Remember that Jesus' previous statement defined his parable of the farmer and the seeds, and the seed was being compared to hearing his teachings - read more about this here.
So here Jesus delves deeper into the process he is engaging in: The process of hearing the teachings, putting them into practice, and then passing them on to others. This is the process of mentorship, which Jesus directly engaged in.
Jesus practiced what he preached
Not only did Jesus teach his students about God and how to love and serve God, but he had also heard those teachings first from his own teacher, John the Baptist.
Jesus didn't do what some sectarian teachers do: He didn't become a teacher and ask others to follow him before he himself followed a teacher.
Jesus also didn't make up his own philosophy. He didn't invent a new interpretation and expect others to follow this. Rather, he was a student of John and then taught what John taught. Here is clear evidence:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 3:1-2)Then Jesus, after John's imprisonment, taught the very same thing:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 4:17)And Jesus told his own disciples to pass on this very same message:
"As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'" (Matt. 10:7)While the statement above simply summarizes their teachings, we can know by these various verses that Jesus did not invent his own teaching. He passed on what John taught him, and then asked his own disciples to pass on those very same teachings.
John was a leading Teacher before Jesus
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea. (Matt. 3:1)This indicates that prior to Jesus launching his mission to teach others, John the Baptist was accepted as teaching the Truth to his students from his mission in "the wilderness."
We must note carefully that the four Gospels were written by followers of Jesus - or Jesus' students' followers. This means that if they accept that John the Baptist was preaching, they certainly accepted that John the Baptist was preaching the Truth. In fact, it was widely accepted that John the Baptist was a great spiritual teacher who taught many people throughout Judea:
The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (Mark 1:5)And Jesus was one of those people who accepted John's teachings. Jesus not only accepted that John the Baptist was teaching the Truth, but he accepted John as his spiritual teacher. How do we know this? Because John baptized Jesus:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. (Matt. 3:13)From this, we know that Jesus traveled out to the desert wilderness to become John's student. John was not just blindly baptizing people. He was preaching to them, as stated above. This means that Jesus went to hear John's teachings.
The real meaning of Baptism
Being baptized is a ceremonial ritual that symbolizes the student's acceptance of the Spiritual Teacher's teachings. There is nothing magical in itself about the water. This is the very same water that others were bathing in. The Jordan river was used to wash clothes, bathe in, and wash dishes in. Were people baptized automatically when they washed their clothes in the Jordan? No. The baptism is a ritual - a ceremony that is representative of something else.
In the same way, being dunked in some water by a priest or minister does not produce some magical potency.
We must separate ritual and ceremony from spiritual life. Spiritual life involves accepting the Supreme Being as our Protector, Best Friend and Beloved. It means putting ourselves at the feet of God. There are many rituals and ceremonies, and anyone can participate in a ritual or ceremony. But being part of a ritual means nothing if there is not a devotional factor involved. The person must be, within their heart, participating with a purpose of devotion: A purpose related to pleasing or serving God, or at least coming to know God.
So anyone could have water splashed onto them from any river and that can be called baptism. But what is it really? It will simply be water splashed upon them if there is no devotional intent, and there is no devotional teaching being passed on. It is an empty ritual in that case.
The same goes for traveling to the wilderness. A person can go hiking in the desert and that can have no devotional or spiritual meaning. But Jesus went out to the desert with a devotional purpose: to hear from and take baptism from John - who was preaching. This indicates that Jesus had the intention of becoming one of John's students in order to hear ("listen") about God from John. He had a devotional purpose.
Jesus later indicated his dedication and devotion to his Spiritual Teacher, John:
"Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist..." (Matt. 11:11)This statement indicates Jesus' complete dedication to John. To accept that no one born of women - in other words, no person in the history of humankind including Jesus (as Jesus was also born of a woman, Mary) - was as great as John is an accolade that illustrates Jesus' complete dedication and devotion to his Teacher.
The meaning of the parable of the lamp
This relates directly to the teachings that Jesus had been given, and had also been giving his disciples. He had introduced them to God and had been teaching them to love and serve God. Now he was expecting that they would be passing this "light" on to others - giving guidance to others.
The next part of his statement reveals the true nature of spiritual teachings as handed down from Teacher to student:
"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."This indicates that as the student hears from the Teacher, and begins to apply those teachings - including passing them on to others - more and more is revealed to them from within their hearts.
This discloses that in fact, the Truth did not come from John or Jesus or Jesus' students. Truth is ultimately coming from the Supreme Being. God may use his loving servants to represent Him and pass along what they have heard and understood from their Teacher. But it is God who is ultimately teaching from within the heart - rendering the serious student the ability to understand those teachings. This is confirmed by Jesus elsewhere:
"My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)In other words, Jesus' teachings are coming from God, and God reveals Himself from within through an understanding of those teachings.
Yet with his baptism, Jesus is illustrating to all of us that before one can become a teacher, one must become a student of a bonafide teacher.
And as the student begins to apply those teachings, God continues to reveal Himself from within - bringing Himself out "into the open" for the student to understand more and more of God's personality and His ways. This allows the student to gradually fall in love with God.
But all of this is traced back to how serious the student is and how seriously they apply those teachings given to them by the Teacher, God's representative:
"Therefore consider carefully how you listen."Next, Jesus lays out that as the serious student hears and applies the teachings given to them - they will be awarded with more understanding. God will show Himself more and more to the serious student as they seriously apply the Teacher's teachings:
"Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them."Notice he says, "even what they think they have..." This indicates that while the not-so-serious student might think they have learned the Truth, they haven't. They are under the illusion that they know a lot, but in reality, they don't.
