[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib

Highlight Words

The Gospel of St. John

The Mysteries of initiation. The rebirth through Christ Jesus.


Our considerations yesterday taught us that the Christ-impulse, after having worked through the person of Jesus of Nazareth, united itself with the evolution of the Earth. Thenceforward its influence in earthly evolution is such that man is today as powerfully affected by it as, in earlier days, by that procedure which, as we have seen, became increasingly dangerous — namely, the withdrawal of the etheric from the physical body for three and a half days during initiation. The Christ-impulse works as strongly upon human consciousness as the abnormal condition of former times. Now you must understand that such a change could take effect only slowly and by degrees in human evolution; it could not operate with full power from the very beginning. Hence it was necessary that a kind of transition should be provided through the resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus was in a condition resembling death for three and a half days; nevertheless you must realize that this condition was different from the one to which the old initiates were subjected; it was not produced artificially by the initiator as in olden times, when the etheric body was withdrawn from the physical by processes which I may not here describe. With Lazarus this withdrawal happened in a natural way. You learn from the Gospel itself that Christ had associated with Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, for it says: ‘The Lord loved him’ — that means that Christ Jesus had for a long time exerted a powerful influence on Lazarus, who was sufficiently prepared and ripe for it, and the consequence was, that it was not necessary, in his initiation, to induce artificially the three and a half days' trance, but that, in his case, the condition came of itself, under the powerful influence of the Christ-impulse. Lazarus was, as it were, dead for three and a half days; he had experienced in this time the most important things of all, so that only the last act, the resurrection, was undertaken by Christ. And whoever is acquainted with what happened there, recognizes the echo of the old initiation ceremony, in the words used by Christ Jesus:

‘Lazarus, come forth!’

The resurrected Lazarus was, as we have seen, John, or rather the writer of St. John's Gospel — he, that is, who could bring into the world the Gospel of the Being of Christ, as the first initiate in the Christian sense. We may therefore presume that this Gospel, which is nowadays so maltreated by purely historical and theological criticism, and is put down as being only a lyrical hymn, a subjective utterance of its author — we may presume that it gives us an insight into the deepest mysteries of the Christ-impulse. For the materialistic Bible commentators of today, this Gospel of St. John is a stumbling block, when it is compared with the other so-called synoptic Gospels. The Christ-figure which they construct for themselves out of the three other Gospels is very flattering to the learned gentlemen of our time. It has been stated (even in theological quarters) that we are concerned here with the ‘simple man of Nazareth’. It is emphasized again and again that Christ is here shown to us as perhaps the noblest man who ever trod the earth, but still a man. Indeed, the tendency is to simplify everything as much as possible; to the extent of saying: a Plato, a Socrates, and other great men have existed; and even various grades in their greatness may be allowed. In truth, the representation of Christ given us by the Gospel of St. John is very different!

There it is said at the very beginning, that He who dwelt for three years in the body of Jesus of Nazareth was the Logos, the eternal Word, also called the ‘eternal creative wisdom’. It cannot be understood in our time that a man in his thirtieth year could be so advanced, that he offered up his own Ego and received into himself another being, a positively super-sensible being, the Christ whom Zarathustra had addressed as ‘Ahura Mazdao’. Thus the theological critics believe that the writer of St. John's Gospel is only describing in a kind of lyrical hymn his own attitude to his Christ, and nothing more. There is St. John's Gospel on the one hand, and the other three Gospels on the other; but if an average representation was required, the Christ could indeed be described as the ‘simple man’, although of historical greatness. It does not please the new critics that a divine being should be found in Jesus of Nazareth.

We learn from the Akashic record that, having reached his thirtieth year, the personality whom we know as Jesus of Nazareth was so far advanced in maturity, through the sum of his experiences in former incarnations, that he could offer up his own Ego. For that is what happened. Being baptized by John, Jesus of Nazareth resolved, as an Ego, to step out of his physical, etheric, and astral bodies. There was left a noble frame, a precious physical, etheric, and astral body, penetrated through and through by the purest and most highly developed Ego. It was a pure vessel, and could take into itself, at the baptism by John, the eternal Word, the creative Wisdom. This is told us by the Akashic record, and, with good will, we can recognize it in the description given in the Gospel of St. John.

