Let's break down Jesus' statement:
Who are "my friends"?
Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (Luke 12:1)We also know from this that Jesus is referring to the teachings of the Pharisees - which Jesus characterizes as "yeast" - a metaphor describing the ability of the teachings of the Pharisees to greatly influence others.
"do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more"
This means that we are not these physical bodies. Otherwise, why would Jesus teach his students not to be afraid of the body being killed?
The reality is that the physical body is a machine driven by the person within. These bodies are temporary. They get sick and die within a few decades. Or they can be killed at any time.
But each of us - the person within the body - lives on after the body dies. This is evidenced by the millions of clinical death cases over the past few decades - since modern medicine has been able to revive the body. After being revived, the person describes leaving the body, looking down upon it, and then observing things that could not be seen while the body laid dead with eyes closed on the hospital bed.
We can also see that we are not these physical bodies even in this lifetime. We can watch how our physical body changes over the years while we remain the same person. We can look at a picture of our body when it was a child and while we know we were there, that body is now gone - we wear a new body now. Scientists tell us that every molecule within the body is recycled within at least five years - and the molecules with the brain cells will recycle even faster.
This means that within five years we are wearing a completely different physical body. The entire body is made up of different molecules.
Yet each of us still remains "me." Who is the "me"? This is the person within - the entity who is operating this temporary physical body.
This might be compared to driving a car. Once the car breaks down, the driver gets out and walks away.
"But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him."
We are spiritual in essence. The living being within is of a spiritual nature - with a spiritual form from the dimension of the spiritual realm - a different dimension than the physical realm. This is why we cannot see the spirit-person with these physical eyes, nor can we otherwise sense or pick up the spirit-person with our physical instruments.
But the spirit-person is trapped within the confines of the physical world - trapped within a physical body. Why?
Because each of us was created by the Supreme Being as one of His loving servants and playmates. But because love requires freedom, God also gave us the freedom to love Him or not.
Those who decide to love God remain in the spiritual realm - engaged within their unique loving relationships with Him.
But those who decide not to love God become self-centered and thus seek to avoid the Supreme Being. This is symbolized by Adam and Eve eating the fruit and then hiding from God.
So the Supreme Being sent each of those who chose not to love Him - and became self-centered - to the physical world to play out our self-centered desires and avoid His existence. This is why God designed these physical bodies in such a way that they cannot see into the spiritual realm. Our bodies' eyes or physical minds cannot see God. This gives us the opportunity to ignore Him and even forget Him altogether.
And within the physical world, there are many different species of life - each physical bodies that house the various spirit-persons. This is hell - and the degree of hell relates to which species we occupy.
But within the human form of life, we each have the option of deciding to return to our relationship with God. We have the intelligence to remember Him and seek Him.
However, this consciousness must also be nurtured and given guidance. Because we have forgotten our relationship with God, we need the guidance of God and His representative - who comes to the physical world to guide us back to our relationship with God.
But Jesus is explaining that one can also be led astray if one is not careful. If a person begins the path towards renewing their relationship with God but becomes influenced by those who are not teaching the Truth, one can be easily taken off course - leading to a continued existence in the physical world (hell) away from the Supreme Being and our home in the spiritual realm.
This is what Jesus is warning his students against. He is warning them against accepting the teachings of the Pharisees - which can lead them astray.
But weren't the Pharisees also teaching about Moses and the other Prophets?
Certainly, we know that Jesus quoted Moses and the Prophets consistently, and his teachings did not contradict the Prophets' teachings. Even the "greatest commandment" to love God was a quote from Moses' teachings.
But the Pharisees were poisoning the well so to speak, because they were misinterpreting the teachings of the Prophets - and thus leading their followers astray. This is why Jesus told his students to avoid the "yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
This very same hypocrisy has in fact continued among many of the sectarian institutions that have taught in the name of Jesus over the centuries. These institutions have misinterpreted the teachings of Jesus and have done all sorts of criminal acts in his name. Over the centuries millions of people have been persecuted and even murdered (often by burning at the stake - a gruesome tortuous murder) by these sectarian institutions and their leaders. And today we see some sectarian institutions terrorizing others with violence in order to force their authority over overs. Are these institutions and their leaders really following Jesus - who asked his students to turn the other cheek in the face of adversaries?
