Jesus came nigh unto Jerusalem, and He sent two of His disciples to find an ass and a colt in a nearby village. They brought Him the ass and the colt and He sat thereon. And He rode into Jerusalem in fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah (9:9): “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” A large crowd spread their cloaks on the road and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds about Him called out: “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” When He came into the city everyone said: “Who is this?” The multitude said: “This is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” (see: Matthew 21:1-11)
Then Jesus went into the Temple and overthrew the tables of the money-changers and dove-sellers, and He cast them out, saying: “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The chief priests saw all of this, and the admiration that the population had of Him. They saw how He had overthrown the established order and produced miracles. They asked Jesus: “Hearest Thou what these say?” Jesus replied: “Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (see: Matthew 21:12-16)
The next day Jesus came back to the Temple. As He taught, the chief priests and elders came to Him and said: “By what authority doest Thou these things? and who gave Thee this authority?” Jesus answered: “I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell Me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” They started to argue among themselves: “If we shall say, From heaven; He will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a Prophet.” They finally answered, saying: “We cannot tell.” Jesus replied: “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” Then He gave them examples of the parable of the two sons, the parable of the tenants in the vineyard and the parable of the wedding feast. (see: Matthew 21:23-27)
Then the Pharisees took counsel together how they might entangle Jesus in His words. So then sent unto Him their disciples with some of Herod’s party. They said: “Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man: for Thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest Thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not?” Jesus perceived their intentions and replied: “Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites? Shew Me the tribute money.” They brought Him a penny. He said: “Whose is this image and superscription?” They replied: “It is Cæsar’s.” Then Jesus said: “Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” They marvelled and went away. (see: Matthew 22:15-22)
Another time Jesus was asked: “Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (see: Matthew 22:36-40)
Several times the Pharisees and the Saduccees tried to dispute with Jesus. Finally, He spoke unto the multitude and said: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues. And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:2-12)
He criticised the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the abasement of the “generation of vipers”. Jesus departed from the Temple and said to His disciples: “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (see: Matthew 24:1-2) The Temple was eventually destroyed in the first century, but one wall still remains to this day. Therefore this prophecy did not literally come to pass. The Temple is the edifice of Judaism, the body of its teachings and followers. The Temple would be replaced by a new Temple, the Temple of the Word of Christ.
And as they sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Jesus about His return. He warned them of false Messiahs and told them to wait until the gospel had been preached to all the world and the “abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet” has come. (see: Matthew 24:3-15) I have examined these prophecies in detail in the chapter entitled, “the Return of Christ” in Part 3. After He had given some parables, He said: “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.” (26:1-2)
The chief priests, and the scribes and elders assembled in the palace of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas. They took counsel together on how they might get rid of Jesus. They decided that they could not kill Jesus on the Passover day “lest there be an uproar among the people”. (26:3-4)
When Jesus was in Bethany a woman came unto Him with an alabaster box of very precious ointment. She poured it on His head and feet while He was having a meal. His disciples were annoyed when they saw it and said: “To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.” Jesus said in reply: “Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon Me. For ye have the poor always with you; but Me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” (Matthew 26:6-13)
One of the Apostles named Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and promised to deliver Jesus to them. He asked them: “What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?” They agreed to give him thirty pieces of silver. On the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, Jesus and the twelve Apostles sat down to eat the Passover meal. As they were eating, He said: “Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.” They were very sorrowful when they heard Him say this and everyone of them asked: “Lord, is it I?” Jesus answered and said: “He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas said: “Master, is it I?” Jesus replied: “Thou hast said.” (see: Matthew 26:14-25)
As they were eating, Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying: “Take, eat; this is My body.” And He took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying: “Drink ye all of it; For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Then they sang a hymn and went to the Mount of Olives. (see: Matthew 26:26-30)
The “last supper” or “Lord’s supper” became in Christian ritual, the ceremony of communion. The Roman Catholic Church believes in the doctrine of transubstantiation, that is, that the communion wafer and wine literally become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It does not seem likely that Jesus, Who so often spoke in symbolism and stressed the unimportance of the physical, would have intended such a doctrine. Jesus says: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) And how could Christ have become the bread and wine when He was present with the Apostles?
