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He who has ears to hear
by Rev. Howard Ray Carey

 On one occasion Jesus is reported to have said to His hearers: ''You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me.'' (John 5:39) 

Thus is the Christ ever directing us beyond the printed word to the living word, or source of light and love-wisdom. And just as the scriptures bear witness to the Christ, so do they bear witness to the important truth of rebirth or reincarnation. It appears that Jesus was both teaching and emphasizing this truth when He said concerning John the Baptist: ''All the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.''  Then to add emphasis and help us to really zero in on His meaning, He added: ''He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'' (Matt. 11:13-15)

This emphatic declaration as to John the Baptist being a reincarnation of Elijah is restated in different form in the 17th chapter of the gospel according to Matthew. Jesus had taken Peter, James and John, the most advanced of His disciples, up on a high mountain, meaning a high level of consciousness. There He was transfigured before them in what seems to be a brief and symbolical portrayal of the third initiation. On the way back down the mountain (or coming back to a more usual level of consciousness) these disciples asked him: ''Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come? He replied, 'Elijah does come, and is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.' Then the disciples understood that He was speaking to them of John the Baptist.'' (Matt. 17:10-13)

These seem to be the most pointed Bible references where we find the Christ (through Jesus) strongly affirming and emphasizing this teaching of rebirth. But there are additional scriptural passages which seem to refer directly or indirectly to this matter. For instance, turning to Job 19:26-7 (King James version) we find this interesting statement attributed to Job: ''After my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.'' Now it is true that other translations differ and seem to convey other meanings. However, the whole book of Job ---- according to the most perceptive Bible scholars ---- is an epic drama portraying the severe tests encountered, leading up to initiation, and the great changes in consciousness brought about through this whole process of initiation. This would indicate that the author of this drama of Job had some real understanding of the Ageless Wisdom, and it seems fair to assume that he might well have made essentially such a statement as that attributed above to Job.

Again, in the so-called wisdom teachings of the Old Testament, in Proverbs 8:22 and following verses, we find this inspiring message: ''The Lord created me at the beginning of his work... Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth; ...when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit...then I was beside him...rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world, and delighting in the sons of men.''

More often than not this is ascribed to the abstract principle of wisdom. However, it was an individual doing this writing, making these observations. So he might very well have been referring back to a very early incarnation. Let us recall that the Ageless Wisdom tells us that, in some cases at least, our first experience as human beings goes back to the moon chain, before our earth life. At any rate we need to realize that in our own series of lives, wisdom is increasingly beckoning to us, and has been seeking to alert us to truth for many incarnations.

Turning again to the New Testament, Rev. 3:12, we find: ''Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall no more go out.'' Does this not refer to that future time when we will have worked through all our problems and will not need to go out into more incarnations in order to further our progress?

I must confess that there was a time earlier in this present life when I blandly assumed that at least some persons might attain to this high pinnacle in one short life. But I had serious doubts about my own ability to make it. In those days I had no conscious understanding of reincarnation. So when I read Jesus' startling statement in Matt. 5:48:''You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect,''  I was deeply troubled by what seemed to be an unreasonable demand; something impossible of attainment. Now I realize that He was referring indirectly to rebirth, so that we have whatever number of lives we need to achieve that high standard of perfection.

Looking to the Bible some people, it seems, are distressed to find that Jesus did not give us, through the gospels, more direct instruction on this important subject of rebirth. But from remarks I often hear, it seems that many people believe that He did give us more on the subject, and that it was deleted from the Bible at that famous, or infamous, church council meeting at Constantinople in 553 A.D.

Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, in their well researched book, Reincarnation, the Phoenix Fire Mystery, throw a quite different light on what happened there. Backed up by thorough historical research, they affirm that what that council did was not to change the Bible in any way, but rather to decree that the teaching of pre-existence was anathema. This curse or anathema was pronounced against the teachings of the earlier church father, Origen, who had been about the foremost teacher of reincarnation in the early church. This had the effect of making it against church doctrine to teach pre-existence or reincarnation in the church from this time on. (For further information on this see the section on pp. 156-160 in The Phoenix Fire Mystery.)

But this curse or anathema has not stopped entirely the teachings of this important subject in Christianity. From time to time courageous leaders have come forth to express their thoughts on this matter. Among the more recent of these are the late Albert Schweitzer of Europe and Africa, and the late Leslie Weatherhead of England. ''Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again,'' as has so well been said. Is this why Head and Cranston call reincarnation the 'Phoenix Fire Mystery'?

Turning again to the question of why Jesus did not give more attention in His teaching to this matter of rebirth, the most obvious reason is that there did not appear to be the need for such emphasis, because it was so widely accepted among the people of that time and place. Let me quote some evidence in support of this thesis.

In the 16th chapter of Matthew we read where on a certain occasion Jesus asked His disciples what people thought of His identity. They replied that some thought him to be Elijah, some Jeremiah, or one of the other ancient prophets. This clearly indicates a widespread belief among the populace in the doctrine of reincarnation. Likewise in John 1:21 we find that the religious leaders of the time inquired of John the Baptist whether he was Elijah or 'the prophet' (referred to in Deut. 18:15). Does this not indicate that the religious leaders of the time also believed in rebirth?

Further, in the ninth chapter of John we find Jesus and His disciples encountering a man ''blind from his birth.'' Whereupon the disciples inquired of Jesus: ''Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'' Obviously they would not have asked such a question unless they believed that the man born blind had lived before, and now might be meeting the karma or result of sin in a previous life or lives.

So, in these three examples we find evidence that both the general populace, the religious leaders of the time, and also Jesus' disciples had some belief in rebirth. Small wonder then, that Christ at that time chose to give His main emphasis to more pressing matters. The greatest of these major teachings was, as we can see, real love of the Soul level; God's unswerving love to us, and the importance of our loving God with all our heart, Soul, mind, and strength; and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Another urgent emphasis of His was the importance of the individual (or Soul). He took great pains to raise the importance of those previously neglected persons ---- women and children. It is interesting to note that, in the Christ's Messages, He calls attention to His own earlier incarnations by reminding us that He has been with us many times before, and He adds: ''Try to accept that your Brother of Old is among you.'' In the wisdom teachings that the Master DK has given us through Alice A. Bailey, we are assured that this time around, during the Aquarian Age, the Christ will definitely teach reincarnation.

In the meantime, as we look to the Bible with reference to this matter, let us be grateful for the few clear affirmations on rebirth we find there, plus all the other references which clearly indicate how well those people at that time accepted these important truths. (Do we realize that many of us may well have been numbered among them in an earlier incarnation of our Soul?)

So we may well inquire: do we in our Western world at this time have some catching up to do? Surely it is so in this and many other important and basic truths! So if we have ears to hear, let us hear the Christ in His great love and wisdom calling us now into deeper partnership with Him. Not only that we may better understand these laws of rebirth and cause and effect, but that we may be fully involved in His cause ---- the cause of love and justice, sharing and brotherhood.

We sense the urgency as we realize that this cause involves both the survival of life on this planet earth, and also the lifting of that life into ever more beautiful and meaningful expression; as we go on from our present to higher levels of consciousness; and as we pass on from our present incarnation to the more glorious lives ahead of each of us; and humanity as a whole.


This article is a chapter from The Joy of Christ's Coming This book by the late Rev. Howard Ray Carey was published by Share International Foundation in 1988. It is not currently available in hard copy form. Copyright Share International Foundation.  Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard version unless otherwise indicated. 


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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005