"For I gave them the words You gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me." (John 17:8)

Here Jesus is continuing his open prayer to the Supreme Being in front of disciples after what is considered the 'last supper.'

Jesus is clarifying his role and identity here. He is clearly putting himself in the position as God's servant and messenger.

Here, "words" is being translated from the Greek term ῥῆμα (rhēma), which means "what one has said" and "subject matter of speech, thing spoken of." This relates to Jesus' teachings.

"I gave them the words You gave me" is precisely what a messenger does. He passes on the exact message that he has been given to pass on.

This illustrates that the teachings of Jesus did not originate with Jesus. If they did, Jesus would not be saying "I gave them the words You gave me."

The word "gave" here is taken from the Greek word δίδωμι (didōmi), which indicates not only something being given, but a gift - "of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage - to bestow a gift."

This indicates that Jesus considers the "word" - his teachings - as a gift. A gift that he has been given by God, and a gift that he has passed on to his students.

This is the traditional role of teacher. Jesus was not inventing the teachings he gave to his students. He took on the role of teacher, which is a role that passes on knowledge given to others.

This is why Jesus often quoted those teachers who came before him, including Isaiah, Moses, David and others.

And Jesus did not solely take on this role - as many in ecclesiastical sectarian institutions like to portray. Here Jesus clearly states, "and they accepted them."

This means that not only did Jesus receive those teachings and pass them on. But Jesus' students also received those teachings.

Jesus is clearly instructing his students to pass on the teachings that Jesus has taught them. How do we know this?

Consider this instruction Jesus gave his students:
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' ... Freely you have received; freely give." (Matt. 10:5-8)
We also know that this instruction passes on what Jesus had taught and also what Jesus' teacher John the Baptist taught. How do we know this?
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matt. 3:1-2)
Then, after John became imprisoned, Jesus began teaching the same message:
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. (Matt. 4:12)
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matt. 4:17)
This phrase in Greek - μετανοεῖτε ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν - certainly did not encompass all of Jesus' teachings. This is obvious, as there are so many verses in the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John detailing Jesus' teachings.

Rather, this phrase - μετανοεῖτε ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν - summarizes the teachings that Jesus had received and was passing to his students - and then asking his students to pass along to others.

What does it mean then?

The word "repent" taken from μετανοέω (metanoeō) relates to change - "to change one's mind for better" according to the lexicon. But to the word "change" relates also to changing ones activities - which goes beyond just changing the mind. This means, basically, to have a change of heart.

The concept of "the kingdom of heaven has come near" or "the kingdom of heaven is near" as translated in other Biblical versions, does not relate to the end of the world as promoted by ecclesiastical sectarian teachers and the many fanatics that like to walk the streets proclaiming the end of the world is at hand.

The word "near" is being translated from the Greek word ἐγγίζω (eggizō) which means "to bring near, to join one thing to another;" and "to draw or come near to, to approach" according to the lexicon.

This has nothing to do with time, as in "the time is near." It is solely a word indicating closeness in distance.

So John, Jesus and Jesus' students were preaching that the kingdom of heaven is close by? Yes.

But what does that have to do with Jesus' teachings?

Jesus' teachings promoted loving God and doing to the will of God - serving God:
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matt. 12:50)
"Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:35)
"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)
And this service certainly comes from a place of love:
" '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)
So how does a person come to know and love God? Through the teachings that were being passed on by John, Jesus and Jesus' students.

In other words, they were introducing people to God. They were teachings about God - praising God's glories - and these teachings, once people heard them - had the power to change people's hearts. Why? Because they were coming from God.

The Supreme Being is here. God is not locked away in heaven and cannot be with us. Quite the contrary, the Supreme Being is not bound by physical space and time. God is next to each and every one of us at every moment. All we have to do is turn to Him and He is there for us.

Why can't we see Him then? Because we don't want to see Him. We want to chase around our self-centered goals. We want to find happiness for ourselves. We want pleasure. We want people to love us and praise us.

We don't want to praise someone else. We want others to praise us.