Certainly not. Their objective has been to dominate society through their sectarian institutions. This is the desire for power. The desire to have authority over others. The desire to be in charge. The desire to be followed and respected by others. These sectarian institutions provide the opportunity for those who seek power and authority over others - as well as comfortable salaries and residences.
Is this any different than the desire to be a dictator of a country? No. In fact, desiring to be the spiritual teacher with many followers accomplishes this thirst for power more than many other positions - because it yields absolute authority over people's personal lives. A person who gains many followers through the means of a sectarian institution can order people around and have people serve their every demand - under threat they will go to hell otherwise.
And following such a teacher - whether it is a Pharisee from Jesus' time or a Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Reverend, Rabbi, Imam or Minister within one of today's sectarian institutions interested in gaining followers and having authority over others - will have the effect of ruining ones path back to their relationship with the Supreme Being.
If a person accepts a teacher who is pretending to be devoted to God but is really interested in using the Word of God to achieve a position of authority, then one will also be accepting this type of relationship with God: A relationship of usury and deception - which Jesus characterizes as "hypocrisy."
We can see this simply by the fact that many of these sectarian teachers - whether called Pharisee, Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Reverend, Rabbi, Imam or Minister - are earning salaries from their teaching positions. By earning a salary a person is accepting remuneration for what should be given voluntarily, in service and with love. If they are truly serving the Supreme Being they would oppose being given a salary. By accepting a salary, they are accepting an exchange for their service. They have made their teaching a business rather than a service to the Supreme Being.
These sectarian teachers also gain their positions through election by people. They are appointed by committees of people - whether it be a council of deacons or an assembly of cardinals. These appointments mean their authority was not given by the Supreme Being - it was given by people and their institutions. As such, these appointments can be manipulated through politics - by impressing the assembly through deception.
Also, such an appointment makes the teacher beholden to the assembly that appointed them. As a result, they must satisfy that assembly or face being removed from their position of authority.
In such a way, the teacher appointed or elected by assembly and being paid a salary - cannot serve the Supreme Being in their teachings. They cannot represent the Supreme Being. They can only represent the assemblies that appoint them, and their own thirst for authority gained through political undertaking.
And their teachings will reflect this. They will teach what pleases the assembly and pleases others rather than what pleases the Supreme Being. This poisons their teachings.
As such, their teachings are poison to their followers. They teach that we are these physical bodies and we will become happy by gaining wealth and health in the physical world. They teach that the physical family is all-important, and all we have to do is ask God for whatever we need and He will deliver it.
In other words, they teach that our relationship with God should be one where God serves us. That I am the most important person in my life and God's role is to help make my life more comfortable. If we get sick, they tell us to pray for health. If we want our football team to win, they tell us to pray for our team to win.
This poisons the follower's relationship with the Supreme Being. A person who sees the Supreme Being as their order-supplier - or their servant - is not going to redevelop their real relationship with the Supreme Being.
This is because our real relationship with the Supreme Being is that we are His servant. He is the center of the universe not me. Our position is that we become fulfilled when we serve Him and seek to please Him.
Jesus, in fact, illustrated this in his teachings:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)We can see from this statement that Jesus maintained his own loving service relationship with the Supreme Being - and sought to please God with his life.
And it is this relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being that empowered Jesus to guide his followers back to their own relationships with the Supreme Being.
Meanwhile, sectarian teachers often teach that Jesus is the only teacher. If Jesus is the only teacher, then why do they teach? Why do they give the big sermons and the Bible classes? Why do we need to listen to them if Jesus is the only teacher? They are merely cheating: hypocrisy.
Jesus himself sent his disciples out to teach. So not even Jesus accepted that he was the only teacher. The purpose of the spiritual teacher is to introduce their followers to the Supreme Being. If the teacher does not have a relationship with God how can they introduce them to God?
But if they are deceiving their followers - and simply pretending to represent God when they don't have a relationship with Him - then they will simply lead their followers astray - harming the follower's spiritual path back to the Supreme Being.
This is the warning of Jesus with his statement above. Not only is he clarifying our identity as spiritual not physical, but he is warning us against those who can lead us astray. Jesus also described this with regard to those who can lead us astray whilst claiming to teach and do 'works' in Jesus' name:
"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. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23)