Messiah in our tradition is more than the historical Jesus. When John calls Messiah the Logos (1:1), or Paul says he’s the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15), this preexistence transcends the historical Jesus. Even mystical rabbis associate the wind of God that breathed over the surface of the deep (Genesis 1:2) with the Spirit of Messiah. Supernal awareness—Messiah—is beyond any one human being. Yet no other human being before Yeshua so perfectly embodied the Spirit of Messiah. Our tradition honors Yeshua firstborn of a virgin and from the dead. The wonders he performed, the self-offering on the Cross, are all the expression of the Divine I Am—the Messiah—aligned with every particle of himself. As one awake in a collective dream, the Spirit of Messiah took up the entire body, life, and self of Yeshua to awaken us from our nightmare of sin and death.
It is not enough to honor Yeshua as an idealized demigod unlike us. Anyone whose heart is stirred by his words and example must come to recognize the Messiah already indwelling their heart. Many who continue to love and cleave to him, even despite Christianity, are actually awakening to the same Messiah in themselves. If through the Logos all things were made (John 1:3), then who we most truly are is already in Messiah. Messiah in Yeshua came to reflect Messiah in ourselves. Messiah is closer to us than we are to ourselves. And our tradition goes even further: To fully honor Messiah, we must embody Messiah. Why would Yeshua demand that we break out of ourselves, take up our cross, and follow (Mark 8:34)? How shall we do greater things than he’s done (John 14:12)? He clearly calls us to the work of Messiah by not just believing in but embodying Messiah. As we grow in compassion and take more and more upon ourselves the suffering of others, our faith in Yeshua blooms into gnosis of Messiah indwelling us all the while. This is the Gnostic understanding of the Gospel.
Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up (John 3:14). This difficult teaching from Yeshua assumes a Kabbalistic understanding of the serpent. Yeshua likens himself to the bronze serpent Moses was commanded by God to make and uplift on a pole for the salvation of the children of Israel dying from fiery serpent bites (Numbers 21). If they looked upon it, there were healed. How can the cause of death be its release? To be clear, rabbis acknowledge death brought into creation by the serpent, the nakhash: Ignorance is the cause of sin, suffering, and death. But few Christians know how Messiah, the Presence of Awareness, opened the way out of sin and death. By turning the downward, outward power of the serpent inward and upward to God, the force of the serpent came into service of Messiah. We base this on the Hebrew letters spelling nakhash and Messiah, which are also numbers. The sum of letter-numbers spelling these words is identical: 358. For Kabbalists, any words that share the same sum are identical in force. With this great key, our lineage opens the non dual mystery of the Cross: By converting what opposes God in our own heart, but turning the focus of ourselves towards others, we convert the ignorance of the serpent to the enlightenment in Messiah. By looking to the serpent uplifted in the wilderness—the Messiah—the fire of venom becomes the fire of the Spirit of God, enlightening and liberating. The power that holds you in bondage is the power that will set you free: This is the truth Messiah reveals.