“Look, we will travel up to Jerusalem and the Servant of Humanity will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes and they will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the pagans. Then they will mock him and flog him and spit on him and will murder his body – and on the third day he will appear.” (Mark 10:33-34)Jesus is speaking directly to his close disciples:
Later they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus led them. They were amazed yet humbled as they followed him. Then once again he told the twelve the things that will happen to him. (Mark 10:32)
Did he say he would "appear" or "rise"?
One of the differences in translation between the Gospels of Jesus above and some other Biblical versions is the translation of the Greek ἀνίστημι (anistēmi) to "appear" instead of "rise."
The Greek word can mean, according to the lexicon, "to cause to rise up, raise up - raise up from laying down - to raise up from the dead." But it can also mean, "to arise, appear, stand forth."
So let's get this straight. Is Jesus speaking of his to-be-murdered body rising again? And what would that accomplish? To prove that his body was great? Or that his body was better than others?
This is a ridiculous notion. Jesus didn't need to prove he was great, or that he was better than others. He wasn't trying to prove his greatness.
Others will insist that Jesus was proving that he was God. This too is ridiculous. God never has to prove Himself to others. This is why we can't typically see God in the material world - because God never needs to prove Himself.
Furthermore, God never dies.
Neither does God die, nor did Jesus die. Yes, Jesus' physical body did die. But then he appeared to them again after his body died in order to prove that the soul is eternal, and show that he (his soul) was returning to the spiritual realm.
What Jesus is speaking of is his coming re-appearance to the eyes of his disciples. Jesus appeared to his disciples not in his body - but in different forms. For most of his re-appearances, they didn't even recognize him at first. Here are two verses describing this:
After that, he appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking in the country. (Mark 16:12)
As they were talking and questioning each other, Jesus came up and began walking with them. But their eyes couldn’t recognize him. (Luke 24:15-16)
Why did Jesus tell his disciples - and were there only 12?
But why did Jesus take these twelve aside and not announce this publicly? And why did Jesus need to tell them what was going to happen to him? Was he trying to prove that he could predict the future?
Nope. Jesus didn't need to prove anything to these disciples. He was telling them so they could help him prepare for these events.
You see, Jesus had many disciples. Luke 10 explains that he sent out 72, so we know that he had at least 72 disciples. Noting the large crowds of thousands, Jesus certainly had hundreds of disciples.
The word "disciple" in the Gospels is translated from the Greek word μαθητής (mathētēs), which means "learners" or "students" according to Thayer's lexicon. Thus whenever the word "disciples" is used in the Gospels, the reference is being made to Jesus' serious students: Those who are seriously learning from Jesus.
Then the word "apostles" - typically applied just to the twelve - is translated from the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apostolos). This means, "a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders" according to the lexicon.
Thus we find clearly that these twelve aren't Jesus' only apostles - and not all of the twelve should even be included because Judas committed suicide after turning Jesus over to the chief priests.
The reason we can say clearly that the 'twelve' weren't the only apostles comes from Luke:
After these events the Master commissioned seventy-two others and dispatched them in pairs in advance of his appearance within the villages and places he was going to go. (Luke 10:1)Because an 'apostle' means a messenger or delegate, we can say for sure that Jesus had at least 72 apostles.
Jesus gave them a message to pass on
Jesus then gave them instructions to carry out:
"Heal those who are sick and tell them, ‘The sanctuary of God is available to you.’" (Luke 10:9)Thus Jesus is giving them clear instructions that they should become teachers, and pass his teachings on to others. In fact, this phrase, "'The sanctuary of God is available to you'" is precisely what John the Baptist taught:
During this time John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the wilderness of Judea – and teaching, “Change your heart, for the sanctuary of God is readily available.” (Matt. 3:1-2)We also find that Jesus began to teach this once John was imprisoned:
So not only did Jesus teach essentially what John the Baptist taught, but Jesus also taught this same teaching and then sent his own disciples out to teach the same teaching to others.From that time, Jesus began to preach, and taught, “Change your heart, for the sanctuary of God is readily available.” (Matt. 4:17)
Mind you, the phrase 'the sanctuary of God is readily available' is not the only thing that John or Jesus or Jesus' disciples taught. We know from the Gospels that Jesus taught many things. Yet this phrase essentially summarizes the primary teaching. And what is that?
The primary teaching is to effectively tell us that we can each personally connect with God and establish our own loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
Thus, Jesus was handing down the teachings of his teacher John the Baptist, who was essentially handing down the teachings of his teacher - and the prophets before him. This is why Jesus was constantly quoting the teachings of Isaiah, Moses, David and others during his discourses: Because he was effectively passing on their teachings.
Yes, John the Baptist was teaching what the prophets such as Abraham, Moses, David and Ezekiel taught. John had become a student of Zachariah who had been a student of his teacher, and Zachariah's teacher was a student of his teacher - and so on. Then Jesus became a student of John the Baptist - symptomized by the fact that John baptized Jesus (which is what John did with all his students.)
