This article contains an interview with Jordan J Ryan, author of: The Role of the Synagogue in the Aims of Jesus. It caught my attention because statistics show that people are very interested in the topic of Jesus in the synagogue. Discovering this fact awhile ago led us to create a little study of our own about Jesus and the synagogue from the teachings of The Urantia Book. We added temples to our study as well. We'll blog a little about this below, but here is an opening quote from the author from the interview. Maybe you'll want to read the book yourself. It is amazing how intensive is the research being done in this area. It should be fascinating reading to anyone who wants to know more about Jesus and his life.
From the author: "I've been interested in understanding Jesus in light of his Jewish context from the beginning of my studies as an undergraduate. Not only did it open up my eyes to the myriad of issues pertaining to Jewish-Christian relations, but it also opened up new avenues for interpretation and understanding of who Jesus was, and of what he taught and did. When I read through the canonical Gospels, I couldn't help but notice how prominent synagogues were in their narrative of Jesus' life and ministry. I was particularly struck by the fact that both the synoptic Gospels and John identify the synagogue as the primary locus Jesus' activities during his ministry."
The book reviewed above references only the Gospel narratives; of course, that is no surprise, but did you know that The Urantia Book story of the life and teachings of Jesus far surpasses the Gospel narratives in every way? And this extends to the stories of Jesus in the synagogues in which he was schooled as a child and in the temples and synagogues in which he preached and taught throughout his ministry. Many of these stories will be brand-new to you, as they are not included in the Bible; others may be more familiar, as many Urantia Book accounts of Jesus' later life parallel the Bible.
Here is the introduction to our study on Jesus in the Synagogue:
Throughout the life of Jesus, the temple and the synagogue both played important roles. Jesus was first presented in the Jerusalem temple soon after his birth, and he received his education through the synagogue as a young boy and into his adolescence.
In his early ministry, Jesus made himself and his mission known to his countrymen at temple and synagogue venues throughout Palestine and Galilee. Towards the end of his public ministry, it became a courageous - and dangerous - enterprise for Jesus, as more than once, he was banned from speaking to the populace in the synagogues and temples by the authorities who meant him harm. His appearances at the Jerusalem temple during the last week of his life are particularly dramatic, as the authorities plot to apprehend him, but dare not.
This study will pinpoint each instance of Jesus' appearance in either a temple or a synagogue.
From Jesus' earliest days, up until the last week of his amazing life, the synagogue and/or the temple was a feature of the Master's life. In our study, you'll read about all of these instances, and more. Our study might make a nice reference if you read Mr Ryan's book - or vice versa.
I was happy to see this article come across my feed: Powerful prayer: A Christ-centered Thanksgiving & Christmas by Greg Frizzell. Well, why not? After all, 'tis the season once again! Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we can all commit to adding more prayer and more service and more JESUS into our lives.
We'll blog more about this below, but first, here's a few snips from the article:
"In a world where Thanksgiving and Christmas are over-commercialized, it is all too easy to forget the true meaning of the season. Even in the church, believers can end up doing so many special meals and programs "about" Christ. There is little time to actually talk to Him.
"Too often, we give personal time, attention and gifts to everyone but Jesus. Yet, with just a little focus, Thanksgiving and Christmas can again be about Jesus, not just food and programs. Believers can make a commitment to draw near to the Lord in extra prayer and service to others.
"1. Spend special time thanking God for the priceless gift of Christ's coming.
"2. Set aside individual and family time to ask Jesus what we should give Him for Christmas.
"3. Pray about people who need special help or a word of encouragement."
I encourage you to click on the link and read this whole article; it has many suggestion for you and your family!
131:1.8 "At all times call upon his name, and as you believe in his name, so shall your prayer be heard. What a great honor it is to worship the Most High! All the worlds and the universes worship the Most High. And with all your prayers give thanks—ascend to worship." (Cynicism)
131:2.7 "God is our Father; the Lord is our redeemer. God has created the universal hosts, and he preserves them all. His righteousness is like the mountains and his judgment like the great deep. He causes us to drink of the river of his pleasures, and in his light we shall see light. It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to the Most High; to show forth loving- kindness in the morning and the divine faithfulness every night." (Judaism)
131:10.6 "I will every day thank God for his unspeakable gifts; I will praise him for his wonderful works to the children of men. To me he is the Almighty, the Creator, the Power, and the Mercy, but best of all, he is my spirit Father..." (Our Religion)
And from Jesus:
146:2.15 14. Jesus deplored that so little of the spirit of thanksgiving was to be found in the prayers and worship of his followers. He quoted from the Scriptures on this occasion, saying: "It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to the name of the Most High, to acknowledge his loving- kindness every morning and his faithfulness every night, for God has made me glad through his work. In everything I will give thanks according to the will of God."
Jesus was in the habit of thanking God often, and those quotes can be easily found if you search for that word; and we should always do likewise. Combining these prayers above into one might be a unique way to add a new kind of prayer into your family's holiday dinner this week.
146:2.16 15. And then Jesus said: "Be not constantly overanxious about your common needs. Be not apprehensive concerning the problems of your earthly existence, but in all these things by prayer and supplication, with the spirit of sincere thanksgiving, let your needs be spread out before your Father who is in heaven." Then he quoted from the Scriptures: "I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify him with thanksgiving. "
These prayers are a good starting point, but as any Urantia Book reader knows, words are really irrelevant when it comes to praying, for the Father knows our hearts. When we approach him individually in a spirit of sincere gratitude and speak our hearts of thanksgiving to him, he hears. Maybe we can encourage all at our table to do so this year...
<h3>Give the gift of yourself, your time, your care...</h3>
Being grateful for the many gifts that we receive from God might be the perfect avenue to open our hearts to increased service this year. If you are so moved, an internet search for service opportunities in your area may provide you with many chances to reach out and help someone. Many are lonely, many are struggling financially, many feel sad or anxious or depressed; ministering to someone in need is a win-win solution...good for the recipient, good for the giver!
<h3>And then comes Christmas</h3>
Urantia Book readers know that the real birthday of Jesus occurs in August; nevertheless, most of those in the Urantia community also celebrate with the rest of the world in December, too...why not? It's always a good time to celebrate Jesus and his amazing bestowal.
And while youre at it, you might be greatly inspired to read about the events that preceded Jesus' birth - at the time right before he incarnated here as the babe of Bethlehem. If you have never read this account, you will be thrilled to read about the momentous planning and deliberation and preparation that took place before the Creator Son of God - aka Christ Michael of Nebadon - submitted himself to a life in mortal flesh.
Celebrating with children at the holidays is especially fun. If you happen to have any kids in your life we'd like to share a wonderful page on our site called "Parenting and Family Life." Long-time reader/educator Sara Blackstock has written a series of inspiring articles with practical, inspiring ideas for engaging kids in their own spiritual growth while having fun doing it.
And from that collection of articles, here are a few examples of activities that can be done with children (and the young at heart) this holiday season as a means of recognizing God's love and being grateful for it:
Ceremony - Ritual Of Prayer & Candle Light: (All ages)
Light a candle every night, once a week, at families meetings, on special holidays, or on any other occasion. (As children get older, allow them to have the privilege of lighting the candle.) After you light the candle, say a little prayer of thanks: "Thank you God for your love which shines upon our family, our neighborhood, our community, our town, our country, our world, and the whole universe. We know your divine Light is in everyone."
And another activity that can involve the whole family:
Activity - A Fragment of God (6 to 12 years)
Spend some time working together on a beautiful jigsaw puzzle, preferable one with 1000 pieces or more. It should be set up someplace where family or group members can work on it over a period of time. This provides an excellent opportunity to point out how each piece is a part of the whole. When the puzzle is done, admire the wholeness of it, and use it as a metaphor to illustrate the wholeness of God. Have the children each choose and remove one piece of the puzzle, which represents them as a part of God's creation. Discuss how important each piece is to the wholeness of God, and how much more lovely the puzzle is when no pieces are missing. This is also symbolic of how each person holds a part of God, which is unique and irreplaceable. Point out that God never runs out of pieces. Note: For younger children a smaller puzzle can be used.
Remember making paper chains? This activity is fun for kids and adults alike, and this method helps them be mindful of God's goodness. The paper chains can decorate your home this season!
Activity - Paper Chain (All ages - even adults should find this fun to do!)
Per child provide 2 each of 8 different colored sheets of paper (preferably red, yellow, orange, green, blue, white, purple, and black), a small stapler, or glue.
Cut all the colored sheets into strips about 2 inches wide. (A paper cutter helps tremendously if this activity is to be with a group of children.)
Children select from the colored strips (that can represent the many colors and kinds of people in the world) and build a chain, which they make by gluing or stapling a strip into a circle and adding similar links as they go.
For groups, the chains can be hooked together to make a longer chain, which can then be used to decorate a room, a tree or bushes.
Affirmations can be written on the pieces of paper before they are made into chains, such as: "God loves everyone." "We are all connected." "What I do affects others."
For simple Christmas gifts that children can make and give, try this:
Activity - Jewel Inside Me (3 to 12 years)
Give each child a lump of clay and a jewel (anything pretty and shiny, but not expensive). Discuss how God lives in each person as they mold a figure of themselves with the clay. When the figure is done, ask each child to push the jewel into the heart area of the figure. The figure can be kept as a reminder that God lives in the heart of each one of his children. Or they can be given as gifts to remind someone else of their Special Friend.
Here are affirmations that can be recited by children (or anyone!) to help keep them walking in a mindful way with God:
Affirmations ( a great start for a group meditation)
Affirmations can be used in many ways on a regular basis and are always effective.
The following affirmations can be said or read by individuals or groups:
The light of God has been given to me. It is in me.
I will follow God's light and it will show me the best way to walk each day.
I carry a spark of God's divinity in my heart.
My body is the temple of God; I will honor the temple and take care of it.
God's light is in everyone. I can see God shining in each person I meet.
I kindle the spark of God within me by talking with God as a friend in my own heart and mind.
I kindle the spark of God within me by helping those around me.
I kindle the spark of God within me by thanking God for life and family and friends.
Finally, creating an altar in your home can be a wonderful experience for the whole family, too.What better time of year to make a new tradition that brings God into everyone's awareness?
<h3>Keep Consciousness of God active in your home this season</h3>
Whether you live alone or with others, making a commitment to dedicate your living space to God is a great thing to do.
If you do live alone, inviting one or two friends over for one of the activities above can be a sweet way to help each other celebrate the season. Add dinner or dessert and a time of prayer or meditation, and you've got a fabulous event that will leave all of you rhe better for it. Maybe you can make it a weekly get-together for the holiday season...it would be fun to help each other make a Jesus-centered holiday altar this year.
In our demanding world, it's always a good thing to try and slow down a little bit. Even at this traditionally busy time of the year, it's good to remember the ideals that are behind Thanksgiving - the value of gratitude to God, and carving out some quality time for sharing that goodness with others. Remember the non-material and simple values that lie behind it all. We can be in the world, but we don't have to let the world dictate how we celebrate!
Most importantly, it's good to spend some time to reflect on the gift that our world received in the form of a Son of God incarnating as a helpless little baby - who was to grow up and change the world for the better forevermore!
To access that story in its entirety, please go to THIS LINK!
<h3>Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to all!</h3>
From time to time, one hears stories about what Jesus was supposedly doing during the so-called "missing years." One that always interested me was that Jesus spent time in India during those years; here's the latest on that theory to come across my view: Did Jesus spend his missing years studying Buddhism in India? Marcel Theroux visits Ladakh to find out by Marcel Theroux.
Before I found the Utrantia Book, I might have been inclined to entertain the idea that Jesus went to India; since then, no. But there's a good reason that a story like that may have gained some traction over the years, and we'll blog about that idea below. First, here's a snip from the article:
"My journey to Ladakh began one idle summer afternoon in the dusty stacks of the London Library. I was browsing the volumes in the theology section when I came upon a 19th-century book with an intriguing title: The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ. It was a battered brown quarto, written in French by an author with a Russian name: Nicolas Notovitch.
