"Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." - John's Gospel 14: 1-3
As I mentioned in my last post, John's account of the Last Supper takes up five chapters. This is not insignificant, as the number five makes up the number of limbs of the Cosmic Man - two arms, two legs and a head - as well as the Pentagram, symbol of the Goddess, healing and protection. That Christ represents, or is to come to represent the Cosmic Man made whole is presaged by the symbolism of the Five Wounds of Christ. In Kabbalah, five is the number of the world above the four worlds of Assiah, Yetzirah, Beriah and Atziluth. This fifth World is Adam Kadmon, the World of Primordial Man who is placed closest to God. Some commentators claim that the four Gospels correspond to these lower four Worlds, with John's pointing towards the fifth, unrevealed one. It is fitting then, that John unfolds his Mysteries accross five chapters, the first documenting Christ's betrayal and the splitting of the Jesus/Judas self, the last being between Christ and God alone:
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee" - John 17:1
We will return to this chapter - almost a threnody to God by Christ - later, but it is fitting that this last chapter corresponds to the head of the Cosmic Man. It is the most Mystical in nature, the one in which the channel between the Father and the Son opens most powerfully. As Paul says "The head of every man is Christ... and the head of Christ is God" (Corinthians 11:3)...
As soon as Judas has departed, as soon as that part of the Divine Self has separated off, Christ begins his final words to the Disciples. His opening subject, the thing that comes before all else, is pretty clear:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that ye also love one another." - John 13:34-35
Love is his subject, before all else. It forms the centrepiece of the whole of the Last Supper, indeed of the Gospel in its entirety; not Sin, Hell, mortification of the flesh or any of the other things we associate with Christianity. Christ mentions his 'new commandment' no less than three times in all five chapters, and love comes up almost everywhere as the chief agent of transformation:
"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all the things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you... These things I command you, that ye love one another." - John 15: 10-15
"For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God." - John 16: 26-27
Love becomes the central unifying force between Humanity, Christ and thus God, an idea given its full meaning in the FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN which is the apotheosis of Love Mysticism at the heart of these writings:
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.... Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us... he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." - First Epistle of John 4: 7-16
It couldn't be much clearer than that. Members of militant churches hoping to smite the Unbeliever, win a final showdown with Satan the Muslim and look on with glee while homosexuals, people of other religions and anyone not part of their particular team burn in the Last Days out to take heed of these passages. John doesn't buy any of that. If there is no love in someone, they know nothing of God. The Christian process of salvation starts here, in our relationships with each other. Indeed as John makes it clear here, God's love is not completed until we 'dwell in love'. This vision is not unique to John, of course. In Matthew Christ makes clear that love of God and of one's fellow man comes before anything else ("On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" 22:40) but nowhere does it get a higher expression than in John. It is the presence of love within us that is key before any other consideration. Without it we are, as Paul says, 'as nothing'. We hear much about Christ's love for us and God's love, but John emphasises our love, not just for God but for each other, as being the completion of the Mystery. He is not called the Beloved Disciple for nothing.
The description of the Apostles ceasing to be 'servants' and instead becoming 'friends' is crucial here also, along with the growing convergence of the Father, the Son, the Apostles and all of humanity. As we are given the opportunity to 'overhear', as it were, Christ's words to the Apostles, we become the Apostles. In other words, we are being invited to share of the Wisdom and to have the same relationship with the Godhead that is being offered to them. Before the Gospels, in the relationship between God and humanity expressed in the Old Testament, the emphasis is primarily upon humanity, represented by the people of Israel, serving God and keeping his commandments. Of course this is an oversimplification, as the nature of the relationship grows and changes from Abraham through Jacob, Joseph and Moses to David and Solomon, whose Psalms and Songs illustrate a more intimate, inner connection with God. But there remains a distance that has to be bridged. This distance has, for all intents and purposes, been continued, if not made worse, by centuries of Church intervention which have made it conditional on a host of human edicts, laws and doctrines such as Original Sin and a Redemption dependent upon obedience to a given Priesthood. In fact the relationship being offered by Christ at the Last Supper is a condition of complete Oneness with no mediation. If anything Christ is speaking of the end of religion, certainly not the beginning of a new one, replacing it with a direct connection with God available to all:
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." - John 14:16-20
It is no surprise, perhaps, that two of the key heretical or near heretical movements of the Middle Ages which preached a more intimate relationship with Christ were the Gottesfreunden of Switzerland and the Rhine and the Bogomils of Bosnia. Both words mean 'Friends of God'. Even the Cathars sometimes referred to themselves as 'Bonas Ames' or 'Bons Amis' - 'Good Friends' - indicating their desire to walk in this more intimate relationship with God and Man...