if you want to experience what he meant
saying- 82; teacher and teachings are one.
(latest update: 18-12-2018)
He who is near me is near the fire,
and he who is far from me
is far from the kingdom.
Perhaps far away from any village, one of Jesus' itinerant followers
might, in the cold of night, have sighted the wish for a homely fire.
Jesus transposes the nocturnal lack of warmth with the comfort that the
real fire is the kingdom, not the luxury of the world.
The saying should not be taken as Jesus emphasizing any personal importance. There
are several examples in Thomas about Jesus denouncing the idea that he as a person would
constitute a means to find the kingdom; that was something the gospel writers and Paul made
of him, probably to underline Jesus’ importance to them, expressed in terms that were both
religiously and historically appealing. Borg (2006) notices that all three synoptic gospels state
that Jesus is the Son of God, “but they do not present this as part of his message.
….[this] became part of their (the disciples‘) proclamation only after Eastern”. Borg argues
that the gospels combine memory, testimony, and metaphor. Jesus points at the Way, and
does not promulgate himself to be the Way, let alone the raging fire destroying infidels at
the end-time. (See also saying-10)
Conspicuously, Jesus uses two metaphors or symbols for the Divine, (fire and kingdom)
where he could have used the word God or referred to Him more directly.
The fact that he didn't, cannot be but willfully. Therefore, I can't agree with a conclusion like
that of Hedrick (2010), stating that Jesus makes a claim to a close relationship with the Father,
similar to the statements in the Gospel of John. Father is a term used in the 'devotional'
sphere of the Hebrew religion, whereas Jesus' message concerns the sphere of 'experiencing',
'directly knowing', without naming what cannot be named, and where he uses conventional
naming of the Divine, he applied the practice of expedient means, without referring to the
Hebrew Deity at all.
A teacher's identification with his message, without any aim to underline personal importance,
can be found in other traditions as well. Borg (1997) quotes from the Itivuttaka 3.5.3, where the
Buddha says that if a monk is: composed, calm, mindful and restraint in sense - then indeed
that one is near to me and I am near to him. What is the cause of that? Monks, that monk
sees dharma (meaning: he understands the teachings). Seeing the dharma he sees me.