"Notovitch's book told an astonishing story. He claimed to have discovered an ancient text in the sacred Pali language that revealed previously unknown aspects of Jesus's life. According to this text, which Notovitch had translated into French, Jesus had spent his missing years – the years between his childhood and the beginning of his ministry – studying Buddhism in India. At the age of about 30, he'd returned to the Middle East and the life that is familiar to us from the New Testament.
"It is clearly an amazing claim."
Just so you know...in the end, the author comes to the conclusion that this story has no credibility...but it is an interesting article about the region, and his search for details of this elusive story. Check it out...
As mentioned above, there's a good reason that a story like this one may have originated; there are some very real India connections insofar as the life of Jesus is concerned.
In The Urantia Book, we discover that Jesus spent two years of his life - from age 28-30 - in the company of two native Indian men; one was a wealthy merchant named Gonod and the other was his son, Ganid.
The father employed Jesus as an interpreter for himself and as a tutor for his son during a two-year tour of the Mediterranean world. The Urantia Book devotes several papers to this momentous trip. The travelers did not get to India, but they did get as far as the Swiss Alps, Cyprus, Rome, Carthage...and many other cities before it was all over.
Here's how it came about:
129:2.9 Before the end of this Passover week, by apparent chance, Jesus met a wealthy traveler and his son, a young man about seventeen years of age. These travelers hailed from India, and being on their way to visit Rome and various other points on the Mediterranean, they had arranged to arrive in Jerusalem during the Passover, hoping to find someone whom they could engage as interpreter for both and tutor for the son. The father was insistent that Jesus consent to travel with them. Jesus told him about his family and that it was hardly fair to go away for almost two years, during which time they might find themselves in need. Whereupon, this traveler from the Orient proposed to advance to Jesus the wages of one year so that he could intrust such funds to his friends for the safeguarding of his family against want. And Jesus agreed to make the trip.
130:0.1 THE TOUR OF THE Roman world consumed most of the twenty-eighth and the entire twenty-ninth year of Jesus' life on earth. Jesus and the two natives from India —Gonod and his son Ganid—left Jerusalem on a Sunday morning, April 26, A.D. 22. They made their journey according to schedule, and Jesus said good-bye to the father and son in the city of Charax on the Persian Gulf on the tenth day of December the following year, A.D. 23.
They visited numerous cities along the way:
130:0.2 From Jerusalem they went to Caesarea by way of Joppa. At Caesarea they took a boat for Alexandria. From Alexandria they sailed for Lasea in Crete. From Crete they sailed for Carthage, touching at Cyrene. At Carthage they took a boat for Naples, stopping at Malta, Syracuse, and Messina. From Naples they went to Capua, whence they traveled by the Appian Way to Rome.
130:0.3 After their stay in Rome they went overland to Tarentum, where they set sail for Athens in Greece, stopping at Nicopolis and Corinth. From Athens they went to Ephesus by way of Troas. From Ephesus they sailed for Cyprus, putting in at Rhodes on the way. They spent considerable time visiting and resting on Cyprus and then sailed for Antioch in Syria. From Antioch they journeyed south to Sidon and then went over to Damascus. From there they traveled by caravan to Mesopotamia, passing through Thapsacus and Larissa. They spent some time in Babylon, visited Ur and other places, and then went to Susa. From Susa they journeyed to Charax, from which place Gonod and Ganid embarked for India.
In introducing this tour of the Roman world, the authors of The Urantia Book tell us:
129:3.1 The whole of Jesus' twenty-ninth year was spent finishing up the tour of the Mediterranean world. The main events, as far as we have permission to reveal these experiences, constitute the subjects of the narratives which immediately follow this paper.
Throughout this tour of the Roman world, for many reasons, Jesus was known as the Damascus scribe. At Corinth and other stops on the return trip he was, however, known as the Jewish tutor.
This was an eventful period in Jesus' life. While on this journey he made many contacts with his fellow men, but this experience is a phase of his life which he never revealed to any member of his family nor to any of the apostles. Jesus lived out his life in the flesh and departed from this world without anyone (save Zebedee of Bethsaida) knowing that he had made this extensive trip. Some of his friends thought he had returned to Damascus; others thought he had gone to India. His own family inclined to the belief that he was in Alexandria, as they knew that he had once been invited to go there for the purpose of becoming an assistant chazan.
The Son of Man, during the time and through the experiences of this tour of the Roman world, practically completed his educational contact-training with the diversified peoples of the world of his day and generation. By the time of his return to Nazareth, through the medium of this travel-training he had just about learned how man lived and wrought out his existence on Urantia.
The real purpose of his trip around the Mediterranean basin was to know men. He came very close to hundreds of humankind on this journey. He met and loved all manner of men, rich and poor, high and low, black and white, educated and uneducated, cultured and uncultured, animalistic and spiritual, religious and irreligious, moral and immoral.
On this Mediterranean journey Jesus made great advances in his human task of mastering the material and mortal mind, and his indwelling Adjuster made great progress in the ascension and spiritual conquest of this same human intellect. By the end of this tour Jesus virtually knew—with all human certainty—that he was a Son of God, a Creator Son of the Universal Father. The Adjuster more and more was able to bring up in the mind of the Son of Man shadowy memories of his Paradise experience in association with his divine Father ere he ever came to organize and administer this local universe of Nebadon. Thus did the Adjuster, little by little, bring to Jesus' human consciousness those necessary memories of his former and divine existence in the various epochs of the well-nigh eternal past. The last episode of his prehuman experience to be brought forth by the Adjuster was his farewell conference with Immanuel of Salvington just before his surrender of conscious personality to embark upon the Urantia incarnation. And this final memory picture of prehuman existence was made clear in Jesus' consciousness on the very day of his baptism by John in the Jordan.
The remainder of Paper 130, Paper 132: The Sojourn at Rome, and Paper 133: The Return from Rome chronical the details of this amazing trip of Jesus with the two Indians. Of all the "missing years" of Jesus' life, these are some of the most interesting. Every page is filled with significant encounters of Jesus with all kinds of people, as well as a wealth of teachings and discourses that can be found nowhere but in The Urantia Book. Here's just a very small sample of the wealth of Jesus'teachings in these papers:
And there are many more. Please feel free to visit the gallery and browse the collection!
In connection with this last painting showing Jesus and Gnid at the Alexandrian library, the whole of Paper 131 is devoted to an extensive study made by the young Indian, Ganid, under Jesus' direction, of the world's great religions of that time. Their visit to the Library is a highlight of the journey, and a beautiful painting.
As for Ganid:
130:0.7 Ganid, the young man, learned much from Jesus during this long and intimate association. They developed a great affection for each other, and the lad's father many times tried to persuade Jesus to return with them to India, but Jesus always declined, pleading the necessity for returning to his family in Palestine.
133:9.5 In India, Ganid grew up to become an influential man, a worthy successor of his eminent father, and he spread abroad many of the noble truths which he had learned from Jesus, his beloved teacher. Later on in life, when Ganid heard of the strange teacher in Palestine who terminated his career on a cross, though he recognized the similarity between the gospel of this Son of Man and the teachings of his Jewish tutor, it never occurred to him that these two were actually the same person.
<h3>Another Indian connection</h3>
Although Jesus never made the trip to India, the apostle Nathaniel spent quite a few tears of his life in India, relocating there shortly after Pentecost; one can imagine that he was influential in spreading the good news of the gospel and of the Master's life while there, which in itself could have led to stories of Jesus himself having visited there:
Nathaniel's father (Bartholomew) died shortly after Pentecost, after which this apostle went into Mesopotamia and India proclaiming the glad tidings of the kingdom and baptizing believers. His brethren never knew what became of their onetime philosopher, poet, and humorist. But he also was a great man in the kingdom and did much to spread his Master's teachings, even though he did not participate in the organization of the subsequent Christian church. Nathaniel died in India.
Again, this section of The Urantia Book is one that describes in great detail several those "missing years" of the Master's life that contain so much material that it will engage the reader fully in wonder at this segment of the amazing life of Jesus that has heretofore been completely unknown. The teachings, the encounters, the personal stories...you won't be disappointed!
Here's an article exploring the idea of loving one's neighbor: Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself by Andrew Conard. In the article, the author expands the idea of loving one's neighbor to a larger context called "neighboring," and it's worth a read, because it includes many more than just the person who lives next door, and addresses a growing problem in our society: loneliness.
This very well-known mandate given by Jesus to his followers is one that we'd like to make comment on, because Jesus expanded the idea of "neighbor" too...and we'll do that in the blog below. But first, here's a little snip of the author's very good thoughts:
"Neighboring is a movement to reclaim community, keep isolation at bay, bolster public health, stimulate the economy and transform community-based institutions like the church. And the research backs it up.
"Times Magazine featured a Brigham Young University study which compiled multiple projects resulting in a dataset of over 3 million people over 30 years. They found, "the feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26 percent."
"This number is greater than risks associated with smoking and cancer. The New York Times reports, 'Since the 1980's, the percentage of American adults who say they're lonely has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent.' "
Most Urantia Book readers will remember this statement from Paper 140: The Ordination, where Jesus attempts to make clear to the apostles the hallmarks of the Kingdom of Heaven. This one has to do with the social aspects of the kingdom, and it encompasses many more than those in our immediate vicinity:
140:8.11 3. Social attitude. The Jewish rabbis had long debated the question: Who is my neighbor? Jesus came presenting the idea of active and spontaneous kindness, a love of one's fellow men so genuine that it expanded the neighborhood to include the whole world, thereby making all men one's neighbors. But with all this, Jesus was interested only in the individual, not the mass. Jesus was not a sociologist, but he did labor to break down all forms of selfish isolation. He taught pure sympathy, compassion. Michael of Nebadon is a mercy-dominated Son; compassion is his very nature.
Everyone - everyone - is our neighbor; each one our spiritual sibling under the Fatherhood of God. So, as we go about our lives we might do best by ministering to our siblings one at a time as "a friend and neighbor, an understanding comrade," in any way that we can, as Jesus did. Knowing these disturbing statistics on loneliness, we might be even more motivated to seek out our suffering siblings. It's a practice that was very important to Jesus:
138:8.9 The disciples early learned that the Master had a profound respect and sympathetic regard for every human being he met, and they were tremendously impressed by this uniform and unvarying consideration which he so consistently gave to all sorts of men, women, and children. He would pause in the midst of a profound discourse that he might go out in the road to speak good cheer to a passing woman laden with her burden of body and soul. He would interrupt a serious conference with his apostles to fraternize with an intruding child. Nothing ever seemed so important to Jesus as the individual human who chanced to be in his immediate presence. He was master and teacher, but he was more—he was also a friend and neighbor, an understanding comrade.
The parable of the good Samaritan is a powerful story - well-known and well-loved for good reason. It contains the ideal of being a good neighbor...even when that neighbor may not be someone you might oridinarily have fellowship with. In the case of the Samaritan, he ministered with true compassion to one who was not of his clan, and who may have even disliked him under normal circumstances. And down through the ages, we love this story because it contains a high ideal that resonates within the heart.
103:5.2 This idea-ideal of doing good to others—the impulse to deny the ego something for the benefit of one's neighbor—is very circumscribed at first. Primitive man regards as neighbor only those very close to him, those who treat him neighborly; as religious civilization advances, one's neighbor expands in concept to embrace the clan, the tribe, the nation. And then Jesus enlarged the neighbor scope to embrace the whole of humanity, even that we should love our enemies. And there is something inside of every normal human being that tells him this teaching is moral—right. Even those who practice this ideal least, admit that it is right in theory.
