The Mystery of New Life 2

Part 1 of this series began our look at the parallels between childbirth and spiritual rebirth, focusing on the initial joining (conception) that starts the process. Now it’s time to examine the spiritual growth that follows a spiritual conception. Does it, too, parallel the physical processes leading up to childbirth?

In pregnancy, the single-celled zygote divides into multiple cells in order to form an embryo. The cells recognize each other as parts of a whole because they share the same DNA. Having the same DNA doesn’t mean that the cells are all the same, of course. Once there are about sixteen cells, they begin to differentiate and perform more specialized functions as the number of cells multiplies. 

In spiritual rebirth, which we will simply call rebirth, something similar takes place. Recall Jesus’s words in Matthew 18:20:

 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” 

What Jesus means is that his “spiritual DNA” unifies the group of individuals. Speaking to his Father, he said,

 “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.” [John 17:22-23] 

So the gathering of individuals is a cohesive spiritual unit because each member recognizes they share their spiritual DNA with Jesus. Just as the cells of an embryo multiply and differentiate, a gathering of two or three also multiplies, exhibiting more diversity while remaining a cohesive spiritual unit. 

To understand the next stage in spiritual development, we need to consider the continuing process of physical growth. As the number and types of differentiated cells increase in the human embryo, a new challenge arises: how can they all keep working together as a unit? The solution is communication. A vast network of connections develops among the cells, enabling the formation of many of the more complex structures – the heart, the circulatory system, and so on. After eight weeks, the new body begins to resemble its final state, even though it is still only about an inch long.

Communication is also the key that keeps the new spiritual body working as a whole, even as it becomes a more sophisticated organism. One such spiritual embryo is described in Acts 4:32-35:

 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had…. God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. From time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales,… and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

The developing spiritual embryo appears as a utopian community characterized by wholeness, equality, contentment, strength, generosity, sensitivity, and diversity. Those qualities all stem from its spiritual DNA. By being ‘one in heart and mind,’ a real utopia is produced. But utopia is not the end product. This type of community is no more the final form of the spiritual child than the human embryo is after eight weeks of pregnancy. So what is left to do? Let’s look again at the example of human development. 

After eight weeks, the embryo becomes a fetus. The fetal stage of development is the longest of all the stages and is a period of remarkable growth and change. It is during this time that the brain and reproductive organs form, the remaining bodily systems develop fully, and the child begins to make movements. Finally the child is born.

Likewise, the final developmental stage of spiritual rebirth is characterized by dramatic growth and transformation, culminating in the rebirth of a spiritual child. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, describes this stage of development. 

 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit…. one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” [Ephesians 4:3-4, 6]

Paul is reminding his listeners that all share the same spiritual DNA and are cells or members of a single spiritual body. And, like a human fetus, this body will continue to grow and experience transformation, culminating in the birth of a child. Who is this reborn child? Paul tells us.

 “This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him.” [Ephesians 4:13] (CEV)

As a full-term fetus becomes a fully-developed human being, so humanity with its common spiritual DNA grows to become Christ, the Son of God reborn. 

It seems incredible, doesn’t it? Can being of one heart and mind really be humanity’s destiny? Is it our destiny to become the Christ, the Son of God? Before you totally dismiss this idea, consider this. Is it really any more mind boggling than the union of a sperm and egg becoming a child in which the parent can see themselves? 

As the noted artist and technologist Alexander Tsiaras observed in his TED Talk

 “The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go, the complexity of these, the mathematical models on how these things are indeed done, are beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with the marvel of ‘How do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us?’ It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.”

The seemingly impossible happens every day when a child is born. It can happen again, as the spiritual unity of two individuals grows to become Christ, the child in whom the Father sees Himself. 

We indeed have much to learn, not only about how we came to be, but more importantly, about who we are. 

Healing and COVID-19

We are social creatures. How are we supposed to manage the constraints that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed upon us? Social distancing can help control the spread of this potentially deadly virus, but it makes life difficult both socially and economically. The restrictions imposed have been both disruptive and stressful. Yet, can there be a silver lining in this otherwise gray cloud that now engulfs us? 

The answer is yes. As Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Even as we focus on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, there is another long standing illness that needs our attention. Like COVID-19, the extent and intensity of this other illness has been growing at an alarming rate. And like COVID-19, if it is not immediately resolved, it has the potential to plunge the country and the world into chaos. What is this illness? Political polarization.

The chasms between left and right, rich and poor, black and white, governing and governed, and so on have steadily widened in recent decades. The escalating hostility created as a result now threaten to tear our nation apart. If our country is going to get through the COVID-19 health crisis in one piece, we must commit to reversing this decades-long trend. 

Where do we begin? As with any skill, we must devote ourselves to practicing the fundamentals. In this case, the skills that matter have to do with building strong relationships, and in particular with the time-honored spiritual principle: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. This principle is addressed at length in a previous post; in this post we will focus on its application to the current crisis. 

Understanding and practicing this principle is the foundation of healing. Is healing the same thing as cure? No, it’s not. Healing is of the mind. It is holistic in nature and associated with thought. In contrast, cure focuses on achieving proper bodily function. The job of medical science is to find a cure for and manage the spread of COVID-19. Our job is to focus on healing our relationships and emotional well being. That is not of the body but of the spirit.

The seeds of healing are planted when minds join together for the common good. When we practice social distancing, we recognize that we are all connected to one another. That makes social distancing a good starting point in the practice of loving our neighbors as ourselves. It’s an activity in which all of us can work together for each other’s well being. But more needs to be done. 

Our struggle against COVID-19 is like a tug of war. If we want to win, we will have to learn to pull in the same direction out of love for one another and for the world as a whole. We will need to recognize that our political divisions and the escalating tensions among us are ultimately an attack on all of us and must cease. Making peace with each other is crucial if we are to win the war against COVID-19. If we don’t, COVID-19 won’t destroy us from the outside; we will destroy ourselves from the inside.

