“Truly I tell you, there is no one who leaves their home or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for my sake and the Teachings that will not receive a hundred times more than they would in this present life: houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, farms – as well as persecution – they will receive eternal life in the next lifetime. But many who are first will be last – and the last will be first.” (Mark 10:29-31)Why would Jesus suggest his students leave their families? Wasn't Jesus big on family - as sectarian teachers like to preach? Let's discuss this and the other elements of Jesus' statement:
A false sense of family
The physical world is designed to deliver to us the illusion that this temporary body is me and the bodies related to my body are my permanent family.
This illusion is strong: We think this is our family despite the fact that every single member of our physical family will die, including our physical body. Every body in our family will die. Logically, how could this be our permanent family if every body in the family will die and all the family members eventually depart?
Put another way: This false sense of family of our physical body is an illusion. This is why Jesus suggested his followers leave their families to follow him as stated above. This is why Jesus told someone who wanted to accompany his family during his father's burial:
“Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matt. 8:22)Jesus is calling those who have fallen under this illusion of family within the physical world "dead." This is because he is considering such a consciousness - of essentially serving one's family members - the opposite of being alive. He is stating that being alive is to love and serve the Supreme Being.
This is also why Jesus denied his own family when they came to him to see him, saying:
Then his brothers and his mother came, and were standing outside. They sent word, asking to see him. And the crowd sat around him and they said to him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are outside waiting for you.” He answered them, saying, “Who is my mother or my brothers?” And he looked around, upon those who sat around him, and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” Because whoever shall do God’s will – this is my brother, and my sister and mother!” (Mark 3:31-35)The illusion of family within the physical world allows us to ignore our real family - the family surrounding the Supreme Being - our real Parent and Beloved.
After all, accepting the physical body's family as the all-in-all also allows us to feel we are independent of God - that we don't need God.
This is all arranged by the Supreme Being. It is part of His design to allow us the freedom to exercise our desire to be away from him. This allows us to essentially play God - master - for a while.
This illusion - and the desire to play God - is seen most readily in the form of family pride. When we become proud of our body and our physical family, we are essentially feeling that we are something special. This is basically self-centeredness - even when it includes our other family members. We feel proud of ourselves (our body) and our family (their bodies). This allows us to feel that we are great.
This feeling of being great allows us to claim independence from God. It allows us to ultimately claim God's property - our body and the bodies of our so-called family members - as ours.
Thus we can clearly state that feeling a part of a physical family creates a false sense of prestige. It is not based upon reality. It is merely based on an illusion God created to allow us to exercise our freedom to ignore Him.
The first will be last and the last will be first?
Jesus states clearly that those who are first will be last. What does Jesus mean by "first" and "last" here?
The Greek word translated to "first" is πρῶτος (prōtos). This means, according to the lexicon, "to be first - in rank, influence, honor..." In other words, it means feeling I am the greatest.
The notion of being first thus relates to a false sense of prestige. A person who feels they have accomplished something great - whether it is a position of power in the business world, within a family, or a position within a sectarian religion - has a false sense of prestige. This false sense of prestige is essentially feeling ourselves as better than others - or feeling that we are the greatest.
This false sense of prestige (of feeling oneself great) might bring some advantage within the material world, but a false sense of prestige will actually leave oneself as an outsider - being last - in the context of the spiritual realm.
This means that feeling proud of our material accomplishments or material qualities - whether it be becoming an Olympic champion or president or becoming a respected religious leader - will actually land us in the position of being last in the context of the spiritual realm.
This also means the consciousness of feeling first within our religious beliefs puts us in a position of last in the consciousness of the spiritual realm.
The position of being first in Jesus' teachings is the position of feeling "last." It is the position of humility - of feeling that I have no good qualities and I have accomplished nothing - this is the feeling that allows us to become consistent with the environment - the consciousness - that exists within the spiritual realm.
Humility is a feature of the pure soul
This humble consciousness within the spiritual realm is actually part of our innate being. We are by nature humble, but currently, this natural humility is covered up by our desires to be master - our desires to play God.
This means that pretending to be humble will not do us any good. In order to uncover our natural humility, we need to focus our consciousness upon the Supreme Being. We need to renew our eternal relationship with God. We need to take shelter in the Supreme Being - and admit that we need Him.
