The Jesus Connectionby Sir
Knight Jeffrey L. Kuntz, Sr. Warden, 32
What? Wait a minute!
Jesus a Freemason?
To make such an assertion would
make the jaws of even many a Masonic Brother drop, not to mention those of
non-Masons, especially, perhaps, Christian clergymen.
Freemasonry in America, as we know it today, basically originated in
England in 1717, and is believed by many Masonic historians to be descended
from the builders' guilds of operative masons in Europe in the Middle Ages,
whose members built the great cathedrals of that time. It would, therefore, be
rather surprising to hear anyone claim that Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, was a
member of our fraternity.
However, let us take a look even much further back in history. Many
Masonic historians agree that Freemasonry has roots going back as far as Old
Testament times. In fact, as all good Masons know, the teachings of our great
order are-- in part, at least--based on the building of King Solomon's Temple
and the rebuilding of the Temple after the exile. Some believe that these
teachings go back to the mystery schools of the ancient Egyptians and other
groups that have served as channels of esoteric knowledge.
Those rather misguided individuals who are opposed to Freemasonry,
whether they be certain clergy, or whoever, would be surprised to be informed
that the fraternity is largely structured on events in the Bible, and that both
York Rite and Scottish Rite Masonry are based on passages in the Old Testament
in the "lower" or earlier degrees, beginning with the book of Genesis, and based
on events in the New Testament in some of the "higher" or latter degrees.
There are certain passages in both the Old and New Testaments that should
draw the attention of any alert York Rite Mason. Psalm 118 in the King James
Bible states, "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of
the corner." (vs. 22) Jesus refered to this verse when reciting the parable of
the tenant in the vineyard in Matthew 21: 33-45.
The apostle Paul in the second chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians
refers directly to Christ as being the cornerstone. Paul was writing to the
Gentiles there assuring them that they, too, were now built upon the
foundation---that is, the spiritual foundation---laid by the prophets and
apostles, which is really what Solomon's Temple and the rebuilding of the second
temple represents, being rich in symbolism.
It is interesting, too, to note that the plumbline is mentioned in the
book of the prophet Amos in chapter 7, verses 7 and 8. In the fourth chapter
of Zechariah, Zerubbabel is described as holding the plummet (plumbline) in
his hand as God promises Israel that the temple will be rebuilt.
Coming back to the New Testament, then, in the second chapter of Matthew,
we read in the Christmas story about the "wise men from the east". Does this
necessarily mean they came from the direction of the east? In the Bible, certain
words, such as proper names, etc., mean something. In Masonry, we know, since
the sun rises in the east, that the direction of the east is symbolic of light
and enlightenment. The Magi were likely highly enlightened mystics and possibly
Another rather curious matter dealing with the meanings of names is the
fact that Jesus was called a Nazarene, and that, as a boy, He lived in a city
called Nazareth. Both Nazarene and Nazareth mean "seperated". It is interesting
to find that a city called Nazareth is mentioned neither anywhere in the Old
Testament nor in any Judaic literature. There are historians who claim that a
town by that name did not exist in Galilee at that time, and that the name was
indicative of Jesus being a member of a secret sect or order that existed in
Northern Palestine for centuries. Quite interestingly, also, in the
twenty-fourth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul was called a "ringleader
of the sect of the Nazarenes" (vs. 5).
Another interesting form of the name is Nazarite. This goes back to the
sixth chapter of the book of Numbers. Nazarites were those of a group of
Isrealites who showed a special devotion to God by taking certain vows, one of
which was to never shave or cut their hair. Sampson was a Nazarite, as written
in the book of Judges.
During the last several centuries before the birth of Christ to about the
year 250 A.D., there existed another very important order or sect called the
Essenes,with which Freemasons should be somewhat familiar. They were the
possessors of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were discovered in the late 1940's in
caves near the Qumran community along the northwest corner of that body of
Certain passages of some of those scrolls give indications of what some
Biblical scholars and occultists had thought even before the discovery of the
Dead Sea Scrolls---that Jesus, as well as John the Baptist, were Essenes. Some
of the parables Jesus used are very similar to those in the scrolls. The
teachings and writing style of the Gospel of John are similar to certain
scrolls, as are some other New Testament books.
The question would, naturally, occur to some why Jesus never spoke of
the Essenes, or why they are not even mentioned in the Bible. In all
likelihood, those who were taken into the order were very strickly bound to a
vow of secrecy. Could it be, however, that the Essenes and Nazarenes were
actually one in the same?