Abraham Lincoln understood the danger of deep political divisions. He explained it to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, IL in 1838 as follows: 

“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

As in Lincoln’s day, we are living at a pivotal moment. Now is the time to seize the opportunity to truly unite in spirit and be healed. Let’s put away our philosophical, financial, racial, and hierarchical differences and work together toward conquering the real enemy: hostile divisions among ourselves. 

Let’s resolve to use this COVID-19 crisis to bring a spirit of understanding, patience, and tolerance to our national discourse. Let’s focus on healing one another as well as on curing our bodies. Going forward let us strive to seek cooperation rather than conflict. Let’s resolve our inevitable disagreements through peaceful communication free of personal attacks, through love and mutual respect for each other’s dignity.

So what steps can each of us take toward bringing both unity and civility to our public discourse during this period of social distancing? Here are some suggestions.

First of all, charity begins at home. Since we are spending much more time at home during this pandemic, we can practice being gracious, kind, patient, and tolerant of those in our own households. Spending time on shared activities such as working together on early spring chores or just relaxing around the dinner table with light conversation is a great way to build unity, mutual love, and respect.

If you live alone, as approximately 1 in 4 Americans do, call your family, friends, and neighbors. Better still, use Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom to give yourself a virtual sense of being there.

Social media can also be a good way to stay in touch with family, friends and communities, but only when it stays positive! Remember that love builds up and unifies. It never tears down and divides.   

Since this is an election year, now would be a good time to write letters to our leaders. We need to inform them that in the midst of our current crisis, the time has come for the two parties to set aside their differences and work together peaceably to make some real progress. The prophet Amos asked, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” [Amos 3:3]. And, Jesus also told us, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined” [Matthew 12:25]. Write to the president, to your senators, and to your congressmen and tell them so. They will have to listen if they want our votes in November.

Flood the major media outlets with letters, phone calls, and emails encouraging them to promote unity rather than controversy. Amplifying controversy may sell more advertising, but it will only deepen the divisions that already exist. In short, the power of their influence could either save the country or destroy it. Encourage them to use their considerable influence to unify the nation and restore the public trust. 

Finally, if you’re able, volunteer in whatever way you can. Contact your state and local officials and your local aid organizations to see where assistance is needed and how your unique talents can be employed to make a difference.

How we collectively respond to these challenges now will determine the destiny of our nation. Will we join together, be healed, and endure? Or will the nation, as Lincoln put it, “die by suicide”? The choice is ours; we can heal our nation. It may be an arduous task, but it is very achievable. Remember, all it takes is a tiny spark to create a blazing forest fire. Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead had it right:

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”


Historically, humanity has used its curiosity and creativity to explore and discover new resources to be used in building new civilizations bigger and better than the previous ones. As a result, we have become insatiable  consumers of material resources. Depleting the supply in one place, we move to another. When we arrive there, that location is usually already occupied. Initially the two parties may cooperate for a while sharing resources and prospering. But with passage of time, violent conflicts inevitably arise as the disputing parties compete for exclusive  claims to a given location’s resources. The prevailing party then becomes the oppressor and the conquered party the oppressed.

And on and on it goes. That same fundamental theme has repeated itself over and over again throughout human history. Civilizations rise and prosper for a while only to finally be left in ruins. Why? The late Stephen Hawking attributed the problem to human aggression. He said,

   “The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantages in the caveman days, to get more food, territory, or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.” 

So how do we break the cycle? How can this clear human failing finally be corrected? Since thought precedes action, if we want our actions to change, we must change the way we think.

One of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Albert Einstein said that,

   “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”

At one time or another, we have all been admonished to solve persistent problems by thinking “outside of the box.” So here goes. What if the most basic human need is not physical resources, but spiritual enlightenment? Could the path to a lasting supply of material  resources come through seeking direction from a higher level of consciousness? Could doing so, abolish the need for aggressive human behavior in order for all to live abundantly? 

It is exactly this approach that Jesus taught his listeners in what is referred to as  “The Sermon on the Mount”. Notice what he said,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” [Matthew 6:19-21]

Jesus encourages his listeners to focus their lives on spiritual matters (what Jesus describes as ‘treasures in heaven’), where there are no conflicts, theft, and destruction. If you’ve ever had something stolen from you or lost a home in a fire, you know what I’m talking about. It can cause tremendous suffering and stress. 

But does it have to? It depends on where we focus our priorities.  It does when the focus of our lives is on the attainment of physical resources (what Jesus describes as ‘treasures on earth’). Any satisfaction we derive is temporary at best.  Jesus continues,

 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness..” [Matthew 6:22-23]

Jesus uses the term ‘eyes’ in this case to depict perception. Where he speaks of healthy perception, the original Greek word that is translated here as ‘healthy’ actually means ‘generous’. Similarly, when he refers to unhealthy perception, the Greek word that is translated here as ‘unhealthy’ actually means ‘stingy’. 

Let’s think back to the example above. Nobody is glad to have something stolen, but where does the suffering actually come from?  It comes from an unhealthy perception, caused by focusing on the lost resource alone. In other words, it comes from focusing on matter.  A healthy perception comes from focusing on your state of mind. A healthy or generous perception can never be lost, except by you. 

The negative consequences of focusing on physical resources over spiritual enlightenment go beyond increasing our own suffering after a loss. Think about it: under what form of perception are conflicts more likely to occur – one based on generosity or one of stinginess? Competition to acquire or defend certain resources, and the conflicts that it brings about, also stem from an unhealthy perception.

But wait a minute.  Don’t humans also display generous behavior as well? Of course they do, but the problem is that we’re trying to do both. We have divided loyalties. This problem goes all the way back to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, when we first started trying to live with one foot in each world. It is ultimately because of this inner conflict that humanity has repeatedly developed great civilizations only to have them destroyed in the end. Jesus addresses this problem and presents the solution to it in the next verse.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other, You cannot serve both God and money.” [Matthew 6:24]

In this verse, God represents the spiritual and money represents the physical. Jesus says your devotion can only be to one or the other, not to both at the same time. Yes, we do need money to obtain the physical necessities of life. But what is a necessity, and what happens when we want more? Conflict inevitably arises, bringing destruction, disease, and death in its wake. 