As we do that - by worshiping and praising God - our natural humility will be gradually uncovered. Yes, we may retain certain tendencies while we maintain this physical body - but our natural humility will become increasingly evident by our activities.
This is the consciousness that Jesus is speaking to his students about accomplishing. Certainly, leaving their homes and families and following Jesus will render a consequence for Jesus' followers. This consequence is that they will be able to more completely follow Jesus - with less distraction - and thus have a real chance of renewing their loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
An entrance fee into heaven?
But it is not as if there is an entrance fee into this relationship - and the spiritual realm. That one makes a payment of some sacrifice in return for entrance. This is the reason for Jesus' last statement, about the first being last and the last, first.
The concept of earning one's entrance into our loving relationship with God - and thus the spiritual realm - is actually inconsistent with the very nature of the spiritual realm.
The nature of the spiritual realm is humble love. Those who reside in the spiritual realm have this consciousness where ever they may be residing: A state of humility and loving service to the Supreme Being and His children.
This is our natural state. This is the state that we, in fact, yearn for while we are temporarily residing within these temporary physical bodies. This is why we love and serve family, community and country - because we are by nature loving servants.
Our natural condition
We can see that this is our natural state as we admire those who work to try to help others here in this world. We see this is our natural condition as we witness or partake in a loving embrace between two people. We see this is our natural state when we search the world for our soul mate - someone who will always be there for us and someone who is our perfect friend, lover and companion.
But of course, the physical realm has a dark side: wars, hatred, violence, jealousy, anger and so on. These facilities in the physical world allow for us to express the other side of our constitution: The ability to turn from God and the tendency to want to play God - the desire to be master.
This is our eternal choice. In order to have love, we must have freedom. So God gives us the ability to love Him - for He is our Soul Mate. But with that ability comes the freedom to reject Him and try to play God. This is part of the beauty of God: He wants us to love Him freely.
What if we choose not to love God?
Those who choose not to love Him are given a physical body within the physical universe. Here we can forget Him and exercise our desires. We can pretend to be someone we are not and try to play master.
We can use this body to achieve a position of power in the physical world. We can become famous, wealthy, or become an Olympic champion or some other "champion of the world." Or we can become the CEO of some company and pretend to be the master of that business domain.
If all else fails, the facility of this physical body and physical dimension allows us, at the very least, to become the master of our household. We can "create" children and then theoretically "rule" over the children (an illusion, since children will often rule the household). This false position of "creator" is provided by God to enable us to accomplish our goal of playing His position of Creator - of master of our own domain.
This is seen most clearly among the parents when a baby is born. The father is so proud and the mother so proud of their "creation." They will say to each other, "I/we created this." And this will give them pride in themselves as they pretend they are creators.
All of this accommodation within the physical world is created by the Supreme Being to allow us the freedom to forget Him and pretend to be in His position - master.
In fact, we can easily disprove the notion that either the mother or father created the baby. The father's body may have provided the sperm and the mother's body provided the egg and the womb: But neither person created the father's body or the mother's body.
These bodies were provided by the facility of the physical world. The spirit-person residing in the father's or mother's body did not control the growth and development of their physical body. Their physical bodies developed via the design and programming of the Supreme Being.
And the baby's body was also provided by nature - ultimately created by the Supreme Being. The baby body is a facility that allows a unique spirit-person to temporarily occupy. That spirit-person in the baby body existed before the birth of that baby body. So the parents did not create that spirit-person. God created the spirit-person inhabiting the baby body as well as that baby body.
This is ultimately what Jesus is speaking of. Reward in the context of giving up something and getting paid back is not the consciousness of the spiritual realm. But by making sacrifices in order to follow Jesus' teachings, we have a better chance of achieving what Jesus ultimately asked his students to do:
“The most important of all the instructions is, ‘Hear O Israel – the LORD our God is our only Lord – and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – this is the most important instruction. And the second is like it – ‘You shall love others as yourself.’ There is no other instruction greater than these.” (Mark 12:30)It isn't necessary to leave our family in order to follow Jesus. We can simply embrace and practice his teachings where ever we are - understanding that we are part of a much larger family - a spiritual family made up of God and all God's children.