Yet regardless of how much praise we get and how much physical pleasures we receive we are never happy. We are never fulfilled by them. We can see this not only in our own lives with what we have or have had, but in others - such as movie stars, rock stars, politicians, and wealthy businessmen. They all have had the ultimate in receiving praise from others, along with all the money and pleasure they could ever want. Yet they remain unfulfilled. Many will try to numb themselves in drugs and drinking - and some have even committed suicide. Or at the very least, they look for their happiness elsewhere - such as having a family.

These illustrate that receiving praise or physical pleasure brings no fulfillment. They bring no happiness. And even having a big family does not fulfill us. It only brings pain as our family members get sick and eventually die or otherwise leave us - or we leave them first. Even this most sacred part of our society is temporary and therefore unfulfilling.

These simply indicate - as does the science - that we are not these physical bodies. We are spiritual beings - spirit-persons. These physical bodies are simply temporary vehicles. They are born, they get old and then they die. And once they die, they decompose.

We are merely possessing our physical body. It is like a car we drive. It is not us.

Therefore, anything we bathe our body in - whether it is praise or physical pleasure - does not touch us. It is like a person bringing their car to the carwash. The carwash will clean up the outside of the car, shine it up and make it sparkle. But all that soap and water will not touch the driver inside the car. The driver might be stinky and sweaty from a workout or a hard day's work as he takes the car to the carwash. But the carwash will not remove his stink. This is because the driver is not the car. The driver is possessing the car. The driver is driving the car.

In the same way, we are driving this physical body. It is a vehicle. We - the spirit-person - is sitting within the body directing it to go get that or do this. And when that body gets pleasure or praise - it doesn't touch us.

This is because we are of a spiritual essence. We are not physical. Many take this to mean we are floating around like smoke or a cloud. No. The spiritual realm is a real place. In fact it is a place that is even more real than the physical world we see with our physical eyes.

The spiritual realm is a real place with countless people, and each person has a form and unique identity.

We might compare this to a boy who plays a video game for hours and hours every day and loses touch with reality. The boy starts feeling that the video game is more real than the life outside the computer. The boy begins to identify with his computer game icon and begins to forget the physical reality around him. But when he turns off the computer and gets up from the chair, he will see another reality.

The fact is, we are currently blind to our spiritual selves. We cannot see them. We have lost touch with them. Like the boy playing a video game, we have become so immersed in this physical identity - like the boy who begins to identify with his video game icon - we have forgotten our spiritual identity.

Why? Because our spiritual identity is linked with the Supreme Being. We are connected to Him. We are His loving servants.

Again we could compare this to the boy playing the video game. The video game might be an action hero game - maybe he is a warrior leading a big army. While in the game the boy completely forgets his identity. Why? Because he wants to forget his identity, because his identity is connected with his duties as the teenage son of a mother and father. As soon as he turns off the computer, his mother will be telling him to wash his hands for dinner, or his father will be telling him to go out and rake the yard.

So the reason the boy wants to get lost in the video game is because he wants to avoid his identity as the subservient son of a mother and father. He has no control in the house - no position of authority. But wanting some control and authority, he finds a video game to get lost in - a video game that puts him in a temporary position of authority.

This is precisely our situation. We don't want to be in a subservient position. We don't want to be God's servant. We want to be in a position of authority. We want to be the boss. At the very least, we want to be free from our subservient position. We don't want to do someone else's will. We want to do our own will.

Thus we have been given - by God's gracious design - such a world where we could become immersed in a false identity in order to avoid our real identity as God's subservient child. In this false identity we can pretend we are the boss of someone - whether it be those we work with or those we live with - even though most will never admit we are the boss of them. In other words, our really being the boss of someone is an illusion.

But what John, Jesus and Jesus' disciples have been sent to teach is that we can at any time change our hearts and minds, and should we do this, we can immediately become realized in our spiritual identity. We can immediately have access to our spiritual selves - and thus the Supreme Being, because we are each connected with Him as His (now forgetful) servants.

The tricky thing here is that should we leave behind our desire to be praised, and our desires for self-centered pleasure, we can achieve true fulfillment. This is because by nature each of us is a giver - not a taker. We are servants by nature.

