ (gē) in this context would be "oasis" or "paradise." Jesus is referring to a special place. Something that is a reward or benefit.

Why would "arable land" be translated to "oasis" or "paradise"? "Arable land" refers to land that is productive for growing food. It is special land - because much of the land that Jesus and those around him around Jerusalem were rocky, barren desert land. Arable land would be land that was not only adequate for growing crops but received adequate rain or other water supply.

In hot desert regions, that would be considered an oasis - which is often described as a paradise and metaphorically used to describe the spiritual realm.

Why? Because metaphorically, the spiritual realm is a paradise or an oasis apart from the distress of the physical world.

Therefore, a more appropriate translation of this statement (as found in the Lost Gospels of Jesus) would be:
“Blessed are the humble, for they shall inherit paradise.”

Where is paradise?

Jesus is speaking metaphorically here. Why? Because we cannot see the spiritual realm with our physical eyes. It lies in another dimension. So as Jesus speaks about it, he has to speak in metaphorical terms.

Jesus is speaking about being humble. The word πραΰς (praÿs), being translated to "meek" can also mean "mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit." In other words, "humble," or "gentle" as well as "meek."

Jesus was talking about humility, stating that being humble had its own rewards in the long run. This is because only out of humility comes the ability to hear the word of God.

Why? Because the kingdom of heaven is where the Supreme Being dwells. Remember the beginning of the "Lord's prayer:"
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name" (Matt. 6:9)
and remember this statement:
"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." (Matt. 18:10)
Jesus certainly was teaching his students that if they followed his teachings - requiring humility - they would return to their relationship with Supreme Being, who dwells in the spiritual realm - "heaven" or "paradise."

Jesus was discussing the spiritual realm, where God lives, and where those who love and serve the Supreme Being dwell. Jesus confirmed this when he said:
"Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:35)
Doing God's will means serving God. It means being a loving servant. A loving servant is naturally humble. 

Those who teach the "inherit the earth" doctrine are missing the entire point of Jesus' discussion. One must develop humility in order to come to know and love God, and one must maintain the humility to enter into the spiritual realm of love for God:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)