The Urantia Book
THE PEREAN MISSION BEGINS
165:0.1 ON TUESDAY, January 3, A.D. 30, Abner,
the former chief of the twelve apostles of John the Baptist, a
Nazarite and onetime head of the Nazarite school at Engedi, now
chief of the seventy messengers of the kingdom, called his
associates together and gave them final instructions before
sending them on a mission to all of the cities and villages of
Perea. This Perean mission continued for almost three months and
was the last ministry of the Master. From these labors Jesus went
directly to Jerusalem to pass through his final experiences in the
flesh. The seventy, supplemented by the periodic labors of Jesus
and the twelve apostles, worked in the following cities and towns
and some fifty additional villages: Zaphon, Gadara, Macad, Arbela,
Ramath, Edrei, Bosora, Caspin, Mispeh, Gerasa, Ragaba, Succoth,
Amathus, Adam, Penuel, Capitolias, Dion, Hatita, Gadda,
Philadelphia, Jogbehah, Gilead, Beth-Nimrah, Tyrus, Elealah,
Livias, Heshbon, Callirrhoe, Beth-Peor, Shittim, Sibmah, Medeba,
Beth-Meon, Areopolis, and Aroer.
165:0.2 Throughout this tour of Perea the
women's corps, now numbering sixty-two, took over most of the work
of ministration to the sick. This was the final period of the
development of the higher spiritual aspects of the gospel of the
kingdom, and there was, accordingly, an absence of miracle
working. No other part of Palestine was so thoroughly worked by
the apostles and disciples of Jesus, and in no other region did
the better classes of citizens so generally accept the Master's
165:0.3 Perea at this time was about equally
gentile and Jewish, the Jews having been generally removed from
these regions during the times of Judas Maccabeus. Perea was the
most beautiful and picturesque province of all Palestine. It was
generally referred to by the Jews as "the land beyond the Jordan."
165:0.4 Throughout this period Jesus divided his
time between the camp at Pella and trips with the twelve to assist
the seventy in the various cities where they taught and preached.
Under Abner's instructions the seventy baptized all believers,
although Jesus had not so charged them.
1. AT THE PELLA CAMP
165:1.1 By the middle of January more than
twelve hundred persons were gathered together at Pella, and Jesus
taught this multitude at least once each day when he was in
residence at the camp, usually speaking at nine o'clock in the
morning if not prevented by rain. Peter and the other apostles
taught each afternoon. The evenings Jesus reserved for the usual
sessions of questions and answers with the twelve and other
advanced disciples. The evening groups averaged about fifty.
165:1.2 By the middle of March, the time when
Jesus began his journey toward Jerusalem, over four thousand
persons composed the large audience which heard Jesus or Peter
preach each morning. The Master chose to terminate his work on
earth when the interest in his message had reached a high point,
the highest point attained under this second or nonmiraculous
phase of the progress of the kingdom. While three quarters of the
multitude were truth seekers, there were also present a large
number of Pharisees from Jerusalem and elsewhere, together with
many doubters and cavilers.
165:1.3 Jesus and the twelve apostles devoted
much of their time to the multitude assembled at the Pella camp.
The twelve paid little or no attention to the field work, only
going out with Jesus to visit Abner's associates from time to
time. Abner was very familiar with the Perean district since this
was the field in which his former master, John the Baptist, had
done most of his work. After beginning the Perean mission, Abner
and the seventy never returned to the Pella camp.
2. SERMON ON THE GOOD SHEPHERD
165:2.1 A company of over three hundred
Jerusalemites, Pharisees and others, followed Jesus north to Pella
when he hastened away from the jurisdiction of the Jewish rulers
at the ending of the feast of the dedication; and it was in the
presence of these Jewish teachers and leaders, as well as in the
hearing of the twelve apostles, that Jesus preached the sermon on
the "Good Shepherd." After half an hour of informal discussion,
speaking to a group of about one hundred, Jesus said:
165:2.2 "On this night I have much to tell you,
and since many of you are my disciples and some of you my bitter
enemies, I will present my teaching in a parable, so that you may
each take for yourself that which finds a reception in your heart.
