Mystery of Golgotha

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Crucifixion, Michelangelo 1540

The Mystery of Golgotha, which took place with the crucifixion, the death on the cross, the burial, the descent into hell and the resurrection of Christ, is the central event of the entire development of the Earth and of humanity. With it, the actual birth of the human I took place.

„Without the Mystery of Golgotha, sibylism, which is connected with the elementary forces of the Earth, which work in the subconscious of the soul and push themselves out in a passionate way, would have triumphed over the conscious I-forces, would have pushed back the I-forces. The I would have been lost to the development of humanity. As a force we see the Christ-impulse working in the course of humanity, even without human consciousness having taken it up.“ (Lit.:GA 152, p. 97)

The crucifixion of Christ on 3 April 33

Main article: Crucifixion

Rudolf Steiner's spiritual research confirms that the death of Christ on the cross actually took place on Friday, April 3, 33, at the ninth hour, that is, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, according to the Julian calendar:

„On a Friday, the 3rd of April of the year 33, three o'clock in the afternoon, the Mystery of Golgotha took place. And there also took place the birth of the I in the sense in which we have often characterised it. And it is quite indifferent on which point of the Earth the human being lives, or to which religious confession he belongs, that which came into the world through the Mystery of Golgotha applies to all human beings. Just as it is true for all the world that Caesar died on a certain day, and not another day for the Chinese and yet another day for the Indians, so it is a simple fact of occult life that the Mystery of Golgotha took place on that day and that one has to do there with the birth of the I. This is a fact of a quite international kind. This is a fact of a quite international kind.“ (Lit.:GA 143, p. 163)

The Mystery of Golgotha as a mystical fact

The actual significance of the Mystery of Golgotha lies not in the external events but in their spiritual backgrounds. It must be grasped as a supersensible mystical fact. Rudolf Steiner already pointed this out in his fundamental writing "Christianity as Mystical Fact and the Mysteries of Antiquity".

„Only when we have the ideas, the concepts, which lead into the supersensible, can we also understand the Mystery of Golgotha, which is precisely an event that has to do with the supersensible, not with the sensuous world. What took place in the sensuous world of the Mystery of Golgotha is only the outer reflection.“ (Lit.:GA 198, p. 243)

Through death on Golgotha, the Christ united himself with the Earth and thereby gave it its meaning.

„Just as life is inaccessible to human knowledge, so is this the case with death towards the true knowledge which is attained in the supersensible worlds. In the whole realm of the supersensible worlds there is no death. One can only die on earth, in the physical world or in the worlds which resemble our Earth in their development, and all the beings who are hierarchically higher than man have no knowledge of death, they only know different states of consciousness. Their consciousness can temporarily be so lowered that it is similar to our earthly state of sleep, but it can wake up again from this sleep. There is no death in the spiritual world, there are only changes of consciousness there, and the greatest fear that man has, the fear of death, cannot be felt by one who has ascended to the supersensible worlds after death. There is therefore no death for beings belonging to the higher Hierarchies, with only one exception, that of the Christ. But in order that a supersensible being like the Christ might pass through death, he had first to descend to Earth. And this is what is of such immeasurable importance in the Mystery of Golgotha, that a being which in its own realm could never have experienced death in the sphere of its will, had to descend to Earth in order to undergo an experience peculiar to man, namely, to experience death. A being, unique in its kind, which until then had only been cosmic, united itself with earth evolution through the Mystery of Golgotha, through the death of the Christ. Since then it has lived on Earth in such a way, is so bound to Earth, that it lives in the souls of men on Earth and experiences life on Earth with them. Therefore, the whole time before the Mystery of Golgotha was only a time of preparation in the evolution of the earth. The Mystery of Golgotha gave the Earth its meaning. When the Mystery of Golgotha took place, the earthly body of Jesus of Nazareth was given over to the elements of the Earth, and from that time the Christ was connected with the spiritual sphere of the Earth and lives in it.“ (Lit.:GA 152, p. 39f)

Overcoming the consequences of the Fall

Only through the act of Christ could the consequences of the Fall for man and for the whole Earth be overcome:

„It is, then, what has happened through the Mystery of Golgotha, a gods' matter by which a compensation has been made for a matter of Lucifer. It is the only divine affair that has taken place before the eyes of men.“ (Lit.:GA 143, p. 191)

The Mystery of Golgotha, as a mystical fact, has happened for all men, whether they know of the Christ or consciously confess Him.

