|UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996
Six Appearances of Jesus And What They Teach Us
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
April 24, 2022
All Rights Reserved
PRAYER / MEDITATION
Meditation is our time to turn our attention to God and to know that we are not separate but that we are one with God. I invite you to close your eyes and rest in the all-powerful knowingness that you are one with God and with all life. Let’s begin by affirming: “It is not I, but the Christ within who does the works.” (Repeat that with me now.)
As you approach the divine source of wisdom within and begin to realize your oneness with it, you are evolving a higher intelligence than that of the intellect and you are learning the greatest of all sciences, the science of mind. From that higher mind within you, you can call Divine Ideas into expression by using the power of the spoken word. As Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb saying with complete authority and conviction, “Lazarus come forth,” call forth your faculty of divine wisdom by affirming: “Divine Wisdom, come forth in me now.” Affirm that with me now. “Divine Wisdom, come forth in me now.”
In the silence of prayer, recognize that a shift in your conscious has occurred and acknowledge that shift in your consciousness by affirming: “My mind is immersed in the mind of God.” (Let’s affirm that together) “My mind is immersed in the mind of God.” Through the power of the spoken word claim and own your true nature by affirming: “I am divine wisdom.” Let’s affirm that together now. “I am divine wisdom.”
To prepare in consciousness for healing, focus on God as Divine Life and call it into expression by affirming: “Divine Life, come forth in me now.” Together: “Divine Life, come forth in me now.” Identify with divine life by affirming: “My body is immersed in the body of God.” Together: “My body is immersed in the body of God.” Now claim and own your true nature by affirming: “I am divine life in expression.” Together: “I am divine life in expression.”
Divine Love is the faculty behind all desire, for desire is simply a demand for more God in some form on the physical level of life. Like all divine ideas, you must call it forth. I invite you to do so now by affirming: “Divine Love, come forth in me now.” Together: “Divine Love, come forth in me now.” You must conceive of an inexhaustible supply of substance and identify completely with it. Do so now by affirming: “The holy presence of God within and around me prospers me.” Together: “The holy presence of God within and around me prospers me.”
You must have faith that divine substance is now being transformed from one level of being to another. You must believe that there is more than enough divine substance to abundantly meet your needs. You must have faith in God by seeing God and good everywhere. Affirm your absolute belief in this Truth now: “My life is filled with abundance, right here and right now!” Together: “My life is filled with abundance, right here and right now!”
You have prayed in the awareness of your oneness with God and affirmed your awareness that you are a spiritual being having a physical human experience. To close our time of meditation and prayer, give thanks saying, “Thank you God, for realized prayer. Amen.” Together: “Thank you God, for realized prayer. Amen.”
“Six Appearances of Jesus And What They Teach Us”
This morning I’m going to share with you some of the events that took place after Jesus’ resurrection because even after the resurrection the disciples still didn’t understand Jesus’ message. His family and disciples were filled with grief and despair. With their physical eyes they could see that their spiritual teacher was dead and buried. They felt hopeless and were preparing to return to their homes and to the lives they were living before they answered Spirits call and became his disciples. Initially, Jesus’ shocking and swift death and burial at the hands of the Romans was seen and felt as the end of the Jesus movement he had called “The Way” and everything they held dear.
The 6 events we are going to talk about this morning were so powerful that the disciples fearlessly carried on his work and history tells us all, but the disciple John also died brutal deaths rather than betraying Jesus and his teachings. Something so powerful happened that the original movement Jesus called ‘The Way’ was renamed ‘Christianity’ and for the next 300 years, remained a pure, pacifist, vegetarian, communal, spiritual work of love and faith and many people were able to perform miracles just like Jesus.
