Meditation and Jesus. What was their Relationship?
When Christians think of meditation, for most of them it is not the “Christian” thing to do, as it is a practice that is reserved more for the “Eastern” religions than for Christianity. However, there are a lot of areas in which meditation is compatible with Christianity and, there are those who think, Jesus did indeed do a lot of meditation. When exploring the themes of meditation and Jesus, there are many opinions throughout Christianity as to whether Jesus did or did not practice the art of meditation.
Meditation and the Old Testament
Beginning with the book of Genesis in the Old Testament (Genesis 24:63) it is stated that Isaac goes out to meditate: “And Isaac went out to meditate in the fields at the eventide, and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and behold the camels were coming.” Also, in Joshua 1:8, it is stated: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written herein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success.” Throughout the Psalms there are at least 14 verses which talk about meditation.
Meditation and Jesus
Jesus certainly would have been familiar with meditation while he was growing up, because this is mentioned in the Torah. As a Jewish Rabbi, he would have fully understood the actions of Isaac meditating in the fields. In addition, there were numerous people in Jerusalem during Jesus’ life that he would have met with, and who would have understood the benefits of meditation. There are many who believe that Jesus traveled to India during his life and studied at a number of Buddhist Temples, because many of the parables that he told after his return were quite similar to the teachings of the Buddha.
The Bible shows in the New Testament that Jesus meditated when he was giving the Sermon on the Mount, and provided his disciples with that teaching. In the New Testament it is also stated that Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights to pray; however, in Matthew 6:5 he taught the disciples to pray alone and to use few words. One belief is that when Jesus spent all those days in the desert, he was spending time meditating, which in reality is “listening to God”. In these passages, it is very easy to understand that Jesus not only meditated, but taught his disciples that they should be meditating – or listening to God – as well.
Meditation and Christianity
Some Christians say that meditation is “of the devil” and that Christians should not practice meditation. In the Eastern religions of Buddhism and Hinduism it is taught that the divine is found within the person and that God is not found by going through Jesus. However, there are some Christians who believe that their practice is deeply rooted in sin despite the fact that there is clear evidence in the Bible that meditation was a practice in the Old Testament, and that Jesus too, being a Jewish Rabbi and being exposed to Buddhist and Hindu teaching during his travels, probably practiced a variety of meditation forms himself. Many Christian ministers are adamant that it is blasphemous to say that Jesus practiced any form of meditation, or even traveled outside of the Holy Lands. In the Far East it is common belief that Jesus lived and traveled there during the years of absence in the four Gospels.
Meditation is certainly compatible with Christianity because it is taught in numerous places in the Bible to “meditate on the word of God”. Certainly every Christian is taught to pray and since, in principle, this is the same as talking to God, they need to remember that even Jesus meditated and “listened” to the Father, and all Christians should do likewise.