„A time will come when he who is a follower of the Chinese, the Buddhist, the Brahmanical religion, will find it as much against his religion to accept the Mystery of Golgotha as he finds it against his religion to accept the Copernican World System. And it will be regarded as a kind of religious egoism if the non-Christian religions refuse to accept this fact. The fact which has just now been asserted by the Mystery of Golgotha has nothing to do with any denominational Christ, but is an objective occult fact. Just as no one can forbid the teaching of the Copernican worldview because it is not contained in the ancient Indian religious books, so no one can forbid the teaching of the fact of the Mystery of Golgotha for the reason that it is not contained in the religious books of the ancient Indians.“ (Lit.:GA 140, p. 22f)

However, the fact that the Mystery of Golgotha has happened and has left its effects does not yet secure the future of humanity. In the future, more and more will depend on people placing themselves in a completely individual conscious relationship with the Christ, completely independent of any confession of faith. What the Christ is able to give by grace only becomes effective in its full power when people prepare themselves to receive his gift.

„Just as in the region of the human heart there is a continual transformation of blood into etheric substance, so a similar process takes place in the macrocosm. We understand this when we turn our eye to the Mystery of Golgotha and to that moment when the blood of the Christ Jesus flowed from the wounds. This blood must not be regarded merely as a chemical substance, but by all that has been described as the nature of Jesus of Nazareth, it is something very special. And in that it flowed out and flowed into the Earth, a substance was given to our Earth which, in uniting itself with the Earth, was an event that is a most significant one for all subsequent times of the Earth, and which could also only occur once. What happened to this blood in the following times? Nothing different from what usually happens in the human heart. In the course of earth evolution, this blood underwent a process of etherisation. And just as our blood flows upwards from the heart as ether, so the etherised blood of the Christ Jesus has lived in the earth ether since the Mystery of Golgotha. The etheric body of the Earth is permeated by what has become of the blood that flowed on Golgotha; and that is important. If that had not happened, which happened through the Christ Jesus, then only that would be the case with the people on Earth which has been described before. Since the Mystery of Golgotha, however, there has been a continual possibility of the etheric blood of the Christ flowing in these currents from below to above.

Because the etheric blood of Jesus of Nazareth is in the Earth's etheric body, the etheric blood of this Jesus of Nazareth flows with the etheric blood of man, which flows from below upwards, from the heart to the brain, so that not only does what has been described above come together in man, but the actual human blood current and the blood current of the Christ Jesus come together. But a connection between these two currents can only come about if the human being has the right understanding of what is contained in the Christ-impulse. Otherwise no connection can come about, otherwise the two currents will repel each other, colliding just as they have collided. We can only acquire understanding if in each age of earthly development we acquire this understanding in the way it is adapted to that age. At the time when the Christ Jesus lived on Earth, those who came to his forerunner John and were baptised by the formula expressed in the Gospel were able to understand the forthcoming fact. They received baptism in order to change the sin, that is, the karma of their previous lives, which had come to an end, and in order to recognise that the most important impulse of earthly evolution would now descend into a physical body. But the evolution of humanity is progressing, and for our present time it is important that man should learn to realise that he must receive spiritual-scientific knowledge and gradually so fire that which flows from the heart to the brain that it will meet Anthroposophy with understanding. The result will be that he will be able to receive that which begins to intervene from the twentieth century onwards: that is, opposite the physical Christ of Palestine, the etheric Christ.

For we have reached that point in time when the etheric Christ intervenes in earthly life and first becomes visible to a small number of people as in a natural clairvoyance. Then in the next three thousand years he will become visible to more and more people. That must come, that is a natural event.“ (Lit.:GA 130, p. 92f)

Significance for the Future Development of the Earth and Humanity

With the Mystery of Golgotha a completely new development was initiated, through which for the first time the fruits of what was conquered in the physical world can be carried up into the spiritual world:

„That is the significant thing about it, that one can now take treasures from the physical plan over into the spiritual world. Since then it has become brighter and brighter on the spiritual plane. Everything that existed in the physical world had sprouted from the spiritual world. When one passed from the physical world into the spiritual world, one could say: Here lie the causes of everything; and over there in the physical world is only that which has sprouted from the spiritual world. There are only the effects, there is only the reflection from the spiritual world. - If, since the event of Golgotha, one goes from the physical world into the spiritual world, then one says to oneself: Causes also lie in the physical world, and what is experienced through the event of Golgotha on the physical plane works its way over into the spiritual world.

It will be more and more like this: everything old, which is the effect of the old gods, will die away, and what will blossom, what will live into the future, these are the effects of the God of the future. That will live over into the spiritual world. It is like when you look at a new plant germ and say to yourself: Of course, it has come out of an old plant. The old leaves and blossoms have fallen off and disappeared, and now the new plant germ is there, which will develop into a new plant and a new blossom. So we too live in a world where leaves and blossoms fall off and gods germs are there. - And more and more the new fruit, the Christ-fruit, unfolds and everything else will fall away. What is conquered and worked out here in the physical world will be of value for the future insofar as it is carried into the spiritual world, and before our spiritual eye a world will arise in the future that has its roots in the physical, just as our world once had its roots in the spiritual world. As men are the sons of the gods, so out of what men experience in the physical world through the elevation to the events of Golgotha, the body is formed of the new future gods, whose leader is the Christ. Thus the old worlds live over into the new worlds in that the old dies away completely and the new sprouts and springs from the old. This, however, could only occur for mankind by humanity being so far mature that it unfolded a blossom of that spiritual entity which was to become the God of the future.“ (Lit.:GA 108, p. 138f)