I just want to remind you or inform you that we now know that the Jesus movement was vegetarian not because they believed meat was bad or many of the things about meat, chicken, etc. people who are vegetarian say today but because Jesus and his followers, like the final Old Testament prophets were protesting the killing of animals & birds for sacrifice by the temple priests 24/7, which also gave them control over the leather trade. People also had to trade in their dirty money and for a fee purchase clean temple money from the money changers with which to purchase an animal for sacrifice, etc. The Temple Priests had picked up these behaviors while in Babylonian Captivity. Both Jesus and John the Baptist protested this behavior and pointed out that this behavior was not part of the original teachings of Moses and others. In fact, many had tried to point this out and most paid with their lives as did John and Jesus.
The Jesus movement carried on in Palestine with Jesus’ brother James as its leader until Herod, had him stoned to death. Leadership of Jewish Christianity then went to another brother, then to a nephew and on to other family members for about 400 years according to Roman records and other historical writings. However, once Rome destroyed Jerusalem, the Jesus movement lead by Paul (formally Saul of Tarsus carried on) for over 300 years but now mostly outside of Palestine. That all changed in 325AD when some very literally minded church leaders made a contract with Rome. They took the teachings of Jesus, distorted them, made Jesus a God, and began to use the army of Rome to enforce their ‘new interpretation of Christianity.’ This powerful group founded the first state religion of humankind and the first proselytizing religion. Believe as we tell you to believe or die. Many chose death.
Unity is a return to 1st century teachings of Jesus. It is non-denominational because we teach what Jesus taught before his teachings were changed; and before it became an ‘organized state religion” whose very first act was to kill the Gnostics and all those who believed they were spiritual beings like Jesus. These people also wiped out the goddess and nature worshipers and turned Mary Magdalene into a prostitute rather than the beloved wife of Jesus. We celebrate the Truth Jesus taught each Sunday that they tried to kill. Truth can never die though it can spend hundreds of years buried in caves and in the sand. When the Romans crucified someone, they intended to communicate to others, “What he did was bad and we Romans as his Lord and Master are killing him in the most brutal way so you won’t be tempted to be bad and think you can think for yourself and go up against us because we are better than you. We have the power to do to you what we did to him, and we will, so obey us!”
So now I’m going to tell you about 6 of the appearances of Jesus that convinced his disciples that he had somehow survived death. He wasn’t in the same kind of physical body anymore, but he wasn’t dead and gone either. These 6 appearances matter to us for 4 reasons:
1. They verify Jesus’ claim that someone who truly believes and lives life fearlessly and free as an eternal spiritual being having a human experience, is all powerful over physical things including Rome and death. “You are a spiritual being, living in a spiritual universe, governed by spiritual law.” Spirit creates matter. The Spirit of you is eternal because you are created in the image and likeness of God, which is eternal life energy and as today’s Physics tells us, energy never dies, it just changes form.
2. The appearances of Jesus give us hope that we can see, hear, or experience our loved ones after they leave the physical body if we respond to physical death as a spiritual being and know life is eternal. We must know beyond the shadow of doubt that they’ve simply taken off the physical form like a jacket and are now wearing only their spirit body of light. I bet there isn’t a person in this room who has loved and lost someone to death who hasn’t wished for just a little more time with that person. Have you ever thought: “I wish I could ask my mother or father about…”? Some people seem to get their wish. When my mother Margaret died, in the moment of her leaving while in my arms, she looked up at what appeared to be the ceiling and said, “Look there is your daddy and Janice,” (my sister who died in 1997 after a 6-week battle with cancer.) She hugged me and I could feel her Spirit rush through me, right through my heart and off to be with them. I could feel her going somewhere, up there. I have heard many similar stories from others over the years. In Unity, we believe what Jesus meant when he said, “My father’s house of life has many mansions if it were not so I would have told you so, fear not.” The word he used translated as ‘mansions’ in Greek is more accurately translated from Aramaic the language Jesus spoke, as ‘dimensions.’ “My father’s house of life has many dimensions” is a much more accurate and understandable to us today than the Greek word ‘mansions’ which then was “a big house with many rooms and many windows all looking out at different aspect of life.”
