Lessons In Truth - Lesson 7 - Annotation 5
Explain what John the Baptist and Jesus Christ represent.
5. John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were cousins, and each was a "promised son" with a mission; that of John the Baptist was to be the forerunner or the "voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight" (Matt. 3:3); while that of Jesus Christ was to be the Way-Shower for all mankind. Jesus said of John, "Among them that was born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. 11:11). John's testimony in regard to Jesus was, "He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear" (Matt, 3:11)
"Metaphysically interpreted, John the Baptist symbolizes in each individual the natural man, but with an illumined intellect. His face is turned toward the light in the measure that he recognizes and pays homage to the higher self within the individual" (Mysteries of John 18).
Before he is fully spiritually illumined, the intellectual-moral man (represented by John the Baptist) in his zeal to do that which is right, takes cognizance of both good and evil in a relative sense. It is through the intellect (the thinking, reasoning faculty) that we first come to learn about the nature of God. With the first quickening comes the impulse to seek to uphold good and destroy what seems evil; we see, and rightly so, the great need for repentance, for cleansing of the consciousness and the outer life.
One phase of John the Baptist represents personality which, before it is enlightened, may seek to force one to live a good life. This is why John the Baptist may also represent conscience, which is the voice of the soul, the voice of experience, speaking through the personality. As was brought out in Lessons in Truth Lesson 6 Annotation 4, conscience warns us when something wrong has been done, or is about to be done, and thus becomes a moral guide until one has learned to listen to the "still small voice," the voice of Spirit. The voice of conscience is often negative, emphasizing "do not," and when not guided by Spirit can foster fear and indecision. We find laws and customs in countries and in religions that have seemed right from a human moral standpoint and one brought up under them feels the "prick of conscience" when he disobeys them. However, there are laws and customs set up by society that serve their purpose for a time, then cease to be of value in spiritual unfoldment.
In this lesson, Jesus Christ represents the individuality demonstrated as man, or God identified in every man as the Christ, or I AM, being expressed and manifested in the visible realm. Future lessons will go more deeply into the metaphysical meaning of both "Jesus" and "Christ" but the purpose of this lesson is to consider John the Baptist as representing personality and Jesus Christ as representing individuality, the former only expressing itself perfectly when guided by the latter.
While we have referred to John the Baptist as representing conscience or the voice of the soul relying on experience, we may say that Jesus Christ represents the voice of God speaking as intuition, or the "still small voice" (I Kings 19:12) which says, "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isa. 30:21). The subject of the "still small voice" is more extensively dealt with in Annotation 9 of this lesson.
"Jesus Christ is the living symbol of God's good in any form. He took Truth out of the abstract, and made it a way of life. He brought it into the realm of man's experience. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the embodiment of all that God is" (Dare to Believe! 39).
John the Baptist felt unworthy when Jesus asked for baptism, but Jesus said to him, "Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15). By this we see that the awakened intellect, or thinking faculty, represented by John the Baptist, is indeed the forerunner of spiritual understanding. It sees the necessity for discipline of our thinking and feeling by the process of denial (water baptism) and affirmation (spiritual baptism) before spiritual understanding can come to us. Not until there has been the inner cleansing can the soul receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and hear the words, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17).
As the personality (John the Baptist) is cleansed of beliefs of limitation, thoughts of error, it decreases in its limited expression, and the individuality (Christ) in turn increases in the expression of power in our life. The intellect is no longer undisciplined or untrained but becomes a willing instrument for the expression of Truth.
"The intellectual perception of Truth by the natural man (John the Baptist) is not the true light (the Christ) but bears witness to the light and prepares the way for its dawning in consciousness" (Mysteries of John 14).
Preceding Entry: Define individuality. How do we cultivate and strengthen our consciousness of our individuality?
Following Entry: Give some of the ways in which we may improve our personality so that it becomes a fit instrument for the expression of individuallty.