A Symbolic Metaphysical Reading of the Story of the Birth of Jesus

In the January 1912 issue of Unity Magazine, Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore shared an interpretation of the story of the birth of Jesus told in Luke 2:1-16, from a symbolic metaphysical, New Thought, perspective.  Below is the text of Luke 2:1-16, followed by Charles Fillmore’s metaphysical interpretation:

1. Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled.

2. This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3. And all went to enroll themselves, every one to his own city.

4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David;

5. To enroll himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him being great with child.

6. And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered.

7. And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8. And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock.

9. And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10. And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people:

11. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12. And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.

13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.

15. And it came to pass, when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another. Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16. And they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger.

Vigilance in watching our flocks (thoughts) makes us receptive to the spiritual side of existence. As the shepherds in Oriental countries have a name for every sheep, which is trained to come and go at command, so we should be familiar with our thoughts, and discipline them so thoroughly that they will be obedient to us when we send forth our desire. This familiarity with our mental realm leads to an acquaintance with the character, and gives one an opportunity to strengthen the weak points and repress the undesirable tendencies. It thus clears up and harmonizes the soul so that it is receptive to Divine Ideas. A thought realm in constant turmoil and mortal confusion cannot possibly receive a message from the spiritual realms of consciousness. The command of the One Great Orderly Mind is, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Order in one’s life should also extend to affairs without; this is the decree of Caesar Augustus that “all the world should be enrolled.”

Joseph and Mary represent the Wisdom and Love, which have been ideas in mind, but are now to bring forth a manifestation in substance. The body is the earth, and the various towns and persons mentioned in connection represent the brain centers and their presiding geniuses. Galilee means to whirl, that is, energy or life; Nazareth, despised, the sexual center; Judaea, praise; David, love; Bethlehem, house of bread (substance, or stomach center).

It is thus seen that the birth of Christ is the beginning in the inner realms of consciousness of a higher set of faculties that, when grown to full stature, save the whole man from ignorance and sin. It is a growth in man as tangible to those who reach certain stages as is that of the child in the mother. In its beginnings it is a mere quickening flutter, right under the stomach, with, quite often, unusual sensitiveness in the emotional nature. We do not in the first stages of this process understand it, and sometimes are moved to put it away from us. This is the spiritual significance of the statement that Joseph was merely “betrothed” to Mary, yet she was “great with child.” The soul is heavily charged with Divine Life, and so full it cannot express itself intelligently, because no union has yet taken place between it and the understanding (Joseph).

“Swaddling clothes” are bands of cloth in which it was customary to wrap young children like mummies, which represents the confinement to the limitations of the physical nature (“manger”) of this first emanation of Divine Life, “there being no room for them in the inn” (outer consciousness).

The message of the angels to the shepherds are those periodical outbursts of Divine illumination which come to us, and we, for the time, know that something unusual is going on within, but we have our duties in life to fulfill, and we return to our flocks (thoughts) “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen.”

GOLDEN TEXT:  “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”— Luke 2:11.

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