Extracts from Ethel J. Rosenberg Pilgrim Notes, 1901
[unedited online version provided by Robert Stauffer, 1998, from a copy in the Seattle Bahá'í Archives]
NOTES ON ST. JOHN AS EXPLAINED BY OUR LORD
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(Taken by Miss E. J. Rosenberg at Haifa, Feb. & March, I901.)
Chapters VIII XII.
Verses I to II: - This story needs no explanation. The meaning of it is plainly to be understood.
Verse III: - "Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more."
This shows we should never look upon the faults of others, but only consider our own faults. Then the Master told the following parable:
A man once, as he was walking, saw a wonderful sight. In a certain place there were three men. The first of these was blind, but he could see things that were very distant. The second was deaf to all near sounds, but he could hear things that were very far off. The third was naked, but he hold in his hands very carefully, a long hem of a garment. The man asked a teacher the meaning of this strange sight. The interpretation of it was this: These three men represent humanity. The first, who could only see things that wee very distant, but was blind to all that was near him, means that people can generally see very clearly the faults and shortcomings of other natures, and of those who are far from them; but there own faults are too near them to be perceived. The second man was able to hear the deaths of others; but his own death was too near him to be heard. The third, who was quite bare, shows that in this state man comes into this world; and in this state it is quite certain he must leave it and though he knows this very well, yet he spends his whole time in carefully preserving the hem of a garment from being soiled.
Verses 12 to 20:
There is great difference between GOD and all creatures. All the creation is in darkness, but GOD is the Light. Jesus says: "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The light here spoken of means the Light of His Perfection, mercy and goodness, love, holiness, truth, unworldliness, righteousness, purity, etc. "He that followeth me" that is, he that does as I do, and is characterized with these attributes, then he is not in the darkness/
(v. 13) The Pharisees argue that if a man says "I am good" and so bears record of himself his record is not true.
(v. 14) But Jesus answers "Ye judge after the flesh" (that is you
(v. 15) can only judge me bodily you are not able to judge me spiritually, you are not capable of it)
"And yet if I judge my judgement is true." We have seen before that He said to the woman "neither do I condemn thee," thus refusing to judge her. Then he continues "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me"- that is, the Light of the Father is in Him.-
Verse 19:- "Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also." While Jesus was in the world, He was the light of it and no one could receive light except through Him.
"Ye are from beneath," i.e., the material world; "I am from above" i.e., the spiritual world. "Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning," this is, the son of the Father. "If ye continue in my Word, then are ye my disciples indeed."
The Master said there are three kinds of belief:-
(1) To confess with the lips only.
(2) To confess with the mouth and believe with the heart in sincerity but not to do according to our belief.
(3) To confess and truly believe, and also to live as the heart believes:- then indeed are we the disciples and followers of Christ.
There are two kinds of relationships, spiritual and earthly.
"Ye cannot hear my Word" i.e., ye have not the spiritual ears to hear it with. "Ye are of your father, the devil." i.e., ye have the same evil qualities of a spiritual murderer. Canaan was not the spiritual son of Noah, only his earthly son. "Your Father Abraham say my day spiritually and was glad.
ST. JOHN CHAPTER IX.
v. 1 to 8.
In this passage Jesus taught that re-incarnation was not true. His disciples asked why was this man born without sight? Was it because in a former existence this man had committed a great crime, and so he was punished for it by God sending him to earth again without sight? Or was it because his parents had sinned? Jesus answered that it was neither of these reasons but in order that the works and bounties of GOD might be made known to the people. If GOD invariably created men with the great gift and blessing of sight, then at last people would come to think that it was a natural fact or law of nature that man must be born with this gift and they would not realize that GOD might have created them without it. v. 4 & 5.
While Christ, the light of the world, is on earth then it
is day when He goes the night will come.
v. 5. The ground or earth (of which Christ made the healing clay) represents the fact or truth of GOD: the explanation and interpretation of it came from the lips and mouth of Christ. These two mingled together gave sight to the blind man, that is, spiritual sight, which is the great gift Christ gave him; and the whole miracle must be interpreted in this spiritual sense.
v. 7. Christ told the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, which was in the neighborhood, because in that day all the teachings of Christ and his disciples come from that center and region. Therefore Jesus said to him "Go and wash in thisruth." And when he had received this further teaching, his spiritual sight was perfected.
ST. JOHN CHAPTER X.
v. 1 to 5
The Shepherd is Christ the true believers are the sheep the sheep-fold is Christ's religion. They that hear my voice that is, they that recognize my Divine Call, and acknowledge it and follow me, are of the 'Chosen' among the many called. during the time of Jesus He was the only door into the true religion of GOD, and those who rejected Him, and endeavored to climb up some other way were only thieves and robbers.
v. 31 to 39. Jesus said to the people "I have done nothing but kindness and good deeds to you when have I ever done you harm? I have loved you all, and all that I have wished for you is good., and to benefit you. For which of these good works that I have done, do you stone me?" And our Lord said we might see the same thing in the days of the Bab. All the people witnessed of him that he was the best man they knew and that from the time of his babyhood he had done nothing but good deeds.
