"Lord, where are you going?" (John 13:36)This was prompted by Jesus' saying before that:
"My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come." (John 13:33)
Jesus is referring to the spiritual realm
Jesus is speaking to them about returning to the spiritual realm. This is confirmed as the statement Jesus refers to "as I told the Jews" was:
"I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come." This made the Jews ask, "Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, 'Where I go, you cannot come'? You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world." (John 8:21-23)So we know that Jesus is talking about leaving the physical world: "I am not of this world" is very clear. It is also very clear that Jesus is suggesting that the physical world is inferior to the spiritual realm when he says, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world."
We can thus see that not only is Jesus talking about leaving the physical world and going to the spiritual world, but that the physical world is inferior to the spiritual world, and the physical world is a place where "you will die in your sin."
Is it coincidental that Jesus will be crucified within days? No. The fact is, when Jesus was crucified, his physical body died. (But Jesus did not die.)
But what about Jesus' "rising from the dead"? This is the mantra of so many sectarian teachers who over the centuries have proclaimed that not only did Jesus die and then rise from the dead, but that this act in itself is cause for one's faith in Jesus.
It is as if they have to convince us that Jesus is special, and the way to do it is to show that he conquered death and "rose from the dead." This is often combined with the many miracles that Jesus performed, to prove that Jesus was special.
And what is the purpose of proving that Jesus was special? Why have ecclesiastical Christians put so much emphasis on Jesus' "rising from the dead" and doing all those miracles?
They proclaim that this proves that Jesus can "save" us.
But "save us" from what?
They typically say it is saving us from our sins. What does this mean? They say it means saving us from hell - the consequences of our sins.
In other words, they are preaching that the goal of life is to be saved from our sins and saved from going to hell because of our sins.
And while the fact that Jesus can save us from our sins and save us from going to hell is true, these are empty words as they come from most ecclesiastical sectarian teachers. They are like a shell without any substance. These words are meaningless without understanding the teachings of Jesus.
And it is a mistake to think that the goal of life is to not to go to hell. Jesus himself went to hell - to save us.
Yes, we are in hell already. We don't have to be afraid of going to hell. We are already there. Hell is that place where people suffer from pain, disease and death, with intermittent starvation, thirst, torture, imprisonment, hatred, war and other hellish situations.
Oh, but we don't feel that we are in hell now?
Is that because we can sit down at our computer or our TV and watch the suffering going on around us? Are we thinking that because we aren't feeling pain, starvation and disease right now we're not in hell? Are we thinking that just because we are not on the battlefields of Afghanistan, being blown up by the Syrian government or starving in the deserts of Somalia that we are not in hell?
Each of us who takes on a physical body is living in hell. The body itself is designed to feel pain. The body is designed to suffer from disease. The body is designed to die. And unless we so happen to be asleep or numbed by pain-killers - which is also a form of suffering - our bodies will die in pain.
There is also so much suffering in hell due to the selfishness of our fellow humans: Due to their desire for power they will commit suffering onto others. Add to this the suffering caused by other creatures like mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, snakes and so on. All of these scenarios are hellish, because we are in hell.
Some of us might be in a better form of hell than others. But we can see that everyone is suffering here. Even the richest movie stars and CEOs are dealing with their own forms of pain and suffering - whether it be from anxiety, insomnia, worries about their position and appearance or otherwise. No one is free from pain. Because this is hell.
So why are we in hell?
What did we do? As it is explained in the second book of Genesis (see The Meaning of Genesis for precise interpretation), we are here because we became envious of God. We wanted to be the center of attention. We wanted to enjoy as He enjoys. Rather than caring for Him and loving Him - which we were created for - we decided we would rather be like Him. This is the symbolism of Adam eating the forbidden fruit, and why God tossed Adam out of Eden (the spiritual realm).
Because real love requires freedom, the Supreme Being gave us the freedom to love Him or not. But for us who became jealous of Him, He created the physical world so that we can pretend to be the center of attention, and focus upon our self-centered enjoyment. So He created this temporary virtual environment where we could pretend to be someone we are not for a while. This is why the physical body dies and we leave it behind to decompose. We are not these physical bodies.
He also designed the physical world as a place of learning.
This is why there is suffering.