But are we not bound to discuss the beliefs of our materialistic age? It may perhaps surprise some of you that I speak of theologians as of materialistic thinkers, thought they are concerned with spiritual things. But a man's belief and the subject of his investigation do not matter as much as the way he investigates, regardless of the subject. When people will have nothing to do with a spiritual world and with what concerns us here, and confine their attention to the documents, records, and so on of the material world, with the object of constructing therefrom the picture of the world, such people are materialists. It all depends on the means used for investigation, and we must still discuss these.

If you read the Gospel you will see that there are certain contradictions in them. Nevertheless, as regards the main points (which may be described from the Akashic record as essentials) we may say that the Gospels coincide in a remarkable manner. They all agree as regards the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth by John, and they all assign the greatest conceivable importance to it. Again they coincide in the facts of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. These are precisely the facts which strike the materialistic thinker of today as being the most marvellous. On these points there is no discrepancy in the Gospels. But how shall we deal with the other seeming contradictions?

Two of the Evangelists, Mark and John, begin with the baptism by John. They relate the last three years of the life of Christ Jesus, confining themselves to what happened after the Christ-spirit had taken possession of the threefold covering of Jesus of Nazareth — of his physical, etheric, and astral bodies. Then we have the two Gospels according to Matthew and Luke. They give in addition the earlier history, which, in the sense of the Akashic record, is the history of Jesus of Nazareth before the sacrifice of himself to the Christ. The seekers for contradiction find, to begin with, that Matthew gives a line of ancestors back to Abraham, while Luke gives a genealogy reaching back to Adam, and from Adam to the father of Adam, God Himself. Another contradiction could then be found in the fact that, according to Matthew, three wise men or Magi, led by a star, came to greet the new born Jesus, while Luke tells of the shepherds' vision, of their adoration of the Child, and of the presentation in the Temple, against which Matthew tells of Herod's persecution, the flight into Egypt, and the return. These and many other details might strike one as contradictions. We can deal with these if we go further into the facts supplied to us by the Akashic record independently of the Gospels.

The Akashic record tells us that about the time given in the Bible (the difference of a few years does not matter) Jesus of Nazareth was born. In his body there lived an individuality who had experienced high degrees of initiation in earlier incarnations, and had gained a profound insight into the spiritual world. Yes, the Akashic record, which furnishes the one and only real history, tells us still more, but I will merely indicate it in outline to begin with. We are told that he who appeared in Jesus of Nazareth had gone through various earlier incarnations in various parts, and we are led back to the time when this bearer of the later name ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ had attained, in the Persian world, a remarkably high state of initiation and performed a work of the highest significance. The Akashic record shows how this individuality had already worked in the spiritual world of the ancient Persians, how he looked up to the Sun and addressed the high Sun-spirit as ‘Ahura Mazdao’. We must realize that it was into the bodies of this individuality, who had gone through these incarnations, that Christ entered. What does that mean, ‘Christ entered into the bodies of this individuality’? It simply means that the Christ used these three bodies — the astral, the etheric, the physical — for His life and work upon Earth. All that we think and express in words, all our feelings and sensations depend upon our astral body. It is the bearer of all this. For thirty years Jesus of Nazareth lived as an Ego in this astral body, imparting to it all that he had experienced and assimilated in earlier incarnations. In what form, then, could this astral body shape its thoughts? It adapted and joined itself to the individuality which lived in it for thirty years. When Zarathustra, in ancient Persia, looked up to the Sun and spoke of Ahura Mazdao — that imprinted itself upon the astral body. Into this astral body Christ now entered. Was it not natural, therefore, that when Christ used images of thought and vented His feeling, He should clothe these expressions in what his astral body offered Him? For if you wear a grey coat, you appear to the outside world in a grey coat. Christ appeared to the outside world in the body of Jesus of Nazareth (in his physical, etheric, and astral bodies), so that His thoughts and feelings were coloured by the thoughts and feelings which were in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. What wonder, then, that in many of His utterances, as related in the Gospel of St. John, we catch the echo of ancient Persia and of expressions used in ancient Persian initiation! For the impulse which was in Christ passed over to His disciple, to the resurrected Lazarus. Thus it is as though the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth were speaking to us through St. John in his Gospel; no wonder that we catch the tone of much that is Persian, and that expressions are used which recall the old Persian initiation and its forms of thought. In Persia they did not address the spirits that are connected with the Sun only as ‘Ahura Mazdao’; the expression ‘Vohumanu’ was also used, that is, the creative Word or the creative Spirit. The ‘Logos’ in the sense of ‘creative power’ was first used in Persian initiation, and we meet it again in the very first verse of St. John's Gospel. Many other things in this Gospel will be intelligible to us when we know that Christ Himself spoke through an astral body that had served Jesus of Nazareth for thirty years, and that this individuality was the reincarnation of an old Persian initiate. It could be clearly shown in many instances how the Gospel of St. John, this most intimate of the Gospels, by using words derived from the secrets of initiation, thereby reflects the old Persian mode of expression transmitted into later times.