165:2.3 "Tonight, here before me are men who
would be willing to die for me and for this gospel of the kingdom,
and some of them will so offer themselves in the years to come;
and here also are some of you, slaves of tradition, who have
followed me down from Jerusalem, and who, with your darkened and
deluded leaders, seek to kill the Son of Man. The life which I now
live in the flesh shall judge both of you, the true shepherds and
the false shepherds. If the false shepherd were blind, he would
have no sin, but you claim that you see; you profess to be
teachers in Israel; therefore does your sin remain upon you.
165:2.4 "The true shepherd gathers his flock
into the fold for the night in times of danger. And when the
morning has come, he enters into the fold by the door, and when he
calls, the sheep know his voice. Every shepherd who gains entrance
to the sheepfold by any other means than by the door is a thief
and a robber. The true shepherd enters the fold after the porter
has opened the door for him, and his sheep, knowing his voice,
come out at his word; and when they that are his are thus brought
forth, the true shepherd goes before them; he leads the way and
the sheep follow him. His sheep follow him because they know his
voice; they will not follow a stranger. They will flee from the
stranger because they know not his voice. This multitude which is
gathered about us here are like sheep without a shepherd, but when
we speak to them, they know the shepherd's voice, and they follow
after us; at least, those who hunger for truth and thirst for
righteousness do. Some of you are not of my fold; you know not my
voice, and you do not follow me. And because you are false
shepherds, the sheep know not your voice and will not follow you."
165:2.5 And when Jesus had spoken this parable,
no one asked him a question. After a time he began again to speak
and went on to discuss the parable:
165:2.6 "You who would be the undershepherds of
my Father's flocks must not only be worthy leaders, but you must
also feed the flock with good food; you are not true
shepherds unless you lead your flocks into green pastures and
beside still waters.
165:2.7 "And now, lest some of you too easily
comprehend this parable, I will declare that I am both the door to
the Father's sheepfold and at the same time the true shepherd of
my Father's flocks. Every shepherd who seeks to enter the fold
without me shall fail, and the sheep will not hear his voice.
with those who minister with me, am the door. Every soul who
enters upon the eternal way by the means I have created and
ordained shall be saved and will be able to go on to the
attainment of the eternal pastures of Paradise.
165:2.8 "But I also am the true shepherd who is
willing even to lay down his life for the sheep. The thief breaks
into the fold only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; but I
have come that you all may have life and have it more abundantly.
He who is a hireling, when danger arises, will flee and allow the
sheep to be scattered and destroyed; but the true shepherd will
not flee when the wolf comes; he will protect his flock and, if
necessary, lay down his life for his sheep. Verily, verily, I say
to you, friends and enemies, I am the true shepherd; I know my own
and my own know me. I will not flee in the face of danger. I will
finish this service of the completion of my Father's will, and I
will not forsake the flock which the Father has intrusted to my
165:2.9 "But I have many other sheep not of this
fold, and these words are true not only of this world. These other
sheep also hear and know my voice, and I have promised the Father
that they shall all be brought into one fold, one brotherhood of
the sons of God. And then shall you all know the voice of one
shepherd, the true shepherd, and shall all acknowledge the
fatherhood of God.
"And so shall you know why the Father loves me and has put all of
his flocks in this domain in my hands for keeping; it is because
the Father knows that I will not falter in the safeguarding of the
sheepfold, that I will not desert my sheep, and that, if it shall
be required, I will not hesitate to lay down my life in the
service of his manifold flocks. But, mind you, if I lay down my
life, I will take it up again. No man nor any other creature can
take away my life. I have the right and the power to lay down my
life, and I have the same power and right to take it up again. You
cannot understand this, but I received such authority from my
Father even before this world was."
165:2.11 When they heard these words, his
apostles were confused, his disciples were amazed, while the
Pharisees from Jerusalem and around about went out into the night,
saying, "He is either mad or has a devil." But even some of the
Jerusalem teachers said: "He speaks like one having authority;
besides, who ever saw one having a devil open the eyes of a man
born blind and do all of the wonderful things which this man has
165:2.12 On the morrow about half of these
Jewish teachers professed belief in Jesus, and the other half in
dismay returned to Jerusalem and their homes.
3. SABBATH SERMON AT PELLA
165:3.1 By the end of January the
Sabbath-afternoon multitudes numbered almost three thousand. On
Saturday, January 28, Jesus preached the memorable sermon on
"Trust and Spiritual Preparedness." After preliminary remarks by
Simon Peter, the Master said:
165:3.2 "What I have many times said to my
apostles and to my disciples, I now declare to this multitude:
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy, born of
prejudice and nurtured in traditional bondage, albeit many of
these Pharisees are honest of heart and some of them abide here as
my disciples. Presently all of you shall understand my teaching,
for there is nothing now covered that shall not be revealed. That
which is now hid from you shall all be made known when the Son of
Man has completed his mission on earth and in the flesh.