There is no doubt in the minds of some students of Christian mysticism
that Jesus was, indeed, a member of the order of the Essenes, and that that is
where He spent most, if not all, of his time from the time He was a teenager to
age thirty, preparing for His very special ministry which was prophesied
centuries before. To say that the one who was to
become the great Messiah was a worker in His father's carpenter shop for fifteen
years or so is ridiculous. It seems like it would have been a terrible waste of
time, does it not?!
There is a very curious story about Jesus as a young boy in the
apocryphal book known as the First Gospel of the Infancy of Christ. Joseph took
Jesus to the school master Zaccheus to learn his Hebrew letters. As the teacher
began to instruct Jesus to name the Hebrew characters, the boy soon turned the
tables on Zaccheus by asking him the meaning of Aleph, the first letter of the
Hebrew alphabet. As the master was about to whip Jesus, the boy proceded to
explain the meaning of each part of each Hebrew letter and why the letters were
in a certain order. Freemasons who have received certain degrees should know
that each of the Hebrew letters have certain import. After Jesus finished the
alphabet, the master was so astonished that he said, "I believe this boy was
born before Noah," and to Mary he said, "Your son has no need of any learning."
In a following passage in The Infancy Gospel is a story which is supposed
to be an elaboration of the narrative in the second chapter of Luke's Gospel
about the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple discussing higher learning with
the Jewish teachers. The Infancy passage states that the young Jesus explained
such things to them as, "The mysteries which are contained in the books of the
prophets; things which the mind of no creature could reach." They were also
amazed at his knowledge of such fields of learning as astronomy, natural
philosophy---and the study of metaphysics, which is partly what Freemasonry is
Another interesting passage found in the final chapter of this apocryphal
book states, "Now from this time, Jesus began to conceal his miracles and secret
works, and he gave himself to the study of the law, until he arrived at the end
of his thirtieth year." The passage then goes directly into Jesus' baptism in
the Jordan river. Perhaps this is one of the stronger clues to His association
with the Essene community.
Many other incidents written in this apocryphal gospel concerning Jesus'
early years seem even more fantastic, which is one reason this was one of the
many apocryphal works that did not make the Biblical canon. This certainly does
not necessarily mean there are not worthy messages in these noncanonical
writings, especially when they tie in or even shed light on those of the
Many Bible scholars agree that the Scriptures are meant to be much more
a collection of writings of life's moral lessons than that of precise history.
Some also believe there is much symbolism in the form of metaphor and allegory
in the canonical books as well as in the Apocrypha. In fact, some will go so far
as to say that real personages are occasionally used in allegory.
For those who have especially open and pondering minds, and a love for
allegory and hidden meaning in the Scriptures, one could take the reference of
Jesus as a carpenter's son to have a cryptic meaning---with a Masonic tie-in, at
that. After all, don't Masons use carpenter tools as symbols to teach character
building? Of course, the Biblical literalists have a definite problem with such
interpretations---as they would with the Nazarene thing--- and even many casual
Bible readers would consider that a stretch. At any rate, some contemplation
over the idea might be good exercise for the mind, if nothing else.
It is interesting to note that in Arthur Edward Waite's A New
Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry similarities between the Essenes and Freemasons are
a.) Women were not admitted into the inner workings;
b.) They used certain signs of recognition;
c.) Their rituals were followed by a meal in common.
Perhaps more important, however, is the evidence in records, including
the writings of such ancient authors as Plato, Josephus, Eusebius, and others,
that some of the teachings and symbols we use in Freemasonry were also
inculcated upon the members and candidates of the Essenes. Some of these
symbols were also found in identical form in Egypt, China, and in almost all
parts of the ancient world, including, strangely enough, Mexico and Central
Maybe here it is well to emphasize the importance of the use of symbols
in spiritual and mental development. Symbols and rituals mean something, and
their meanings have been ingrained into the subconsciousness of man for
thousands of years. Careful contemplation of these symbols, according to
occultists and students of mysticism, can aid in the development of wisdom,
understanding, and even mental powers.
The development of spiritual and mental powers by the ancient esoteric
societies such as the Essenes is, some believe, one of the main reasons such
communites and sects met or even lived in secret. If their ceremonies and
teachings would have been freely given out, they would have not only set
themselves up for ridicule, but they would have risked the dangerous misuse of
their special knowledge by the unenlightened.
Some Christian mystic scholars believe this was what Christ was refering
to when, according to Matthew 7:6, He said, "Give not that which is holy unto
dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under
their feet and turn again and rend you."
