This is certainly one of those gospel verses that alot of folk would like to walk around. It's truly where the rubber hits the road in spiritual development. More easy for the commoner to disregard this entirely. Indeed some psychiatrists have pegged their notions of Jesus as having grandiose delusions on just this passage.
Yet when one considers Christology as the study of the nature and being of Jesus, man and God, and the nature and being of those who would live a spiritual rather than material life, it's not that difficult to get an inkling of what Jesus is saying at the most superficial level. The truth of spiritual texts is their unfolding truth upon truth with our own development and deepening spirituality.
When anyone considers Jesus Christ what comes to mind is the 'man on the cross'. My Jewish friends laugh at my wearing a dead body round my neck and joke that were he to have been killed today I'd be wearing a man in an electric chair. My Buddhist friends thinks it so violent. Wearing my Celtic cross with sun and cross showing the growth in spirituality from Sun worship to Son worship has seemed more in tune with the times. The Catholics stand out from the protestants because they usually have some obviously suffering Jesus hanging from nails on the cross. Protestants more often than not opt for just the cross without the body. I'd have to explain to my Hindoo friend that if Jesus were killed today the Catholics would show the body in the electric chair whereas the Protestants would probably just wear empty chairs. It's a matter of taste, really.
I came back from Rome wearing a cross I'd bought at the Vatican Souvenir counter of the so-called 'Risen Christ". It's got the cross, and a little man slumped and suffering ,with sun rays behind him pointing clearly to the resurrection.
The Cross is the Way. The cross is not only a symbol of Jesus but also a more historic symbol of the cross roads. It is a choice. The choice is clearly one we all face daily in life, moment by moment. Spiritual or material or simply moral. Right or wrong. What Jesus is known by all for is the cross. The cross denotes Suffering. Unfortunately, moral decisions don't always end up Barbie and Ken at first glance.
The "WAY" of Jesus Christ was "Thy Will Be Done, Not Mine." The Way that Jesus speaks to is that of "obedience" and further of "suffering". In the story of Jesus the Devil tempts him with high office and luxurious life. Before Jesus is taken prisoner he begs the Father, if possibly, let me pass on this bit of painful life. However he says, If it be your will, I will do it. Jesus is 'obedient' to the father. Life on life's terms is a saying heard on the spiritual path. Jesus meets his obligations and fulfills his responsibilities. He doesn't run away from destiny but accepts the path. The Way of Jesus is acceptance. It's meeting life head on.
The Truth of Jesus Christ is also the Cross. The caterpillar does not know itself to be the Butterfly but in the Chrisalsalis it becomes and painfully separates from the old life to be the butterfly it was born to be. The spiritual know the truth of this process. It's never more clearly stated than in the story of Jesus Christ. It's in the story of the Cross, the humiliating death followed by the Resurrection.
The Light of Jesus Christ is that out of the darkness of the old ways the light of new life is born. The Resurrected Jesus meets his disciples, walks with them, talks with them. He is the human embodiment of the Phoenix Rising. He shows that there is life after death.
The metaphor of life after death is everywhere to see despite our refusal to accept even the sleeping waking cycles of daily individual subjective experience. 365 days for how many years I will have the experience of life after the death of sleep yet somehow I will fear death and think it somehow different because as humans we're basically slow learners.
Which of course is what makes the Jesus story so funny. The disciples really are a group of bozos. They, like us, forever get it mixed up and as I am great testimony to, get it wrong, then find it again, lose it and muddle my way along. The individual muck up of Christian life is grandly exposed in the even bigger political follies and heinous embarrassments that have plagued all religions and nations. It is the nature of being human and evolving.
The spiritual truth of Jesus is not in the religion but rather in the story. It's in the words of Jesus, the teachings and his life. The teachings, not surprisingly are the same as those from all spiritual traditions. The hardest one, of course, is that age old universal, 'love your neighbor as yourself.' Typically Jesus goes further and makes what this means clear by saying 'love your enemy'. The other least appealing aspect of Jesus is his forgiving nature which he says is the nature of God, the Father, as evidenced in the story of the Prodigal Son. Jesus dying says of the government, of the persecutors, of the ignorant, of the silly, "Forgive them for they know not what they do."
It's never surprising that the Way is rejected. It's humanly impossible.
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