Now what can be said in this respect of the other Gospels? To understand this, we must recall some of the facts explained in the foregoing lectures.

We have already heard that there were high spiritual beings who transferred their scene of action to the Sun when the latter separated from the Earth. We also remarked that the outer astral forms of these beings were to a certain extent the counterpart of certain animal forms here on the earth. There was the form of the ‘Bull-spirits’, the spiritual counterpart of the animal species having the functions of nourishment and digestion as the essential characteristic of their development. The spiritual counterpart is of course of high spiritual nature, however low the earthly image may appear. Thus we have high spiritual beings who, having transferred their scene of action to the Sun, work from there upon the Earth-sphere in the nature of ‘Bull-spirits’. Others appear as ‘Lion-spirits’, whose counterpart is seen in the animal species in whom the organs pertaining to the heart and the circulation of the blood are pre-eminently developed. Then we have the beings whose animal counterpart we meet in the eagle species — the ‘Eagle-spirits’. Finally we have the beings who unite the other natures in a harmonious synthesis — the ‘Man-spirits’. These were in a certain sense the most advanced of the beings. Now let us return to the old initiation. It made it possible for men to see face to face the high spiritual beings who progressed ahead of men. But inasmuch as men had descended in earlier times from Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus, they were ere initiated in correspondingly different ways. Even in Atlantis there were many and various oracles. There were some in which spiritual vision was as directed especially towards the beings we have described as ‘Eagle-spirits’, while others saw the ‘Lion-spirits’, the ‘Bull-spirits’, and others again the ‘Man-spirits’. This was determined according to the special character of the candidates for initiation. These differences were one of the peculiarities of Atlantean times and their echo persisted even in our post Atlantean times. There were sanctuaries in Asia Minor and Egypt in which the initiated saw the high spiritual beings as Bull-spirits or Eagle-spirits. These Mysteries were the source from which outer civilization issued. Those who perceived the high spiritual beings in the ‘Lion’ form, created for themselves a kind of image of what they had seen, in the body of the lion. Then they said: ‘These spirits have a share in the genesis of man’, and gave the lion's body a human head. This was the origin of the Sphinx. Those who had seen the Bull-spirits introduced Bull worship <Crect during decadence in Spain> in token of their vision of the spiritual world; this led to the worship of the Apis Bull in Egypt and the Mithras Bull in Persia. For all the outward religious practices of the various peoples had their rise in the rites of initiation. There were everywhere initiates whose spiritual vision was directed pre-eminently towards the Bull-spirits, while others were concerned with the Eagle-spirits and so on. We can also indicate to a certain extent the difference between the various kinds of initiation. The initiates to whom the spiritual beings appeared in the form of Bull-spirits were particularly instructed in the secret properties of human nature pertaining to the glandular, that is, to the etheric system. Furthermore they were initiated in yet another region of human nature — the part which clings to the earth, being firmly forged to it. This was seen by those who were initiated into the ‘Bull’ mysteries.