In this world, it has always been this way and it always will be this way unless we change the way we approach the problem — unless we change the way we think.  Jesus tells us how in the verses that follow. We will be examining those verses in a future post. Stay tuned!

THE FALL OF MAN: What Really Happened, Part 3

In part 2 of this series, we considered the two trees – the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil – that Genesis 2 describes as being in the center of the Garden of Eden. We saw that the two trees represent two different ways of perceiving the world: one that recognizes the presence of God at the center of His creation, and the other that replaces His presence with conflict and judgment.  How do these differing perceptions affect the way that we understand the story in Genesis 3?

In Genesis 3, the serpent first confronts Eve while she is with Adam, suggesting that if she eats the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, her newfound knowledge of good and evil will make her like God [Genesis 3:1-5]. While this is happening, God seems to be nowhere in sight. In reality, God is always present but their perception at that time was that God was not around. Notice that there is a lot of discussion about God, but no presence of God. 

After they eat the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve begin to see each other differently. Before eating the fruit, they perceived themselves as being part of each other [Genesis 2:23-25]. After eating the fruit, they are moved to hide the most intimate parts of themselves from one another. This begins the separation of what God had united [Genesis 3:7].  

As the story continues, God enters the picture. Upon seeing God, Adam and Eve are gripped with fear and hide from Him [Genesis 3:8-10]. Now why be afraid of the Person Who has shown them so much loving care?

Here they appear to be acting like little children who are afraid because they have done something wrong. Back when I was first learning to read, I was in a department store with my mother. While she was looking at clothes, I noticed a door with a sign that said “PUSH” on the handle. So I pushed it. It turns out that the door was an emergency exit, and a siren went off. Needless to say, I got scared, so I hid under one of the clothes racks. I think that I was afraid not only of the loud noise, but also of being punished for doing something wrong. In the end, one of the store employees found me and brought me back to my mother, who was also looking for me. There was no punishment. The scary experience had taught me everything that I needed to learn about emergency exits.

As a young and inexperienced child, I made a mistake in pushing the handle of the emergency door and suffered certain consequences automatically. In the same way, Adam and Eve made a mistake in eating the forbidden fruit and suffered the consequences of their mistake automatically. Their perception of one another, and their perception of God, had changed. Instead of seeing a God of Love and unlimited Goodness, they perceived a god of judgment, a god who rewards good but punishes evil. Adam and Eve represent humanity. Because we tend to think of the world in terms of good and evil, we have interpreted God’s responses to Adam’s and Eve’s actions as punishment for an evil committed. But they’re not! Rather, they are the natural consequences of a poor choice [Genesis 3:11-19]. 

What is written in these verses reflects our distorted perception of God. Our distorted view culminates with God banishing the evildoers from his presence [Genesis 3:22-24]. That would be the action of a judgmental god that punishes evil, not the action of a compassionate and gracious Father. It is not the action of the God Who Jesus portrayed, Who is slow to anger and rich in mercy. 

Yet there is good news. Since God is both Almighty and Omnipresent, it is impossible to remove God from His rightful place at the center of His creation. It simply can’t happen. Then why does it seem to have happened? We have believed in a perception of God and of ourselves that is patently false. It is our system of thought that is the problem.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil ultimately represents false perception – a mistake – a poor choice. We have substituted the knowledge of good and evil – our own personal judgment of right and wrong, which varies at different times among different peoples – for God’s universal presence.

The good news is that we can correct this problem by changing our false perception to a true perception, and God will do the rest. This change in perception is certain to occur because not only is God Almighty, but He is also Love [1 John 4:8]. And Love never fails [1 Corinthians 13:8]. Better yet, that same Love dwells in all of us [1 John 4:16; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:27].

When and how will this change occur? The good news is that it has already begun, and it will continue. For more about how changing our perception can change our world, stay tuned!

THE FALL OF MAN: What Really Happened, Part 2

In part 1 of this series, we looked at the traditional interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve. Upon examination, we realized that there is an inconsistency between how Adam and Eve seem to be treated by God and what we know of the character of God.  

Now let’s reinterpret the story of Adam and Eve, beginning with Genesis 2.  We pick up the story in verse 7:

“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

So the first man is formed from clay like a potter takes a lump of clay and forms a piece of pottery [Isaiah 64:8] [Romans 9:20-21]. But the clay is lifeless until God breathes life into it. So the man’s life, his state of being or existence, come from God. In that way, the man and God are connected or unified. 

Continuing in verse 8:

“Then the Lord planted a garden in Eden, and there placed the man he made.”

In the original Hebrew, the word ‘Eden’ means pleasure. So God creates the garden for the man to enjoy it. That makes perfect sense when you read the first half of verse 9:

“The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground – trees that were beautiful and produced delicious fruit.”

Good fruit comes only from good trees [Matthew 7:16-18]. Bear this in mind as we look at the second half of verse 9:

“In the middle of the garden He placed the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

The way verse 9 is written, it appears that God plants both the good tree (the tree of life) and the bad tree (the tree of knowledge of good and evil). But how could God – who is good, made all things good, and cannot be tempted to do evil – plant a bad tree?

Dropping down to verses 15 and 16, God places the man in the garden and gives him the following instructions:

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden…”

Notice that God places no restrictions on the man. He has perfect freedom to eat from every tree the Lord God planted in the garden; there are no limitations. He is free to enjoy all the pleasure the garden offers him. Then in verse 17, God warns the man, saying,

“…but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Hold on – God created a good garden for the man to enjoy with no restrictions, and now there appears to be a bad tree in the middle of the garden? What happened there? 

This other tree is not part of the garden that God created. So why does it appear to be there?

I contend that the tree of knowledge of good and evil represents a misconception or an illusion. When we think of an illusion, we typically think of it as it is defined for example in Webster’s Dictionary: as “a false idea or conception; an unreal or misleading appearance or image.” But we can take it a step further. Encyclopedia Britannica states that “Illusions are special perceptual experiences in which information arising from ‘real’ external stimuli leads to an incorrect perception or false impression of the object or event from which the stimulation comes.” 

