Then he led them out as far as Bethany and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he departed from them and was carried up into the spiritual realm. Then after they worshiped him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Then they all remained at the Temple, glorifying God. (Luke 24:49-52)So why would Jesus be "sending forth the message" of his LORD? And who is Jesus' LORD?
Jesus is speaking of his Beloved, the Supreme Being. The Greek phrase is ἀποστέλλω τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν. The word ἐπαγγελίαν relates to a message or promise, and ἀποστέλλω (apostellō) relates to the delivery or sending forth of a message - this is the verb form of the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apostolos) often translated to "apostles."
For this reason, another translation for this word ἀπόστολος (apostolosis) is "messengers."
Jesus is asking his close disciples to receive and pass on his teachings to others. He is sending forth the message of his LORD because this is the essence of his teachings: Jesus' teachings are coming from the Supreme Being.
This is confirmed elsewhere in the Gospels:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the humble. He has sent me to proclaim mercy to the imprisoned and renewed sight to the blind, to set free those who are opposed – to proclaim the blessed time of the LORD.” (Luke 4:18-19)
"My food is to do what pleases Him who sent me and to complete His work." (John 4:34)
"Truly I say to you, he that hears my teachings and trusts in Him who sent me, has eternal life and will not be judged, but crosses over from death into life." (John 5:24)
"By myself I can do nothing; As I hear, I make choices, and my choices are just because I do not seek to please myself but to please Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
"For I have descended from the spiritual realm not to please myself but to please Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
“My teaching is not mine, but comes from He who sent me." (John 7:16)Jesus also confirms that as his disciples pass on his teachings, they become linked up with Jesus just as Jesus is linked up with the Supreme Being:
"One who listens to you listens to me; and one who rejects you rejects me. And one who rejects me rejects the One who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)Many sectarian teachers proclaim that Jesus is the Supreme Being. But we can know from Jesus' own teachings that they are confusing the messenger with the sender of the message. Jesus speaks of being sent by the Supreme Being. Obviously, there must be two individuals - the Sender and the messenger.
Yet it is true there is a unity between Jesus and the Supreme Being, just as Jesus spoke of unity between himself and his students. Yes, Jesus was asking his students to receive God's message from him and then pass those teachings on to others.
But it is not as if Jesus' students became Jesus. They are still individuals. Yes, those of his students that truly passed on Jesus' teachings became linked up with Jesus. Those who passed on his teachings became part of his ministry. Yet these students didn't become Jesus. They didn't merge into Jesus or something. They remained individuals.
In the same way, Jesus did not become the Supreme Being. Jesus remained an individual. Yes, he was linked up with God because God empowered Jesus to be His representative.
And being God's representative empowered Jesus to also be able to pass God's message to his students, who then were able to become empowered to be Jesus' representatives, and thus God's representatives.
This is why Jesus could say in Luke 10:16 that one who rejects the messenger of Jesus rejects Jesus, and rejecting Jesus means rejecting the Supreme Being.
We must see this practically: What Jesus is speaking of is a relationship.
We could see this as an official capacity. Sort of like a press secretary passing on what the president is saying. Yes, the press secretary can pass on the official statement of the president, and thus represent the president from an official capacity.
But Jesus' relationship with the Supreme Being is more than official. It is a relationship of love. And Jesus is lovingly serving God.
Such a relationship brings forth another dimension with regard to Jesus' being God's representative. Such a loving relationship allows Jesus to represent the loving nature of the Supreme Being.
This requires intimacy. To represent a person more intimately, one must have an intimate relationship with them.
This is what Jesus did with his life and his teachings. Due to his intimate relationship with God, he could teach his students how to love and serve the Supreme Being. He dedicated his own life to loving and serving God. In this way, Jesus was God's ultimate representative. He showed us how to love and serve God with both his teachings and his life.
This empowerment gave Jesus the ability to pass on God's most important message:
“ ‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)This was both Moses' (Deut. 6:5) and Jesus' most important instruction because this is God's ultimate message. This is what would please God the most. The Supreme Being wants us to re-develop our loving service relationship with Him because this is what will make us happy. This is what will re-awaken us from our slumber within this physical world.