And whatever they even think they have will be taken from them: "...even what they think they have will be taken from them." How does this happen?
The Supreme Being is the controller of consciousness. He has the ability to create illusion and reveal Truth. This is God. He controls everything.
This means that God can make us forget. How does He do that?
Typically, He uses the illusory physical world to create forgetfulness. You see, each of us are not these physical bodies. We are the spirit-persons who dwell inside the physical body for a short period of time, and then we leave them at the time of death.
But as each of us - spirit-persons - come into the physical body, the physical world is programmed with the elements of the senses and a mind that allow us to become immersed in the identity of our particular physical body - and we begin to identify ourselves with these physical bodies - believing them to be our identities.
And the mind is very forgetful. A person can have an experience and years later the experience will fade from the mind, allowing the person to forget that experience.
And because the physical senses are programmed with limitations - and the mind can only pick up limited information from our senses - we are given the illusion that we are these bodies and what our senses perceive is all of existence.
This is illusion.
Let's see just how easy this is to do:
Some time ago, on a CBS 60-Minutes piece, a man - Shin Dong-hyuk - documented his experiences at a prison in North Korea. It turns out the man was born in that prison, and while in the prison Shin was given no opportunity to know or see anything outside the prison: No internet, newspapers, TV, radio or other communications. And his North Korean captors kept him in the dark about the world outside.
So up until Shin escaped the prison - he did not know the world outside the prison existed. He did not know people could choose their food. Shin did not know some foods even existed. He had no idea that people even had the freedom to walk around freely.
This is because Shin's senses were limited by his captors to seeing only inside the prison. He could not see outside the prison and therefore, assumed that the prison was all that existed. And when he escaped, Shin was shocked at what occurs in the "outside world."
This type of assumption - that all we see is all that exists - takes place naturally because our mind is designed to only believe what the senses perceive. The mind has no entry into the spiritual realm unless our senses come into contact with God's representative or scripture. Otherwise, the mind will assume all we see around us in the physical world is all that exists.
So just as the North Korean prison guards made sure that the prisoner's senses were limited to the prison, the Supreme Being programmed the physical world so our physical bodies in themselves could not sense the spiritual realm - nor God Himself.
Now why would the Supreme Being - controller of everything - do this? Why would He make the spiritual realm invisible to the physical senses? Why would He allow us to be in ignorance?
Because this is what we wanted. We wanted to get away from God. We wanted to go out and do what we wanted instead of serving God. We got jealous of God and wanted what He has.
Let's give an example:
Let's say that we had a long-time friend from our youth - a friend who shared everything with us for many years. And suddenly our friend became a sports star, and we became jealous of our friend. We became envious because we wanted that stardom. And let's say one day in a jealous rage we burst out and screamed at this old friend - telling them we never wanted to see them again.
How would that make our old friend feel? They would become heartbroken. They would become saddened that they had lost their friendship with us all because we became jealous of what they achieved.
Now what would such a friend do after we became jealous of them and told them we didn't want to see them again? They would naturally go away. They would give us our space. They would get out of our lives and leave us alone to stew in our jealousy. They wouldn't want to hang around us!
This is the situation with God, except that God also happens to be the Supreme Controller. After we became envious of God, God not only sent us away to the physical world, but programmed the physical world in such a way that we did not have to see Him or even know He exists.
This is our Best Friend - our Beautiful Supreme Being.
God is so kind, so loving, so generous; that He politely lets us go and ignore Him to satisfy our wishes. He could, in fact, force Himself upon us. He could force us to serve Him. But He doesn't. He wants our love, and love requires freedom to love or not.
He also programmed the physical world to allow us to try to achieve our desires of being God. Here we can pretend to be the "boss" of something. We can be the boss of others at work. Or we can be the boss of a sports team by being a coach or captain. Or we can be the boss of our children, or if we are a schoolteacher, the boss of our students. And if we can't be any of those bosses, we can get a pet and be the boss of our pet. We can play all sorts of roles in this physical world, and try to act out our jealousy of God by being in charge of someone and/or something.
Here we can also mimic God in that we can become a "star" of something. Each of us can pretend we are some sort of star here. We can win a few games at something and think we are the star of that crowd, that sport, or that match. We can practice an instrument for many years and then feel we are a star musician of some sort. We can do something unique on a you-tube video and feel we are an internet star. We can be a business success and be the star of the business world. Or we can be the star of our pets. All of these attempts are allowed by the Supreme Being in order to provide us with an opportunity to achieve our dreams - so we try to achieve God's position by being some sort of "star."
Yet none of these forms of stardom fulfill us. They do not make us happy. Being the boss and the star only bring us emptiness. This is one of the lessons of the physical world. We are not happy with these achievements because, by nature, we are not stars. We are not bosses. These are not our natural positions.
Our natural position is one of servant. Of caregiver. We are fulfilled only when we resume our spiritual identity as one of God's loving servants and caregivers.
This, in fact, is why the physical world was also programmed by God to teach us. Through consequence learning experiences, the Supreme Being shows us that this is not our home, and we indeed have another home.
The teachings of the prophets - passed down through John to Jesus, all taught this fact. This world is not our home, and we will be empty without our Best Friend, God. This is why Jesus' central teaching - as was Moses' and the rest of the prophets - was:
"'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)