Let us try to put ourselves into the temper of mind of such an initiate. From his great teacher he had heard how man descended from divine heights, the first men being descendants of divine spiritual beings. The first men were thus traces back to their father God. So man descended to Earth and passed from earth-form to earth-form. These initiates were especially interested in the earth-bound element and in all that men experienced at a time when they counted the divine spiritual beings as their ancestors. With the Eagle-initiates it was different. They saw those spiritual beings who are related to men in a peculiar way. But to understand this we must first say a few words concerning the spiritual nature of the bird species.

In animals we see beings whose lower organization makes them rank below man; for they became prematurely hardened and failed to retain their physical substance in a soft and flexible state, until the moment when they might have assumed human form. In the bird species we have beings who did not assume the lowest functions, but skipped over that point. They did not descend low enough, as it were; they kept themselves in too soft a substance, while the others lived in too hard a substance. As evolution progressed, outward circumstances compelled them to densify. So they densified in a manner suitable to a nature that was too soft and had not descended low enough on to earth. That is a somewhat crude and popular way of expressing it, but it gives the facts. The spiritual prototypes corresponding to these bird natures are beings who overstepped the mark in an upward direction; they persisted in too soft a substance and, in the course of their development, flew over what they might have become at a particular moment. They err in an upward, and the others in a downward direction . The Lion-spirits occupy the middle position, they and the harmonized spirits who rightly conformed with the trend of development — the Man-spirits.

Now, as we have realized, those who had something of the old initiation were receptive for the influence exerted by the Christ-event. They had formerly possessed insight into the spiritual world in accordance with their particular initiation. The initiates of a great part of Egypt, who had partaken of the ‘Bull’ initiation, could say: ‘We can see into the spiritual world; the high spiritual beings appear to us in the counterpart of the Bull-nature in man.’ But those who had come into contact with the Christ-impulse could now add: ‘But now the Lord of the spiritual realm has appeared to us in His true form. Out earlier vision, to which we ascended through the stages of initiation, showed us a preliminary form for the Christ. Christ, it is, whom we must now place in the centre of our vision. If we bear in mind everything that we have seen, everything that the spiritual world has by degrees disclosed to us, where would all this have led us, provided our level had been already high enough at that time? It would have led us to Christ!’ Such an initiate described the way into the spiritual world in the sense of the Bull-initiation. But then he added: ‘The truth, which is in the spiritual world, that is Christ!’, and the Lion- and Eagle-initiates spoke likewise.

All these initiation Mysteries had definite rules as to how the candidate should be led into the spiritual world. The ritual according to which the spiritual world should be entered, differed, in different places. In Asia Minor and Egypt there were Mysteries of many and various shades, in which it was the practice to lead the initiates to a perception of the ‘Bull’ nature, or the ‘Lion-spirits’ and so on. And now let us understand, from this point of view, those whose former initiations had rendered them ripe to feel the Christ-impulse and comprehend Christ in the right way. Let us consider an initiate who had gone through the stages leading to the perception of the ‘Man-spirit’. He could say to himself: ‘The true Lord of the spiritual world has appeared to me. He is Christ, who lived in Jesus of Nazareth. What has led me to him? My old initiation!’ He knew the steps which led to the vision of the ‘Man-spirit’. Thus he described what a man experiences in order to attain initiation, and above all to recognize the Christ-nature. His knowledge of initiation was in accordance with the directions given in those Mysteries which led to the ‘Man’-initiation. Therefore the high initiate who was in the body of Jesus of Nazareth (before the Christ descended) appeared to him in the symbol of the Mysteries which he had gone through and which he knew. His description accorded with his own view of the subject, and that is the case with Matthew's description. Hence an older tradition is altogether to the point when it connects the writer of the Gospel of St. Matthew with that one of the four symbols shown here on the capitals of the columns, on the right and on the left — the symbol which we designate as the ‘symbol of man’. <Ed. These two columns and the seven-armed candelabra decorated the lecture room, which also contained a plastic figure by Professor Bernwitz representing the Archangel Michael.> An older tradition connects the writer of the Matthew Gospel with the ‘Man’-spirit, for the reason that he adopted at his point of departure the initiation of the ‘Man’-mysteries into which he was acquainted. For at the time of the Gospels it was not customary to write biographies as people do nowadays. What appeared of primary importance to people in those days was the fact that a high initiate was there, who had received the Christ into himself. They were chiefly concerned with the question, how a man becomes an initiate and what he experiences as an initiate. Therefore they pass over the outward daily events which appear so important to the present day biographer. What does a modern biographer leave undone in order to gather sufficient material! Frederick Theodore Vischer once used a very good simile at the expense of a learned gentleman, in ridiculing the way in which modern biographies are written. He said: ‘A young scholar once set out to write a disquisition of Goethe. He first devoted himself to the preparatory work and gathered all the material he needed. But not content with that, he went into all the houses in all the towns where Goethe had lived, rummaged about in every loft, searched in every room, raised dust from all the corners, upset evil smelling dust bins, and all in order to find everything there was to find with a view to writing a dissertation “On the Connection of Frau Christiane von Goethe's Chilblains with the Mythological, Allegorical, Symbolic Figures in the Second part of Faust”!’ That is putting it rather strongly, but, in spirit, it fits the writers of modern biographies. Authors who wish to write about Goethe poke about in every possible rubbish heap in order to write their biographies. The word ‘discretion’ has become an unknown quantity nowadays.