193:1.2 Said Jesus: "The acceptance of the doctrine of the fatherhood of God implies that you also freely accept the associated truth of the brotherhood of man. And if man is your brother, he is even more than your neighbor, whom the Father requires you to love as yourself. Your brother, being of your own family, you will not only love with a family affection, but you will also serve as you would serve yourself. And you will thus love and serve your brother because you, being my brethren, have been thus loved and served by me. Go, then, into all the world telling this good news to all creatures of every race, tribe, and nation. My spirit shall go before you, and I will be with you always."
<h3>Who did Jesus tell us we should minister to?</h3>
The weak, the poor, and the young
The sick and afflicted
We are called to strengthen those who are fainthearted and fear-ridden and
Comfort the downcast
<h3>A Crisis of Modern Life</h3>
In the article above, we see that loneliness is at epidemic proportions, and that it affects people tremendously. We might at one time have thought of loneliness as an affliction of the old, but not these days. If 40 % of us feel lonely (according to the article above), that is many, many people! Sometimes, if we're aware, we can see this in the eyes of the people who we meet as we pass by.
<h3>Are YOU lonely?</h3>
If you're reading this piece and thinking that you are lonely, too, maybe it's a good time for you to discover God in The Urantia Book... discover your constant companion who walks with you through every step of your life. And once you do discover that great Friend, you, too, will be overflowing with love that you'll want to share with others. Start HERE and HERE for an amazing discovery of that Friend who lives right within you, right now. The following statement is a great promise!
117:6.27 But no God-knowing mortal can ever be lonely in his journey through the cosmos, for he knows that the Father walks beside him each step of the way, while the very way that he is traversing is the presence of the Supreme.
What to do? As a very practical action, there are programs we can volunteer for, such as Meals on Wheels, or Volunteers of America...if you want to be part of a program in your community, it's pretty easy to find local groups who have programs in place by just doing a Google search for your area. In this way, you can be channleled to those in need pretty easily, if you are minded to do so. Even if you find yourself in a sad, lonely state, reaching out to someone else in need can lift your spirits as nothing else can!
<h3>How to minister as we pass by, as Jesus did</h3>
Jesus was never in a hurry. He had time to comfort his fellow men "as he passed by." And he always made his friends feel at ease. He was a charming listener. He never engaged in the meddlesome probing of the souls of his associates. As he comforted hungry minds and ministered to thirsty souls, the recipients of his mercy did not so much feel that they were confessing to him as that they were conferring with him.
Most of the really important things which Jesus said or did seemed to happen casually, "as he passed by." There was so little of the professional, the well-planned, or the premeditated in the Master's earthly ministry. He dispensed health and scattered happiness naturally and gracefully as he journeyed through life. It was literally true, "He went about doing good."
Read more helpful info about how Jesus ministered " as he passed by." It contains more clues about how we can go and do likewise.
<h3>Ideas: How to get the right attitude</h3>
Not all people are easily loved; not all people come across as loveable or even in need of your kindness or concern. Sometimes, when someone is afflicted with loneliness or is sad or depressed, they may not respond to our attempts to help as we might hope. But these passages might help each of us to gain a wider perspective and help us to, first, understand:
2:4.2 The better man understands his neighbor, the easier it will be to forgive him, even to love him.
100:4.4 In physical life the senses tell of the existence of things; mind discovers the reality of meanings; but the spiritual experience reveals to the individual the true values of life. These high levels of human living are attained in the supreme love of God and in the unselfish love of man. If you love your fellow men, you must have discovered their values. Jesus loved men so much because he placed such a high value upon them. You can best discover values in your associates by discovering their motivation. If someone irritates you, causes feelings of resentment, you should sympathetically seek to discern his viewpoint, his reasons for such objectionable conduct. If once you understand your neighbor, you will become tolerant, and this tolerance will grow into friendship and ripen into love.
In the mind's eye conjure up a picture of one of your primitive ancestors of cave-dwelling times—a short, misshapen, filthy, snarling hulk of a man standing, legs spread, club upraised, breathing hate and animosity as he looks fiercely just ahead. Such a picture hardly depicts the divine dignity of man. But allow us to enlarge the picture. In front of this animated human crouches a saber-toothed tiger. Behind him, a woman and two children. Immediately you recognize that such a picture stands for the beginnings of much that is fine and noble in the human race, but the man is the same in both pictures. Only, in the second sketch you are favored with a widened horizon. You therein discern the motivation of this evolving mortal. His attitude becomes praiseworthy because you understand him. If you could only fathom the motives of your associates, how much better you would understand them. If you could only know your fellows, you would eventually fall in love with them.
You cannot truly love your fellows by a mere act of the will. Love is only born of thoroughgoing understanding of your neighbor's motives and sentiments. It is not so important to love all men today as it is that each day you learn to love one more human being. If each day or each week you achieve an understanding of one more of your fellows, and if this is the limit of your ability, then you are certainly socializing and truly spiritualizing your personality. Love is infectious, and when human devotion is intelligent and wise, love is more catching than hate. But only genuine and unselfish love is truly contagious. If each mortal could only become a focus of dynamic affection, this benign virus of love would soon pervade the sentimental emotion-stream of humanity to such an extent that all civilization would be encompassed by love, and that would be the realization of the brotherhood of man.
<h3>Refuse to take offense</h3>
In all of our interactions with our neighbor - which is everyone - we always run the risk of conflict - especially these days, it seems. Sometimes, the advice of Jesus can be difficult to practice; these suggestions by Jesus are among those that can be challenging, but nevertheless, it is wonderful advice that Jesus gave to his apostles, and advice that works today as well as it did then:
140:3.14 "I am sending you out into the world to represent me and to act as ambassadors of my Father's kingdom, and as you go forth to proclaim the glad tidings, put your trust in the Father whose messengers you are. Do not forcibly resist injustice; put not your trust in the arm of the flesh. If your neighbor smites you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Be willing to suffer injustice rather than to go to law among yourselves. In kindness and with mercy minister to all who are in distress and in need.
"I say to you: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. And whatsoever you believe that I would do to men, do you also to them.
"Your Father in heaven makes the sun to shine on the evil as well as upon the good; likewise he sends rain on the just and the unjust. You are the sons of God; even more, you are now the ambassadors of my Father's kingdom. Be merciful, even as God is merciful, and in the eternal future of the kingdom you shall be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect.
"You are commissioned to save men, not to judge them. At the end of your earth life you will all expect mercy; therefore do I require of you during your mortal life that you show mercy to all of your brethren in the flesh. Make not the mistake of trying to pluck a mote out of your brother's eye when there is a beam in your own eye. Having first cast the beam out of your own eye, you can the better see to cast the mote out of your brother's eye."
At the same time, pray for discernment...
"Discern the truth clearly; live the righteous life fearlessly ... You have heard it said: `If the blind lead the blind, they both shall fall into the pit.' If you would guide others into the kingdom, you must yourselves walk in the clear light of living truth. In all the business of the kingdom I exhort you to show just judgment and keen wisdom. Present not that which is holy to dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample your gems under foot and turn to rend you."
157:2.2 And when the feelings of service for your fellow men arise within your soul, do not stifle them; when the emotions of love for your neighbor well up within your heart, give expression to such urges of affection in intelligent ministry to the real needs of your fellows."
<h3>A simple agenda</h3>
We certainly should never go out looking for trouble; instead we who are privileged to know God in our hearts; those of us who have experienced God's love...this should make us eager to demonstrate and share that love to all with whom we are in contact, always keeping in mind that we are simply ambassadors of the Kingdom, sharing its beauties with anyone who happens to be before us. Those beauties include the knowledge that we are all connected, that there is joy and peace available for everyone, that we are all part of the great family of God. Knowing our place in this family should help us all to become sincerely friendly and emit an aroma of inclusiveness for all.
We need have no agenda but that. This can be as simple as sharing a cheerful smile to one who appears sad, preoccupied...or even angry. A smile is always reassuring and can open the door to further contact. And if a smiling countenance is the most we can do, it is enough, because that smile will lighten the heart of its recipient and possibly open them to further contact.
And so...here are the points we've covered:
discovering the scope of true neighborliness;
discerning just who we might be on the lookout for as a neighbor who may need us - especially the lonely;
sincerely trying to understand that person and his/her needs; and
taking care to never take offense if rebuffed or rejected in our efforts.
We must keep trying and never give up as we "go about doing good" to all of our neighbors. With sharing the love of God as our motivation, we'll always find inner satisfaction.
Finally, for the most wonderful example of a selfless, compassionate, and forgiving human being, you need go no further than PART IV of The Urantia Book: The Life and Teachings of Jesus. It's the most valuable knowledge you can ever have!
When I saw this title: 6 Ways Jesus Dealt With Anger by Lesli White, I was reminded of times in Jesus' life when he displayed anger, or more appropriately, indignation. He was human, after all, and human beings do have emotions; Jesus was no exception to this, but it's how he expressed his emotions and for what reasons that is important. We'll blog about this below.
But first, I want to say that this is a really nice article for anyone to read, and helps us all to learn from the Master's example about this potentially destructive emotion; there is a time and place for righteous indignation but we have to be wise about it. Here are the 6 ways Jesus dealt with anger from the article- but you have to read the article for the author's inspiring thoughts. I recommend it:
In The Urantia Book stories of Jesus, we never read that he got angry - he never displayed hostility to anyone. He did, however, display indignation - even from an early age. We have to remember that Jesus was a normal human being in every way; the fact that he was also the incarnated Son of God did not change that fact - it just meant that he had to wrestle with his emotions in a way that was consistent with his high mission of revealing the heavenly Father to the world.
100:7.14 His courage was equaled only by his patience. When pressed to act prematurely, he would only reply, "My hour has not yet come." He was never in a hurry; his composure was sublime. But he was often indignant at evil, intolerant of sin. He was often mightily moved to resist that which was inimical to the welfare of his children on earth. But his indignation against sin never led to anger at the sinner.
140:8.21 He was a positive teacher of true virtue. He studiously avoided the negative method of imparting instruction; he refused to advertise evil. He was not even a moral reformer. His few denunciations were largely directed against pride, cruelty, oppression, and hypocrisy.
There's a subtle difference between anger and indignation. As the author of this article points out: "Jesus did not exhibit man's anger, but the righteous indignation of God." Anger is man's problem to subdue, but there is a time for indignation, and it's good to know the difference. Here are some dictionatry definitions:
ANGER: a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility: synonyms: rage · vexation · displeasure · crossness
INDIGNATION: feeling or showing anger or annoyance at what is perceived as unfair treatment: synonyms: resentment · umbrage · affront · disgruntlement · displeasure · annoyance · exasperation
Unlike raw anger, indignation arises from the sense of unfairness; it is anger's better half, perhaps.
<h3>The indignant boy Jesus</h3>
As a human being, Jesus inherited characteristics from his parents, as we all do from our own parents; the tendency to righteous indignation was one of those characteristics. His inborn human genetic inheritance insured that his sense of of fairness and right and wrong was sensitive:
122:5.3 Jesus derived much of his unusual gentleness and marvelous sympathetic understanding of human nature from his father; he inherited his gift as a great teacher and his tremendous capacity for righteous indignation from his mother. In emotional reactions to his adult-life environment, Jesus was at one time like his father, meditative and worshipful, sometimes characterized by apparent sadness; but more often he drove forward in the manner of his mother's optimistic and determined disposition. All in all, Mary's temperament tended to dominate the career of the divine Son as he grew up and swung into the momentous strides of his adult life. In some particulars Jesus was a blending of his parents' traits; in other respects he exhibited the traits of one in contrast with those of the other.
Accordingly, as Jesus grew up he experienced some of those feelings, as in these vignettes from his early life. He would have been 12 years old here. His "youthful indignation" seems to be entirely appropriate, though...see if you agree:
125:0.4 In company with his parents Jesus passed through the temple precincts on his way to join that group of new sons of the law who were about to be consecrated as citizens of Israel. He was a little disappointed by the general demeanor of the temple throngs, but the first great shock of the day came when his mother took leave of them on her way to the women's gallery. It had never occurred to Jesus that his mother was not to accompany him to the consecration ceremonies, and he was thoroughly indignant that she was made to suffer from such unjust discrimination. While he strongly resented this, aside from a few remarks of protest to his father, he said nothing. But he thought, and thought deeply, as his questions to the scribes and teachers a week later disclosed.