Occultists believe that in remote periods of history, there were
civilizations that, after learning and developing the powers of the universe
that are intertwined with the human mind, they eventually lost touch of their
spiritual nature and began using these powers for evil purposes, ultimately
leading to their own destruction. This, they believe, is the main reason that
an initiation system was created, placing candidates through levels or degrees
of instruction and testing them as they advance to higher grades of knowledge
So, if Jesus did live in seclusion with the Essenes until his thirtieth
year, it was then time for Him to begin His very special ministry in the outside
world. He then formed His own band of followers. His innermost followers were
the twelve disciples, who became known as the apostles.
There are fairly strong indications in the four Gospels that Jesus shared
certain knowledge with His inner circle of these twelve specially chosen
disciples that, at least for a time, was to be kept secret. After Jesus told the
parable of the sower to a crowd, His disciples came to Him asking why He spoke
in parables. He answered, "Because it is given unto to you to know the mysteries
(secrets) of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given (Matt. 13:11).
This incident is also recorded in the fourth chapter of Mark and the eighth
chapter of Luke, but in the account of Matthew, Jesus gives a fuller explanation
of His parables.
Paul spoke of the secret teachings in several of his epistles. In his
first letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, "You should think of us as Christ's
servants who have been put in charge of God's secret truths." In the third
chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote, "How that by revelation he
made known unto me the mystery; ...which in other ages was not made known unto
the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by
the Spirit." (vss. 3 & 5)
Perhaps Paul divulged the basis of the greatest truth in his
letter to the Colossians,"...and the secret is that Christ is in
you..."(Col.1:27). Was Paul telling us that the way to total inner peace while
on earth, as well as to eternal salvation, is learning to be attuned to the
When the time neared for Christ to be crucified, He spoke to the
disciples about why He must suffer such an end, but those things not even they
were prepared to understand. "I have used figures of speech to tell you these
things," He told them in John 16:25, "but the time will come when I will not use
figures of speech, but will speak to you plainly about the Father."
As recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, after Christ's Ascension, the
apostles performed miracles and healed many sick people. Before the Crucifixion,
they had finished their training under Jesus the Christ, learning to master the
forces of God which enabled them to perform such works.
In the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus said, "Verily,
verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do
also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be
glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." (vss.
12-14) This is one passage where Jesus was speaking quite plainly. There really
can be little doubt what He meant. Most Christians today, however, either
misunderstand, misinterpret, or simply ignore the passage. Yes, Christ's message
was one of love and faith, but, as He also clearly taught, through strong and
truly spiritual love and faith, we are able to do great and marvleous things.
Perhaps most Freemasons today would think it unthinkable that Jesus Christ
would have been a member of a fraternal order similar to our present day
Masonic order. Maybe we should ask ourselves, however, what exactly Freemasonry
is. From the study of ancient symbology and mysticism, could we conclude that
modern Freemasonry is a vestage of or a kind of diluted variant in the line of
ancient esoteric mystery schools which goes back thousands of years? From a
perusal of certain passages of Scripture, can we conclude that the great
prophets, Jesus Christ and his apostles, and even some of the saints of the
early church, were highly advanced initiates of ancient mystery schools?
The question here that would naturally come to the minds of some is why
this higher knowledge was not passed on through the Christian Church. According
to some scholars, some of these teachings were, indeed, held by the very early
church Fathers. Dr. H. Spencer Lewis, who was Imperator for the Rosicrucian
Order in America, in his book, The Mystical Life of Jesus, explained that there
are records in the archives of the Roman Catholic Church in the Vatican
containing much of these teachings and unknown information about the life of
Jesus, but that these records were suppressed by later church leaders.
After the conversion of Constantine in the early fourth century,
Christianity became the established official religion of the Roman empire. In
his very interesting book, The Hidden Bible, William Leary explains how the
church leaders of that time modified the Christian religion to meet their
political needs. This was done, for the most part, in order to appeal to the
illiterate masses who could not comprehend the loftier teachings of
Christianity. Leary wrote, "The deeper knowledge of the Christian teaching
gradually disappeared, and became the Lost Word."
Freemasonry can certainly not take the place of the church. It must, in
fact, support the church. Perhaps we can see, however, that there is, to some
extent, at least, a connection, a kinship, between the more mystical teachings
of Jesus and our beloved fraternal order of Freemasonry, even if it be an
attenuated vessel of the higher knowledge. Can we as Freemasons, as Knights
Templar, perhaps someday find the Lost Word?! Masonic membership has declined in
recent years, as has church attendance, but one thing for sure is that our work
as Freemasons, as well as Christians, is of the utmost importance now at a time
when it is, without any doubt, needed as much as ever.
Sir Knight Jeffrey Kuntz is
Sr. Warden of Baldwin II, Commandery No. 22, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.