There is a deeper meaning to the bread and wine. He said: “I am that bread of life... This is the bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51) Now, literally, Jesus did not come down from heaven and He is not bread. Therefore, a literal understanding of the bread and wine would be untenable. Eating of real bread and real wine is unimportant. It will not give eternal life. Eternal life comes from eating of the bread of life, Jesus Christ, Who descended from heaven on the clouds when He was born of Mary and in His second coming also descends from heaven, not literally, but symbolically. Because He descended from heaven the first time, His second coming is also in the same manner. He said: “For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” (6:38) And the Jews murmured: “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, Whose father and mother we know? how is it then that He saith, I came down from heaven.” (6:42) It is important, therefore, that Christians do not deprive themselves of the bread of life, and dispute with the Return of Christ, Who comes in a way which they do not expect or want.
Jesus said to His disciples: “All ye shall be offended because of Me this night; for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” Peter said: “Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended.” Jesus replied: “Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice.” Peter said: “Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee.” The other disciples concurred. (see: Matthew 26:31-35)
Then they went to Gethsemane and said: “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him. He said to them: “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and prostrated Himself in prayer, saying: “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” When He returned, the disciples were asleep. He said to Peter: “What, could ye not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away to pray a second time, saying: “O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.” When He returned, He found them asleep again. He left them to pray a third time, with the same words. (see: Matthew 26:36-44)
When He returned to His disciples He said: “Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray Me.” Judas arrived as He spoke with a multitude with swords and clubs. Judas gave them a sign, saying: “Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He: hold Him fast.” He came to Jesus and said: “Hail, master; and kissed Him.” Jesus said: “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” The men then seized Him and took Him away. One of the disciples took up a sword and struck off an ear of the one of the servants of the high priest. But Jesus commanded him not to shed any blood, saying: “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (see: Matthew 26:45-54)
Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, the high priest, in the assemblage of the scribes and elders. Peter followed Him and went in, sitting with the servants to see what was happening. The chief priests and elders tried to find something with which to condemn Jesus, but could not find anything. Then two witnesses came and said: “This fellow said, I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and to build it in three days.” The high priest arose and said to Jesus: “Answerest Thou nothing? what is it which these witness against Thee?” Jesus did not answer. Caiaphas spoke to Him again: “I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Caiaphas rent his clothes and said: “He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard His blasphemy. What think ye?” The council decided that He was guilty of death. Then they spat in His face and hit Him with the palms of their hands, saying: “Prophecy unto us, Thou Christ, who is he that smote Thee?” (see: Matthew 26:57-68)
Peter was approached by some servant girls of the high priest and three times he denied that he knew Christ. Then the cock crowed and he remembered what Jesus had said. He went out and wept bitterly. In the morning, they bound Jesus and led Him to Pontius Pilate, the governor. When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, He repented and brought the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders. But they did not take it back so he cast them away in the Temple and went and hanged himself. (see: Matthew 26:69-27:5)
The governor asked Jesus: “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied: “Thou sayest.” When the priests and elders accused Him, He answered nothing. Pilate said: “Hearest Thou not how many things they witness against Thee?” Jesus did not reply. It was customary at the feast for the governor to release a prisoner unto the people. When asked, they wanted Barabbas, a notable prisoner, instead of Jesus. When Pilate saw that nothing could be done, he washed his hands, saying: “I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.” Jesus was whipped and handed over to be crucified. The soldiers stripped Him of His clothes and put a scarlet robe on Him and made a crown of thorns which they placed on His head. They put a stick in His right hand and made fun of Him, saying: “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spit on Him, put His own raiment back on Him and took Him to be crucified. They compelled a man named Simon, from Cyrene, to bear His cross. (see: Matthew 27:11-32)