First impulse for the Earth to become a Sun

„But every physical event has for its counterpart a spiritual event. In the same measure as the blood flowed from the wounds on Golgotha, something spiritual happened. It happened at that moment that for the first time rays went out from the Earth into the world-space which had not gone out before, so that we, created at that moment, think of rays from the Earth into the world-space. The Earth became darker and darker as time progressed until the event of Golgotha. Now the blood flows on Golgotha, and the Earth begins to shine! If, in pre-Christian times, any being - at first with clairvoyant power - had been able to look down on the earth from a distant worldly body, it would have seen how the earth's aura gradually glowed and became darkest in the time that preceded the event of Golgotha. But then it would have seen how the aura of the Earth shone forth in new colours. The deed of Golgotha imbued the Earth with an astral light which would gradually become the etheric and then the physical light. For every being in the world continues to evolve. What is now the Sun was first a planet. And as Old Saturn developed into the Sun, so our Earth, which is now Planet, is developing into the Sun. The first impulse for our Earth to become the Sun was given at that time when the blood flowed from the wounds of the Saviour on Golgotha. Then the Earth began to shine, at first astrally, that is, only visible to the clairvoyant. But in the future the astral light will become physical light, and the Earth will become a luminous body, a solar body.

I have told you before that a world-body does not come into being through physical matter assembling itself, but through a new spiritual centre, a new arena, being created from a spiritual being. The formation of a world body begins from the spiritual. Every physical world body was first spirit. That which will one day become our Earth is first of all the auric-astral, which began to radiate here from the Earth. This is the first plant of the future Sun-Earth. But what a human being would have seen at that time with his deceptive senses is a mirage. That is no truth at all; it dissolves, it ceases to be. The more the Earth becomes the Sun, the more this Maya burns up in the fire of the Sun, dissolves in it.

But because at that time the Earth was irradiated by a new power, because the foundation was laid for the Earth's becoming sunny, the possibility was given that this power might also irradiate human beings. The first impulse was given to what I described yesterday: the radiation of the Christ-power into the etheric human body. And through that which could radiate astrally into it, this etheric human body could begin to absorb new life-force, as it needs it for the later future.“ (Lit.:GA 112, p. 247f)

Effect on the human etheric body

„At that time, when the Christ-impulse came, the Earth was still in such a state that it could no longer radiate anything from itself into the etheric bodies of men. For a time afterwards, however, the etheric bodies of those people who had found a relationship to the Christ Impulse were radiated through, they absorbed into themselves, when they understood the Christ, the radiant power that has since been in the Earth, the new luminosity of the Earth. They have received the Christ-light in their etheric bodies! The Christ-light flows into the etheric bodies of men [...].

Since that time the possibility has been given in the etheric bodies of men that something new may appear in them, as it were, as an effect of the Christ-light, something which breathes life, which is immortal, which can never fall into death. But if it does not succumb to death, it will be saved from death as long as the human being on Earth still succumbs to the illusion of death, it will not participate in death. Since that time, therefore, there has been something in the etheric body of man which does not undergo death, which does not fall prey to the dying forces of the Earth.“ (Lit.:GA 112, p. 248f)

The sphere of the Holy Spirit

Main article: Holy Spirit

„... this something which does not participate in death, which people gradually conquer through the influence of the Christ Impulse, now flows back, flows out into the space of the world, forms, depending on whether it is stronger or weaker in the human being, a force which flows out into the space of the world. And this force will form a sphere around the Earth, which is in the process of becoming the Sun. A kind of spiritual sphere is forming around the Earth out of the etheric bodies that have come alive. Just as the Christ-light radiates from the Earth, so we have a kind of reflection of the Christ-light in the circle of the Earth. What is reflected here as Christ-light, and what has occurred as a result of the Christ-event, is what Christ calls the Holy Spirit. Just as it is true that the Earth begins to become the Sun through the event of Golgotha, it is equally true that from this event the Earth also begins to become creative and to form around itself a spiritual ring, which later in turn becomes a kind of planet around the Earth [...].

This is how new worlds are formed! But this we must understand, that we stand before the starting point of a newly forming Sun by contemplating the dying Christ. The Christ marries himself to death, which has become the characteristic expression of the Father-Spirit on earth. The Christ goes to the Father and marries himself to his expression, death, - and untrue becomes the image of death, for death becomes the seed of a new Sun in the universe. If we feel this event, if we feel this untruthfulness of death, if we feel that death on the cross becomes the seed from which a new Sun sprouts, then we also feel quite as humanity on Earth has had to feel and foresee it as the most important transition within the development of humanity.“ (Lit.:GA 112, p. 249f)


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References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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