“Come with me to a secluded spot and rest yourselves for awhile.” (Mark 6:31)
Were disciples returning from preaching?
Jesus states to his students when they have returned after going out to different towns and passing on the teachings of Jesus:
Then they went out and preached that one should change their heart. And they cast out many demons and anointed many sick people with olive oil and cured them.. (Mark 6:12-13)It should be mentioned that while Mark states that the 12 disciples were sent, the Book of Luke states that actually some seventy-two students were sent to preach:
After these events the Master commissioned seventy-two others and dispatched them in pairs... (Luke 10:1)And later:
The seventy-two returned with joy... (Luke 10:17)We find that Jesus asked his students to preach a particular teaching:
"And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The sanctuary of God is readily available.’" (Matt. 10:7)This is the same teaching taught by John the Baptist. Thus we find that Jesus' students were essentially preaching the same teachings preached by Jesus' teacher, John the Baptist.
We see the evidence of this as one of John's primary teaching precisely matched the teaching that Jesus sent his own students out to teach:
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)Then we find that after John was imprisoned, Jesus spread the same teaching:
Later on, John was put into prison. Jesus then traveled to Galilee and preached the gospel of the sanctuary of God: Saying, “The sanctuary of God is readily available. Change your heart and trust this good news.” (Mark 1:14-15)Then, as shown above, Jesus taught his own disciples to preach this teaching. Thus we find that Jesus is passing on the same teachings as his teacher John the Baptist taught, and then asking his own students to pass on those same teachings. This is also why Herod considered Jesus linked to John the Baptist: Because Jesus' students were teaching the same things as taught by John:
When King Herod heard that Jesus had become well-known, he said, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead body and this is why such miracles come from him.” Others said, “This must be Elias.” And still others said, “He is a prophet – one of the ancient Prophets.” But even upon hearing these, Herod said, “It is John, whom I beheaded – he has risen from the dead body.” (Mark 6:14-16)
Why did Herod think John had returned as Jesus?
Certainly, Herod did not think that Jesus was John the Baptist reborn. Jesus was around when John was murdered. So how could Jesus have been John "risen from the dead body"?
The answer lies in the fact that both John and Jesus - along with other prophets and Mosaic teachers - taught that we are not these physical bodies, and we leave the physical body at the time of death. We are thus composed of spirit - not matter.
They also taught that an unembodied spirit-person could occupy another's physical body - something now referred to as possession.
So basically, Herod thought that the spirit of John the Baptist had come back to occupy the body of Jesus.
The only way this could take place - the only way a spirit could come and possess a physical body and overcome its current owner is because both the possessing spirit and the owner of the body both have to be spirit in nature: They both have to be capable of possessing the physical body.
This might be compared to driving a car. A person can sit down in a car and drive it. But then they can move over and let someone else sit in the car and drive it while they sit in the passenger seat. The only way each can drive the car is if both drivers are distinct from the car.
And just as the first driver may be the owner of the car, the spirit-person given that body at the point of conception is the rightful possessor of that physical body. The second spirit-person who comes in (possession) is not the rightful owner.
In other words, we find from this event that Herod accepted that the soul - the person - is not the physical body - since he thought John had returned and was occupying the body of Jesus.
This is also why Jesus and Jesus' students would "drive out demons." Because such persons were not the body and didn't belong in that physical body. They had illegally possessed it and pushed the rightful owner aside.
Furthermore, given the discussions between the various people involved or observing such possessions within the four Gospels - we can understand that it was fairly common knowledge that a demoniac spirit-person could come and occupy a body that was not assigned to them.
What does possession indicate?
This also means that it was common knowledge - at least among John's and Jesus' students - that the person is not the physical body - that we are each spirits, temporarily occupying a gross physical body.
This is further illustrated by the fact that Jesus himself was identified as such:
After Jesus called out again with a loud voice, his spirit departed. (Matthew 27:50)
Then when Jesus had received the vinegar he said, “It has been accomplished!” And he bowed his head and released his spirit. (John 19:30)
Then Jesus cried out loudly and said, “LORD, into Your Hands I commit my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)These statements clearly indicate that Jesus and his followers accepted that Jesus was not his physical body - but rather, was the spirit-person who temporarily possessed that physical body and left it at the time of death.
This indicates that not only did Jesus accept his existence as spirit and not the physical body: It also indicates that Jesus' students - who described Jesus' spirit-person leaving his physical body at the time of death - also accepted that each spirit-person - each of us too - leaves the physical body at the time of death.
From this, we can understand the basis for Herod - who also heard John's teachings - believing in the possibility that John's spirit-person had returned and was possessing Jesus' physical body.
Which of course wasn't the case. It is clear from the scriptures that Jesus was John's student and this is why Jesus was baptized by John. Jesus assumed the role of John's student and then passed on John's teachings - because John was God's representative, and so was Jesus.
Was Jesus part of a lineage?
The fact that Jesus began teaching after John was put in prison indicates Jesus accepted John's role as teacher. But then as John's student (and God's representative), Jesus also went out to teach what John was teaching. And Jesus also told his own students to pass on those same teachings.
This is the process the Supreme Being utilizes to give us spiritual knowledge, as illustrated by the teaching lineage of the Old Testament. We find this teaching lineage among all the prophets. We find it between Melchizedek and Abraham, Abraham and Lot, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Joshua, Eli and Samuel, Samuel and David, David and Solomon, and many others.
While in some instances the spiritual teacher was also the father of the student, this was not always the case, as evidenced by Melchizedek and Abraham, Moses and Joshua, Eli and Samuel, and of course, John and Jesus.
In other words, the concept of some kind of royal family of "kings," (a heritage of physical bodies) as erroneously propagated by some, a deeper lineage existed between the Prophets: One of the loving teachers who represented God, and their devoted students - who lovingly passed on the teachings they learned from their teacher.
This transcends the concept of some kind of physical body birthright to spiritual knowledge - or being some kind of "chosen people" simply by what family one is born into. Would the Supreme Being really be this unfair?
Rather, the evidence yields the sublime process the Supreme Being utilizes to give us the Truth: Whereby a humble student learns from the empowered teacher and such a student, after practicing and following those teachings - becomes empowered by the Supreme Being to pass on those teachings.
This is why the central tenet of Moses was successfully passed down through this lineage and eventually taught by Jesus:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matt. 22:37-38 and Deut. 6:5)