3. These 6 appearances of Jesus reveal 6 of the inner changes necessary to make this possible in our own lives.
4. They tell us that there is an atmosphere of love encircling the earth, that we can access through prayer and that we can ask for help from Jesus, our ancestors and others who have gone before us and they will help us.
Let’s look at 6 of the 10 recorded appearances of Jesus.
Appearance #1 was to Mary Magdalene who metaphysically represents our feminine or emotional nature. Jesus appeared to Mary as she was standing at the tomb weeping, which is a natural human reaction of grief. Mary looked, into the tomb and saw that Jesus’ body was missing. So, added to Mary’s deep emotion of grief was fear that someone had stolen his body. On the human level we have lots of fears concerning death including the fear that our loved one suffered in dying. We also have concerns about the proper disposal of the physical body. All these thoughts and feelings are running through Mary as she looks in the tomb and sees Jesus’ body is missing. She is overcome with worry and fear. So, when Jesus appeared to her and said, “Woman, why are you weeping when I am right here.” Mary didn’t recognize Jesus at first because her mind was too full of pictures of him being crucified. Her mind was too full of images of his physical body as ‘a dead thing’ for her physical eyes to perceive his physical body animated by his spiritual body.
The lesson is: If our feminine or our emotional nature focuses our awareness only on the physical side of life and on physical death and the belief that we can lose our loved ones, we can’t see or hear them when they reach out to reassure us from the other side of life. When Jesus calls to Mary by using her name, something he must have done thousands of times during his life, she automatically responds. She suddenly ‘sees him’ and joyfully runs to tell the others that she has seen Jesus. Expectancy is the key. Our loved ones live and appear as their most vital self but if we are locked into an image of them as suffering, limited and dead we won’t recognize them until they say or do something specific that lets us know who they are. They are alive and continue to exist in another dimension of God as eternal house of life and they just can’t get through to us or into our heads because we have a mental block.
Appearance #2: Was to the other women, who had initially gone with Mary Magdalene to anoint His body in the garden of Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus met them on the path and greeted them saying, “Fear not: go tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there I will appear to them.” In the time of Jesus and into the 1st Century of Christianity, the name of every person and town had meaning. For example: Peter means Faith; John, Love; and Bethlehem means house of bread. Galilee literally means “the energy of life activity creating form,” and symbolizes the high mountain consciousness that is the opposite of death. The feminine or emotional nature can spark feelings of doom and gloom or feelings of faith and joy. Our emotional reaction to an event is what determines the thoughts we hold in mind and so what we experience in our lives. Jesus was telling them, “Go to a high place and meditate and use your feeling nature to get out of the pits and to lift your thoughts off death, failure and guilt and back onto life, God and eternal life as I have taught you.”
Appearance #3: was to Peter. The details are unknown, though the visit is referred to by Luke 24:34 and Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:5 says, “The Lord is risen indeed and has appeared to Simon Peter.” Peter means Faith. We either place our faith in externals and impressions gathered through our 5 ordinary senses or on the divine substance or energy field back of all physical forms that we perceive with impressions gathered by our 5 extraordinary senses. We are to see by faith, not just by physical sight. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The Mary aspect of you is always gathering impressions from one direction or the other and “According to your faith (Peter) it done to you through you, because faith ‘the seeing power of the mind.”
Appearance #4: was toward evening. Two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village named Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem. Emmus means a place or level of consciousness where the healing, restoring love, life, and truth of Spirit spring up and flow freely through man’s being. It’s 7 miles (7 chakras) from Jerusalem, which means dwelling place of peace and prosperity; the place in you where you possess the ‘peace that passes all understanding’ and you no longer put your faith in externals. It’s a state of mind called Christ consciousness. Here you know that even though substance changes form and your loved ones pass from your physical sight, they are still alive in God’s great house of life for there is only Life. Science calls this the law of thermonuclear dynamics: “Energy can change form, but it can neither be created nor destroyed by man.” The two disciples metaphysically represent your thinking and feeling nature, and, in the story, they are a little over halfway to Emmus. Where is that in you? This refers to your heart chakra. In the conclusion of Jesus’ great teaching beginning with “Consider the lilies, they toil not and yet their heavenly father provides for them” He said, “For wherever your treasure lies there you will find your heart.
