Jesus is not a Christian; he is Christ. Neither is he a Jew in the normal sense. His teachings and methods so closely resemble those of traditional Eastern gurus that we must assume that his early training was heavily influenced by the teachings of the East. This is not especially important, except that, when we look at his life and mission in the context of Eastern mysticism, we can better understand what he said and why he said it, how the people of his day heard his message, and how we can hear it today.
For many hundreds of years, Christian scholars have treated Jesus of Nazareth as an anomaly on the stage of world religion. They erroneously assumed that he was a simple peasant born in a small village, a marginalized Jewish settlement many miles from the cultural center of his country. Now, with the recent discovery of the city of Sepphoris, a cosmopolitan city just four miles from Nazareth, they realize that his exposure to world culture was unlimited. Given his trade (whether carpentry or stone masonry is not certain), he undoubtedly spoke Greek and Latin, and not just Aramaic as is widely assumed.
Religions, like Christianity, do not appear out of nowhere. We know that it is an offshoot of Judaism, but that’s as far as we are encouraged to look. Moses, as he is held forth by theologians, got everything straight from God on Mount Sinai, and everything in the way of religious history before him is wiped from the record – kept from public view by scholars who, quite frankly, do not fully understand the nature of that which they are hiding. This we do know, that Moses must have received extensive religious training as a favored son in the house of Pharoah, because we can read it in the writings attributed to him.
Hollywood’s Technicolor version of life in Egypt at the time of Moses is a veneer pasted onto what was actually a richly deep and complex spiritual/political society. For the ancient Egyptians, religion, politics, and science all rode in the same chariot. There was no distinction made between heaven and earth. To them, one was an extension of the other, and everything in life was a reflection of the will of God.
What Moses learned in the courts and temples of Egypt, he re-interpreted for the Jews during their sojourn in the wilderness. Just as Jesus would later deliver the esoteric teachings of Judaism to those outside of the priestly class, so Moses used the secrets of Egypt to lay the foundation for his new society.
The notion that “the Lord our God is One” is the cornerstone of our modern concepts of natural law and social justice. And this we owe to Moses. His contribution cannot be overestimated. The Enlightenment in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages could not have taken place without his influence. His doctrine of the One God, which he got from the Egyptians, opened the way for a unified understanding of the world, which in turn gave rise to modern science. If God operated according to law and not by whim, then so did God’s creation. This was a major break from the popular belief that God(s) was a moody and capricious dictator that could be appeased and bribed by mortals for the promotion of their own mundane agendas. Out of this, the rights of the individual were born – the freedom of religion, of association, and of speech – though it took many centuries for them to emerge as constitutional law.
Spiritual power is similar to political power in that when it becomes corrupt, when it is overly concentrated in one sector of society to the detriment of all the others, a revolution takes place. The Exodus was as much a spiritual revolution as it was a political one. Moses took the knowledge of the Egyptian mystery schools, knowledge hoarded by the priesthood for its own political purposes, and with it formed a new religion . He wove the ancient teachings into the stories and dictates of the Pentateuch and initiated his own priesthood, the House of Levi, giving them the keys to the secrets they held. Centuries later, Jesus of Nazareth would do the same. He would unlock the doors to the Holy of Holies, the core teachings of the Jewish faith, and disseminate its wisdom to fresh blood – his own appointed priesthood. He tore the curtain of the Inner Temple aside, so that those who were capable of perceiving its mysteries could do so freely. And he showed them how.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount recapitulates the Ten Commandments, which were Moses’ interpretation of the Egyptian mysteries. Jesus recaptures and reinterprets the Law for a culture that through human nature and time had lost its true meaning. He not only reinterprets the Law, but raises it to a new level. Whereas before it was enough to simply obey the rules outwardly, he calls the people to take the Law into their hearts, to incorporate them, so that they could say, with him, “I am the Law and the Prophets.” This was the seed for what later would come to be known in the West as self-government.