Deeper Secrets of Human History
in the Light of the Gospel of St. Matthew
What Dr. Steiner is giving here is of the greatest importance and must be clearly understood.
What was given in the Baptism experience was a vision of the etheric body. To the baptized this was a revelation of his connection with the spiritual world, and of his being as the result of his whole past. In this he saw how his etheric body — and consequently its effect upon his physical body — had been deeply influenced by the Luciferic beings who had united themselves with it.
He saw his etheric body in the form of the SERPENT. Dr. Steiner does not here enlarge upon this image, though he speaks of it elsewhere. It would appear in two ways to be a significant image. The serpent exists in almost undifferentiated length. Moreover, as it grows it sloughs its skin, and emerges whole, a complete image of its former being, upon which there hardens the new and larger skin, and so on. It is an earthly image of man's reincarnations, sloughing off the physical body, but keeping the whole impress of the inner experience of the bodily existence, upon and out of which is fashioned a new body. The temptation of Eve was to seek satisfaction in her experience of the outer world. The tempter was the SERPENT.
In John's Baptism the etheric body was to be seen under the image of the LAMB. What did that signify?
The fundamental feature of the etheric world is the interrelationship of all its parts, and the capacity of the soul to experience itself in other souls and to receive them into its own experience. This is the etheric expression of man's true spiritual nature. In the physical world, it is realised in sacrifice and self-offering, of which the Lamb is the symbol. Man was to see the outer physical world, not merely as the stage of his own inner experience, but as the place where he was to learn obedience to the laws of his own spiritual being. He was to identify his newly-evolving ego, which no longer only discovered itself in the etheric manifestation of its inner experience, but was seeking to realise itself in the physical body, in mastery over the outer world, — he was to identify it with the Lamb: the outer world was to be to him a path of self-offering and sacrifice. Thus the new etheric body was to bear the image of the LAMB, and was to imprint that image upon man's physical body in which the ego was manifesting itself. In this, man would be opposed by the self-centredness of Lucifer.
This formation of the etheric body as the Lamb could not arise out of man's old serpent-like etheric body. It was to be the gift of Christ, who would thereby triumph over Lucifer. This would be manifest in Jesus.
Could it have been manifest in some incipient form in some of those baptized by John? Yes, in some, specially prepared. The Nazarenes — the Essenes — manifested this self-offering life. They were universally regarded as manifesting the purest, most unselfish communal life. They would be forerunner souls, fitted from their past to have the change wrought by Christ in their etheric body, so as to fit them for the change in their physical being when He came to the earth. Some who were baptized by John could not have this experience, namely, the Pharisees, the “children of the Serpent.” To others he could say, without explanation, “Behold! The Lamb of God!”