Very different was the manner in which the writers of the Gospels described the life of Jesus of Nazareth. For them, all ordinary events sank into insignificance when compared with the successive stages which Jesus of Nazareth had to traverse as an initiate. This was the subject of their narrative, but each described it in his own way and as he himself knew it. Matthew describes it in the manner of one who has been initiated into the Mysteries of the ‘Man-spirit.’

This initiation was closely related to the Egyptian wisdom. We can also now understand how the writer of the Gospel according to St. Luke arrived at his particular description. He was one of those who in former incarnations had been initiated into the Mysteries of the ‘Bull-spirit’. He described the facts which corresponded to such an initiation, saying: ‘Such are the stages which a great initiate must have traversed!’ And he gave his own colouring to his description. He was one of those who in former incarnations had lived chiefly within the Egyptian Mysteries, and it is therefore not surprising that he should mention a trait which is characteristic of the Egyptian type of initiation. He said to himself: ‘In the individuality who was in the body of Jesus of Nazareth there lived a high initiate. I have learnt the path which leads through the Egyptian Mysteries to the “Bull”-initiation. Of that I am sure. An initiate of so high a grade as Jesus of Nazareth must have passed through an Egyptian initiation in addition to all the other initiations, in his former incarnations.’ Thus we have in Jesus of Nazareth an initiate who had experienced Egyptian initiation. The other evangelists were of course also aware of this, but they did not attach special importance to it, because they were not so familiar with this particular aspect of initiation. Hence a particular characteristic of Jesus of Nazareth did not strike them. I said in the first lectures that something unusual is connected with the reappearance of an initiate on earth. Certain definite events take place which seem like a repetition in the other world of former experiences. Let us assume a man had been initiated in ancient Ireland; he must now be reminded of this old Irish initiation by some outer event in his life. This would ensue, for instance, if he were induced by circumstances to make a journey to Ireland. This Irish journey would be a striking incident in the eyes of one closely acquainted with Irish initiation, while others would think less of it, being unfamiliar with that initiation. The individuality who lived in Jesus of Nazareth had been initiated also in the Egyptian Mysteries. Hence his journey to Egypt. Who therefore was likely to be particularly struck by the ‘Flight into Egypt’? One who knew such a journey by personal experience and described this particular incident because he was aware of its significance. It is described in the Gospel of St. Matthew because the writer knew from his own initiation what a journey to Egypt meant for many initiates in olden times. Again since we know that the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke derived his knowledge of initiation especially from the Egyptian Mysteries with which Bull-worship was connected, you will agree that the association of this evangelist with the symbol of the Bull, according to an older tradition, is not without justification. For certain good reasons which cannot be given here for lack of time, he does not describe the journey to Egypt. But he mentions typical events the importance of which could best be estimated by one familiar with Egyptian initiation. The writer of the Gospel of St. Matthew gives a more external description of the career of Jesus of Nazareth, as in the ‘Flight into Egypt’; the writer of St. Luke sees the whole course of events in the spirit conferred by an Egyptian initiation.