165:3.3 "Soon, very soon, will the things which
our enemies now plan in secrecy and in darkness be brought out
into the light and be proclaimed from the housetops. But I say to
you, my friends, when they seek to destroy the Son of Man, be not
afraid of them. Fear not those who, although they may be able to
kill the body, after that have no more power over you. I admonish
you to fear none, in heaven or on earth, but to rejoice in the
knowledge of Him who has power to deliver you from all
unrighteousness and to present you blameless before the judgment
seat of a universe.
165:3.4 "Are not five sparrows sold for two
pennies? And yet, when these birds flit about in quest of their
sustenance, not one of them exists without the knowledge of the
Father, the source of all life. To the seraphic guardians the very
hairs of your head are numbered. And if all of this is true, why
should you live in fear of the many trifles which come up in your
daily lives? I say to you: Fear not; you are of much more value
than many sparrows.
165:3.5 "All of you who have had the courage to
confess faith in my gospel before men I will presently acknowledge
before the angels of heaven; but he who shall knowingly deny the
truth of my teachings before men shall be denied by his guardian
of destiny even before the angels of heaven.
165:3.6 "Say what you will about the Son of Man,
and it shall be forgiven you; but he who presumes to blaspheme
against God shall hardly find forgiveness. When men go so far as
knowingly to ascribe the doings of God to the forces of evil, such
deliberate rebels will hardly seek forgiveness for their sins.
165:3.7 "And when our enemies bring you before
the rulers of the synagogues and before other high authorities, be
not concerned about what you should say and be not anxious as to
how you should answer their questions, for the spirit that dwells
within you shall certainly teach you in that very hour what you
should say in honor of the gospel of the kingdom.
165:3.8 "How long will you tarry in the valley
of decision? Why do you halt between two opinions? Why should Jew
or gentile hesitate to accept the good news that he is a son of
the eternal God? How long will it take us to persuade you to enter
joyfully into your spiritual inheritance? I came into this world
to reveal the Father to you and to lead you to the Father. The
first I have done, but the last I may not do without your consent;
the Father never compels any man to enter the kingdom. The
invitation ever has been and always will be: Whosoever will, let
him come and freely partake of the water of life."
165:3.9 When Jesus had finished speaking, many
went forth to be baptized by the apostles in the Jordan while he
listened to the questions of those who remained.
4. DIVIDING THE INHERITANCE
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.
165:4.2 "Let me tell you a story of a certain
rich man whose ground brought forth plentifully; and when he had
become very rich, he began to reason with himself, saying: `What
shall I do with all my riches? I now have so much that I have no
place to store my wealth.' And when he had meditated on his
problem, he said: `This I will do; I will pull down my barns and
build greater ones, and thus will I have abundant room in which to
store my fruits and my goods. Then can I say to my soul, soul, you
have much wealth laid up for many years; take now your ease; eat,
drink, and be merry, for you are rich and increased in goods.'
165:4.3 "But this rich man was also foolish. In
providing for the material requirements of his mind and body, he
had failed to lay up treasures in heaven for the satisfaction of
the spirit and for the salvation of the soul. And even then he was
not to enjoy the pleasure of consuming his hoarded wealth, for
that very night was his soul required of him. That night there
came the brigands who broke into his house to kill him, and after
they had plundered his barns, they burned that which remained. And
for the property which escaped the robbers his heirs fell to
fighting among themselves. This man laid up treasures for himself
on earth, but he was not rich toward God."
165:4.4 Jesus thus dealt with the young man and
his inheritance because he knew that his trouble was covetousness.
Even if this had not been the case, the Master would not have
interfered, for he never meddled with the temporal affairs of even
his apostles, much less his disciples.