These 2 disciples are walking along and what were they doing? They were rehashing all the negative things that had happened when Jesus joins them on the road. “But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” And He said to them, "What are you talking about? “They stood still, looking sad, then one of them, named Cleopas, (Alphaeus the father of James who represents Divine Order) answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn’t know what’s happened?" And He said to them, "What things?" And they go on to tell him, including that just this morning, the women had discovered the body missing and came running to the disciples saying that they’d not only seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive, but they’d seen him. He even said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things to enter into his glory?" And still, they didn’t recognize him. As they drew near to the village, the stranger appeared to be going further, but they asked him to remain and eat with them. So, he went in sat at a table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them and at that moment, seeing him do something so familiar to them, something they had seen Jesus do hundreds of times at their communal meals, “their eyes were opened.” They recognized him and, in that instant, He vanished out of their sight. And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples. “And they all began to share their stories of joy and seeing him again rather than rehashing his death and feeling sorry for themselves and lost because they had lost their leader and believed their movement was thus ended.”
Appearance #5: As they were doing this, Jesus himself appeared and stood among them. But they were startled and frightened and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? Why do you still question in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, it is I myself, handle me and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones and you can see that I have.’ And they still disbelieved, but now for joy.” You lose sight of your loved one or the vision of that other reality as soon as your mind focuses on it and says, “This is special, this is paranormal.” No, this physical reality is the paranormal and the illusion because it is changeable. God is eternal substance and can take endless forms. To prove his point Jesus said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it before them and said, you are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city.” In other words, stay in that higher state of conscious until you’re fully clothed with power from on high. Until you feel peace inside, as a sense that everything’s ok, and until you have an unshakable faith and belief that there is only Life and more life.
Appearance #6: All the disciples accept the news, except Thomas because he wasn’t there, and he demanded physical proof. "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and place my finger in the mark of the nails and place my hand in his side, I will not believe. 8 days later Jesus appeared to Thomas. Thomas metaphysically represents the type of understanding usually used by the human mind that is only convinced by proof. The “I’m from Missouri. I have to see it for myself” person. He was given the proof from Jesus that he required. The disciples were again in the house and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, and Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he says to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands; and take your hand and place it in my side; do not be faithless but believing." When Thomas believed, Jesus said to him, "You have believed because you have seen Me, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Jesus respected Thomas’ demand for physical proof and he gave it to him. We get it too. Miracles are all around us. An unexpected phone call from a friend, mail, unexpected prosperity, even a parking place opening in front of you is a miracle and we can just brush it off – it’s never enough for the Thomas in some people. Well, what is? Ask yourself, “What will it take for me to believe? How many miracles must I witness in my life or right off as blind luck before I am willing to believe that I am a spiritual being, that life is eternal, that there is nothing to fear in the physical world, not even physical death. How many miracles will I write off before I believe there is more to life than what I see with just my physical eyes or experience through my five ordinary physical senses? You have an Essence and an Ego. You have a spiritual self which creates a physical self. That spiritual self in Unity, we call the “Christ in you your hope of glory.” This means that you have a higher knowledge that is always accessible to you that comes from within; a knowledge innately within you that recognizes Truth when you hear it, as you are hearing it now. The voice of your spiritual self may be faint; you may even deliberately close your ears to it (many people do, they have enough trouble with this reality). In fact, Unity’s co-founder Charles Filmore instructed Unity ministers not to talk overmuch about reincarnation because he said, “Most people have enough trouble dealing with just this life and this reality. Unity is common sense, practical Christianity. Teach that life is eternal, reincarnation may be part of that but unless you can handle your life today, you’ll never get the tools to really ‘know.’ You’ll chase dreams that you once were Cleopatra or Julius Cesar or some other rich and famous person and not realize you are greater than that right now and always have been because you are created in the image and after the likeness of God!” “Christ in you is your hope of glory!” His point is: It doesn’t matter what form eternal life takes, the still small voice will continue to sound and urge you to climb to higher conscious until you do.