125:1.2 But most of all was his sense of propriety outraged by the sight of the frivolous courtesans parading about within this precinct of the temple, just such painted women as he had so recently seen when on a visit to Sepphoris. This profanation of the temple fully aroused all his youthful indignation, and he did not hesitate to express himself freely to Joseph.
<h3>Later examples of Jesus' indignation</h3>
Later in life, soon before his public ministry began, and when Jesus and his first six apostles were attending the wedding at Cana, this happened; it is easy to iamgine a reaction such as this from Jesus. He didn't get mad - just gently indignant. Probably just the "expression of his face" was sufficient to stop the questions:
137:4.4 Early in the afternoon Mary summoned James, and together they made bold to approach Jesus to inquire if he would admit them to his confidence to the extent of informing them at what hour and at what point in connection with the wedding ceremonies he had planned to manifest himself as the "supernatural one." No sooner had they spoken of these matters to Jesus than they saw they had aroused his characteristic indignation. He said only: "If you love me, then be willing to tarry with me while I wait upon the will of my Father who is in heaven." But the eloquence of his rebuke lay in the expression of his face.
And here's a teachable moment where Jesus used his indignation to instruct:
165:4.1 As the apostles baptized believers, the Master talked with those who tarried. And a certain young man said to him: "Master, my father died leaving much property to me and my brother, but my brother refuses to give me that which is my own. Will you, then, bid my brother divide this inheritance with me?" Jesus was mildly indignant that this material-minded youth should bring up for discussion such a question of business; but he proceeded to use the occasion for the impartation of further instruction. Said Jesus: "Man, who made me a divider over you? Where did you get the idea that I give attention to the material affairs of this world?" And then, turning to all who were about him, he said: "Take heed and keep yourselves free from covetousness; a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he may possess. Happiness comes not from the power of wealth, and joy springs not from riches. Wealth, in itself, is not a curse, but the love of riches many times leads to such devotion to the things of this world that the soul becomes blinded to the beautiful attractions of the spiritual realities of the kingdom of God on earth and to the joys of eternal life in heaven.
<h3>The famous cleansing of the temple - was it really anger? Decide for yourself:</h3>
173:1.6 As Jesus was about to begin his address, two things happened to arrest his attention. At the money table of a near-by exchanger a violent and heated argument had arisen over the alleged overcharging of a Jew from Alexandria, while at the same moment the air was rent by the bellowing of a drove of some one hundred bullocks which was being driven from one section of the animal pens to another. As Jesus paused, silently but thoughtfully contemplating this scene of commerce and confusion, close by he beheld a simple-minded Galilean, a man he had once talked with in Iron, being ridiculed and jostled about by supercilious and would-be superior Judeans; and all of this combined to produce one of those strange and periodic uprisings of indignant emotion in the soul of Jesus.
173:1.7 To the amazement of his apostles, standing near at hand, who refrained from participation in what so soon followed, Jesus stepped down from the teaching platform and, going over to the lad who was driving the cattle through the court, took from him his whip of cords and swiftly drove the animals from the temple. But that was not all; he strode majestically before the wondering gaze of the thousands assembled in the temple court to the farthest cattle pen and proceeded to open the gates of every stall and to drive out the imprisoned animals. By this time the assembled pilgrims were electrified, and with uproarious shouting they moved toward the bazaars and began to overturn the tables of the money-changers. In less than five minutes all commerce had been swept from the temple. By the time the near-by Roman guards had appeared on the scene, all was quiet, and the crowds had become orderly; Jesus, returning to the speaker's stand, spoke to the multitude: "You have this day witnessed that which is written in the Scriptures: `My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers.'"
173:1.8 But before he could utter other words, the great assembly broke out in hosannas of praise, and presently a throng of youths stepped out from the crowd to sing grateful hymns of appreciation that the profane and profiteering merchandisers had been ejected from the sacred temple. By this time certain of the priests had arrived on the scene, and one of them said to Jesus, "Do you not hear what the children of the Levites say?" And the Master replied, "Have you never read, `Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings has praise been perfected'?" And all the rest of that day while Jesus taught, guards set by the people stood watch at every archway, and they would not permit anyone to carry even an empty vessel across the temple courts.
If you're like me, you may see the actions of a man who saw the injustice of what was happening and who took matters into his own hands to right the situation. He never did get angry - he just swiftly and effectively, and "majestically" did what had to be done, much to the delight of the temple-going crowds.
<h3>Urantia Book teachings about anger inspired by the beautiful beatitudes</h3>
The ordination sermon given to the apostles by Jesus provides these following points of interest that inspired the authors of these papers to lend instruction to all of us about the value of sympathy and peace in our hearts against destructive emotions of anger:
140:5.16 1. "Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted." So-called common sense or the best of logic would never suggest that happiness could be derived from mourning. But Jesus did not refer to outward or ostentatious mourning. He alluded to an emotional attitude of tenderheartedness. It is a great error to teach boys and young men that it is unmanly to show tenderness or otherwise to give evidence of emotional feeling or physical suffering. Sympathy is a worthy attribute of the male as well as the female. It is not necessary to be calloused in order to be manly. This is the wrong way to create courageous men. The world's great men have not been afraid to mourn. Being sensitive and responsive to human need creates genuine and lasting happiness, while such kindly attitudes safeguard the soul from the destructive influences of anger, hate, and suspicion.
140:5.18 3. "Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God." Jesus' hearers were longing for military deliverance, not for peacemakers. But Jesus' peace is not of the pacific and negative kind. In the face of trials and persecutions he said, "My peace I leave with you." "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." This is the peace that prevents ruinous conflicts. Personal peace integrates personality. Social peace prevents fear, greed, and anger. Political peace prevents race antagonisms, national suspicions, and war. Peacemaking is the cure of distrust and suspicion.
<h3>What can we learn from Jesus about the connection of anger with pride and selfishness?</h3>
In contrast to the world's familiar advice that says: "don't get mad - get even," Jesus' approach to being offended may be one of the hardest to practice...but don't we see how different our world might be if we all practiced this instruction?
141:3.8 Jesus portrayed conquest by sacrifice, the sacrifice of pride and selfishness. By showing mercy, he meant to portray spiritual deliverance from all grudges, grievances, anger, and the lust for selfish power and revenge. And when he said, "Resist not evil," he later explained that he did not mean to condone sin or to counsel fraternity with iniquity. He intended the more to teach forgiveness, to "resist not evil treatment of one's personality, evil injury to one's feelings of personal dignity."
<h3>What the Master taught his apostles and followers about anger</h3>
Finally, here's what Jesus actually taught his followers about anger and how to deal with it...advice that resounds still today::
140:6.4 Then said Simon Peter: "Master, if you have a new commandment, we would hear it. Reveal the new way to us." Jesus answered Peter: "You have heard it said by those who teach the law: `You shall not kill; that whosoever kills shall be subject to judgment.' But I look beyond the act to uncover the motive. I declare to you that every one who is angry with his brother is in danger of condemnation. He who nurses hatred in his heart and plans vengeance in his mind stands in danger of judgment. You must judge your fellows by their deeds; the Father in heaven judges by the intent.
149:4.1 Jesus did very little public work on this preaching tour, but he conducted many evening classes with the believers in most of the cities and villages where he chanced to sojourn with James and John. At one of these evening sessions one of the younger evangelists asked Jesus a question about anger, and the Master, among other things, said in reply:
149:4.2 "Anger is a material manifestation which represents, in a general way, the measure of the failure of the spiritual nature to gain control of the combined intellectual and physical natures. Anger indicates your lack of tolerant brotherly love plus your lack of self-respect and self-control. Anger depletes the health, debases the mind, and handicaps the spirit teacher of man's soul. Have you not read in the Scriptures that `wrath kills the foolish man,' and that man `tears himself in his anger'? That `he who is slow of wrath is of great understanding,' while `he who is hasty of temper exalts folly'? You all know that `a soft answer turns away wrath,' and how `grievous words stir up anger.' `Discretion defers anger,' while `he who has no control over his own self is like a defenseless city without walls.' `Wrath is cruel and anger is outrageous.' `Angry men stir up strife, while the furious multiply their transgressions.' `Be not hasty in spirit, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.'" Before Jesus ceased speaking, he said further: "Let your hearts be so dominated by love that your spirit guide will have little trouble in delivering you from the tendency to give vent to those outbursts of animal anger which are inconsistent with the status of divine sonship."
Again, I recommend the article above to everyone. The author has made some good points that are not in this blog, and they deserve to be appreciated!
In the end, Jesus showed himself to be subject to normal human emotion. But it is what he did with those emotions, how he directed them into channels of good, and how he taught his followers, that should help all of us to become better human beings - people who can actually avoid those destructive feelings of anger, but also people who understand that there is a time and place for the "righteous anger of God."
Hard to resist this one: The Best Retelling of the Jesus Story Isn't from Narnia or Harry Potter by Andrew Wilson. Re-telling of the Jesus story? Urantia Book readers know where that can be found, and it isn't in pop culture!
That said, we do recognize the value of pop culture as a means of telling the traditional Biblical story of death and redemption, such as in the Harry Potter books, or in CS Lewis' Narnia Chronicles. But the main point of this article is that the Old Testament has its own parallel version of this story, too - which is, by the way, something that I was not aware of. Nevertheless, many people still don't know that Jesus entire life and teachings have been beautifully restated in Part IV of The Urantia Book. We'll blog about this amazing gift to the world below, but here's that interesting OT version from the article:
"Take the story of Joseph, for instance. As we are introduced to him in Genesis 37, Joseph, like Jesus, is favored by his father, honored in front of his family, and given a vision of the whole of Israel worshiping him. This prompts jealousy and hatred from his brothers, who conspire to kill him, even as he comes to serve them. Reuben intercedes for him, as Pilate later will for Jesus, but Joseph is eventually thrown into a pit anyway and sold for pieces of silver through the mediation of Judah (whose name, in its Greek form, would be Judas). Blood is presented to Joseph's father—the blood of a goat, the animal which makes atonement in Leviticus.
The parallels continue in Genesis 39. After he avoids being murdered out of jealousy, Joseph finds safety in Egypt. As he grows older, all that he does prospers ..."
There's more to this article, too. If you are a subscriber to Christianity Today you can read even more examples. We are not, but still, just this one example is interesting, in that it introduces the old story of atonement and sacrifice that became the cornerstone of Jesus' story, too. It may be easy to see after realizing the element of blood sacrifice that was prevalent in Scripture, that Jesus' story might be thought to contain the same elements, making his incarnation here a familiar and palatable story; a story that the peoples of those times were familiar with...in addition, the cult of Mithra had many similarities to Jesus' story, and it influenced Paul's Christianity greatly, as did other of the mystery cults of those days. Reading about these influences is an illluminating experience!
More than 2000 years have passed since Jesus walked this earth; over those many years, the search for a real understanding of the incarnation has been ongoing - an understanding of it's true purposes and its true meaning. A great church has arisen on the heels of Jesus death and resurrection - a church built around those facts alone - but now, in this 21st century after the Master walked among us, Chrisitanity is facing a challenge to its very existence as never before. Part of that challenge has to do with the fact that the institutionalized church has become so much a part of the culture in which it has grown; the original gospel of Jesus and the heavenly kingdom that he established has been submerged in favor of the gospel described above: the gospel of the risen Christ. The Urantia Book calls Christianity the gospel ABOUT Jesus, as opposed to the gospel OF Jesus.
