Following being told, his disciples were grief-stricken:
And the disciples were filled with grief. (Matt. 17:23)Why would Jesus discuss this with his disciples?
“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men."Jesus wanted them to be sure that not only did he know the sacrifice he would face. The word "delivered" is translated from the Greek word παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi) which means, according to the lexicon, "to give into the hands of another" or "to give over into (one's) power or use."
And "men" is translated from the Greek word ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos), which can mean "men" or "mankind" or "humanity."
Jesus is distinguishing between being given to mankind or men from being given to the Supreme Being. In the latter, one will be protected and sheltered. But in the former, Jesus knew he faced the wrath of men. Why? Because he understood that he threatened the power and authority of the high priests among the Jewish ecclesiastical institution. This is because Jesus was God's representative.
"They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.”He also wanted them to understand that the real Jesus - the spiritual person within - will rise after the death of the physical body.
Jesus describes the ascension as “life.” Why life? Actually, the original Greek does not mention "life." It simply ends with raised - or raised up - from the Greek word ἐγείρω (egeirō) which means "to arouse, cause to rise" according to the lexicon.
Thus we can understand from this that Jesus is not speaking of death here. The word "kill" is translated from ἀποκτείνω (apokteinō) which refers to mortal death - the death of the physical body.
So what will rise then - from the physical body? We know that Jesus is saying that the physical body will be killed, so what will rise must not be the physical body. This is confirmed later when Mary and others do not recognize Jesus when he rises. They do not recognize him because the physical body did not rise - the spiritual person within - Jesus himself - rose.
We can see elsewhere that Jesus made a distinction between the physical body and the spiritual person within - also referred to as the "soul":
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matt 10:28)Thus we can see how Jesus is discriminating between the physical body and the spiritual person within. The spiritual person within is eternal while the biological body is temporary. The point Jesus is making is that we are not the physical body. The physical body has a lifespan of 50-100 years, after which the living being leaves the body.
The question is, where does the living being go when each of us leaves the body? This depends upon the consciousness of the living being, and how the living being has utilized the human body. If the consciousness of the living being revolves around a self-centered physical existence - of eating, sex, and material acquisition, then the living being is spiritually dead.
This was characterized elsewhere by Jesus:
“Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matt. 8:22)If the consciousness of the living being is at all focused on God, then the living being can be considered alive.
If we progress in our spiritual growth and regain our love for God, we will return to the Supreme Being and His world of love. Here we will be ever-satisfied. In this state, we would be appropriately be described as being alive.
Some question why some people are born with handicaps. Some wonder why some people are born into a starvation and disease. Some wonder why children are otherwise born into desperate situations, while others are not. Why is this? Some will begin to question God’s love for us, when they think of why some people seem to be suffering without any cause.
Meanwhile, ecclesiastical sectarian institutions and their teachers have no answers for this.
It is not as if God is going around arbitrarily choosing to make some of us suffer more than others.
Rather, suffering is caused by us. Our sufferings are the consequences of our previous activities.
The Supreme Being simply designed a world with consequences - just as a parent might try to educate a child by teaching them the consequences of their actions.
Consider, for example, if a 10-year old were to throw food on the dining room wall. Would a smart parent just clean up the mess? No. The smart parent would make the child clean up the mess that they caused. This is called consequence training. It teaches the child to understand the consequences of their decisions. And the effects their actions have upon others.
God's physical world is no different. Here our activities have consequences. Either in this life or the next. If we mistreat someone, we will be mistreated either now or by someone else later on down the road. If we spend our lives mistreating others, we will suffer the exact consequences of our actions in our next physical lifetime.
We know Jesus taught this system. Consider this question, asked by Jesus' disciples:
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:1)This question, asked by multiple disciples, assumes that Jesus taught that the actions we take while in a physical body will impact our condition in the next body. While the particular person being discussed in John 9:1 was a special case, Jesus in no way denied the teaching or criticized his disciples' question.
Jesus' disciples also reflect this teaching elsewhere:
"A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6:7) The KJV states it as "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" and elsewhere, "as ye sow, so shall ye reap."
God also states this directly elsewhere in the Bible:
"The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the LORD." (Ezekial 7:27)With this statement, "I will deal with them according to their conduct" refers to the results of our own activities. "By their own standards I will judge them," illustrates that we are to be treated as we treated others.