They took Jesus to Golgotha, the place of a skull and gave Him wine mixed with gall, but He would not drink it. The soldiers crucified Him and divided His clothes among them. Above His head a sign was written, saying: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” There were two thieves crucified with Him, on either side. Those that passed by shook their heads at Him and said: “Thou that destroyest the Temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself, If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” The chief priests, scribes and elders also mocked Him, saying: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save, If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and We will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God.” Even the thieves insulted Him. (see: Matthew 28:33-44)
At noon, the land was covered in darkness, which lasted three hours. At about three o’clock Jesus cried out: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani.” (Aramaic for: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”) Some people who stood by thought that He was calling for Elijah (Elias). One of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with wine, put it on a stick and tried to get Him to drink it. The other said: “Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save Him.” Then Jesus cried with a loud voice and His spirit ascended to its eternal abode. Then the veil of the Temple was rent and the earth quaked. (see: Matthew 28:45-50) The Gospel of Mark agrees with this account of the last words of Jesus (Mark 16:34), but the Gospels of Luke and John differ. According to Luke, Jesus said: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” and He died. (see: Luke 23:46) According to John, Jesus said: “It is finished” and bowed His head. One of the soldiers pierced His side and blood and water gushed out. (see: John 19:30-34)
“Know thou that when the Son of Man yielded up His breath to God, the whole creation wept with a great weeping. By sacrificing Himself, however, a fresh capacity was infused into all created things. Its evidences, as witnessed in all the peoples of the earth, are now manifest before thee. The deepest wisdom which the sages have uttered, the profoundest learning which any mind hath unfolded, the arts which the ablest hands have produced, the influence exerted by the most potent of rulers, are but manifestations of the quickening power released by His transcendent, His all-pervasive, and resplendent Spirit.
“We testify that when He came into the world, He shed the splendor of His glory upon all created things. Through Him the leper recovered from the leprosy of perversity and ignorance. Through Him, the unchaste and wayward were healed. Through His power, born of Almighty God, the eyes of the blind were opened, and the soul of the sinner sanctified.
“Leprosy may be interpreted as any veil that interveneth between man and the recognition of the Lord, his God. Whoso alloweth himself to be shut out from Him is indeed a leper, who shall not be remembered in the Kingdom of God, the Mighty, the All-Praised. We bear witness that through the power of the Word of God every leper was cleansed, every sickness was healed, every human infirmity was banished. He it is Who purified the world. Blessed is the man who, with a face beaming with light, hath turned towards Him.” (“Gleanings”, p. 86)
This was during the festival of Passover in 33 AD. One thousand, eight hundred and seventy years later, at noon, on Sunday, the 9th of July 1850 AD, a similar event occurred. On the 22nd of May 1844, Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad of Shíráz in Persia, proclaimed Himself to be a Prophet and Herald of the Promised One. He called Himself the Báb (“Gate”), Who would lead to ‘He Whom God shall make manifest’. After being imprisoned for most of His ministry, He was finally condemned and given the death sentence for heresy. According to Nabíl’s narrative: “The very moment the shots were fired, a gale of exceptional severity arose and swept over the whole city. A whirlwind of dust of incredible density obscured the light of the sun and blinded the eyes of the people. The entire city remained enveloped in that darkness from noon till night.” (“The Dawn-Breakers”, p. 377) And so history was repeated and once again, the world had condemned and executed a Messenger of God.