Now let us consider the writer of the Gospel according to St. Mark. He omits all preliminary history and describes in particular the life and work of Christ in the body of Jesus of Nazareth for the period of three years. In this respect the Gospels of St. Mark and St. John are in complete agreement. The writer of St. Mark passed through an initiation closely resembling the initiations of Asia Minor or even Greece, and it may be said that these European-Asiatic, heathen initiations were at that time the latest. Their reflection in the outer world was in the sense that a high personality who had experienced a certain initiation, owes his origin not merely to a natural but to a supernatural event. Remember that those who venerated Plato and desired to think of him in the right way, were not especially interested in the identity of his earthly father. In their eyes, the soul of Plato in the body of Plato is born as a high spiritual being fructifying his lower humanity. Hence they ascribed to the god Apollo the birth of that Plato who was so precious to them — the awakened Plato. To them, Plato was the son of Apollo. Precisely in these Mysteries it was usual to pay no special attention to the previous life of the person in question but to concentrate upon the point of time when he became what is called a ‘son of God’, as we find so often mentioned in the Gospels. Plato a son of God! Such was he called by those whose veneration for him and whose knowledge of his nature was of the noblest kind. At the same time we must realize to what extent this manner of regarding the gods affected the human life of such sons of God on Earth. It was precisely in this (fourth) period of civilization that men became most attached to the world of the physical senses and learned to love the Earth. The old gods were dear to them because they could show in what manner the highest sons of Earth were ‘sons of the gods’. These personalities sojourning here upon Earth were to be described in this way. The author of the Gospel according to St. mark was a writer in this sense. His description is confined to what happened after the baptism by John. His initiation has led him to the knowledge of the higher worlds in the image of the ‘Lion-spirit’. Hence in the old tradition, this writer had been associated with the symbol of the Lion. And now let me turn once more to the Gospel of St. John.

We have said that the writer of this Gospel was initiated by Christ Himself. He could therefore give his work something which contained in germ the active influence of the Christ-impulse, both for the present and for remote future ages. What he proclaims will hold good in the most distant future. He is one of those of whom we have spoken as ‘Eagle’ initiates, who had transcended the normal point. The normal instruction for that time is given by the writer of St. Mark. All that transcends that time, all that reveals to us the working of Christ in the far future, soaring above earthly attachments — all that is found in St. John. Tradition therefore associates him with the symbol of the Eagle. Thus we see that an old tradition like this, associating the Evangelists with what may be said to constitute the real nature of their own past initiation, cannot possibly be founded upon mere fancy, but that it springs from the deepest foundations of Christian evolution. Thus deeply must we penetrate beneath the surface of things! We then understand that the chief events in the life of Christ Jesus are narrated in the same manner by all the Evangelists, but that each described Christ Jesus as he understood Him and according to the character of His initiation. This has been touched upon in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact, but in a way suitable for an unprepared public; for the book was written at the beginning of our anthroposophical movement and takes into consideration the contemporary lack of understanding in respect of occult facts.

We realize therefore that light is thrown upon the Christ-figure from four sides: by each of the Evangelists from the side he knew best. That Christ has many sides you will readily believe, in view of the mighty impulse which He has given. But this I said: All four Gospels agree on the following points: that the Christ-Being Himself descended from divine spiritual heights at the Baptism by John; that He dwelt in the body of Jesus of Nazareth; that He suffered death on the Cross and conquered death. We shall return later to the Mystery of the Death on the Cross, but let us think of it today in the light of the question: ‘What is the most striking feature in the Death on the Cross as regards the Christ-Being?’ To this we must answer that the characteristic feature of this event is the fact that there is no difference between the life that preceded and the life that followed it. The essential factor in the Death of Christ is that Christ passed through death unchanged, that He remained the Same, that He was the One who demonstrated the insignificance of death, so that all who were acquainted with the true nature of the Death of Christ believed in the living Christ.

