by Swami Yogananda
Inner Culture, September 1934
“And all bear Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said: ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ And he said unto them: ‘Ye will surely say unto Me this proverb: “Physician, heal Thyself; whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Thy country.’”
“And he said: ‘Verily, I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months; when great famine was throughout all the land: but unto one of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman what was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet: and none of them was cleansed, save Naaman, the Syrian.’” (Luke 4:22-27)
All those who heard Jesus were amazed at the prophetic words which gently flowed out of His sacred mouth, and they perceived the ring of Truth in His words. And yet, while they were marveling at His profound utterances, they suddenly doubted in the mortal way and began to say: “Oh, how could the son of our Joseph, one of our fellow mortals, prophesy and heal all people?”
As soon as Jesus heard this, He began to furnish reasons for the behavior of prophets, who only act according to the will of God and not like ordinary self-willed mortals.
Jesus spoke to the people in the following way, revealing the grand secret of His past incarnation: “My dear people, you expect me to heal here just as I healed the sick at Capernaum, and you may wonder why, as a Spiritual physician, I can heal foreign people and cannot heal my own people in my own country. Do you realize that a prophet is not usually accepted in his own country? Acceptance signifies faith, and without the good soil of faith, no healing seed can be fruitfully sown by even a man of God. The Almighty subjects His prophets to his inculcated Spiritual laws. Since God gave independence to man, man could shut Divine power out of his life or bring God’s power to shine through the window of faith.
“Divine Healing is based on the law of reciprocity. Here in my own country the people are used to me. They know me as a mortal man and have consequently no faith in me, and without faith, neither God nor I could heal, because according to the Divine decree of the gift of free will, man can successfully resist Divine influences as well as the influence of all Saints. There can be no greater healer than Omnipresent God. He is trying to heal His mortal children from all troubles, but He cannot do so, because man shuts Him out.
“Besides, dear people, don’t you know that the Scriptures are full of illustrations where prophets like Elias, (Elijah), and my former Self as the prophet Eliseus, (Elisha) healed only those who spiritually deserved it and who were thus ordained by God to be healed?”
Jesus knew that John the Baptist in a former life had been Elias (Elijah), the Guru-Preceptor of His long past incarnation. One attracts Spiritual teachers when he is desirous of Spiritual training, but a Guru, or direct messenger of God, is sent only when the disciple is extremely determined to know God. God uses the speech, mind, and wisdom of the Guru to teach and redeem the disciple. Jesus mentioned Elias, (Elijah) and Eliseus, (Elisha) in the course of his talk to the people, because He knew that His former Guru-Preceptor, Elias, and Himself, as Eliseus, had been supremely endowed with healing powers, yet were allowed to heal only in accordance with Divine laws.
So Jesus said to the people: “I tell you of a truth,” that is, I tell you truthfully, as I remember from my past incarnation, that during the existence of my Guru-Preceptor, Elias, due to the accumulated evils of bad actions of people in general, and their destructive vibrations, Heavenly laws controlling all forces of Nature were prevented from proper functioning, resulting in great famine. Elias and God were helpless and could not free the people because they exercised their own misguided free will to shut out the Divine powers.”
Thus Jesus said that famine resulted from the accumulated evils of people, and when they did not exercise their free choice to cultivate faith they had to go through the ravages of famine for three years and six months. Of course, their punishment was brought on by themselves, because their wrong actions and their vibrations disrupted the finer Astral forces which control the ultimate forces, climatic conditions, and so forth, which govern the earth.
Jesus was not speaking of fatalism, but He was emphasizing the idea that man must suffer the consequences of his actions if he misuses his free will, and if he does not invoke God’s aid when he is fallen. Thus, Jesus said that not even His past Guru Preceptor, Elias, nor God, could do anything to stop the famine in Israel. Jesus also pointed out that there were many needy widows in Israel at that time, but there was only one widow in Sarepta, a city of Sidon, who made enough Spiritual effort to deserve the God-ordained Spiritual aid from Elias.
Then, with a dramatic prophecy, He subtly and incidentally spoke of Himself as the Eliseus of yore, who was not ordained by the Spiritual laws to heal all the lepers who existed then, but only the one named Naaman. This reference of Eliseus is very significant. This Truth has remained veiled since Jesus spoke of Eliseus. This is the first time that this great Truth as to who Jesus was in the time of Elias has been revealed. Read about Eliseus, or Elisha, and you will find that he raised the dead and fed one hundred people with twenty loaves of bread, even as when he appeared as Jesus He raised Lazarus from the dead and fed five thousand people with five loaves.
In the above passage, Jesus said to the people: “My dear people, you do not understand how Divine laws operate, and that is why you ask me why I cannot heal in my own country. Now you know that it is nothing new, that when I, as the prophet Eliseus, raised one from the dead and healed one leper, but did not raise all the dead people, nor heal all the lepers in Israel in my time, I, Eliseus, did only what the Spiritual laws influenced me to do.”
In the above passages Jesus described the Divine law which works justly in secrecy and not in a sensational way before the curious-gazing eyes of people, and, incidentally, Jesus described His past as the prophet Eliseus, the disciple of Elias. It is for this reason that Jesus said that Elias had come already as John the Baptist. It is for this reason that he asked Elias to anoint Him and baptize Him with Spirit and with water.
A Guru-Preceptor, being ordained by God, is sent to the extremely anxious and genuinely seeking disciple. Then the Guru-Preceptor and the disciple enter into a vow of eternal, unconditional friendship and pledge to redeem each other and help each other until final emancipation is gained. Human friends part through misunderstanding, forgetfulness, and death. Divine friendship, though born in mutual Divine usefulness, still is unconditional and continues beyond the portals of death. Sometimes the Guru-Preceptor falls down, only to be lifted up by the advanced disciple, as Jesus uplifted the fallen Elias, or John the Baptist, who could only baptize with water. Most of the time, the Guru-Preceptor follows the disciple through all necessary incarnations, until he is redeemed.