In this case, the “real” external stimulus is the tree of life, and the incorrect perception is the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The trees are of course symbolic. The garden represents God’s creation, which was made to be enjoyed. The trees are the center of the garden. They are the vantage point from which the entire garden is viewed or perceived. One of them is true, the other is false. 

A tree is recognized by its fruit [Matthew 12:33]. The tree of life produces life. According to the scriptures, God is the Author or Source of all life [Genesis 1; John 1:1-4;Acts 3:15]. Therefore, the tree of life represents the presence of God. The presence of God is at the center of His creation, which is why the tree of life is at the center of the garden.  

Conversely, the tree of knowledge of good and evil produces certainty that good and evil both exist and are at the center of God’s creation. When we believe that both good and evil are at the center of God’s creation, we are putting conflict and judgment in place of the presence of God. We also, in effect, say that there is evil in God, and that his creation is not very good [Genesis 1:31]. Since God is the source of our life, by removing Him from the center of His creation, we cut ourselves off from our source of life. We also cut ourselves off from each other. The end result is that we become like fruit separated from a tree – it eventually falls to the ground, decomposes, and dies. 

By choosing to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve chose to take in and accept as fact the world that we now see. A world in which both good and evil seem to coexist. A world afflicted by endless conflicts, suffering, and death. And a world where God appears to be, in large part, absent. And we accept this as fact. We simply say to ourselves, ‘It’s just the way it is.’ But is it?

No, it’s not! And in part 3, we will reexamine the story of Genesis 3 to understand why not. 

THE FALL OF MAN: What Really Happened, Part 1

The Roman storyteller and writer Gaius Julius Phaedrus is credited with having said,

“Things are not always as they seem, the first appearance deceives many.”

When speaking of first appearances and deception, the story of Adam and Eve comes to mind. Most of us are familiar with the story recorded in the book of Genesis chapters 2 and 3. The Lord planted a beautiful garden for the man and woman to maintain. The garden contained many trees from which they could freely eat good fruit.  At the same time, the Lord warned the man and the woman not to eat the fruit from a certain tree or they would die. Some time later, the couple came upon a deceiving serpent who convinced them to eat the forbidden fruit. After they ate the fruit, the Lord located the man and woman, found out they ate the forbidden fruit, and proceeded to inform them of the consequences of their choice.  He then expelled them from the garden He made for them. 

At this point, the man and the woman became separated from God and subject to death because they had become “sinners”. The religious among us have pretty much accepted this traditional rendering of the story without questioning it. After all, if The Holy Bible says it, it must be so. Right? It certainly appears that way at first glance.

But upon closer examination of the attributes of God, certain questions arise. From the beginning, the scriptures tell us that the Lord created everything that exists, both visible and invisible [Genesis 1:1; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11]. Not only that, but everything He created is good. It reflects the image of his character [Genesis 1:26,31; Mark 10:18; 1 Timothy 4:4] and demonstrates perfect love [Joel 2:13; 1 John 4:8, 16], sinless perfection [Matthew 5:48], and not a trace of evil [Job 34:12]. If everything that the Lord created is good, where did this obviously bad tree [Matthew 12:33] come from?  

 In addition, God refers to Himself as “Almighty” dozens of times in the scriptures [Genesis 17:1; 35:11; Exodus 6:3; Psalm 46:7, 11; Amos 5:27]. In other words, He has the power to maintain His creation as it was created. He also addresses Himself as “I Am” [Exodus 3:14; John 8:58], meaning that it is impossible not to be in His presence [Psalm 139:7]. If God is everywhere, why does it appear in the story that He shows up only after the damage has been done?

The scriptures tell us that the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in faithfulness and love [Exodus 34:6]. He does not change [Malachi 3:6], nor will He ever leave or forsake us  [Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13;5]. Given what we know about the Lord’s character, the outcome recorded in Genesis 3 makes little sense.

And what about the issue of sin? If  God is “…over all, through all, and in all” [Ephesians 4:6], yet all of humanity has sinned [Romans 3:23], doesn’t that imply that in some part of God there exists sin? Yet the scriptures tell us there is no evil in God [James 1:13; 3 John 1:11]. 

Clearly, there is some kind of error in the way we have traditionally understood this story. In part 2 of this series, we will begin reinterpreting the story by looking first at Genesis 2.  


As I’ve written previously, physical phenomena are always the manifestation of the spiritual. What we see on the surface, perhaps a miraculous healing, is merely physical evidence of a deeper, more permanent transformation taking place within a person’s being. This must be so since all healing takes place from the inside out. 

In some cases, physical healing may actually have a direct spiritual counterpart. For example, in the spiritual world, sight is not of the eyes but of the mind. Seeing refers to understanding. Thus the expression ‘I see’ means ‘I understand’. So a blind person who is given physical sight can also experience new insights into the nature of his or her being. One of those types of healings is recorded in the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel.

On one occasion when Jesus was walking along with his disciples, they came across a man who was blind from birth. Upon observing this man, the disciples posed a question to Jesus.

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “Why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” [John 9:2] (NLT)

The disciples’ comment is not atypical. Whose fault is it that the man turned out the way he did? Jesus, on the other hand, had no interest in finding fault. He instead points to the solution.

“You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause – effect here. Look instead for what God can do.….For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s light.” [John 9:3-5] (MSG)

Casting blame or pointing an accusing finger at someone is always the wrong approach. It is a form of attack, which is not how God works. Jesus told them instead to look at what God can do. For he was about to show them indeed what God can do, which is why he refers to himself as a light. Light makes things visible that were previously hidden.

The man in question was blind from birth. He lived in a darkened state relative to others who possess eyesight. Jesus came to him as a light that would enable him to see. How did he do this? And just what kind of sight was the man to receive? Let’s see what happens when Jesus approaches the man.

“Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, ‘Go wash at the Pool of Siloam.’ (Siloam means “sent”.) So the man went and washed and came back seeing.” [John 9:6-7] (NLT).

