Jesus wasn’t Christian. Much if not all of what has come to be mainstream Christianity is so removed from the man and his message that his Jewish roots were cut and even corrupted by anti-semitism. People in his time never called him Jesus, nor did he ever preach in Greek. His name was Yeshua and he taught in Aramaic. Intentionally seeking to understand his time, place, and language expands narrow interpretations of his words and corrects religious distortions of his gestures. While rooted in the Law, Yeshua was more than a Jewish prophet and mystic: Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:17). Consider how he consolidated anything unclean as what comes out of the mouth (Matthew 15:11), emphasized indefinite forgiveness (Matthew 18:22), de-centered worship at Jerusalem (John 4:21), and opened the nation of Israel to all people (Mark 13:10). By fulfilling the Law, he accomplished its spiritual essence and revealed a universal vehicle of enlightenment by grace.
Jewish Mysticism: The Kabbalah
Yeshua clearly taught an outer, inner and secret gospel: To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables (Luke 8:10). To understand and enter into the experiences of which Yeshua spoke requires a sense of his mystical language. His inner or secret teachings, like the prophets before him, were all rooted in the mystical tradition of Kabbalah. Simply consider his private teachings to individuals in the Gospel of John, such as where he likens himself to Jacob’s Ladder (1:51), the bronze serpent Moses uplifted in the wilderness (3:14), or any one of his ten statements in the "I Am.” Apart from the mystical language of Kabbalah, his inner and secret images are obscure.
Kabbalah is this evolving, mystical, and symbolic language of the Jewish scripture, for which rabbis offer one of four levels of interpretation. For every plain meaning of a passage in scripture, there are centuries of accumulated commentary by rabbis. Between the lines of these scriptures hide surprising legends that mystics and gnostics have directly experienced in contemplation. Deepest of all is the secret meaning of the same verse, which none but God alone can reveal. This radical core of Jewish mysticism presents the inmost nature of the Holy One as transcendent being, becoming immanent through all of creation. But creation remains incomplete. We are its process of becoming complete, embodying the awareness of God with, in, and all around us. Kabbalah is the most integral and sophisticated model of consciousness in the West.
When the outer church renamed Yeshua “Jesus,” it seems to have divorced itself from his Jewish, mystical roots. Orthodoxy even weaponized his gospel into a vehicle of oppression. But reading the canonical and gnostic gospels with a Kabbalistic lens restores and reintegrates the mystical context of the gospel. To this end, our tradition dismisses writings of the Early Church Fathers and focuses instead on the source works of Kabbalists, who even centuries later still have so much more to say about the Holy One personified as Father, Mother, Messiah, and Bride. Lineage holders of our community are not the first. Abraham Abulafia, a great thirteenth-century Kabbalist, spoke with Christian mystics already knowledgable in Kabbalah, whom he judged to be “among the pious of the gentiles.” A classic source work of Abulafia’s greatest disciple, Joseph Gikatilla’s Gates of Light, further grounded Christian mystical interest in Kabbalah during the Renaissance. For generations to this day, our community teaches from the most important Jewish mystical source work of all—the Zohar—which continually evolves our understanding of the Messiah and Shekinah. Sophian Tradition is a preeminent lineage of Christian Kabbalah.