Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ are not one and the same person. This is one of the most difficult claims for many Christians to accept in connection with Maitreya, the World Teacher, and it therefore needs some further explanation.
In fact, the title Christ does not refer to an individual at all. It is the name of a function in the Hierarchy of Masters of Wisdom, that group of advanced beings who guide the evolution of humanity from behind the scenes. Whoever stands at the head of this Hierarchy automatically becomes the World Teacher, known in the East as the Bodhisattva, during the term of His office.
Maitreya, who embodies the energy we call the Christ Principle, has held that office for over two millennia, and in Palestine He manifested Himself as the Christ to inaugurate the Age of Pisces, then beginning. The method He used is called spiritual overshadowing, that is, His consciousness informed and guided the actions and teachings of His disciple Jesus. It was, therefore, the consciousness of the Christ, Maitreya, which was seen and experienced by those around Jesus.
In reality Jesus was a fourth-degree initiate and one of the older disciples of the Masters of Wisdom. He appeared before in biblical times as Joshua, the son of Nun, then as Isaiah, and again as Joshua in the book of Zachariah. In Palestine he made the great sacrifice of allowing himself to be used by Maitreya to fulfill His mission during the three years following the baptism in the River Jordan. During his life, Jesus also symbolically enacted the five initiations which lead one to Mastership. The experience on the cross was the enactment of the 4th initiation for Jesus (his birth, the baptism, and the transfiguration on the mount symbolize the first three), while at the same time Maitreya underwent a higher initiation.
The events from Jesus' life and his words have been greatly misinterpreted due to this little-understood connection between his work and that of Maitreya the Christ. This has given rise to the age-old theological point of contention -- namely, whether Jesus was God or man, or perhaps both together. The answer is that Jesus was a man who, as a result of the process of evolution, became a Son of God -- as does everyone eventually. Others had gone before him on that path and many have taken it since.
Christians who are of the opinion that it is not given to anyone to try and emulate Jesus' accomplishment (who, as far as they are concerned, is God or, at least, His only Son) are contradicted by his own words:
Become perfect even as the Father in Heaven is perfect.
Greater things than I have done shall you do.
Jesus' death was the fulfillment of the task for that life, and it was Maitreya who resurrected the body from the tomb (as a symbol for the 5th initiation, just as the ascension was symbolic of the 6th initiation). This presentation of ancient occult knowledge in symbolic form is one of the methods which the Spiritual Hierarchy uses to teach humanity, and to convey knowledge to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. In the lives of the Buddha, Mithra and Krishna, similar symbolic events can also be found. The famed labors of Hercules, too, are nothing less than part of the initiation process expressed in symbolic form.
The disciple Jesus of 2,000 years ago has by now become one of the most senior Masters in the Hierarchy: the Master Jesus. He reached His state of perfection in the course of His next life as Apollonius of Tyana. Many of those who followed Him during His life as Jesus were still alive during this subsequent incarnation -- and many of them became convinced that Jesus had reappeared in their midst. It was Apollonius who undertook a journey to India which became the basis for the story, which many believe, that Jesus did not die on the cross but went to India and died in Kashmir, having lived to a venerable old age.
The Master Jesus has been incarnate in a Syrian body for about 640 years. He is described in Initiation, Human and Solar by Alice A. Bailey (published by Lucis Publishing Co.) as follows: He is rather a martial figure, a disciplinarian and a man of iron rule and will. He is tall and spare with rather a long thin face, black hair, pale complexion, and piercing blue eyes. In the Hierarchy He is described as the Great Leader, the General and the Wise Executive. No one is so closely in touch with the people who stand for all that is best in the Christian teachings and no-one is so well aware of the needs of the present moment.
During most of this time He has lived mainly in Palestine. Since 1984, however, He has lived in Rome. The intention is that He will try to raise the Christian churches out of their state of crystallization and rivalry and, if invited to do so, to lead a newly united church. By doing so He hopes to resolve the many contradictions and misunderstandings which have arisen during the course of the centuries about His historic role and the teachings which He then disseminated as a vehicle for Maitreya.
With the emergence of Maitreya, the Master Jesus is playing a major role for the second time, as also are the Apostles Peter and John. Two thousand years ago they were third-degree initiates; now they have been entrusted with a significant aspect of completing the Plan as the Master Morya, and the Master who will succeed Maitreya as the Christ during the next era (in about 2,500 years), Koot Hoomi. This open collaboration, which will be visible to all, will end any lingering doubts concerning the true relationship between Maitreya the Christ and His disciple, the Master Jesus.
Thus the seemingly paradoxical claim that Jesus and the Christ are not the same person, in the literal sense of the word, is more reasonable than it would appear. Those Christians who find it difficult to accept that 'their' teacher is not the highest leader of all humanity may, however, take solace in a second paradox: Jesus and Maitreya the Christ were (and are) one, in the sense that They, each on His own level, work together in perfect concord to further the Divine Plan.