A small glimpse of this can be seen when a famous movie star or business tycoon is not satisfied with their fame or wealth - but they achieve some fulfillment when they use that money or position to help others. When they are helping others - serving others - they become more fulfilled than when they are praised and admired or partake in the physical parts of their achievements. This is because they are by nature servants - just as we all are.

This is also the basis for the saying that "giving is better than receiving." Practically anyone can experience this during a gift-giving occasion. We feel better when we give a gift than when we get one.

That is because this is part of our identity. Should we embrace this identity we will begin to unfold our spiritual identity, and our subservient relationship with God. This may take some time, however. It will require a complete change of heart from being self-centered, and this typically takes some time.

Many envision a "being saved" moment where they might have some realization - but this is not the same because "being saved" is a self-centered emotion. It is about avoiding hell or responsibility for our past behavior. This has nothing to do with the change of heart John, Jesus and Jesus' students referred to with the word "repent" - such a change of heart comes only with dedication and effort over a period of time.

This also means we have to discard all the philosophies based upon "love yourself" and "feel good about yourself." These only move us in the opposite direction. These all make us more self-centered - self-focused. These have nothing to do with spiritual life.

The key is to hear and learn from those who have become God-centered. Those who are using their lives not to please themselves, but to please the Supreme Being. This is why Jesus also prayed:
"Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
Jesus is focused upon doing God's will. He is putting himself in a subservient mode. This means he realizes his identity is related to being one of God's loving servants.

As soon as any of us realize our position as God's servant - we have a change of heart or "repent" - we will be able to know who we are in relation to God. We will be able to understand our spiritual form and our service to Him.

Thus we can say that this spiritual realization - the "kingdom of heaven" is close. It is near. This is the meaning of the teaching "the kingdom of heaven is near." This statement is therefore a summary of Jesus teachings that has become lost to ecclesiastical sectarian institutions. It's meaning has become shrouded by those institutions, because they broke the cardinal rule instituted by Jesus as quoted above:
"Freely you have received; freely give."
Jesus was not paid to teach. Neither was his teacher John. Neither was his disciples. Why not? Because this is God's will. Teaching about God is not a paid position. And receiving a salary for teaching about God is offensive to God. Yet ecclesiastical sectarian teachers today not only pay for their seminary education, but they are paid to teach. So their motto is:

"You have paid to receive, now charge to give."

This function - of paying to receive and being paid to give - is rooted in self-centeredness. Service is the opposite of indenture. If a person is paid to do their service then the service is not voluntary. It is indentured. It is dependent upon being paid.

Service means not only giving freely, but also giving even when it becomes difficult to give. Even when there is a hardship. This is service.

This concept of service is confirmed directly by Jesus in this verse within his open prayer to God:
"They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me."
The "they" here is obvious - it is Jesus' students: the same "they" as referred in "they accepted them" - "them" being Jesus' teachings, as indicated with "the words You gave me."

Ecclesiastical sectarian teachers like to twist the phrase "that I cam from You" into Jesus' being God, but this contradicts the other parts of Jesus' statement, including "You gave me" and "You sent me."

When a messenger is sent by someone - say Tom - what do we say? We say "the messenger came from Tom." This does not mean the messenger magically appeared from Tom's body. We may also say, "Tom sent them." This confirms the messenger was a separate person from Tom. But they are connected because they are passing along the message Tom gave them to pass along.

This also means the messenger is subservient to Tom. Tom engaged them to send the message. They are connected by that message and the service of the messenger delivering the message.

This is Jesus' role. Jesus is subservient to the Supreme Being. He is the perfect loving servant of God, and he passed along God's message with perfection.

And what was the message? That the kingdom of heaven - and thereby God - is close to us. We can turn to Him at any moment and realize our position as His child and servant. And we can love Him. We can depend upon Him. We can praise His Holy Names. We can give our hearts and our lives to Him and be fulfilled without even trying to become fulfilled.



(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of John without sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus  - translated from the original Greek texts.)