Jesus makes what amounts to a placebo; he tells the man to go wash it off at a particular place; and the man’s sight is restored as a result. Does this sound farfetched? I think not. We can see that the man believed fully in the treatment that Jesus was giving him because he did exactly as Jesus told him. Research has shown that the power of placebo in the healing process arises directly from a persons’ belief in the treatment that they receive. 

Also, notice that the man had to wash first before he could see. While from a physical perspective this seems obvious, the spiritual parallel is somewhat less so. If spiritual sight is of the mind, then washing is indicative of cleansing away thoughts that keep our minds cluttered, anxious, and overactive. Such thoughts exist to keep us from seeing our true selves as we were created. Washing away such thoughts then is necessary to  prepare our minds to receive fresh information and process it effectively that we may gain a renewed spiritual perspective.

Once the man received his sight, those that knew him as a blind beggar were astonished and asked,

“ Isn’t this the man that used to sit and beg?” [John 9:8] (NLT)

Notice that he used to sit and beg, but that he leaves his begging behind when he receives his sight. Why does this happen? He clearly has a different view of himself and of life in general. Begging embodies a spirit of limitation and hopelessness. The man no longer sees himself that way. Some thought that his change was so dramatic that he could not have been the same man who used to beg but was merely someone who looked like him (see verse 9). So he had to reassure those people that he indeed was the same person.

“They asked, ‘Who healed you? What happened?’” [John 9:10] (NLT)

So the man tells them the story as it happened (see verse 11).

It’s interesting to note that the day on which Jesus performed this healing was the Sabbath (see verse 14). This point is spiritually significant. The Sabbath was established as a day to rest, be refreshed, and to commemorate freedom from bondage (see Deuteronomy 5:12-15). A well-known prescription for healing the body is rest and relaxation. Therefore one can legitimately say that the Sabbath was made to bring about healing, which is the very purpose Jesus used it for.

As the story progresses, the religious leaders learned of Jesus’ healing of the man on the Sabbath through the healed man’s testimony (see verse 15).  Now this created no small stir among the religious leaders. Some argued that Jesus could not be of God because healing according to their interpretation was work and work is forbidden on the Sabbath, which would  make Jesus a Sabbath breaker. But others among them asked,

 “ could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” [John 9:16] (NLT).

So they asked the healed man what he thought of Jesus. The man replied,

 “I think he must be a prophet.” (verse 17).

That response did not sit well with them. They refused to believe the man, and they questioned if he was ever really blind in the first place. So the leaders summoned the man’s parents. When asked if the healed man was their son and was born blind, they affirmed that both of those things were true. But when they were asked how their son received his sight, they gave an evasive answer. They were evasive because they knew that if they said that Jesus healed their son, they would risk the public embarrassment of being expelled from the synagogue. Why would they be expelled from the synagogue? The religious leaders had previously announced that anyone declaring Jesus to be the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. Healing is intimately related to the forgiveness of sin (see Psalm 103:3), which is a defining characteristic of the Messiah. So to state that Jesus healed their son would be to proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah. The parents would not take that risk, so they referred the question of healing back to their son.

So the religious leaders called the son back in to cross examine him for the second time and started out by saying,

 “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.” [John 9:24] (NLT)

To be a sinner is to be separated from God. Why do they think Jesus is a sinner? Because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath according to their interpretation of the commandment. How does the healed man reply?

“‘I don’t know whether he is a sinner,’ the man replied. ‘But I know this: I was blind but now I can see.’” [John 9:25] (NLT)

He merely testifies to the transformation in his condition without passing judgment on Jesus. So the leaders turn around and ask him for a second time to tell them what Jesus did to him. Perhaps they were looking to pick up additional details or searching for inconsistencies in each version of the story. Whatever their reasoning, this formerly hopeless and blind beggar now shows no fear toward these institutional leaders and replies,

“‘Look!’…..’I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?’” [John 9:27] (NLT)

Here we see someone who was until recently a timid, blind beggar now turning himself from witness to questioner in the presence of the institutional leaders of his day while admitting interest in becoming a disciple of Jesus – an offense punishable by expulsion from the synagogue. Did being threatened with that public embarrassment matter to him? Apparently no – what boldness! Clearly, there was much more to this man’s ‘seeing’ than his eyesight.

Visibly upset, the religious leaders cursed him and said,

“‘You are his disciple but we are disciples of Moses! We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.’”

“‘Why that’s very strange!’ the man replied. ‘He healed my eyes and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.’” [John 9:28-33] (NLT)

Just look at the courage and conviction of this once-blind beggar. He fearlessly corrects the leaders on matters in which they profess expertise. Now furious, the religious leaders retaliate by passing judgment on him and exposing him to public humiliation.

“‘You were born a total sinner!’ they answered. ‘Are you trying to teach us?’ And they threw him out of the synagogue.” [John 9:34] (NLT)

Wow – it’s as if the religious leaders are attempting to reverse time. Here is a man who, through the work of Jesus, was clearly healed, completely changed, made whole, and now they are attempting to turn him back into a beggar by expelling him from the community. Upon hearing this, Jesus goes to the man and asks him if he believes in the ‘Son of Man’, a term that also means the Messiah. The man responds in the affirmative and asks Jesus to show him who the Messiah is. Jesus then introduces himself to the man as the Messiah. The man accepts Jesus as the Messiah and expresses heartfelt thanks to him for all that Jesus has done for him. With his newfound perception, he had the insight to break with tradition and accept and follow the way of Jesus, even in the face of public humiliation.

What we see is not merely a healing of the man’s eyesight, but an extraordinary transformation in his being – a complete change in his spiritual perception of himself. He went from being a blind beggar to being a public defender of justice, all initiated by his encounter with God through Jesus.