<h3>How did this happen? What happened to Jesus original gospel?</h3>
From The Urantia Book:
194:4.4 What has happened to these men whom Jesus had ordained to go forth preaching the gospel of the kingdom, the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man? They have a new gospel; they are on fire with a new experience; they are filled with a new spiritual energy. Their message has suddenly shifted to the proclamation of the risen Christ: "Jesus of Nazareth, a man God approved by mighty works and wonders; him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you did crucify and slay. The things which God foreshadowed by the mouth of all the prophets, he thus fulfilled. This Jesus did God raise up. God has made him both Lord and Christ. Being, by the right hand of God, exalted and having received from the Father the promise of the spirit, he has poured forth this which you see and hear. Repent, that your sins may be blotted out; that the Father may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you, even Jesus, whom the heaven must receive until the times of the restoration of all things."
194:4.6 Christ was about to become the creed of the rapidly forming church. Jesus lives; he died for men; he gave the spirit; he is coming again. Jesus filled all their thoughts and determined all their new concepts of God and everything else. They were too much enthused over the new doctrine that "God is the Father of the Lord Jesus" to be concerned with the old message that "God is the loving Father of all men," even of every single individual. True, a marvelous manifestation of brotherly love and unexampled good will did spring up in these early communities of believers. But it was a fellowship of believers in Jesus, not a fellowship of brothers in the family kingdom of the Father in heaven. Their good will arose from the love born of the concept of Jesus' bestowal and not from the recognition of the brotherhood of mortal man. Nevertheless, they were filled with joy, and they lived such new and unique lives that all men were attracted to their teachings about Jesus. They made the great mistake of using the living and illustrative commentary on the gospel of the kingdom for that gospel, but even that represented the greatest religion mankind had ever known.
But Jesus did not leave us alone when he returned to Paradise; he sent his Spirit out to dwell in all people at Pentecost, and that Spirit of Truth has been very active all this time, too. That good Spirit really does help expose error and promote truth for individuals.
194:2.1 Jesus lived on earth and taught a gospel which redeemed man from the superstition that he was a child of the devil and elevated him to the dignity of a faith son of God. Jesus' message, as he preached it and lived it in his day, was an effective solvent for man's spiritual difficulties in that day of its statement. And now that he has personally left the world, he sends in his place his Spirit of Truth, who is designed to live in man and, for each new generation, to restate the Jesus message so that every new group of mortals to appear upon the face of the earth shall have a new and up-to-date version of the gospel, just such personal enlightenment and group guidance as will prove to be an effective solvent for man's ever-new and varied spiritual difficulties.
The Spirit of Truth has been active; people are not quite as willing today to believe in a wrathful god who strikes down an innocent child for the sins of other children. Mankind rightly questions traditional Biblical stories regarding a six-day creation, Adam and Eve, and other stories that do not pass the test of reason. People are more educated in the history of Christianity - the history of the Bible - the influence of human beings on the direction of the churches - the over-emphasis on the material needs of the church and its representatives. When the churches who assume to represent Jesus do not meet their needs, people still understand that Jesus, and only Jesus, CAN meet those needs - and they want to know him more, even outside the confines of any church.
People long to know Jesus; they long to connect with him on a deep level not readily offered by church attendence and adherence to dogma and theologies. At a deep level, we all know that there is much more to Jesus than we have known up 'til now.
<h3>The search is over</h3>
Into this search for the real Jesus - in the very midst of a tumultuous society undergoing tremendous change - the rise of global communication - the recognition of the paucity of reliable truth about religion and its meanings - comes The Urantia Book.
Stories that echo tales of wrathful deities, wrongly accused heroes, and miraculous victories over death have been part of humanity forever. It may have been a natural development to try and fit Jesus - the actual Son of God - into such a story, too. After all, it is hardly a common occurrence to have a divine being incarnate as a human being - in fact it does not happen but once in any given universe. Jesus' life was a stupendous occurrence to the peoples of his times, and that incarnation of the divine into the human is still resonationg in the hearts of people everywhere.
But, the real story of Jesus, while it may be somewhat reminiscent of some of the old stories, is a completely new and thrilling story that the world needs to know - the true story of the lowly carpenter of Nazareth who is also the divine Son of God; a story that tells the whole truth of who he was and why he came to us when he did.
<h3>Revelation is a divine gift</h3>
One purpose of revelation is to sift and illuminate truth for its recipients - to save many generations of searching - through revealing ennobling truth that they can use NOW. The Urantia Book is one such revelation - an epochal revelation. Leaving aside the many other revelations that we receive in its pages, the most exciting and uplifting of all of its revelation is the true life and teachings of Jesus.
At the very beginning of Part IV of The Urantia Book, we read the following statement, which informs us of a major source of the narrative (with helpful links supplied by ed.):
"This group of papers was sponsored by a commission of twelve Urantia midwayers acting under the supervision of a Melchizedek revelatory director. The basis of this narrative was supplied by a secondary midwayer who was onetime assigned to the superhuman watchcare of the Apostle Andrew."
In other words, this account is based on eyewitness testimony by the midwayer (angelic being) who accompanied Andrew during his life with the Master. And Andrew, as we know, was the first of the apostles and one who was present during the majority of Jesus' ministry.
The authors of The Urantia Book call this revelation of Jesus a "restatement." And in Paper 121, you can read the full explanation by one of those authors regarding the further origins of this restatement, both human and divine:
This is an account which can be counted on; an account that has no connection to pop culture of this, or any other day; an account that has been checked for accuracy, then verified by the superhuman memories and records of the Master's real life.
<h3>An Exquisite Re-Telling</h3>
While going back into the Bible and finding parallel stories that echo Christianity's take on Jesus may be fun and interesting; while seeing these kinds of retellings in popular culture may be sentimental and sweet, why not go straight for the real deal that you'll find in Part IV of The Urantia Book?
Not only is it a great, easy read...it provides the reader with a valid blueprint for the greatest human life ever lived; a life that can be emulated in its essence - a pattern life lived in dedication to God and his will, and a life that also reveals God to mankind; this God that Jesus revealed in his life puts to rest any outworn depiction of the heavenly Father as a vengeful, frightening deity. And this is another truly wonderful gift that The Urantia Book gives to us. The religious life of Jesus and how he lived it constitutes the most valuable knowledge that can be had - and it can only be found in The Urantia Book.
Given The Urantia Book's marvelous revelations concerning mind, I was naturally drawn to the title of this article in an African newspaper that came across my feed. It is called Taking charge of your mind by Emmanuel Makandiwa, a Pentecostal minister. The article does not really get to the point of "taking charge of the mind" for the first half of the article; instead, the author seems to be very interested in the statement that Jesus made about the foxes having holes and the birds of the air having nests, but Jesus not having a place to lay his head. It is an interesting statement and it is rare to see it discussed, so we'll blog a bit about it below. But the main interest for me - and hopfully for you - is the idea of taking charge of one's mind and thoughts and imagination.
Here's a snippet about that from the article
"Imagination is the power God has given to us and we have to put it to work. We have to keep on practising it on a daily basis until it works. Imagination is the ability you have already but you might just be using it in a bad way. Whatever you imagine can either bring good results or bad results. Like the book of Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he . . . "; you become a product of your thinking. What you continuously think about in life is what you become."
Our minds are a part of us that many take for granted. The Urantia Book teachings regarding mind are wonderful. They take the student into places that have never been explored elsewhere and help each reader to grasp the origins and the mechanisms of mind. Take a look at our topical study of MIND to see what I mean. This study is a condensation of many of the book's teachings about mind, and will give the reader a good overview..
<h3>The power of mind</h3>
In our world of conflict, the war of words between truth and falsehood, and the dismal picture of a planet in distress it is very easy to succumb to negativity. It is more important than ever to safeguard our minds, and to monitor and sift the thoughts that come into our consciousness. In this world of near-constant bombardment by sensory input through printed word, television or social media, we may find ourselves suddenly uneasy, anxious, unhappy or otherwise distressed. We may find that our feelings are inexplicably sad or angry. But since feelings always come in response to thought, we have the power to backtrack and trace the genesis of those feelings...and then choose something better.
Gladly, we are not the hapless victims of our thoughts. We can control them and direct them for our benefit and the benefit of the world around us, rather than feeling at their mercy.
Imagination is a powerful thing; left undirected, or driven by negative feelings, it can telegraph dire happening in our future; but when "spiritized," it can provide a vision of hope that we can look forward to - a future of goodness, joy, and peace. And no matter which way we use our imagination, the end result is that "what we sow, we reap." Our power of choice extends to our thoughts as well as our actions.
Urantia Book reader/students know that there lives within each of us a spark of divinity - a fragment of the heavenly Father - as well as the Spirit of Truth living in our minds and hearts that always points us towards truth, beauty and goodness. We have a "conspiracy" of spiritual forces working on our behalf, if we will just call upon them and co-operate with them.
<h3>A State of Mind</h3>
The mind and its workings in the inner life of each individual is an important subject in The Urantia Book as well.
One of my favorite passages in this regard is:
101:1.3 The divine spirit makes contact with mortal man, not by feelings or emotions, but in the realm of the highest and most spiritualized thinking. It is your thoughts, not your feelings, that lead you Godward. The divine nature may be perceived only with the eyes of the mind. But the mind that really discerns God, hears the indwelling Adjuster, is the pure mind. "Without holiness no man may see the Lord." All such inner and spiritual communion is termed spiritual insight. Such religious experiences result from the impress made upon the mind of man by the combined operations of the Adjuster and the Spirit of Truth as they function amid and upon the ideas, ideals, insights, and spirit strivings of the evolving sons of God.
<h3>Imagine that - the importance of the inner life</h3>
111:4.8 You cannot completely control the external world—environment. It is the creativity of the inner world that is most subject to your direction because there your personality is so largely liberated from the fetters of the laws of antecedent causation. There is associated with personality a limited sovereignty of will.
111:4.9 Since this inner life of man is truly creative, there rests upon each person the responsibility of choosing as to whether this creativity shall be spontaneous and wholly haphazard or controlled, directed, and constructive. How can a creative imagination produce worthy children when the stage whereon it functions is already preoccupied by prejudice, hate, fears, resentments, revenge, and bigotries?
111:4.10 Ideas may take origin in the stimuli of the outer world, but ideals are born only in the creative realms of the inner world. Today the nations of the world are directed by men who have a superabundance of ideas, but they are poverty-stricken in ideals. That is the explanation of poverty, divorce, war, and racial hatreds.
111:4.11 This is the problem: If freewill man is endowed with the powers of creativity in the inner man, then must we recognize that freewill creativity embraces the potential of freewill destructivity. And when creativity is turned to destructivity, you are face to face with the devastation of evil and sin—oppression, war, and destruction. Evil is a partiality of creativity which tends toward disintegration and eventual destruction. All conflict is evil in that it inhibits the creative function of the inner life—it is a species of civil war in the personality.
111:4.12 Inner creativity contributes to ennoblement of character through personality integration and selfhood unification. It is forever true: The past is unchangeable; only the future can be changed by the ministry of the present creativity of the inner self.
Talk it over with a friend. Two and two is a good way to go
160:2.8 One of the crowning glories of human friendship is this power and possibility of the mutual stimulation of the imagination. Great spiritual power is inherent in the consciousness of wholehearted devotion to a common cause, mutual loyalty to a cosmic Deity.
Understanding the power of the mind and the power of thought is an important step to take when trying to lead a spiritual life - a Godward life. The Urantia Book teachings take us deep into an enlightened understanding of the mind. And one of the workings of the mind is the imagination, as mentioned in the article above. But we must be sure to use the mind that is directed by Spirit to have the greatest success in life. This is a choice that every person can, and must, make in order to really take charge of one's life. Because it really is true, that Bible verse that states: "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."