In other words, those born into suffering are experiencing the precise consequences of the suffering they inflicted upon others during a previous lifetime. Those who are starving likely denied someone else food in their previous body. Those who are mentally handicapped likely mentally abused others during their previous body. (This does not mean we should not help others - for herein lies the concept of forgiveness.)
In other words, the Supreme Being created the perfect teaching system. Just as educators and parenting specialists have determined that the best way to punish a child is to give him consequences to his actions - ones reflecting the deed - the Supreme Being set up a similar system to slowly teach and purify the living being. When we experience how we treated others, we learn.
What do we learn? We learn, hopefully, that we are all connected, and we are all children of the Supreme Being. We hopefully learn that caring for others is no different than caring for ourselves.
We hopefully learn the meaning of love.
We must also remember, as we talk about consequences, that these bodies are temporary vehicles. They are not much different than computer icons in a computer video game. Just as a computer gamer will take on a temporary icon or persona in order to play a game, the living being takes on a temporary physical body to try to live out our desires. Just as the computer game icon is often damaged or even destroyed, our physical bodies must undergo disease and death.
And just as we can get up from the computer after our icon is killed in the computer game, the living being rises up from the body at the time of death and moves on. It is the illusion of the physical world that makes us believe that we are our bodies.
In other words, this pain and suffering does not happen to the living person within. It happens to the temporary physical body - the virtual icon of the living being. Only the body feels physical pain. We move on unscathed - except for the lessons we learn.
So where does the living being go after the death of this body? Again, this depends upon whether we have learned the lessons of the physical world. This depends upon our consciousness. Are we self-centered or are we God-centered?
If we are self-centered, we will take on another temporary physical body and undergo the consequences of our self-centered activities in this lifetime. These will include pain, suffering and other consequences of previous activities. They may also be the bodies of animals or even insects - which undergo not only suffering, but ignorance.
If we are God-centered, then we will return to the Supreme Being, where we will live eternally within our loving service relationship with Him and His children. This is our real home and where our happiness lies.
Why three days though? Why did it take three days from Jesus’ body being killed to his ascension back to the spiritual world?
This is evident by what took place during the three days following the death of Jesus' physical body. During this time, Jesus was visiting his students and others, in a last-ditch effort to convince them to return home to the Supreme Being, and bring others with them. Consider this statement, made by Jesus, while in a angel-like body, during the three-days after the death of his body:
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15)How do we know that Jesus had left his body and appeared before his students in an angel-like body? Consider this statement from Mark:
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. (Mark 16:12)Thus we can know that Jesus left his physical body behind. Otherwise, they would have recognized him. He appeared once more before his students, pleading with them to continue his teachings. He wanted them to take on the responsibility of being God's representatives, as he had. He wanted them to bring home others, as he had.
And what the heck is a "son of man"? The Greek word that has been translated to “son” is υἱός (huios). This can indicate a relationship of offspring in the context of a physical family, but in this context, it is more appropriately defined in the Greek lexicon, as "one who depends on another or is his follower." Thus, the correct translation of υἱός would be "servant," meaning one who is working for the welfare of another.
This translation of the Greek word υἱὸς to refer to "servant" or "devotee" by Jesus is confirmed by Jesus in other statements:
"while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." (Matt. 8:12 RSV)and
"Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then will they fast." (Matt. 9:15 ASV)In both statements, we find the Greek word υἱός being used by Jesus, and none of them refer to physical offspring. They all refer to people devoted in some way, to either God and the resurrection, "the kingdom," or to the bridechamber (Matt. 9:15 has also thus been translated to "attendants of the bridegroom" (NAV)).
"Man" is being translated from the Greek word, ἀνθρώπου, which can mean "man" but can also mean "mankind" or "humanity." Certainly the correct context of Jesus' describing himself was not to state that he was a son of a man.
Thus, within the context of the self-reference of υἱὸς τοῦ [of] ἀνθρώπου, the more appropriate translation would be "servant of humanity."
Both Job and David also used this phrase - again translated to "son of man" - to humbly refer to themselves as "servant of humanity". And God referred to Ezekiel over 60 times as "son of man" - "servant of humanity" - when He spoke to Ezekiel.
“ ‘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. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:37-40)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)