After the man expressed his gratitude to Jesus for what he had done for him, Jesus said something remarkable to all the by-standers. He said,

“I entered this world to render judgment – to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” [John 9:39] (NLT)

The phrase ‘to render judgment’ means to set things right, to render justice, or to bring about equality. Perhaps the greatest injustice of all is the pronouncement of guilt upon the innocent, as the religious leaders did when they accused the man of being a sinner and threw him out of the synagogue. By their words and actions, the religious leaders, those entrusted with the responsibility for rendering and deploying justice, showed themselves to be spiritually blind. Some of them heard what Jesus said and responded,

“… Are you saying we’re blind?”

“‘If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty.’ Jesus replied. ‘ But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.’” [John 9:40-41] (NLT)

In this final statement, Jesus proclaims innocence to the spiritually blind. There is no sin. There is no guilt to be found in them. They merely require spiritual illumination to discover the correct perception of themselves. Guilt, on the other hand, remains with those who judge others and accuse them of sin. For by accusing others, they condemn themselves.

What can we take away from this?  The sight that Jesus gave to the man born blind was more insight than eyesight. It did not so much help him to see his external world as it emancipated him from the limitations he had previously imposed upon his internal world. His newfound inner vision, illuminated by Jesus, enabled him to discover and experience a profound wholeness within himself. A man who was once a timid, blind beggar becomes a fearless public proponent for justice. He was blind to who he was but now he clearly sees.  



We saw in “The Golden Rule of Healing” that all healing takes place from the inside out. In other words, the healing process begins in our minds.

In today’s post I want to share with you my own personal experience of healing and what I’ve come to learn about the healing process.

The story begins three and a half years ago, during the winter of 2016. I felt extremely ill. I couldn’t keep my body warm, my hands would shake when I would eat or drink, I was constantly tired, and I vomited on a daily basis. After several days of agony, I went to my doctor who ordered some blood tests. That same evening I received a call from the physician on duty who said,

“Get yourself to a hospital immediately. You’re severely anemic and require a blood transfusion.”

How did this happen? The diagnosis arrived shortly thereafter. I had suffered an obstruction and had developed kidney failure.

After a one-week stay in the hospital to re-establish electrolyte balance and begin dialysis treatments, I was released. My previous symptoms had disappeared thanks to a couple of blood transfusions, dialysis treatments, and plenty of bed rest. But my kidneys had not regained their function. My doctors hoped that since my kidney failure was caused by an obstruction, another two weeks of dialysis might be all I would need to regain kidney function.

The test came a few weeks later, in the form of a 24 hour urine collection to determine whether my kidneys had regained their function. During a dialysis treatment while the collection was being analyzed, I heard a voice deep within me say,

“It won’t be so bad if you have to stay on dialysis for awhile. Look at it this way: You and I will be able to spend a lot more time together.”

As it turned out, my Inner Voice (whom I also refer to as God) was correct. A few days later, the test results came back and showed that I was going to continue to require dialysis to stay alive for an indefinite period of time. I was officially diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and became a long-term dialysis patient with three weekly treatments lasting three and a half hours each.

From the beginning, I made up my mind to use my treatment time wisely. I wasted no time in asking God for healing. That request started me on a journey I could never have imagined. Although chronic kidney disease has no known cure, I knew God could heal me if He wanted to. As Jesus said,

“With God, all things are possible.” [Matthew 19:26].

The problem was that when I asked for healing, I didn’t really know what I was asking for and my Inner Voice knew that. So He set out to teach me.

The first thing I came to learn was that I needed the quiet time that nearly 12 hours per week in dialysis would provide to concentrate on the adjustments to my thinking necessary to initiate the healing process. In the stillness, I sought out my Inner Voice; I needed it to teach me in order to heal. From the outset, my Inner Voice instilled in me the importance of viewing my circumstances from a positive perspective. With that disposition fixed firmly in place, I spent the bulk of my treatment periods reading books and writing down new revelations as they occurred to me.

One day during treatment, a young dialysis technician saw me busily writing down my thoughts and said to me,

“You know, you should write a blog. You could help people.”

Those words, my friend, were the inspiration for the blog you are now reading. So I continued to vigorously read and write.

As time passed, my thinking became transformed. One of the key
principles I learned was that when you request healing, you must believe wholeheartedly that you will receive what you have asked for. As Jesus

“Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on
seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be
opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. Everyone who
seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“You parents – if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give
them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a
snake? Of course not!…how much more will your heavenly Father
give good gifts to those who ask him.” [Matthew 7:7-11] (NLT)

Needless to say, to be healed of a serious illness is a good gift to request, and I believed that I would receive my healing. But the healing work of my Inner Voice was still in process. There were more areas of distress in my life that needed to be removed so healing could progress.

The kidney failure was the direct cause of my needing dialysis, but the underlying causes had to do with other parts of my life that also needed healing. At the onset of my illness, I was operating a financially struggling business and had retained considerable bitter feelings toward a bad marriage that ended in divorce a year and a half earlier. To say the least, I was in an unhealthy emotional state that I believe significantly contributed to the manifestation of kidney failure in my body.

Healing my kidneys was going to require first healing my emotional state, and one obvious part of that process was to heal these unbalanced parts of my life. From a practical point of view, I started by addressing the financial challenges that had arisen from my being on dialysis and being unable to work full time.

I also needed to forgive and forget my own past failures and those of others. The past no longer exists; the only time that exists is the present moment. I needed to forgive myself for ignoring medical advice, which contributed to my kidney failure. I needed to forgive the events of my previous marriage and the failure of some of my customers to pay me for services rendered. I learned that when you don’t forgive, you become a prisoner of your past. Let the past go and be free. Forgive yourself and others.

The transformation in my thinking progressed through reading, quiet reflection, opening myself to the teachings of my Inner Voice, and forgiveness. As time passed, I even became more receptive to becoming involved in an intimate loving relationship again. I remember where I was when I opened myself to the possibility of finding love: I was on my way to a dance in Westford, MA where I unexpectedly met for the first time the woman who has since become my partner, lover, and best friend.

So, to recap, my thinking had changed, my faith was deepening, my financial problems were being resolved, and I found love again. All of these conditions were necessary to set the stage for what happened next.