165:4.5 When Jesus had finished his story,
another man rose up and asked him: "Master, I know that your
apostles have sold all their earthly possessions to follow you,
and that they have all things in common as do the Essenes, but
would you have all of us who are your disciples do likewise? Is it
a sin to possess honest wealth?" And Jesus replied to this
question: "My friend, it is not a sin to have honorable wealth;
but it is a sin if you convert the wealth of material possessions
into treasures which may absorb your interests and divert
your affections from devotion to the spiritual pursuits of the
kingdom. There is no sin in having honest possessions on earth
provided your treasure is in heaven, for where your
treasure is there will your heart be also. There is a great
difference between wealth which leads to covetousness and
selfishness and that which is held and dispensed in the spirit of
stewardship by those who have an abundance of this world's goods,
and who so bountifully contribute to the support of those who
devote all their energies to the work of the kingdom. Many of you
who are here and without money are fed and lodged in yonder tented
city because liberal men and women of means have given funds to
your host, David Zebedee, for such purposes.
165:4.6 "But never forget that, after all,
wealth is unenduring. The love of riches all too often obscures
and even destroys the spiritual vision. Fail not to recognize the
danger of wealth's becoming, not your servant, but your master."
165:4.7 Jesus did not teach nor countenance
improvidence, idleness, indifference to providing the physical
necessities for one's family, or dependence upon alms. But he did
teach that the material and temporal must be subordinated to the
welfare of the soul and the progress of the spiritual nature in
the kingdom of heaven.
165:4.8 Then, as the people went down by the
river to witness the baptizing, the first man came privately to
Jesus about his inheritance inasmuch as he thought Jesus had dealt
harshly with him; and when the Master had again heard him, he
replied: "My son, why do you miss the opportunity to feed upon the
bread of life on a day like this in order to indulge your covetous
disposition? Do you not know that the Jewish laws of inheritance
will be justly administered if you will go with your complaint to
the court of the synagogue? Can you not see that my work has to do
with making sure that you know about your heavenly inheritance?
Have you not read the Scripture: `There is he who waxes rich by
his wariness and much pinching, and this is the portion of his
reward: Whereas he says, I have found rest and now shall be able
to eat continually of my goods, yet he knows not what time shall
bring upon him, and also that he must leave all these things to
others when he dies.' Have you not read the commandment: `You
shall not covet.' And again, `They have eaten and filled
themselves and waxed fat, and then did they turn to other gods.'
Have you read in the Psalms that `the Lord abhors the covetous,'
and that `the little a righteous man has is better than the riches
of many wicked.' `If riches increase, set not your heart upon
them.' Have you read where Jeremiah said, `Let not the rich man
glory in his riches'; and Ezekiel spoke truth when he said, `With
their mouths they make a show of love, but their hearts are set
upon their own selfish gain'."
165:4.9 Jesus sent the young man away, saying to
him, "My son, what shall it profit you if you gain the whole world
and lose your own soul?"
165:4.10 To another standing near by who asked
Jesus how the wealthy would stand in the day of judgment, he
replied: "I have come to judge neither the rich nor the poor, but
the lives men live will sit in judgment on all. Whatever else may
concern the wealthy in the judgment, at least three questions must
be answered by all who acquire great wealth, and these questions
165:4.11 "1. How much wealth did you accumulate?
165:4.12 "2. How did you get this wealth?
165:4.13 "3. How did you use your wealth?"
165:4.14 Then Jesus went into his tent to rest
for a while before the evening meal. When the apostles had
finished with the baptizing, they came also and would have talked
with him about wealth on earth and treasure in heaven, but he was
5. TALKS TO THE APOSTLES ON WEALTH
165:5.1 That evening after supper, when Jesus
and the twelve gathered together for their daily conference,
Andrew asked: "Master, while we were baptizing the believers, you
spoke many words to the lingering multitude which we did not hear.
Would you be willing to repeat these words for our benefit?" And
in response to Andrew's request, Jesus said:
165:5.2 "Yes, Andrew, I will speak to you about
these matters of wealth and self-support, but my words to you, the
apostles, must be somewhat different from those spoken to the
disciples and the multitude since you have forsaken everything,
not only to follow me, but to be ordained as ambassadors of the
kingdom. Already have you had several years' experience, and you
know that the Father whose kingdom you proclaim will not forsake
you. You have dedicated your lives to the ministry of the kingdom;
therefore be not anxious or worried about the things of the
temporal life, what you shall eat, nor yet for your body, what you
shall wear. The welfare of the soul is more than food and drink;
the progress in the spirit is far above the need of raiment. When
you are tempted to doubt the sureness of your bread, consider the
ravens; they sow not neither reap, they have no storehouses or
barns, and yet the Father provides food for every one of them that
seeks it. And of how much more value are you than many birds!
