Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, ... (Luke 10:23)So what are his disciples able to see and hear that "many prophets and kings" ("many" from the Greek word πολύς (polys) - indicating a large number) wanted to see and hear?
Is Jesus talking about something physical - that is seen with the physical eyes?
If that were true, then that something that is seen is also heard. What physical thing that can be seen can also be heard?
Some sectarian teachers interpret that Jesus is speaking of them seeing himself. But if that were true, then all the Jewish priests, sadducees and pharisees who had also seen Jesus, along with the many crowds, would also be included.
Obviously, that isn't true. So Jesus is not referring to people seeing him with the physical eyes.
But Jesus is talking about something that has been seen exclusively by his disciples:
"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see."
So what is Jesus referring to?
He isn't referring to the physical eyes at all, nor the physical ears when he refers to hearing - yet he is referring to something originally heard.
Jesus is speaking in a metaphorical sense.
Jesus is speaking of their understanding. What they have come to understand - which has come from Jesus' teachings.
While not on the same level, today we still utilize this sort of metaphorical use of "hearing" and "seeing" as say, a schoolteacher might say to her students:
"Do you see what I mean?"
The word "see" is referring to understanding. Understanding what she is saying.
"Hearing" is also used similarly - as one person might say to another:
"Did you hear me?"
They are not referring to sound. Rather, they are asking whether or not the other person understood what they said.
What are they understanding?
Jesus is speaking of transcendental knowledge. Jesus was imparting transcendental knowledge through his teachings. Those who heard and understood his teachings were receiving that knowledge.
Notice that Jesus did not say that no prophets or kings have understood this knowledge. This would negate, of course, his many teachings where he quoted some of the Prophets before him such as Moses and David.
The fact is, the use of the word "prophet" - coming from the Greek word προφήτης (prophētēs) - was used rather loosely during those times. A person who simply predicted the future - for example, an interpreter of Greek oracles - was referred to as a prophet.
The word also referred to those who spoke on behalf of the Supreme Being - such as the Prophet Moses and the Prophet David. These Prophets are part of Jesus' lineage of Teachers and thus would not be included in the group Jesus refers to here as those who had not gained the knowledge and understanding.
But outside of these bonafide Prophets, there have been many 'prediction artists' who have for one reason or another gained notoriety for predicting the future.
What is this knowledge that Jesus was giving them?
Jesus was teaching them the confidential understanding of love for the Supreme Being. It is an understanding of the confidential relationships that exist in the spiritual realm between the Supreme Being and His loving servants.
You see, Jesus was not only God's representative. He also enjoyed a confidential loving relationship with the Supreme Being. He served the Supreme Being out of love, and the Supreme Being reciprocated that love.
This loving relationship was not readily disclosed to the public nor the various Jewish officials. Nor is it readily perceived from the New Testament - unless those verses are explained by someone who has also been given a glimpse into these confidential loving relationships. Why? Because it is a confidential relationship. It is an intimate relationship.
But Jesus shared this intimate relationship with his disciples. Jesus spoke of the Supreme Being and He spoke of his interactions with the Supreme Being. He spoke of his motives and his desires to please the Supreme Being. Take for example this statement by Jesus:
"Yes, Father, for this is what You were pleased to do." (Matt. 11:26)
“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42)
"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...." (Matt. 6:9-10)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. 12:50)These statements, all spoken by Jesus, indicate something that ecclesiastical sectarian teachers and their institutions glaze over and virtually ignore in their teachings:
The fact that Jesus was focused on pleasing the Supreme Being. He enjoyed an intimate relationship with God and his life revolved around doing what the Supreme Being wanted.
Consider this carefully.
Most of us are perpetually wanting to please ourselves or our extended selves. We seek out those things that please us. For those who are married, we often seek those things that please our spouse. For those who have children, we seek to please our children.
In other words, we want to either do what we want, or we want to do what our spouse or children want. For those who work, we want to (or need to) please our bosses. For those who chase stardom, we work to please our fans or audience. For those with political aspirations, we want to please the voters.
But in all these respects, our ultimate goal is our own happiness - or the happiness of our extended selves - our family or even our community or country. These are all based around the concept that we consider ourselves the center of our lives. Those who support that center - whether our country, community, family and so on - are also included.
Jesus, however, has completely something else going on. He is not the center of his life. The Supreme Being is the center of his life. Whatever is pleasing to the Supreme Being gives him happiness.
This is why he would say such things as:
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. 12:50)Jesus considers his true family members to be those who seek to please the Supreme Being as he does.
And this is the context of our spiritual family. While we may each strain to hold on to the temporary families of these physical bodies - as our physical body's family members leave or die on us - each of us has a gigantic family in the spiritual world.
But the "glue" of our real family in the spiritual realm is pleasing the Supreme Being. Each of our real family members has a unique loving relationship with the Supreme Being and seeks to please Him within that relationship.
Meanwhile, those of us who live in the physical world are here because we rejected our loving relationship with God. We became self-centered, seeking self-centered happiness. So He gave us these temporary physical bodies and this illusory physical world so we could chase our self-centered dreams around for a while.
And the reason that "many prophets and kings" - and virtually everyone - has sought to have this understanding and vision into the spiritual realm is that we are all seeking true love in our lives but not finding it within the physical world.
We are all seeking to be reunited with our true family within the spiritual realm.
And most of all, we are all perpetually seeking a real friend and soul mate - and this is the Supreme Being: our Best Friend and Soul Mate.
So it is this vision into the spiritual realm - this understanding - not only of the outward context as we've explained here but the actual feelings and emotions that travel with that context that Jesus has given his disciples an opportunity to come to know through his teachings and example. It is love for the Supreme Being.
This is why Jesus' most important teaching 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)