About six months ago, I noticed some changes in the character, color, and odor of my urine. I mentioned this to my partner, who is a teacher, scientist, and avid researcher. She immediately went to work researching the potential for people with chronic kidney disease to recover kidney function while on dialysis. In fact, it turns out that a small percentage of dialysis patients do recover kidney function sufficiently to come off dialysis. Encouraged both by what I saw and my partner’s research, I asked my nephrologist (kidney specialist) to do another 24 hour urine collection similar to the one I did initially three years before. He consented.

The results of the test came back a few days later showing that I potentially had recovered enough of my kidney function to come off of dialysis. My nephrologist wanted to be certain, so he instructed me to take a week off from dialysis and take another 24 hour collection at the end of that week. The results of the second test yielded even greater improvement than the one the week before. Finally, on Friday, March 1st of this year, I received a call from the dialysis center where I was being treated. They told me not to come in for treatment. I no longer needed dialysis to stay alive.

At the time of this writing, I have been dialysis-free for four and a half months. During this time, the creatinine level in my blood has continued to drop, indicating that my kidney function continues to improve. I see my recovery to date as an outward manifestation of the inward healing that had already taken place.

Three and a half years ago, I saw my health struggles as a problem.
However, in the process of healing I have come to understand that bad things happen in order to point us toward the good. In fact, the past three and a half years have proved to be a wonderful and transformative experience.

I could say that my kidney failure was a wake-up call, but it was my Inner Voice that actually woke me up. From the time He prepared me for the inevitable, I could sense new life springing forth. All I had to do was acknowledge and accept what He said. Once I did that, He visibly orchestrated the conditions that would bring about my healing: quiet time wisely spent, a willingness to seek out and learn from my Inner Voice, forgiving myself and others, the giving and receiving of love, and the belief that bad things offer a pathway to the good.

From a physical perspective, I still live with the effects of chronic kidney disease. My blood and urine tests show that my kidneys are weak, but good enough that I don’t require dialysis. But in my mind and in my heart I am certain that my healing is a done deal. For this is what it means to exercise faith.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives assurance about things we cannot see” [Hebrews 11:1] (NLT)

In other words, the proof that my kidneys will ultimately exhibit normal function again is the inward faith that I possess. And that inward faith is a gift that not only I but all human beings possess because it emanates from the Inner Voice that dwells deep within all of us. For God, our Inner Voice, is the source of all healing. That is why all healing takes place from the inside out.

“He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” [Exodus 15:26] (NIV)


In part 1 of this series, we focused on the younger son in Jesus’s Parable of the Lost Son. The younger son left his father, treating him as if he were already dead, and went to live in a distant country where he squandered the blessings bestowed upon him. As a result, he became needy, nearly starving to death. It was at this point that he came to his senses and returned to his father’s home, where his father welcomed him back warmly and celebrated his return with a glorious feast.

What did we learn from the first part of the story? The younger son represents humanity, and his father represents God the father. God did not and will not disown humanity. Humanity has squandered its potential by its belief in limitation, suffering, and sickness. We have been conditioned to believe that we are no longer worthy to be God’s children. Even so, we can be transformed. We can come to our senses, recognize God as the source of our life and well being, and learn to accept his extraordinarily high opinion of us. We are his children and everything he has is ours! That is how humanity is reconciled to God – by being united in spirit with him.

Of course, the other question is how humanity can be reconciled with one another. This question is addressed in the second half of Jesus’s Parable of the Lost Son, which describes the older brother’s reaction to his younger brother’s reception. Let’s look at the remainder of the story in Luke 15: 25-31.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.” [verses 25-28]

This is puzzling. The servant knew what was going on, but the older son did not. Why did the older son not know of his brother’s return? Wouldn’t he be among the first to know of an event of such great importance to the family?

Part of the answer appears in verse 25: “the older son was in the field.” He is busy working on the family’s business affairs rather than attending to family relationships. So when the older brother hears of a celebration for his disloyal younger brother, who abandoned the family business to go party hearty and left his older brother to shoulder his share of the work, the older brother becomes angry and refuses to join in the festivities.

Upon learning of this, the father steps out of the party to plead with his older son to come inside and celebrate with everyone else.

“But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him.’” [verses 29-30]

Notice the older son’s attitude here. He views his father as a taskmaster to be obeyed rather than as his cherished source of life and love. He disowns his brother, calling him “this son of yours”. He highlights his brother’s past errors to differentiate himself from his brother. To the older son, a person’s worth is measured by past performance and should be rewarded accordingly. He sees his father’s celebration of his brother’s return as being unjust. After all, the older son has been a loyal servant all these years, whereas the younger son has been disloyal for most of his life.

We see here the contrast between the older brother’s thinking and his father’s compassionate heart. So how does the father handle this?

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.’” [verse 31]

The father understands that his older son needs a shift in perspective to be at peace. The older son needs to understand that the two of them stand together, fully united, and that he has access to all that his father possesses. They share everything, and the son lacks nothing. Notice the father’s language as he pleads with his older son. The positive is emphasized in the present tense: “you are always with me..”“everything I have is yours..”

The father also sees that his older son is dwelling in the past and uses the present tense to encourage reconciliation: “this brother of yours…is alive….and is found.” By reconciling with his brother, his older son can stop robbing himself of joy and begin to live in the present. What has happened in the past does not matter; strictly speaking, the past no longer exists.

Strangely enough, Jesus ends the story at this point. We never find out whether the older son accepts his father’s advice and joins in the celebration. Why would Jesus leave the story open ended like this? What is he trying to tell us?

Just as the younger son’s reunion with his father represents the
reconciliation of humanity with God, the older son’s challenge in having compassion for his brother represents humanity’s challenge in becoming reconciled with one another.

The older son sees the world through a lens of judgment and separation. His father sees a holistic and unified world. The father’s primary concern is the joyful and peaceful reunification of his family, which comes through forgiveness rather than condemnation or judgment.