Jesus said it so well, when he counseled "the young man who was afraid" to activate his mind and his intellect to overcome fear and anxiety:
130:6.3"Set your mind at work to solve its problems; teach your intellect to work for you; refuse longer to be dominated by fear like an unthinking animal. Your mind should be your courageous ally in the solution of your life problems rather than your being, as you have been, its abject fear-slave and the bond-servant of depression and defeat. But most valuable of all, your potential of real achievement is the spirit which lives within you, and which will stimulate and inspire your mind to control itself and activate the body if you will release it from the fetters of fear and thus enable your spiritual nature to begin your deliverance from the evils of inaction by the power-presence of living faith. And then, forthwith, will this faith vanquish fear of men by the compelling presence of that new and all-dominating love of your fellows which will so soon fill your soul to overflowing because of the consciousness which has been born in your heart that you are a child of God. "
<h3>The foxes and the birds</h3>
The statement by Jesus about his not having a place to lay his head is an interesting one. So we did want to give some Urantia Book references for it, too..
That phrase about the foxes and the birds of the air is encountered twice in The Urantia Book; first time was the day after Peter's Confession. These passages are from "The Next Afternoon":
157:6.8 "From this time on, if any man would have fellowship with us, let him assume the obligations of sonship and follow me. And when I am no more with you, think not that the world will treat you better than it did your Master. If you love me, prepare to prove this affection by your willingness to make the supreme sacrifice."
157:6.12 "And now can your faith comprehend the truth of these declarations in the face of my warning you that the Son of Man will not meet the expectations of your fathers as they conceived the Messiah? My kingdom is not of this world. Can you believe the truth about me in the face of the fact that, though the foxes have holes and the birds of heaven have nests, I have not where to lay my head?"
157:6.13 "Nevertheless, I tell you that the Father and I are one. He who has seen me has seen the Father. My Father is working with me in all these things, and he will never leave me alone in my mission, even as I will never forsake you when you presently go forth to proclaim this gospel throughout the world.
And the second time he makes this statement is just before he met the rich young man:
163:2.2 One earnest disciple came to Jesus, saying: "Master, I would be one of your new apostles, but my father is very old and near death; could I be permitted to return home to bury him?" To this man Jesus said: "My son, the foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. You are a faithful disciple, and you can remain such while you return home to minister to your loved ones, but not so with my gospel messengers. They have forsaken all to follow me and proclaim the kingdom. If you would be an ordained teacher, you must let others bury the dead while you go forth to publish the good news." And this man went away in great disappointment.
It is doubtful whether Jesus was lamenting the fact that he was essentially a homeless person in making this statement; instead, he was encouraging more of us to forsake the world as he did, in small and large ways, so that we may be less distracted in our desire to build the kingdom.
For the most inspiring picture of just how Jesus strove to build the kingdom in his life, please start HERE.
Far too often it seems that the world sees Jesus mainly as the Son of God; it's easy to forget that he was also the Son of man...a true human being. So, this article in the popular press: Jesus Experienced Human Emotions by Dr Fillmer Hevener seemed a good jumping-off point to blog about the humanity of Jesus using the teachings of The Urantia Book - and that blog begins below. I think this article will appeal to anyone who wants to know more about Jesus' humanity. Although we don't share the same philosophy as the author on some points, it is always good to be remined of some of Jesus' real commonality with us; here are a few snippets, and a crucial question that we'll try to answer:
"The New Testament tells us that Jesus was not only divine, but, also, human. That is, He experienced the same kinds of challenges that you and I experience daily. John 1:14 tells us that the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us.
"Why was it necessary for Jesus to take on the form of humanity? There are several possible reasons. First, He "walked in our shoes," knowing what it means to belong to the human race. Second, He was tempted in all ways as we are; therefore, He experienced the same type of temptations that you and I face each day. Third, He felt the pangs of death; unless we are living when Christ returns the second time, we shall all face the shadow of death, for death in this life is universal..."
This question is very important when trying to understand the incarnation of Jesus; traditional Christianity (the religion about Jesus) teaches that Jesus took on the form of humanity so that he could suffer and die for the sins of mankind - that his sufferings and death were the price that God required in order to atone for the consequences of the sin of Adam in the Garden - the "original" sin that was supposedly passed down to all human beings.
In The Urantia Book - a 21st century revelation to mankind - we discover a different reason that Jesus incarnated as a human being on our world; in Part IV of The Urantia Book - really, throughout all four parts of the book - we discover the true identity and the true mission of the man that the world knows and loves as Jesus of Nazareth.
One of the most sweeping revelations of The Urantia Book is the revelation of the true nature of God; the primary reason that Jesus came to our world was to reveal that divine nature to all mankind through the life he lived and the teachings that he gave to us. Jesus told us that he who has seen him has seen the Father; therefore, we can rightly judge the nature of God by studying the life of Jesus. In Jesus we see a loving, tolerant, forgiving person; a righteous personality whose sympathetic nature was always perfectly balanced with devotion and duty. Jesus was never vengeful; he was rarely even angry, and so we must not think those things of God.
<h3>What did Jesus say about why he came?</h3>
143:1.4 "I have come into this world to do the will of my Father and to reveal his loving character to all mankind. That, my brethren, is my mission. And this one thing I will do, regardless of the misunderstanding of my teachings by Jews or gentiles of this day or of another generation.
145:2.4 I have come, not to reveal the Father to the children of Israel, but rather to bring this knowledge of God and the revelation of his love and mercy to the individual believer as a genuine personal experience. The prophets have all taught you that Yahweh cares for his people, that God loves Israel. But I have come among you to proclaim a greater truth, one which many of the later prophets also grasped, that God loves you—every one of you—as individuals. All these generations have you had a national or racial religion; now have I come to give you a personal religion.
162:2.3 "I know the Father, for I have come from the Father to declare and reveal him to you."
149:6.5 "The power of God engenders fear in the heart of man, but the nobility and righteousness of his personality beget reverence, love, and willing worship. A dutiful and affectionate son does not fear or dread even a mighty and noble father. I have come into the world to put love in the place of fear, joy in the place of sorrow, confidence in the place of dread, loving service and appreciative worship in the place of slavish bondage and meaningless ceremonies.
<h3>Why else did Jesus come here?</h3>
Jesus, before he incarnated here, he was (and is still) known by his universe title: Christ Michael. He is a Creator Son of God - a Michael Son. He created the universe in which we live, which is called Nebadon. Our little world is a part of that creation, and it is called Urantia. In order to most fully appreciate and administer his creation, Creator Sons must undergo incarnation in the likeness of all creatures that inhabit that creation - this includes angelic and human creatures, and is a sevenfold process, ending with incarnation as a "man of the realm."
From The Urantia Book:
119:0.2 The attribute of bestowal is inherent in the Paradise Sons of the Universal Father. In their desire to come close to the life experiences of their subordinate living creatures, the various orders of the Paradise Sons are reflecting the divine nature of their Paradise parents.
119:0.4 The purpose of these creature incarnations is to enable such Creators to become wise, sympathetic, just, and understanding sovereigns. These divine Sons are innately just, but they become understandingly merciful as a result of these successive bestowal experiences; they are naturally merciful, but these experiences make them merciful in new and additional ways. These bestowals are the last steps in their education and training for the sublime tasks of ruling the local universes in divine righteousness and by just judgment.
119:0.7 The local universe of Nebadon is now ruled by a Creator Son who has completed his service of bestowal; he reigns in just and merciful supremacy over all the vast realms of his evolving and perfecting universe. Michael made ready for his first bestowal adventure about the time Urantia was taking on its present form, one billion years ago. His bestowals have occurred about one hundred and fifty million years apart, the last taking place on Urantia nineteen hundred years ago.
And that final bestowal was as Jesus of Nazareth.
To gain a glimpse of the vast scope of this bestowal processs, I include some commentary by the angelic beings who revealed these things to us through The Urantia Book:
119:7.2 The public announcement that Michael had selected Urantia as the theater for his final bestowal was made shortly after we learned about the default of Adam and Eve. And thus, for more than thirty-five thousand years, your world occupied a very conspicuous place in the councils of the entire universe. There was no secrecy (aside from the incarnation mystery) connected with any step in the Urantia bestowal. From first to last, up to the final and triumphant return of Michael to Salvington as supreme Universe Sovereign, there was the fullest universe publicity of all that transpired on your small but highly honored world.
119:7.3 While we believed that this would be the method, we never knew, until the time of the event itself, that Michael would appear on earth as a helpless infant of the realm. Theretofore had he always appeared as a fully developed individual of the personality group of the bestowal selection, and it was a thrilling announcement which was broadcast from Salvington telling that the babe of Bethlehem had been born on Urantia.
119:7.4 We then not only realized that our Creator and friend was taking the most precarious step in all his career, apparently risking his position and authority on this bestowal as a helpless infant, but we also understood that his experience in this final and mortal bestowal would eternally enthrone him as the undisputed and supreme sovereign of the universe of Nebadon. For a third of a century of earth time all eyes in all parts of this local universe were focused on Urantia. All intelligences realized that the last bestowal was in progress, and as we had long known of the Lucifer rebellion in Satania and of the Caligastia disaffection on Urantia, we well understood the intensity of the struggle which would ensue when our ruler condescended to incarnate on Urantia in the humble form and likeness of mortal flesh.
119:7.5 Joshua ben Joseph, the Jewish baby, was conceived and was born into the world just as all other babies before and since except that this particular baby was the incarnation of Michael of Nebadon, a divine Son of Paradise and the creator of all this local universe of things and beings. And this mystery of the incarnation of Deity within the human form of Jesus, otherwise of natural origin on the world, will forever remain unsolved. Even in eternity you will never know the technique and method of the incarnation of the Creator in the form and likeness of his creatures. That is the secret of Sonarington, and such mysteries are the exclusive possession of those divine Sons who have passed through the bestowal experience.
Read about all seven of Christ Michael's bewstowals on his universe HERE.
<h3>Were there other reasons that Jesus came here?</h3>
The final reason that Jesus came here was to take back the sovereignty of this planet from the archrebels who had plunged this world into darkness during the infamous days of the Lucifer rebellion. Prior to Jesus' incarnation, the world had been under the rule of the traitorous Caligastia. But one day in late Summer, on Mt Hermon, Jesus reclaimed this world for his own; he ended the rebellion, and ever since that day, the archrebels (save one) have been removed from this world. Jesus is now unquestioned sovereign of the universe of his making.
<h3>Jesus' Sublime Humanity</h3>
We know from both the Bible and from The Urantia Book that Jesus was and always will be a divine being - a divine Son of God. But we have to remember that he is also a true human being. He was conceived as we are, he was born into the world as we are, he ate food, drank water, slept, cried, laughed, worked, traveled, and experienced the full gamut of human emotions. And he suffered and died as we do; not that we suffer the same as he did, but we know for sure that Jesus is no stranger to suffering. Finally, he rose from the dead as we all will; in fact, one of the greatest things about his incarnation is his demonstration of real resurrection after death - a process that we can all anticipate. Why? Because he was a human being, just as we are. He showed us the ideal of human life from birth, to death, to an eternal life with God.
In our study of Jesus his humanity is often overlooked, or minimized. This is not the case with The Urantia Book. In it's pages, we see the true humanity of this God/man. And we can learn valuable lessons from studying his life. The revelators tell us that knowing the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it is the most valuable knowledge we can acquire. In The Urantia Book, we have that life revealed to us in thrilling and insiring detail.
"He lived a real life, a full life, and a truly normal, natural, and average life in the flesh. He knows from personal experience the equivalent of the actuality of the entire sum and substance of the living of the life of human beings on the material worlds of time and space."
129:4.4 The Son of Man experienced those wide ranges of human emotion which reach from superb joy to profound sorrow. He was a child of joy and a being of rare good humor; likewise was he a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." In a spiritual sense, he did live through the mortal life from the bottom to the top, from the beginning to the end. From a material point of view, he might appear to have escaped living through both social extremes of human existence, but intellectually he became wholly familiar with the entire and complete experience of humankind.
