“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest they are told in parables, so that while seeing they may not see, and while hearing they may not understand.”Luke 8:11
Mystery of the Kingdom?
Before you let the word mystery scare you off I promise you this isn’t a ruminative guide to find Paul’s long lost cookie recipe in Ephesians. We won’t be evoking the Ghost of Socrates to discover the secret ingredient of Romans 8:6 is Hemlock (2 points if you get the joke). There’s no magical aspect of the methods of meditation to come that takes one away from Christ.
Internalizing Wisdom is the Mysterious Step towards the Kingdom we’re talking about. It’s our meditations that gives us access to Yeshua’s depths.
Meditation isn’t a gateway into eastern philosophy or occult science. That fear mongers invention comes from evangelical insecurities that mysticism is a threat. Some people fear that direct experience could replace the church. So they started campaigning against meditation. People who create a habit of meditating daily tend to become more tranquil and adapt to changes faster than others who don’t but none of these changes come quickly or have anything to do with hoodoo.
Anyone who’s spent a minute or two reviewing the benefits of meditation already understands this. It’s getting westerners past their fear of mindfulness leading to Indian mysticism or witchcraft that usually keeps a few people away. If that’s a fear of yours you can rest easy knowing your safe. The vast majority of meditations literally gets us to relax and observe our thoughts and feelings without getting wrapped up in them. People who create a habit of meditating daily tend to become more tranquil and adapt to changes faster than others who don’t. None of these changes come quickly or have anything to do with hoodoo.
Mindfulness- hitbonenut (התבוננות) in Hebrew- literally meant “to be secluded.” Their use of the term is rooted in the Prophets entering the wilderness for periods of contemplative prayer and meditation. Moses went ‘into the clouds’ for forty days. Elijah made his sacred place a ‘cave of solitude.’ Communities today still practice ‘solitude within the crown’ by reciting the 18 Blessings in silence.
Granted, there are elements of the esoteric in Yeshua’s teaching but they’re hardly the fanciful workings of an eccentric new age guru. The type of mysticism prevalent in the Middle East has always focused on the Wisdom of God and Understanding how it can applied to life. The reason they call them mystery teachings is because they’re beyond rationale and fly in the face of everything we think.
So, when Yeshua approaches a crowd and urges them to put God’s Kingdom first and love one another He’s essentially making a call to action. There’s this memorable code of ethics that can immediately be applied to our lives shared throughout the gospels.
Yeshua takes it a step further and starts telling us his Fathers palace has many rooms. Without an understanding of mysticism we wouldn’t have the keys to link ethics and our inner rooms- thought life- together. However, the Rabbis (they called them Lawyers) in the second temple era would’ve heard of the mansion with many rooms and instantly thought of Hekhalot and wondered how it connected.
Think of Nicodemus. He was a Pharisee. Yeshua was essentially Palestinian, He grew up speaking Aramaic running around by the Therapeutae. the Essenes occupied. He wasn’t an Essene though. (So, Nazarenes, maybe Nazarites?) He still spent his entire life there. Pharisees watched Yeshua grow up. They would’ve had at least a couple of talks about doctrine. The Essene’s were healers and scribes. Aesthetics that kept the law of the Prophets by living in seclusion. It was disdain for the others, not secrecy that kept the people of Qumran apart. For a member of the Sanhedrin to seek the Kingdom shows Yeshua was teaching a deeper wisdom that extended beyond ethics.
It’s considered Hidden Wisdom because it’s internalized. Like Solomon said, “write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Nicodemus didn’t go get initiated and taught a secret doctrine. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes had to function together. Temple life was the center of everyone’s universe. Their calendar year was kept by rituals and observances so their worship involved some level of tolerance. Nicodemus went at night because doctrines were everything. It was their cultural identity and yet the Essenes chose the desert and kept the law in a much stricter observance than everyone else. It was the method of applying the law that kept the apart.
The only thing that separates us from igniting a fire for God within is our ignorance of the Hidden Wisdom. Torah & Nebiim- The law and the Prophets and Kethubim- ‘the writings’- were completed by the end of the Babylonian exile. Knowledge of the methods used by the Prophets would definitely be circulating. The Hebrew word for prophet is ‘Navi'(נביא), and it’s derived from ‘nabû’ meaning ‘declare.’ Prophets declared their messages from an internalized God.
So, did Yeshua teach a hidden doctrine?
Simple answer: Yes but no. It’s no secret. It’s just hidden wisdom written in the depths of the heart. I’m sure He did instruct the disciples on different meditations, but every one of those meditations can be discovered within the parables. It goes back to the symbolism that speaks to the soul.