Now Jesus wanted his own students to become empowered by God to pass on this same message - through their words and their lives. He explained how they should await this empowerment before they went out to teach:
"But you are to stay in the city until you are covered with the power of the Almighty.”Such an empowerment takes place from an intimate basis: It requires the personal development of one's own intimate relationship with God. Forming such an intimate relationship means coming to know God and love God, then wanting to please God. After all, teaching others to love and serve God can only come from a position where one is loving and serving God themselves.
So how does one come to know and love God?
This is answered by the last verses of Luke (24:49-52). We find not only does Jesus bless them and they worship Jesus (God's intimate lover and representative): But then they return to the Temple to worship, make offerings, and glorify God:
Then they all remained at the Temple, glorifying God. (Luke 24:52)This explains the process of coming to know God, and developing a loving relationship with the Supreme Being. Worshiping and praising God is an ancient practice - taught not only by Jesus to his students. But also taught by all the Prophets. You can see the scriptural evidence for glorifying God's Holy Names here.
This is a very practical matter. Just consider: What does a person do when they want to develop a relationship with someone else? They reach out and connect with that person. And they glorify that person. They praise them.
For example, a man who wants to get to know a woman will try to connect with her by having conversations. During those conversations, what will he do? He will say how pretty she looks. He'll tell her she is nice, and he really likes her - right? Then perhaps he will bring her flowers.
Such conversation, praise and flowers will not only provide connection. They will indicate to the woman that the man wants to have a relationship with the woman. She will respond by opening up to the man.
It is not so different with the Supreme Being. Reaching out to God - connecting with God through prayer - is key to Him opening up to us. It is the key to re-establishing our relationship with Him. Why? Because this activity illustrates our desire to come to know Him and love Him.
Then as we glorify and praise the Supreme Being - which we can do with incantation and song - our loving service relationship with Him grows.
Making offerings to God can further progress our relationship with Him. See the scriptural evidence for making offerings here.
The process is gradual. This is because most of us in the physical world are currently polluted with self-centeredness. Most of us are not interested in loving and serving God. Most of us are more interested in being glorified by others and served by others. We are typically thinking about ourselves and what can get out of life.
This polluted consciousness blocks our ability to truly love and serve the Supreme Being. Self-centeredness is like a shroud or covering over our hearts. It is like being surrounded by a hard shell - one that prevents contact with the real world.
This shell of self-centeredness is also what keeps us from perceiving God and seeing into the spiritual dimension. We are each spiritual beings - trapped within a temporary physical body. It is our identification with these physical bodies that traps us within this physical dimension. And because our interests are self-centered, our consciousness is trapped within the confines of the concerns for the body - the body's survival, food, sensual feedback and so on.
Through bodily identification, our self-centeredness is directed into the concerns for the temporary physical body. This serves to block the vision of our true selves - our spirit-person.
Our true selves - our spirit-person - is a person of love. Love is the food of the spirit-person. Love is the essential component and nature of the spirit-person. As such, the vision of the spirit-person - and the ability to perceive the Supreme Being - is founded upon love - and blocked by self-centeredness.
Because of our consciousness of self-centeredness and identifying with the temporary physical body - the process of purifying our consciousness is gradual. It begins as we start to connect with God through regular prayer. And it proceeds as we glorify the Supreme Being and make offerings to Him on a regular basis.
And yes, many challenges are presented to us as we undergo this purification process of regular prayer and glorification of God's Holy Names. These challenges serve to teach us that we need the Supreme Being - we are weak and need His strength.
But in the end, it is our commitment and dedication to the Supreme Being that carries us upward. When our body dies (and it will, because every body dies) our intention to please the Supreme Being and re-establish our relationship with Him will guide us upward, back home to our true family - with our Best Friend, the Supreme Being, and His loving representative, Jesus.
The Gospel verses above were quoted from the Gospels of Jesus: The Devotional Translations.