So also in the days of the Blessed Perfection, all the people of Teheran were witnessing of His good deeds and perfections, and He was called the 'Father of the poor' in Teheran.
v. 33. The jews answered that it was not for these good works of Jesus that they wished to stone Him- for they quite acknowledged His good actions but it was because of His blasphemy in saying He was the son of GOD. Then Jesus replied that it is said in the Bible to the Holy Prophets of GOD that they are Gods. And in order to explain this saying the Master gave the illustration of the Sun and the mirrors. If you
placed a row of perfectly clear mirrors out of doors when the sun rose, the sun would be reflected perfectly in each one of them, and that the sun might say with truth of these mirrors 'Ye are the suns." In this same sense, it is said to the Great Prophets of GOD 'Ye are Gods' because they reflect the qualities and characteristics of God. Jesus said to the Jews, how was it that they did not wonder at this far stronger expression 'Ye are GODS' being used to the prophets? But when He only said He was the Son of GOD, they wished to stone Him.
ST. JOHN, CHAPTER XII.
v. 1 to 8.
Judas Iscariot was the chief among the disciples; their leader yet when this test (v.6) came to him, he fell. The higher our station is, and the nearer we are to GOD, the more severe do our tests become; and when we have received great blessings, we are apt to become self-confident, and think that we are secure from falling and then is our danger great. The Master said this story (of Mary and the ointment) has a deep spiritual significance. The bottle which contained the perfumed oil (ointment) represents the heart of Mary, the ointment if the LOVE of GOD which filled her heart, and all the love she poured forth at the feet of Jesus Then Judas said, why did she lavish all this love upon Jesus, who did not need it so much as the poor why did she not pour out some of this great love and care upon them?
Then Jesus said that she did well to give Him all her love, that that is what we ought to do. We must give all our hearts love to GOD; then for His sake, and through our love to Him, w shall love all others. By the poor, in this spiritual sense, is meant those who needed love.
The Blessed Perfection said "the poor are my charhe [charge] to you:" therefore we must always cherish the poor for His sake.
v. 14 to 15. The Master said that the disciples of Jesus did not at first believe in Him, because of the fulfillment of signs and prophecies. They did not even remember or understand them until after His death. They believed in Jesus because of Himself because of His character, and the Light that came from Him, and also because of the light of their own inspiration within themselves.
To take as an illustration of this, the sun. We do not belive [believe] in the existence of the sun because of the shadows cast by its light; or because of the effect it produces in making the grass grow. But we believe in the sun because we see it shining in the heavens. We know that the sun exists by looking at it not merely by its effects and the results it produces. So, if you know that a man is a very clever and excellent carpenter, it is not needful for you to see all the things that he had made, in order to believe that he can do them, but you believe he can do these things, because you know the man and his skill; and you know that he has the ability to make them. So, we must always believe in a prophet of GOD, in and for Himself and we must not search for proofs and prophecies in order to enable us to believe in Him. It is said that the disciples understood these things after Jesus was glorified.
Why is this expression 'glorified' used of Jesus's crucifixion? Our Lord then explained that in the eyes of the people of the world that is, of ordinary human beings to be killed or crucified was the most terrible thing that could possibly befall them, but it is not so for believers, it is the most glorious privilege that can happen to them. So with all the troubles and miseries of humanity such as hunger, nakedness, poverty, etc., these for ordinary people are really troubles, b but when they come to believers, they are for them a bounty of GOD, and a privilege.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of GOD." We see that the disciples who were poor, ignorant men, are remembered and revered by all the world to this day. But how many kings and potentates of the earth have come and vanished, even as if they had never existed? Their names even are forgotten, and they have produced no effect or result in the world.
v. 23 to 26. The Master explained more fully the meaning of Christ being 'glorified' by His death. He said that the Blessed Perfection, in the Book of Ighan, in explaining the meaning of the statement about Christ coming in heaven and riding on the clouds says that one meaning of the expression cloud, is the body of the prophet. Why is it that some times we cannot see the sun in the sky?? It is because it is veiled from us by thick clouds; and in this sense, the body, the human nature of a prophet is a cloud, preventing the people from seeing His glorious lightÉ
For they argue that the prophet is a man, such as they themselves are, requiring food, rest and sleep; and it is also liable to ordinary human accidents and diseases. How then can this human man, represent the Light of GOD, or be a manifestation of GOD? But when the prophet is gone from earth, that is, has died, or been killed, then the veil or cloud is removed, and the people see plainly the light of His teachings, and the sun that was within Him.
A seed, a grain of corn, if it were not planted in the earth, and buried from our view, remained always alone and one, but if the seed is planted, buried and hidden from sight, then it brings forth much fruit many hundreds of seeds like itself and so, when the prophet is killed or crucified, His religion and His teachings begin to grow and spread and to 'bring forth much fruit.'
v. 25 to 31. The Master said that if anyone would be the servant of Jesus, he must follow Him, as a servant does; and so he would always be in the same place were Jesus was, just as a servant is always with his master. When the two thieves were crucified with Jesus, one was in this condition of service, and when he begged Jesus that he might be with him, Jesus answered 'To-Day thou shalt be with me in Paradise," that is, in the same place with me.