Besides, all of your anxiety or fretting doubts can do nothing to
supply your material needs. Which of you by anxiety can add a
handbreadth to your stature or a day to your life? Since such
matters are not in your hands, why do you give anxious thought to
any of these problems?
165:5.3 "Consider the lilies, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say to you, even
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If God
so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and
tomorrow is cut down and cast into the fire, how much more shall
he clothe you, the ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom. O you of
little faith! When you wholeheartedly devote yourselves to the
proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom, you should not be of
doubtful minds concerning the support of yourselves or the
families you have forsaken. If you give your lives truly to the
gospel, you shall live by the gospel. If you are only believing
disciples, you must earn your own bread and contribute to the
sustenance of all who teach and preach and heal. If you are
anxious about your bread and water, wherein are you different from
the nations of the world who so diligently seek such necessities?
Devote yourselves to your work, believing that both the Father and
I know that you have need of all these things. Let me assure you,
once and for all, that, if you dedicate your lives to the work of
the kingdom, all your real needs shall be supplied. Seek the
greater thing, and the lesser will be found therein; ask for the
heavenly, and the earthly shall be included. The shadow is certain
to follow the substance.
165:5.4 "You are only a small group, but if you
have faith, if you will not stumble in fear, I declare that it is
my Father's good pleasure to give you this kingdom. You have laid
up your treasures where the purse waxes not old, where no thief
can despoil, and where no moth can destroy. And as I told the
people, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
165:5.5 "But in the work which is just ahead of
us, and in that which remains for you after I go to the Father,
you will be grievously tried. You must all be on your watch
against fear and doubts. Every one of you, gird up the loins of
your minds and let your lamps be kept burning. Keep yourselves
like men who are watching for their master to return from the
marriage feast so that, when he comes and knocks, you may quickly
open to him. Such watchful servants are blessed by the master who
finds them faithful at such a great moment. Then will the master
make his servants sit down while he himself serves them. Verily,
verily, I say to you that a crisis is just ahead in your lives,
and it behooves you to watch and be ready.
165:5.6 "You well understand that no man would
suffer his house to be broken into if he knew what hour the thief
was to come. Be you also on watch for yourselves, for in an hour
that you least suspect and in a manner you think not, shall the
Son of Man depart."
165:5.7 For some minutes the twelve sat in
silence. Some of these warnings they had heard before but not in
the setting presented to them at this time.
6. ANSWER TO PETER'S QUESTION
165:6.1 As they sat thinking, Simon Peter asked:
"Do you speak this parable to us, your apostles, or is it for all
the disciples?" And Jesus answered:
165:6.2 "In the time of testing, a man's soul is
revealed; trial discloses what really is in the heart. When the
servant is tested and proved, then may the lord of the house set
such a servant over his household and safely trust this faithful
steward to see that his children are fed and nurtured. Likewise,
will I soon know who can be trusted with the welfare of my
children when I shall have returned to the Father. As the lord of
the household shall set the true and tried servant over the
affairs of his family, so will I exalt those who endure the trials
of this hour in the affairs of my kingdom.
165:6.3 "But if the servant is slothful and
begins to say in his heart, `My master delays his coming,' and
begins to mistreat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with
the drunken, then the lord of that servant will come at a time
when he looks not for him and, finding him unfaithful, will cast
him out in disgrace. Therefore you do well to prepare yourselves
for that day when you will be visited suddenly and in an
unexpected manner. Remember, much has been given to you; therefore
will much be required of you. Fiery trials are drawing near you. I
have a baptism to be baptized with, and I am on watch until this
is accomplished. You preach peace on earth, but my mission will
not bring peace in the material affairs of men -- not for a time,
at least. Division can only be the result where two members of a
family believe in me and three members reject this gospel.
Friends, relatives, and loved ones are destined to be set against
each other by the gospel you preach. True, each of these believers
shall have great and lasting peace in his own heart, but peace on
earth will not come until all are willing to believe and enter
into their glorious inheritance of sonship with God. Nevertheless,
go into all the world proclaiming this gospel to all nations, to
every man, woman, and child."
165:6.4 And this was the end of a full and busy
Sabbath day. On the morrow Jesus and the twelve went into the
cities of northern Perea to visit with the seventy, who were
working in these regions under Abner's supervision.