Humanity, like the older son, needs to adopt the perspective of God. How can we do that? By overlooking or forgiving each other’s past offenses in order to enjoy life in the present, moving forward together in a spirit of unity. This is a decision that we must make over and over again every day in order to live peaceably with each other.

So why does Jesus not conclude the story? Because the choice is ours. We can keep the human family divided, or we can transform the world we live in. We can establish world peace, save the planet, and eradicate poverty, sickness, and disease.

The older son represents each of us. What will we decide?


Since the Easter weekend is upon us, I would like to focus on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus from a somewhat different point of view. To illustrate this perspective, we are going to examine the first part of the Parable of the Lost Son found in Luke 15:11-24.

Jesus tells this story to a mixed crowd consisting of both religious and non-religious people.

“…There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father give me my share of the estate.’…” [verses 11-12]

The younger son wants his inheritance and wants it now. Wanting his inheritance means that inwardly, he is valuing material wealth over his father’s life. After all, an inheritance comes after the parent’s death! Why would he wish his father dead? There’s no indication here that his father was mistreating him or was involved in some criminal act. So how does the father respond?

“So he divided his property between them.” [verse 12]

The father merely grants his younger son’s request. Now that the younger son has received what he asked for, what’s he going to do with it?

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all that he had, set off for a distant country, and squandered his wealth on wild living.” [verse 13]

So the younger son wanted his inheritance because he wanted out of his father’s home. But why? Why leave familiar and secure surroundings where he had everything he needed to live an abundant life to go out into the unknown world at large? He must have acquired the belief that he was lacking in some knowledge or experience that could make him a more complete person. He somehow got the idea that his father was holding back something good and exciting from him. This is the same sort of thinking that got Adam and Eve into trouble (see Genesis 3:1-8).

So the younger son goes out and spends his entire inheritance in a country far from his father’s house seeking to find the fulfillment that he believes he lacks. Jesus continues the story,

“After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.” [verse 14]

Up until this point, the younger son never knew what it meant to truly be in want. Now he had no money and there was little in the way of nourishment to keep him alive. The younger son’s belief that he was lacking something had now come to pass in his life’s circumstances. How does the young man respond?

“So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.” [verses 15-16]

He finds work but is treated mercilessly and continues to starve. What the younger son is now experiencing is a slow and agonizing death, the type of death found in crucifixion. So as death looms nearer, what happens next to the younger son?

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.” [verses 17-20]

This coming to his senses, this awakening of his mind, is a metaphor for resurrection. The son’s father, his original source of life, had become dead to him but was now alive again. Recognizing this and in view of his past behavior, the son does not feel worthy of sonship any longer. He feels he is of less value to his father and that he has fallen from sonship. In order to justify his feelings of lack and to receive the benefits of returning to his father’s home, he plans to confess his sins and settle for servanthood. With this plan in mind, he sets out on the road home. Jesus tells us what happens along the way.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'” [verses 20-21]

The father’s reaction is completely natural for any loving parent whose child they believed to be dead was suddenly found and returned to them alive. The father somehow knew his son was returning home so he was watching for him. When he saw him in the distance, he was so overwhelmed with joy that he ran to greet his long-lost son with an exuberant reception.

The son, however, doesn’t seem to notice his father’s reaction in being reunited with him. Instead, his focus is on his own unworthiness, and he thus goes forward with his pre-planned confession. How does the father react to his confession?

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” [verses 22-24]

The father never acknowledges the confession. There was no need to. The father never rejected his son. All of the rejection, perceived lack, and unworthiness were strictly in the mind of the younger son. The father instead, recognizing his son’s self-doubt, reassures his son that his sonship has never been lost and outwardly demonstrates that by clothing him in the family garments and by celebrating his return home with a joyous feast.

So what message is Jesus attempting to convey to his audience
through this portion of the story? He is essentially likening the
experience of the younger son to that of the human race. As the
younger son chose to leave his father’s presence to go live in a
distant place where his joy was temporary and he suffered much, so humanity has chosen to live far from the presence of God and to live in a world where joy is fleeting, no one is exempt from suffering, and judgement is merciless. What the younger son experienced in that environment is the same thing we experience in our world – a slow but steady march toward death.

But as the younger son came to his senses in the midst of great
suffering, we often do so as well. As in the story, we tend to look to our Father or help professionals for assistance only when we get in trouble or have great needs. When we seek help, we often do so out of a sense of unworthiness and guilt because we have been conditioned to believe, as the younger son was, that previous mistakes devalue us.

However, as the father demonstrates to his younger son upon his
return home, that just isn’t so. The father is overcome with joy that his son has returned home and makes every effort to assure him that his sonship was not lost. The son was lost. But what was lost had been found. The son, who was thought to be dead, was now alive and well.

Notice that this story also encapsulates the central meaning of the message we memorialize on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Jesus, as the Son of Man, represents the entire human race. He leaves His Father’s side to go take up temporary residence in a place far different from his Heavenly home. In that place he experiences some fleeting joy but ends up being falsely charged and treated like a criminal sentenced to suffering the slow and agonizing death of crucifixion. The written charge against him? ”This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” [Matthew 27:37]. This title, the King of the Jews, is a reference to Jesus’s identity as the Son of God.

Jesus is both the Son of Man and the Son of God. He represents both humanity and God, the Father. His crucifixion represents the slow and steady march toward death that this distant country we call the world inflicts upon humanity, also symbolized by the younger son in the story. But on Easter Sunday, Jesus awakens from the death he suffered and rises to life, proving that He is the Son of God and that death held no power over him. He, like God, lives eternally. Unlike the younger son in the story, he never doubted his sonship. It is only when the younger son accepts the truth about himself and his eternal sonship that he truly begins to live again after being in essence dead.

The lesson behind Easter Sunday is that we are to think and believe as Jesus. When we fully believe and do not doubt our status as God’s children, made in his likeness, our world will be transformed. It will pass from death to life. Everything will be made new!

Once the younger son found his life and accepted his true identity
back, “…they began to celebrate.” Notice, they began to celebrate.
The Easter message is that this celebration has begun and will never end.

Happy Easter to all!!