Seen from this point of view, what was the meaning of the vision on the road to Damascus, when he who was called Saul became Paul? Paul knew from what he had formerly learnt that the Spirit first seen by Zarathustra on the Sun as Ahura Mazdao, and then beheld by Moses in the burning bush and in the fire on Sinai, was gradually nearing the Earth; he also knew that this Spirit must enter a human body. But Paul, while he was still Saul, could not understand that he who was to be the bearer of the Christ must needs suffer the shameful death on the Cross. He could only imagine that when Christ came, He must come in triumph and, once He had approached the Earth, must abide in all that the Earth contains. Paul could not imagine that he who had hung upon the Cross had been the bearer of the Christ. The death on the Cross, its shame and everything connected therewith, prevented Paul from recognizing that Christ had truly been there upon Earth. Hence it was necessary that something should happen to convince him that the Individuality in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, hanging on the Cross, was the very Christ, the Christ who had been on Earth. Clairvoyant, that is what Paul became on the road to Damascus; and his vision convinced him of the truth! To the eye of the seer the spiritual world appeared changed after the Event of Golgotha. Before that event the seer did not find Christ in the spiritual worlds; after Golgotha He could be seen in the aura of the Earth. That is the difference. And Paul said to himself: ‘As a seer, I can be convinced that in him who hung upon the Cross and lived as Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ was present, who is now in the aura of the Earth!’ In the aura of the Earth he saw the Being first seen by Zarathustra as Ahura Mazdao on the Sun. Now he knew that He who hung upon the Cross was risen. He could therefore say: ‘Christ is risen! He has appeared to me, as He appeared to Cephas, to the other brethren, and to the five hundred at the same time!’ And Paul now became the herald of the living Christ, for whom death has not the same meaning as for other men.

When doubt is cast on Christ's death on the Cross, one who knows the truth will agree with the Suabian author of the book entitled Origins of Christianity, which contains all the most reliable historical material bearing upon the subject. Gfrörer, the writer to whom we refer, justly laid stress on the Death of the Cross, and we can sympathize with him when he says in his somewhat sarcastic manner, that if anyone were to contradict him on this point he would look him critically in the face and ask whether something was not ‘out of order beneath his hat’! This is one of the most certain facts of Christianity. The Death on the Cross, and that which we shall describe tomorrow as the Resurrection, and as the effect of the words, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world!’ — these facts constitute the essence of Paul's teaching. For him, the Resurrection of Christ is the starting-point of Christianity. We might say that it is only in our own day that people have begun again to reflect a little upon these things, not as the subject of theological controversy, but as the vital question of Christianity. The great philosopher Solovioff assumes, strictly speaking, the Pauline standpoint when he says: ‘Everything in Christianity centres upon the idea of Resurrection; and if this idea be not believed or understood, a Christianity of the future is impossible.’ He repeats, after his fashion, Paul's words: ‘If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain and our faith is also vain!’ Then the Christ-impulse is impossible. Indeed, there could be no Christianity without the risen, living Christ.

It is a striking fact, and we may therefore draw attention to it, that isolated profound thinkers come to recognize the truth of this Pauline saying, purely from their own philosophy and quite without occultism. If we devote some attention to such minds we see that, in certain cases, ideas are being formed, already in our time, of what will one day constitute human belief and human conceptions of the world — that is, of the knowledge which spiritual science must bring. But without spiritual science, even a profound thinker like Solovioff cannot get beyond empty conceptual forms. His systems of philosophy are like conceptual receptacles into which must be poured the content they require and for which they have fashioned the mould — the content they do not possess, for it can be derived alone from the anthroposophical movement. Anthroposophy will pour that living water, the message of the facts of the spiritual world, occult knowledge, into these vessels, and bring its gifts to the noble minds who show that they require Anthroposophy, and whose tragic fate it is that they have not been able to find it. Of such minds it is not too much to say that they thirst for Anthroposophy, but they have not been able to find it. Anthroposophical knowledge must flow into such prepared vessels, and enable these minds to form clear and true ideas regarding such cardinal events as the Christ-event and the Mystery of Golgotha. On these subjects only Anthroposophy or spiritual science can enlighten us with its revelation of the realms of the spiritual world. Indeed, the Mystery of Golgotha cannot be understood in our day save through Anthroposophy or spiritual science.

Last Modified: 17-Feb-2018
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com