What does this mean? This means that Jesus was part of a teaching lineage - with each teacher passing on the teachings of the teacher before them. This is a critical part of devotional training. And as we see from the fact that both John and Jesus took on many disciples - it was the duty of each of their disciples to pass on their teacher's teachings.
Thus this speculative fancy that only the twelve disciples were the rightful teachers and heirs of Jesus' teachings is simply wrong. The reality is that any of Jesus' students could legitimately pass on Jesus' teachings to their own students. If they became committed to Jesus' teachings, and then they, in turn, passed them on, then they too were by definition, apostles of Jesus.
Can't we just have a vision of Jesus?
Many sectarian institutions and their teachers have portrayed that having some sort of vision of Jesus supposedly makes a person Jesus' representative. This cheapens the entire process of learning and applying Jesus' teachings and becoming a part of Jesus' teaching lineage.
As we investigate Jesus and his disciples, and the Prophets and their students, we find the process of personal mentoring over and over. If someone could just imagine that Jesus was their teacher and they would suddenly know Jesus' teachings: Then why did Jesus personally take on disciples, and teach them specifically (as he is doing with the above text) and why did he personally travel from town to town teaching and taking on disciples?
And if being saved was just a matter of having a vision of Jesus, then why did Jesus send out his students to different towns to speak to people? Why did he descend to the physical world in the first place and teach? Why didn't he just appear to everyone in a vision?
The point is that there was a process in place whereby a Prophet would teach to others, and those who were serious students would then become teachers and pass on those teachings to others. It is not as if Jesus was the only spiritual teacher. He wanted his students to also become spiritual teachers, and this means his disciples would (and did) have students and who would ultimately become teachers themselves:
"Therefore, go and make followers of all peoples – baptizing them in the Name of the Creator, and of the Representative and of the Holy Spirit Teach them to follow the things I have instructed you – and know that I am with you always – until the end of your lifetime. Amen.” (Matt. 28:19-20)This notion that one can only have Jesus as their teacher is hypocritical. Why? Because anyone who teaches this is being a teacher. And by teaching this, they are assuming the position of teacher, and asking others to accept them as teacher.
In other words, to teach that we only need Jesus as our teacher is in itself hypocritical.
God's system of furthering His teachings
The system of a teacher teaching the student is intentional. This is God's system because God wants those who love Him to pass on their love for God to others. It is not a mechanical thing. It is a personal thing.
Ultimately what is being passed on, in this case, is love: Love for God. Devotion to God. Taking shelter in God. This is a personal thing that can only be passed on from one person to another person. It cannot be learned by joining an institution, or by envisioning Jesus in one's mind.
Love for God seeks no reward
This is also why teachers who are paid salaries cannot legitimately pass on Jesus' teachings. By receiving a salary, they disqualify themselves from any position of devotional authority. By collecting an earthly reward for teaching - compensation in any form - one cannot be serving God. A person receiving compensation cannot be passing on love for God - because love for God seeks no earthly reward or compensation.
This might be compared to a person giving you a gift and then you find the gift must be paid for. How could it be a gift if there is a requirement for compensation?
A gift has no attachments or reward. In the same way, as long as the priest, reverend or other ecclesiastical preacher is receiving compensation for their services, those services are not eligible for being loving service to God.
Giving the gift of love for God is not only a service to God - it is a service to humanity. This is why Jesus called himself "Servant of humanity" (a more appropriate translation than "Son of man."). Jesus called himself "Servant of humanity" because he was providing a service to all of us - the service of trying to give us love for God.
You see, it is ultimately the Supreme Being who is teaching through His representatives. Jesus is God's representative. So was John the Baptist, and Moses, and Abraham and David, Isaiah and Ezekiel along with James and Peter - they were each representing God.
For example, with Ezekiel, we find that God specifically told Ezekiel to teach particular things to the Israelites. Thus we find clear evidence that Ezekiel is God's representative. And God Himself called Ezekiel "Servant of humanity" (AKA "Son of man").
God speaks through those who are dedicated to Him
But God only speaks through those who are committed to Him. Those who are single-mindedly devoted to Him. A person who has gone to a seminary and gets paid a salary to teach must teach those things that their employer is okay with them teaching. Their allegiance has to be to their employer - the institution that pays them.
Thus we find these professional preachers or priests represent the institutions that pay them - not God. They must play politics with their institution's hierarchy in order to retain their positions and their salaries.
This is one of the reasons Jesus railed against the pharisees and chief priests of the Jewish synagogues during his times. They had become professional preachers. They were receiving compensation for their services. They had become politically entrenched. They were not representing God. They were not serving humanity. They were representing those political institutions. And many were also serving their desires for authority and recognition - as Jesus pointed out.
It is love for God that God's representative teaches us. Why? Because God's representative speaks on behalf of God. God wants us to return to Him. God wants us to return to our lost loving relationship with Him. God wants us back: should we decide we want to come back to Him. This is why Jesus' most important teaching is - quoted from Moses' teachings and taught by every one of God's true representatives:
"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." (Mark 12:30)
(The New Testament verses in this article are quoted from the Gospels of Jesus)