"Now is my soul troubled," in this passage 'soul' means the personality, the human nature, or body of Christ not His Spirit which was perfectly happy. The body of Jesus which was perfect, His perfect obedient servant, naturally was sorry and grieved that this great spirit would leave it though this body was in entire subjection and obedience.
"Father save me from this hour" means kill me, crucify me quickly that I may be with Thee, and leave this earthly condition of being troubled. "For this cause came I unto this hour". That is, for this reason I came into the world that I may be crucified, and so make Thy name glorious, i.e., renowned and known throughout all the world.
"Father glorify Thy Name" that is, crucify Jesus Christ, who is Thy name who represents and is GOD on this earth.
"Then came there a voice from heaven" i.e., not from the atmospheric heaven, but from the high and heavenly condition and state of Jesus so that it was actually heard by all the people. "I have both glorified it" means "Now I am crucified and will glorify it again," means and also I will glorify it in the disciples, i.e., they also will be martyred and crucified to make My name glorious.
"This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes" means, this voice came to tell you that you also will be glorified as I am.
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A believer then said she had always thought that we night become so completely 'cut' and severed from our body, while in this life, that it then was counted as a dead thing; and that it could not suffer or feel, apart from the spirit.
In answer to this, Zia Khanum explained most beautifully that though in perfect beings, the spirit was so strong that it overcame the sufferings of the body, yet the body humanly felt and was conscious of, human sufferings, such as hunger, thirst, etc. Yet the perfect spirit was so strong that it was always happy, and did not let these sufferings appear outwardly. She said that the night that the Blessed Perfection and the Holy Family and believers with them reached Akka, jumbering [numbering] altogether about seventy souls, many of them being infants and very young children, they were kept, by the soldiers who guarded them, entirely without food. Two sentries were placed at the door, and they were forbidden to go to the market to buy anything. The mothers, through not having eaten, had no milk for their infants; the young children were famishing and the sufferings of the bodies of all of them were very great. But they were so happy in spite of all their miseries, and Khanum especially laughed so much, that the Blessed Perfection sent a messenger to them to say 'Do not laugh so much or the soldiers will say, listen to these foolish people enjoying themselves and laughing with nothing to eat." The day following, the governor sent them some rice, but it was very bad rice, unwashed and full of stones. The children were very happy when they saw this food, and crowded round the tables. But when it was cooked it was so black and filthy that it made them sick, and they could not eat it. The Manifestation came to them and said "Do not cry) I have some food for you." And He gave each of the children one sugar plum. When they had eaten these, they all went to sleep quite peacefully and contentedly. Again, when the Pure Branch fell from the roof and was
killed, the believers were not allowed to bury him, but four soldiers came and took away the body, and the Holy Family did not know for two years whether it had been thrown into the sea, or what the soldiers had done with it? Naturally , his Holy Mother, in her human nature was terribly sad and grieved at his death, under such sad circumstances; and this sorrow made her so ill that it caused a disease of the heart, so that for a long while she was not able to walk about, but was obliged always to sit on the bed. However, when the Blessed Perfection said to her "For My sake has this come upon him, and he has borne for me a sorrow and trouble that was coming to me, from that day no one ever saw the Holy Mother weep and she was always quite happy and cheerful. This was because of the faith and strength of her spirit.
v. 31 to 37. The 'Judgement' here spoken of was the with-drawal, the departure of Jesus from the world, ("of whom the world was not worthy") on account of the unbelievers. Jesus Christ had lived His perfect Life in their midst had taught them, and done every good thing for them and yet they rejected Him. Therefore He (Jesus) 'the Prince of this world would be cast out.' Because Jesus had said this the disciples felt very sad; and then Jesus explained it to them more fully, and said "Do not be sad - if I be lifted up (ascended) I will draw you all to be with me where I am."
The people questioned what did He mean by saying that He must be 'lifted up' and killed? They had always been taught that Christ and His Kingdom would last forever who then is this son of man? But Jesus did n not answer this question that was because He knew it was useless to reply to it, and they would not understand His answer. "Walk while ye have the light." Before the sunrises the people are blind in darkness they can see nothing but if, when the sun rises, they keep their eyes shut, and refuse to see; - then their 'judgement' is the withdrawal of the sun. While ye have the light believe in it, that ye may be the children of light.
Here, the "arm of the Lord" signifies Jesus Christ.
This 'blindness' and hardness of heart' comes to them as a consequence of their own deeds and actions. It is not a bad thing inflicted upon them by GOD. Blindness and deafness are not positive qualities like sight and hearing., but they are mere negations of these qualities. Darkness, for example, is not a positive fact, but merely the non-existence of light.
There are two sorts of praise and glory and respect of men. The one is earthly and material, and is for the time only. The other is spiritual. One lasts for only a very short while, the other is eternal.
Kings and potentates of this earth had great respect and honor while they lived, but after their death it vanished.
It is a sign of the New Birth to leave the bad and evil qualities; to exchange hatred into love, ignorance into wisdom, pride into humility. Everyone who is sunk in the darkness of these evil qualities must leave them, and come into the light.