There were many women there, watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the wife of Zebedee. In the evening, a rich man from Arimathea arrived, named Joseph, who was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate approved and Joseph took it, wrapped it in a new linen sheet, and placed it in his own tomb, which had just recently been dug out of solid rock. A large stone was rolled across the entrance and he went away. The next day, the chief priests and Pharisees came to Pilate and said: “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.” Pilate replied: “Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.” So they sealed the stone and set a watch upon the area. (see: Matthew 27:55-66)
The disciples were bereaved at the loss of their Master. They thought that all was lost. The Temple of religion had been torn down and not one stone rested upon another. But there was one woman, Mary Magdalene, who knew that in reality, Christ had not been crucified. She gave a new hope to the disciples that Jesus Christ lived. They had crucified only His body, but Christ can never die. As Jesus Himself emphasised throughout His ministry, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” (John 6:63) And the Qur’án says (4:156): “Yet they slew Him not, and they crucified Him not, but they had only His likeness.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá recounts:
“After the martyrdom of Christ, to Whom be glory, the disciples were greatly disturbed and disheartened. Even Peter had denied Christ and tried to shun Him. It was a woman, Mary Magdalene, who confirmed the wavering disciples in their faith, saying, "Was it the body of Christ or the reality of Christ that ye have seen crucified? Surely it was His body. His reality is everlasting and eternal; it hath neither beginning nor ending. Therefore, why are ye perplexed and discouraged? Christ always spoke of His being crucified." Mary Magdalene was a mere villager, a peasant woman; yet she became the means of consolation and confirmation to the disciples of Christ.” (“Promulgation of Universal Peace”, p. 282)
Thus the Temple of God, the Faith of Christ, was raised again on the third day. This is the greatest miracle of Christianity. Christ said: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13) Jesus Christ did not literally descend to heaven, and when He spoke He certainly was not in a physical heaven. What does this mean then? Ascent and descent from heaven have a spiritual signification and have no connection to the material world. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:
“Observe that it is said, "The Son of man is in heaven," while at that time Christ was on earth. Notice also that it is said that Christ came from heaven, though He came from the womb of Mary, and His body was born of Mary. It is clear, then, that when it is said that the Son of man is come from heaven, this has not an outward but an inward signification; it is a spiritual, not a material, fact. The meaning is that though, apparently, Christ was born from the womb of Mary, in reality He came from heaven, from the center of the Sun of Reality, from the Divine World, and the Spiritual Kingdom. And as it has become evident that Christ came from the spiritual heaven of the Divine Kingdom, therefore, His disappearance under the earth for three days has an inner signification and is not an outward fact. In the same way, His resurrection from the interior of the earth is also symbolical; it is a spiritual and divine fact, and not material; and likewise His ascension to heaven is a spiritual and not material ascension.
“Beside these explanations, it has been established and proved by science that the visible heaven is a limitless area, void and empty, where innumerable stars and planets revolve.
“Therefore, we say that the meaning of Christ's resurrection is as follows: the disciples were troubled and agitated after the martyrdom of Christ. The Reality of Christ, which signifies His teachings, His bounties, His perfections and His spiritual power, was hidden and concealed for two or three days after His martyrdom, and was not resplendent and manifest. No, rather it was lost, for the believers were few in number and were troubled and agitated. The Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body; and when after three days the disciples became assured and steadfast, and began to serve the Cause of Christ, and resolved to spread the divine teachings, putting His counsels into practice, and arising to serve Him, the Reality of Christ became resplendent and His bounty appeared; His religion found life; His teachings and His admonitions became evident and visible. In other words, the Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body until the life and the bounty of the Holy Spirit surrounded it.
“Such is the meaning of the resurrection of Christ, and this was a true resurrection. But as the clergy have neither understood the meaning of the Gospels nor comprehended the symbols, therefore, it has been said that religion is in contradiction to science, and science in opposition to religion, as, for example, this subject of the ascension of Christ with an elemental body to the visible heaven is contrary to the science of mathematics. But when the truth of this subject becomes clear, and the symbol is explained, science in no way contradicts it; but, on the contrary, science and the intelligence affirm it.” (“Some Answered Questions”, pp. 103-105)
The Apostle Paul considered the Resurrection to be essential to Christianity. He says (1 Corinthians 15:14): “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” He mentions that more than five hundred people saw the resurrected Christ “and last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (15:8) He was not physically present to see the empty tomb or the resurrected Christ. But that is unimportant, because it is not the body of Christ that was raised, but His spirit and His Faith. Speaking of the resurrection, Paul says that “there are also celestial bodies”. The glory of the celestial, he says, is far greater than that of physical, terrestrial bodies, even as the sun is more glorious than the moon. He says: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption... it is sown in a natural body; it is raised in a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.” (15:40-44) It is certainly clear then, that the natural body perishes forever. It is a body of corruption and it’s glory is temporary, not everlasting. Paul says: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (15:50)
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. What point is there then in a physical resurrection, and why would Christ still exist in His physical body? Paul makes it quite clear that the natural, physical body is unimportant and only the celestial, immortal, spiritual body endures. The physical is subject to decay and cannot be resurrected. The spiritual body is resurrected unto eternal life. The doctrine of resurrection has been entirely misunderstood by the Christian churches for thousands of years. The doctrine of Paul, an Apostle and authority on Christianity, has been forgotten. After death we are resurrected to an eternal body, befitting our spiritual station.