The suffering each physical body experiences is not the Supreme Being trying to make us suffer. These are the natural consequences of our own activities in the past. We might compare this to a computer game where every choice has a particular consequence, but at the end of the game we can turn off the computer and walk away. In the very same way, the world is full of consequences that serve to teach us permanent lessons, but at the moment of death we will each leave our body. In other words, the suffering of this world is virtual: It happens to our physical bodies, but not to us.
This also means that at the end of the day, hell is being engrossed in thinking that we are these physical bodies and this temporary virtual world is our home.
We are each spiritual in essence.
We originate from the spiritual realm. But if we choose not to retain the consciousness consistent with living within the spiritual realm we fall down to the physical world to battle it out with all the other envious living entities who have also fallen.
But at the end of the day, this physical world is also a place of learning. The Supreme Being has programmed this dimension to teach us various lessons, which are all geared towards raising our consciousness from one of being self-centered to learning how to love again and care again. The physical world is a rehabilitation center.
And for those who have learned enough to inquire about God and desire to return home, the Supreme Being sends his loving servants to teach us how to return home to His world - the spiritual realm where love is the basis of all activities and there is no enviousness.
But should we refuse the offer, we can stay here and wallow in our self-centered lives. And for the worst of us, we can even use His teachings to try to take advantage of others and gain authority over others.
This is why Jesus tells the Jewish priests that "you are from below." Not only are they suffering in hell, but their consciousness was no better than the other hellish creatures that live here: All focused on gaining authority, power and prestige within the physical world. Their mission was to maintain physical comfort while they commanded authority over others. Is this any different from government officials who bomb their citizens to stay in power? But worse, they used the teachings of Moses and other prophets to take advantage of others.
While the Jewish priests may not have been killing civilians, their thirst to maintain power was responsible for Jesus' body being murdered. Indeed, they were from "below," just like the many ecclesiastical sectarian teachers over the centuries and even today who use organized religion to take advantage of others and serve their self-centered goals.
So where is Jesus from?
Where is "above"? And where was he going that Simon Peter could only follow him "later"? And what about Jesus' "rising from the dead"?
The reality is that Jesus left his physical body when it was murdered on the cross. We know that he left his physical body because later when he appeared to his disciples they did not recognize him. This is stated variously in all four gospels, such as:
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. (Mark 16:12)"In a different form" means he wasn't in his physical body.
"Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him." (Luke 24:15-16)Why couldn't they recognize him if he was "risen" in his physical body? They knew what his physical body looked like. These and other verses indicate that Jesus' "rising" was not his physical body coming back to life. It was his spiritual self rising from a temporary physical body.
In other words, Jesus left his physical body, and prior to returning to the spiritual realm he was able to become visible (and disappear) at will in order to continue teaching and preparing his disciples.
The point of this is what Jesus was teaching. Jesus didn't make a grand appearance to all of the Romans and Jewish priests to prove that he was special. If proving that Jesus was special was the point then Jesus would have appeared on top of the Jewish temple for everyone to see that he was special and could save them.
But he only appeared to a few of his key disciples. Why? Was he not interested in proving to everyone that he was special?
Jesus' mission was not proving that he was special
He didn't come down to hell in order to die on the cross and then "rise" in order for people to make some ritual in order to feel cleansed of the consequences of their sins.
Jesus came to teach us something. The Supreme Being sent Jesus to teach us something:
"My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me." (John 7:16)And all of the other things - all of Jesus' miracles, and his appearing to his disciples after his body died and everything else about his life - was centered around underscoring the importance of his teachings.
And it is his teachings that can save us. It is his teachings that have the power to not just cleanse our sins, but cleanse our consciousness so that we are no longer sinful (self-centered). It is his teachings that can lift us up from this hellish world and bring us back to the spiritual realm, so we can "follow later" as Simon Peter did.
And what were Jesus' teachings? What is the sum and substance of his teachings?
"'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)So the goal is not to be cleansed from our sins. The goal is to love the Supreme Being. Wanting to be cleansed is a self-centered goal - diametrically opposed to loving the Supreme Being. Yet it is loving the Supreme Being that happens to also raise our consciousness and cleanse our sinful behavior. And loving God means returning to God. It means that while we are within this physical body we can serve Him and please Him, and once we leave this physical body we can return to Him by following Jesus.
But no matter where we might be and no matter whether we are cleansed or not, loving God and lovingly serving God is the goal, and the sum and substance of Jesus' teachings.