129:4.5 Jesus knows about the thoughts and feelings, the urges and impulses, of the evolutionary and ascendant mortals of the realms, from birth to death. He has lived the human life from the beginnings of physical, intellectual, and spiritual selfhood up through infancy, childhood, youth, and adulthood—even to the human experience of death. He not only passed through these usual and familiar human periods of intellectual and spiritual advancement, but he also fully experienced those higher and more advanced phases of human and Adjuster reconciliation which so few Urantia mortals ever attain. And thus he experienced the full life of mortal man, not only as it is lived on your world, but also as it is lived on all other evolutionary worlds of time and space, even on the highest and most advanced of all the worlds settled in light and life.
129:4.6 Although this perfect life which he lived in the likeness of mortal flesh may not have received the unqualified and universal approval of his fellow mortals, those who chanced to be his contemporaries on earth, still, the life which Jesus of Nazareth lived in the flesh and on Urantia did receive full and unqualified acceptance by the Universal Father as constituting at one and the same time, and in one and the same personality-life, the fullness of the revelation of the eternal God to mortal man and the presentation of perfected human personality to the satisfaction of the Infinite Creator.
129:4.7 And this was his true and supreme purpose. He did not come down to live on Urantia as the perfect and detailed example for any child or adult, any man or woman, in that age or any other. True it is, indeed, that in his full, rich, beautiful, and noble life we may all find much that is exquisitely exemplary, divinely inspiring, but this is because he lived a true and genuinely human life. Jesus did not live his life on earth in order to set an example for all other human beings to copy. He lived this life in the flesh by the same mercy ministry that you all may live your lives on earth; and as he lived his mortal life in his day and as he was, so did he thereby set the example for all of us thus to live our lives in our day and as we are. You may not aspire to live his life, but you can resolve to live your lives even as, and by the same means that, he lived his. Jesus may not be the technical and detailed example for all the mortals of all ages on all the realms of this local universe, but he is everlastingly the inspiration and guide of all Paradise pilgrims from the worlds of initial ascension up through a universe of universes and on through Havona to Paradise. Jesus is the new and living way from man to God, from the partial to the perfect, from the earthly to the heavenly, from time to eternity.
<h3>Where is Jesus now?</h3>
119:8.1 After Michael's final and successful bestowal on Urantia he was not only accepted by the Ancients of Days as sovereign ruler of Nebadon, but he was also recognized by the Universal Father as the established director of the local universe of his own creation. Upon his return to Salvington this Michael, the Son of Man and the Son of God, was proclaimed the settled ruler of Nebadon. From Uversa came the eighth proclamation of Michael's sovereignty, while from Paradise came the joint pronouncement of the Universal Father and the Eternal Son constituting this union of God and man sole head of the universe.
119:8.2 It required almost one billion years of Urantia time to complete the bestowal career of Michael and to effect the final establishment of his supreme authority in the universe of his own creation. Michael was born a creator, educated an administrator, trained an executive, but he was required to earn his sovereignty by experience. And thus has your little world become known throughout all Nebadon as the arena wherein Michael completed the experience which is required of every Paradise Creator Son before he is given unlimited control and direction of the universe of his own making. As you ascend the local universe, you will learn more about the ideals of the personalities concerned in Michael's previous bestowals.
<h3>Find out More</h3>
We hope that after reading this essay and presentation of Urantia Book teachings about Jesus of Nazareth, you'll be inspired to read more; the complete Life and Teachings of Jesus can be found HERE. Please click on the link and satisfy every desire you've ever had of knowing Jesus - the human Jesus as well as the divine Jesus - better.
He is one of us - he knows us - he loves us, and he always will. Learning more about his matchless life can improve your own life in amazing ways as you learn to "follow Jesus."
Would you agree that it's time to have a conversation about hell and put this terrible concept to rest? Is it really true that Jesus spoke of such a horrid place? This current article in the religious press caught my eye and inspired me to bring this subject up again: Why would Jesus talk about hell? by Harold N Miller. If it is true, as Jesus tells us, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" - we have to acknowledge that we never saw Jesus condemn anyone to hell - and we never heard him speak of the heavenly Father as a vindictive, punishing Father. And if that's true, then we must, in all fairness, question these saying that are attributed to the God of Love. We'll blog about this idea below, but first, here are some selections from the article that are worth reading, and considering. This author asks:
"Why would Jesus — the Lord of love, the author of grace — talk about a fate that horrible?
"Our minds tend to go toward worst-case answers:
"Jesus was not as compassionate and wise as us.
"He allowed the brutality and barbarism of his day to rub off on him.
"Or maybe he himself never spoke threats of hell, but over-zealous followers put them in his mouth.
"But there are also best-case answers available:
"Jesus' images of horror and agony may simply be a description of a chosen path of sinful selfishness going on forever, on a trajectory toward abject misery. Jesus, more perceptive and wiser than any other prophet or teacher, was more aware of this danger than any other. And so he in compassion warned us of it more than any other."
We tend to think that the author of this article has pretty much hit the nail on the head with that last statement - and Urantia Book teachings supply all the missing pieces. Let's get started.
<h3>What really IS the result of choosing sin?</h3>
In the article above, there is a sense that this author feels Jesus did not really ever say that there was a hell created by his Father for his erring children; and this is something that Urantia Book readers wholeheartedly believe...but If there is not actual place of eternal damnation, what happens to people who are truly evil - people who have knowingly sinned against God so often and so consistently that they have become iniquitous?
We cannot ever judge another's heart or their motivations; but having said that, we do believe that there are those people whose disdain for the good, the true and the beautiful - for God - seems obvious. What happens to a person who has become "sin-identified"?
<h3>The Urantia Book provides answers</h3>
In The Urantia Book, we discover a solution to this age-old dilemma of eternal damnation. The book teaches us that the greatest punishment that can ever be meted out to such a one is eternal annihilation - cessation of existence as a person for all eternity. There's no physical manifestation of fire or torment (which would be futile anyway, since there is no physical body to burn) ... instead, the punishment is an extinguishing of that person's being for all time.
2:3.2 The greatest punishment (in reality an inevitable consequence) for wrongdoing and deliberate rebellion against the government of God is loss of existence as an individual subject of that government. The final result of wholehearted sin is annihilation. In the last analysis, such sin-identified individuals have destroyed themselves by becoming wholly unreal through their embrace of iniquity. The factual disappearance of such a creature is, however, always delayed until the ordained order of justice current in that universe has been fully complied with.
2:3.4 When this sentence is finally confirmed, the sin-identified being instantly becomes as though he had not been. There is no resurrection from such a fate; it is everlasting and eternal. The living energy factors of identity are resolved by the transformations of time and the metamorphoses of space into the cosmic potentials whence they once emerged. As for the personality of the iniquitous one, it is deprived of a continuing life vehicle by the creature's failure to make those choices and final decisions which would have assured eternal life. When the continued embrace of sin by the associated mind culminates in complete self-identification with iniquity, then upon the cessation of life, upon cosmic dissolution, such an isolated personality is absorbed into the oversoul of creation, becoming a part of the evolving experience of the Supreme Being. Never again does it appear as a personality; its identity becomes as though it had never been. In the case of an Adjuster-indwelt personality, the experiential spirit values survive in the reality of the continuing Adjuster.
2:6.8 God loves the sinner and hates the sin: such a statement is true philosophically, but God is a transcendent personality, and persons can only love and hate other persons. Sin is not a person. God loves the sinner because he is a personality reality (potentially eternal), while towards sin God strikes no personal attitude, for sin is not a spiritual reality; it is not personal; therefore does only the justice of God take cognizance of its existence. The love of God saves the sinner; the law of God destroys the sin. This attitude of the divine nature would apparently change if the sinner finally identified himself wholly with sin just as the same mortal mind may also fully identify itself with the indwelling spirit Adjuster. Such a sin-identified mortal would then become wholly unspiritual in nature (and therefore personally unreal) and would experience eventual extinction of being. Unreality, even incompleteness of creature nature, cannot exist forever in a progressingly real and increasingly spiritual universe.
God is the ultimate reality. And God IS truth, goodness, and beauty. So we see, that deliberate and continued sin against God renders the sinner increasingly unreal. As the sinner becomes so far removed from God, he/she progressively loses reality, and so it becomes inevitable that s/he cannot continue existing in a universe that is progressive, as God's universe of universes is.
<h3>God is kind and he is merciful</h3>
It is wonderful to know that there is not - and never has been - and never will be - a scary place of fire and brimstone and eternal torment of the body and the spirit. God is not vengeful like that: he is the God of Love - the God that Jesus revealed to us through his life and teachings.
2:5.1 "God is love"; therefore his only personal attitude towards the affairs of the universe is always a reaction of divine affection. The Father loves us sufficiently to bestow his life upon us. "He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
2:5.2 It is wrong to think of God as being coaxed into loving his children because of the sacrifices of his Sons or the intercession of his subordinate creatures, "for the Father himself loves you." It is in response to this paternal affection that God sends the marvelous Adjusters to indwell the minds of men. God's love is universal; "whosoever will may come." He would "have all men be saved by coming into the knowledge of the truth." He is "not willing that any should perish."
2:5.3 The Creators are the very first to attempt to save man from the disastrous results of his foolish transgression of the divine laws. God's love is by nature a fatherly affection; therefore does he sometimes "chasten us for our own profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness." Even during your fiery trials remember that "in all our afflictions he is afflicted with us."
2:5.4 God is divinely kind to sinners. When rebels return to righteousness, they are mercifully received, "for our God will abundantly pardon." "I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God."
2:5.5 After all, the greatest evidence of the goodness of God and the supreme reason for loving him is the indwelling gift of the Father—the Adjuster who so patiently awaits the hour when you both shall be eternally made one. Though you cannot find God by searching, if you will submit to the leading of the indwelling spirit, you will be unerringly guided, step by step, life by life, through universe upon universe, and age by age, until you finally stand in the presence of the Paradise personality of the Universal Father.
<h3>Lucifer awaits such a fate</h3>
We all know of at least a few angelic beings who have become so sin-identified that their fate could very well be that of total annihilation - Lucifer, Satan, Caligastia (aka the devil), and others of their kind who betrayed God, betrayed Jesus, and betrayed all of us through their nefarious rebellion:
53:9.7 The rebellion has ended on Jerusem. It ends on the fallen worlds as fast as divine Sons arrive. We believe that all rebels who will ever accept mercy have done so. We await the flashing broadcast that will deprive these traitors of personality existence. We anticipate the verdict of Uversa will be announced by the executionary broadcast which will effect the annihilation of these interned rebels. Then will you look for their places, but they shall not be found. "And they who know you among the worlds will be astonished at you; you have been a terror, but never shall you be any more." And thus shall all of these unworthy traitors "become as though they had not been." All await the Uversa decree.
53:9.8 But for ages the seven prison worlds of spiritual darkness in Satania have constituted a solemn warning to all Nebadon, eloquently and effectively proclaiming the great truth "that the way of the transgressor is hard"; "that within every sin is concealed the seed of its own destruction"; that "the wages of sin is death."
<h3>Are there others?</h3>
Again, it is not our prerogative to pass judgment on any personality...certainly not human beings like us. No one can rightly judge another or their motivations for what they do. What may look totally evil to us may, in God's eyes, have a shred of reason or an extenuating circumstance upon which mercy may be placed as a tempering force.
But we do know that this final extinguishing of personality is the worst thing that can possibly happen; and so it behooves all of us to choose God and choose good as we go through our lives.
In the end, once one really know God and his goodness, one very naturally chooses good over evil. Sin becomes something that is just not done deliberately because it is inconsistent with a life lived according to God's holy will.
Finally, here is positive religious instruction at its best from Jesus:
150:5.5 In summing up his final statement, Jesus said: "You cannot buy salvation; you cannot earn righteousness. Salvation is the gift of God, and righteousness is the natural fruit of the spirit-born life of sonship in the kingdom. You are not to be saved because you live a righteous life; rather is it that you live a righteous life because you have already been saved, have recognized sonship as the gift of God and service in the kingdom as the supreme delight of life on earth. When men believe this gospel, which is a revelation of the goodness of God, they will be led to voluntary repentance of all known sin. Realization of sonship is incompatible with the desire to sin. Kingdom believers hunger for righteousness and thirst for divine perfection."