Michael Grant in his book, “Saint Paul”, says that Paul broke away from the view that the dead would be raised in undecomposed, physical bodies. He believed in the resurrection of Jesus, but not in a human body. He himself claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ, but He had not been present at a physical resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was thus in a spiritual, not physical body. (see: Grant, “Saint Paul”, p. 80) Pauline doctrine was ignored by later Christians who had no experience of the Resurrection themselves. Later doctrines, stressing the physical and ignoring the superiority of the spiritual have enshrined Jesus in an icon of their own making, His light obscured by a veil of dogma, traditions and priestly authority.
The few followers of Jesus Christ were only simple people who were disheartened at the loss of their Master, but by this miraculous resurrection, the ascendancy of Christ was proven. His Church could survive even though He was no longer among them physically. His spirit still lived with them and dwelt among them as is symbolised in the various resurrection accounts in the Gospels. His ascent unto heaven is the spiritual ascent of Christ unto the thrones of everlasting glory.
There is also another meaning of resurrection. The Resurrection as an actual event is when the Manifestation of God breathes new life into His disciples. Death means spiritual death, being far from God. Life means spiritual life, nearness to God. It is only by the divine teachings of Christ that spiritual life can be attained. We can, therefore, be resurrected while yet alive on this earth. It came to pass when Christ breathed new life into His disciples, when Muhammad, the Messenger of God, came to the world and it came through the Báb, the Gate to the Promised One, and now the Resurrection has come through Bahá’u’lláh, the return of Christ in the Glory of the Father. Those who believe in Bahá’u’lláh and follow His teachings have recognised God and are resurrected to a new life in Him. Bahá’u’lláh says:
“Vague fancies have encompassed the dwellers of the earth and debarred them from turning towards the Horizon of Certitude, and its brightness, and its manifestations and its lights. Vain imaginings have withheld them from Him Who is the Self-Subsisting. They speak as prompted by their own caprices, and understand not. Among them are those who have said: ’Have the verses been sent down?’ Say `Yea, by Him Who is the Lord of the heavens!' `Hath the Hour come?' `Nay, more; it hath passed, by Him Who is the Revealer of clear tokens! Verily, the Inevitable is come, and He, the True One, hath appeared with proof and testimony. The Plain is disclosed, and mankind is sore vexed and fearful. Earthquakes have broken loose, and the tribes have lamented, for fear of God, the Lord of Strength, the All-Compelling.' Say: `The stunning trumpet-blast hath been loudly raised, and the Day is God's, the One, the Unconstrained.' And they say: `Hath the Catastrophe come to pass?' Say: `Yea, by the Lord of Lords!' `Is the Resurrection come?' `Nay, more; He Who is the Self-Subsisting hath appeared with the Kingdom of His signs.'” (“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh”, pp. 117-118)
The Sermon on the Mount contains the essence of Christ’s teachings on how to live. He teaches them love, forgiveness and unity. He forbids hypocrisy. He gave us the Lord’s Prayer and says that prayer must be simple and private. His followers must be generous and give to all those that ask. They must endure hardships and receive blows without striking back. They must not be judgmental: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive and ye shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37) We should look at our own faults and not mention the faults of others. He says: “And why beholdest, thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (6:41) As Bahá’u’lláh says: “Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.” (“Hidden Words”, p. 10)
Believing in Christ means following His teachings. The essence of the Gospels, the spirit of His teachings, have been forgotten and lost in dogma and rituals. He says: “And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whomsoever cometh to Me, and heareth My sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” (6:46-49)
The principle teachings of the Gospel are love of God and love of all mankind. These are the highest principles of the Law of Moses, which Christ affirmed. This is the spirit and foundation of Judaism, which Jesus Christ renewed. These principles exist in every religion and are renewed in each age by every Manifestation of God. The Pharisees asked Him: “Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (see: Matthew 22:36-40)
Jesus affirmed the principle teachings of Moses: “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” But this is not sufficient. A young man said unto Him: “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” Jesus replied: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me.” The young man went away with sorrow because he had great possessions. (see: Matthew 19:18-22) Many Christians throughout the ages have maintained the former commandments, but still amassed for themselves great wealth and possessions while the majority of their fellow believers and subjects lived in abject poverty.