Jesus purposefully held his body on the mental and astral planes for 40 days and appeared to his followers more than 10 times to be with those who were to carry on his work and to complete his instructions to them. His body was something you could touch with your hands, but it was more because he could appear and disappear at will, he could go through doors, and he could eat. He was not human and not yet fully Spirit, he was something in between.
10 is the mystical number of completion, the 1 with a 0 metaphysically means the 1 has acted and “it is finished.” What’s finished? Heaven is made manifest on earth. The contents of your mind are continually bringing forth the fruits of your thoughts according to the Law of Mind Action: Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind.
At the end of the 40 days, (not literally 40 days – in the Bible the use of the number 40 means however long it takes to get the job done to unite spirit, mind/intellectual body, emotional body, and physical body as 1) At the end of the 40 days, he made the final step--the spiritualization of his body and Ascension Consciousness. At his Ascension he said, “Fear not, for I am with you always. I am with you to the end of the age.” The use of 40 days and the expression “end of the age” mean: “However long it takes for our Spiritual nature to overcome all the limitations, all the pain and all the suffering and war that man (human or Ego mind) has created on earth; until we learn to live as one and until we realize life is for giving and service to humanity and not for grasping for treasures and trying to dominate others even when you tell yourself and them “It’s for your own good.” The Jews who turned Jesus over to the Romans felt that way. They were saving the many by sacrificing the one and avoiding a war with Rome they knew they couldn’t win and that would cost them as the privileged class their status and wealth. Rome destroyed them and everything anyway.
Jesus after the resurrection is referred to as Christ Jesus and after the Ascension He is referred to in the Gospels and Book of Acts as Christ. This indicates that He shed all his limited human beliefs completely. In His spiritual form, He is at one with Divine Mind and Divine Love and so He is with you now, accessible to you and responsive to your asking for spiritual help. He is there for you for however long it takes you to shift your belief from thinking and feeling, “I’m only a human being trying to be more spiritual to “I am a Spiritual being living in a spiritual universe, governed by spiritual law.” Don’t be like Moses and the Israelites (seekers of God) who had to wandered in the wilderness for 3 cycles of 40 years, which means until all desire to return to Egypt (the bondage and the darkness of spiritual ignorance) had been erased from all levels of being, Spirit, Mind as Intellect and emotion, and Body. We will continue to struggle until we free our minds of all error or limited thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Unity’s co-founder, Charles Fillmore said "Through his spiritual attainments, Jesus formed a spiritual zone in the earth's mental atmosphere. His followers make connection with that zone when they pray in Jesus Christ's name." This fact is stated in John 14:2, "I go to prepare a place for you." Simon Peter said, "Lord, where do you go?" And Jesus answered, "Where I go, you cannot follow me now, but later you shall follow after me." Jesus still lives in the spiritual ethers of this world. He is in constant contact with those who raise their thoughts to him in prayer. So “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Jesus can and does make his presence felt to anyone who looks to him for help.
As a result of his appearances, Jesus’ disciples at last understood. They had a renewal of faith and loyalty and were able to continue his ministry, the ‘pure Christ ministry’ for over 300 years. As I said earlier, first His ministry continued under the direction of his brother whom he and others called James the Just and then other family members. This is all well documented in Roman records and other early church historical documents.
Just Imagine what the world would look like today if his teachings hadn’t been hijacked and changed to suit man and control the minds of the faithful. My questions for you today are: Are you ready to think, feel and believe in yourself and God in you. Are you ready to be free?
What do you think?
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