Many of the passages that are quoted in this blog are found in Paper 2 of The Urantia Book: The Nature of God. Understanding more about our loving heavenly Father and his good and merciful nature can uplift and comfort even the most worried soul. And we've placed numerous other links in this blog so that you, the reader, may be drawn to explore some of the concepts that are being discussed and taught in The Urantia Book about what becomes of the persistent evildoer; we hope you'll take advantage of them and gain the comfort and assurance that comes from understand more about its positive life-saving and life-enhancing teachings.
This article, titled: Abraham, the prophets and Jesus by Ralph A Kelly resonated with me today as I recalled this thrilling statement of Jesus, and below, you'll find our latest blog on the subject. This is indeed a thrilling encounter that Jesus had with the Jewish rulers. Maybe you remember it from your Bible, and after you read our blog, maybe you'll have a new way of looking at it. But first, here's a few snips from the article:
"Even though they are religious rulers and should be thinking from a religious viewpoint, they go directly to a physical viewpoint and tell Jesus, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?'
"Apparently, fifty years was the time of full manhood, and at that time it had been about 2,000 years since Abraham had died. Their thought was, 'You are still a young man and you have seen Abraham who died so many years ago?'
"Jesus responded to the comment of the religious rulers saying, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I Am."
"They had to have been shocked to the core of their being at what they considered blasphemy. They had accused Him before on the basis of such straightforward statements, but this statement could not be misunderstood. Whatever Jesus had meant previously was now obviously clear that He was claiming to have eternal existence, to have been in existence long before Abraham. Jesus was saying that He was the 'I Am', the eternal existing God, the One Who existed even before the world was created. And they were correct; Jesus was claiming to have pre-existed Abraham and to have everlasting existence."
Both Bible believers and Urantia Book students will be familiar with this event from Jesus' life. This meeting of Jesus with the Jewish rulers took place at a precarious time for Jesus; he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles at a time when the authorities were threatening to have him arested. The apostles had warned the Master not to go, but he was unafraid.
You can read the entire account of this amazing trip to Jerusalem in Paper 162: The Feast of Tabernacles. It contains not only this story of Jesus declaring he is I AM, but also the story of Jesus' first temple talk, the woman taken in adultery, the sermon on the "light of the world," the discourse on the water of life, the visit with Martha and Mary, and the Bethlehem meeting of Jesus' apostles with Abner.
But back to our story: the gospel of John (Chap 8:53-58) has a good deal of the material that The Urantia Book has; this is not always the case, but here, we have two similar stories. However, the speech that Jesus delivers in The Urantia Book is somewhat different and is titled "Discourse on Spiritual Freedom," and it goes like this:
On the afternoon of the last day of the feast and after the apostles had failed in their efforts to persuade him to flee from Jerusalem, Jesus again went into the temple to teach. Finding a large company of believers assembled in Solomon's Porch, he spoke to them, saying:
"If my words abide in you and you are minded to do the will of my Father, then are you truly my disciples. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. I know how you will answer me: We are the children of Abraham, and we are in bondage to none; how then shall we be made free? Even so, I do not speak of outward subjection to another's rule; I refer to the liberties of the soul. Verily, verily, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the bond servant of sin. And you know that the bond servant is not likely to abide forever in the master's house. You also know that the son does remain in his father's house. If, therefore, the Son shall make you free, shall make you sons, you shall be free indeed.
"I know that you are Abraham's seed, yet your leaders seek to kill me because my word has not been allowed to have its transforming influence in their hearts. Their souls are sealed by prejudice and blinded by the pride of revenge. I declare to you the truth which the eternal Father shows me, while these deluded teachers seek to do the things which they have learned only from their temporal fathers. And when you reply that Abraham is your father, then do I tell you that, if you were the children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham. Some of you believe my teaching, but others seek to destroy me because I have told you the truth which I received from God. But Abraham did not so treat the truth of God. I perceive that some among you are determined to do the works of the evil one. If God were your Father, you would know me and love the truth which I reveal. Will you not see that I come forth from the Father, that I am sent by God, that I am not doing this work of myself? Why do you not understand my words? Is it because you have chosen to become the children of evil? If you are the children of darkness, you will hardly walk in the light of the truth which I reveal. The children of evil follow only in the ways of their father, who was a deceiver and stood not for the truth because there came to be no truth in him. But now comes the Son of Man speaking and living the truth, and many of you refuse to believe.
"Which of you convicts me of sin? If I, then, proclaim and live the truth shown me by the Father, why do you not believe? He who is of God hears gladly the words of God; for this cause many of you hear not my words, because you are not of God. Your teachers have even presumed to say that I do my works by the power of the prince of devils. One near by has just said that I have a devil, that I am a child of the devil. But all of you who deal honestly with your own souls know full well that I am not a devil. You know that I honor the Father even while you would dishonor me. I seek not my own glory, only the glory of my Paradise Father. And I do not judge you, for there is one who judges for me.
"Verily, verily, I say to you who believe the gospel that, if a man will keep this word of truth alive in his heart, he shall never taste death. And now just at my side a scribe says this statement proves that I have a devil, seeing that Abraham is dead, also the prophets. And he asks: `Are you so much greater than Abraham and the prophets that you dare to stand here and say that whoso keeps your word shall not taste death? Who do you claim to be that you dare to utter such blasphemies?' And I say to all such that, if I glorify myself, my glory is as nothing. But it is the Father who shall glorify me, even the same Father whom you call God. But you have failed to know this your God and my Father, and I have come to bring you together; to show you how to become truly the sons of God. Though you know not the Father, I truly know him. Even Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and by faith he saw it and was glad."
And then, we have the confrontation by the rulers, who challenge Jesus as if he were just an ordinary man:
When the unbelieving Jews and the agents of the Sanhedrin who had gathered about by this time heard these words, they raised a tumult, shouting: "You are not fifty years of age, and yet you talk about seeing Abraham; you are a child of the devil!" Jesus was unable to continue the discourse. He only said as he departed, "Verily, verily, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." Many of the unbelievers rushed forth for stones to cast at him, and the agents of the Sanhedrin sought to place him under arrest, but the Master quickly made his way through the temple corridors and escaped to a secret meeting place near Bethany where Martha, Mary, and Lazarus awaited him.
It might be a good exercise to compare the two accounts and decide for yourself which rings most true to you...remember, The Urantia Book is a gift to our world; and among the treasures in that gift is the restatement of the Life and Teachings of Jesus - a restatement that is free from centuries of error, free from any theological misinterpretation, and free from any attempt to skew the facts in favor of any one religion about Jesus. The angels preserved the account of the Master's life that was witnessed by spiritual beings who were actually present and saved it for this time in our history when it will do the most good for the greatest number of souls. If you have not explored it before, now might be a good time to give it a sincere perusal.
<h3>Jesus declares that he is the I AM more than once</h3>
Shortly after Peter's confession that he and the apostles believe him to be God incarnate, Jesus and the twelve, while waiting for financial reinforcements, have a significant discussion; a discussion made all the more important because, from this time on, Jesus is openly declaring himself as the Son of God:
A new significance attaches to all of Jesus' teachings from this point on. Before Caesarea-Philippi he presented the gospel of the kingdom as its master teacher. After Caesarea-Philippi he appeared not merely as a teacher but as the divine representative of the eternal Father, who is the center and circumference of this spiritual kingdom, and it was required that he do all this as a human being, the Son of Man.
Jesus had sincerely endeavored to lead his followers into the spiritual kingdom as a teacher, then as a teacher-healer, but they would not have it so. He well knew that his earth mission could not possibly fulfill the Messianic expectations of the Jewish people; the olden prophets had portrayed a Messiah which he could never be. He sought to establish the Father's kingdom as the Son of Man, but his followers would not go forward in the adventure. Jesus, seeing this, then elected to meet his believers part way and in so doing prepared openly to assume the role of the bestowal Son of God.
Accordingly, the apostles heard much that was new as Jesus talked to them this day in the garden. And some of these pronouncements sounded strange even to them. Among other startling announcements they listened to such as the following:
"From this time on, if any man would have fellowship with us, let him assume the obligations of sonship and follow me. And when I am no more with you, think not that the world will treat you better than it did your Master. If you love me, prepare to prove this affection by your willingness to make the supreme sacrifice."
"And mark well my words: I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. The Son of Man came not to be ministered to, but to minister and to bestow his life as the gift for all. I declare to you that I have come to seek and to save those who are lost."
"No man in this world now sees the Father except the Son who came forth from the Father. But if the Son be lifted up, he will draw all men to himself, and whosoever believes this truth of the combined nature of the Son shall be endowed with life that is more than age-abiding."
"We may not yet proclaim openly that the Son of Man is the Son of God, but it has been revealed to you; wherefore do I speak boldly to you concerning these mysteries. Though I stand before you in this physical presence, I came forth from God the Father. Before Abraham was, I am. I did come forth from the Father into this world as you have known me, and I declare to you that I must presently leave this world and return to the work of my Father."
Read all of Jesus' startling statements to his apostles HERE
In the discussion of Jesus' divine nature, the two apostles reiterate the fact that Jesus had spoken of himself as the I AM:
He constantly talks about God as an ever-present associate in all that he does. He goes about doing good, for God seems to be in him. He makes the most astounding assertions about himself and his mission on earth, statements which would be absurd if he were not divine. He once declared, "Before Abraham was, I am." He has definitely claimed divinity; he professes to be in partnership with God. He well-nigh exhausts the possibilities of language in the reiteration of his claims of intimate association with the heavenly Father. He even dares to assert that he and the Father are one. He says that anyone who has seen him has seen the Father. And he says and does all these tremendous things with such childlike naturalness. He alludes to his association with the Father in the same manner that he refers to his association with us. He seems to be so sure about God and speaks of these relations in such a matter-of-fact way.
see Paper 160 for more about Rodan, the Greek philosopher.
<h3>Jesus earns the right to claim: I AM</h3>
Finally, soon after Jesus final prayers with his apostles before his arrest, the revelators tell us clearly how Jesus has earned this right. These "I AM" statements are some of the most thrilling and inspiring of all the declarations about Jesus in The Urantia Book:
182:1.9 The Father in heaven had sought to reveal himself to Moses, but he could proceed no further than to cause it to be said, "I AM." And when pressed for further revelation of himself, it was only disclosed, "I AM that I AM." But when Jesus had finished his earth life, this name of the Father had been so revealed that the Master, who was the Father incarnate, could truly say:
I am the bread of life.
I am the living water.
I am the light of the world.
I am the desire of all ages.
I am the open door to eternal salvation.
I am the reality of endless life.
I am the good shepherd.
I am the pathway of infinite perfection.
I am the resurrection and the life.
I am the secret of eternal survival.
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
I am the infinite Father of my finite children.
I am the true vine; you are the branches.
I am the hope of all who know the living truth.
I am the living bridge from one world to another.
I am the living link between time and eternity.
Thus did Jesus enlarge the living revelation of the name of God to all generations. As divine love reveals the nature of God, eternal truth discloses his name in ever-enlarging proportions.
We hope that you'll take the time to explore this wonderful story and the links given here. Studying the life and teachings of Jesus is probably the most important study you will ever do, and the knowledge gained will prove to be the important knowledge you'll ever receive. If we take it to heart, the Master can certainly live again through any of us who truly and sincerely endeavor to "follow Jesus."
As the revelators tell us:
196:1.3 To "follow Jesus" means to personally share his religious faith and to enter into the spirit of the Master's life of unselfish service for man. One of the most important things in human living is to find out what Jesus believed, to discover his ideals, and to strive for the achievement of his exalted life purpose. Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it.