Bahá’u’lláh urged the Pope, the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, to abandon his possessions and renounce the world, as Jesus Christ had ordained. He said: “Sell all the embellished ornaments thou dost possess, and expend them in the path of God, Who causeth the night to return upon the day, and the day to return upon the night. Abandon thy kingdom unto the kings, and emerge from thy habitation, with thy face set towards the Kingdom, and, detached from the world, then speak forth the praises of thy Lord betwixt earth and heaven. Thus hath bidden thee He Who is the Possessor of Names, on the part of thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Knowing.” (“Summons of the Lord of Hosts”, p. 61) Pope Pius IX did not heed the message, and as a result, his temporal dominions were confiscated from him and his dominions were reduced to the Vatican.
Christ says: “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24) Similarly, Bahá’u’lláh says: “Know ye in truth that wealth is a mighty barrier between the seeker and his desire, the lover and his beloved. The rich, but for a few, shall in no wise attain the court of His presence nor enter the city of content and resignation. Well is it then with him, who, being rich, is not hindered by his riches from the eternal kingdom, nor deprived by them of imperishable dominion. By the Most Great Name! The splendor of such a wealthy man shall illuminate the dwellers of heaven even as the sun enlightens the people of the earth!” (“Hidden Words”, p. 41)
Divorce is forbidden except in cases of fornication: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. . . . Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:6-9)
Jesus taught that His followers should always forgive transgressions against them. Peter asked Him: “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Jesus replied: “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (see: Matthew 18:21-22) The divine virtue of forgiveness has often been forgotten throughout the ages. It is an attribute of God, Who forgives even the most grievous of sins. Bahá’u’lláh says: “He should forgive the sinful, and never despise his low estate, for none knoweth what his own end shall be. How often hath a sinner attained, at the hour of death, to the essence of faith, and, quaffing the immortal draught, hath taken his flight unto the Concourse on high! And how often hath a devout believer, at the hour of his soul's ascension, been so changed as to fall into the nethermost fire!” (“Gleanings”, p. 266)
Jesus Christ said that even if the community of believers was small, He would be present with them. He says: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” (18:20) Today, the Bahá’í Faith is very small and many Feasts and Holy Days are celebrated in homes where only a few are present.
Jesus taught that He had come to fulfil the Law of Moses. He also taught that in the end of time “another Comforter” would come, Who would bring new teachings and fulfil the Gospel of Christ. He said: “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth.” The world will not see Him (recognise His Station). Christ said that “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” Therefore, the Comforter is also the Return of Christ. And Jesus said: “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” This “Spirit” which is to come refers to a Person Who would bring a new message to the world and inaugurate a new Dispensation. (see: John 14:16-26) He would come to fulfil the teachings of the New Testament. Jesus says: “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil”. (Matthew 5:17) Even though Jesus abrogated the laws of the Torah, He did not destroy the spiritual teachings of Moses. Similarly, the Comforter would abrogate the laws of the New Testament and would fulfil the teachings of Christ in a new Holy Book and Revelation.
BACK TO INDEX
BACK TO MAIN