Episode:Last Ministry of the Master—Beyond the Jordan (Part 6)

From Symmetry of Soul

Jesus said: "All too long have your fathers believed that prosperity was the token of divine approval; that adversity was the proof of God’s displeasure. I declare that such beliefs are superstitions. The Father’s human children have equal capacity for the reception of material blessings; therefore does he bestow things physical upon the children of men without discrimination."

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Keywords: Urantia, Jesus, Accidents of Time, Early Christianity, Abner of Philadelphia

Summary by Kermit

Commentary after Review

The post-review discussion began by recalling the early work of Jesus and the twelve in their tour through Samaria. It is recorded that the apostles, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, succeeded in overcoming much of their prejudice against the Samaritans. Yet the episode of healing the ten lepers, one of whom was a Samaritan, illustrates how persistent are preconceived opinions, settled ideas, and long-standing prejudices. These natural tendencies demand unnatural and repeated application of sincerity and humility for remediation. Unchallenged, these shortcomings become ever more disruptive to self when fueled by increasing spiritual energy. Self-control thus has a foundational early role in the pursuit of righteousness, conformity with the cosmos. The grace gift of Holy Spirit encircuitment must be reinforced by repeatedly choosing to supply favorable conditions for being grown. The emergency conditions of which we often speak on SoS are frequently characterized by the unwise application of spiritual energy to material matters.

166:4 Teaching About Accidents

Jesus expresses frustration with Thomas’s inquiry as to the possible role of spiritual beings in the production of extraordinary events in the material world. At this late date in their work with Jesus in establishing the kingdom of heaven, the apostles are still in the firm grasp of material concerns, failing to perceive the spiritual nature of the kingdom they have been called to proclaim. Jesus vigorously challenges their deep-seated notion that material prosperity is predicated on righteousness, signaling God’s favor, and adversity is proof of God’s displeasure, declaring such notions superstitions. He further points out that the rich so often refuse to believe the good news while greater numbers of the poor joyfully receive it and enter the kingdom.

We continue to follow the midwayer narrative in parallel with the gospel of Luke. As with previous passages Luke’s account contains material reflecting the residue of the sin, sacrifice, and atonement themes which have encumbered the religion about Jesus up to present day. The 5th ER now presents the world with a fulcrum point of transition from mankind progressing in spite ourselves to the threshold of progressing through intentional cultivation of courageous and independent cosmic thinking.

The midwayers categorize temporal events as (1) normal happenings, (2) accidents of nature in no way a product of spiritual forces, and (3) the natural cause and effect principles which can serve mankind when applied wisely and intelligently.

The midwayers and Luke both present mostly congruent accounts of the barren fig tree, which when the “laws of fruitfulness” are met produces abundantly. We note that the subtle scientific principles presented by the midwayers are absent in Luke’s version.

Jesus further attempts to disabuse the apostles of similar notions regarding God’s favor or disfavor in relation to sickness and health. As always, he distinguishes between the material and the spiritual domains declaring that while God is no respecter of persons, his bestowal of spiritual gifts is limited by the capacity, faith, and willingness of an individual to abide by the Father’s will.

But alas, the rigid and tightly held concept frame of the people in that day caused the Master to reiterate his message again and again concerning the meaning of his earth mission to no avail until after his death and resurrection.

166:5 The Congregation at Philadelphia

The final section of this paper is a departure from the narrative to explain why no mention is made in Christian gospels and history of Abner, and other familiar-to-us kingdom builders, notably David Zebedee, and Jesus’ sister Ruth.

Abner was a faithful believer in and teacher of the gospel of the heavenly kingdom. He and the believers at Philadelphia held more strictly to the religion of Jesus as he lived and taught, than any other group on earth. Yet, it was his refusal to compromise and resulting estrangement from the church leaders at Jerusalem, James (Jesus’ brother), Peter, as well as Paul, that caused him to find no mention in church history and gospel writings.

Curiously, we are given explicit details of Abner’s age, date, and location of his death. Could these facts be bread crumbs for the finding of hitherto unknown details of Abner and the Philadelphia Christians?

Notes by Brad

  • Having trouble relating to the ill-humor the apostles have toward Samaritans?
    • Start with yourself. How have you felt lately about people of the "other" political party?
    • Can you not assume that all is well in your house and you just need to worry about other people's houses?

  • With a spiritual nature, you can unwittingly (or even wittingly, very troubling) exalt your animal-origin tendencies.
    • You must choose to conform yourself to the cosmos (righteousness).
    • Even if you accept some of this by grace, eventually you must acquire it directly yourself.

  • What has it served you to read The Urantia Book all these years? Has it helped you choose to mature?

  • "How can the apostles not get it?" Jesus seems to be learning in a very personal, experiential way.

  • The actual, immediate act of being born again has no feelings attached to it. Just peace.
    • Afterward, feelings may come, but from the top-down.

  • Thomas' question about angels and their work seems on-point. Seems interesting to my animal-origin mind...
    • Your animal-origin self is just as interested in a material Messiah as the apostles were.
    • But no. Jesus unloads additional questions on him.
    • Jesus instead challenges Thomas to consider the mess his inner life is in.
    • Jesus points out the divots in one's inner life and challenges us to work on it.
    • "Thomas, we're literally sitting here eating lunch and you're asking if angels are helping to feed us."

  • The longer this author lives, the more outer-life distractions and complexities he finds crowding his mind--his animal-origin mind.
    • Hopefully, with humility, effort, struggle, conflict, etc, he can pursue a righteous inner life.
    • That's the only way forward. The rest is hevel as King Solomon pointed out in Ecclesiastes.

  • More comparisons with Luke 13... how accurate, or inaccurate, or just fabricated did Luke get this answer to Thomas' question?
    • Luke adds in a healthy dollop of sin, sacrifice, and atonement... classic old wineskins.
      • Because Jesus appeal to scientific thinking has nowhere to take root among such superstitious people.
    • Only by being grown in spite of ourselves have people been able to get past this fogginess in the Bible for 2,000 years.
    • The 5th ER is here to be a fulcrum where we can progress because of ourselves instead of in spite of ourselves.

  • Jesus suggests we can be an originiative phenomenon--a cosmic cause--not just a victim of natural law and accidents.
    • "Gee we'd rather not be killed by tornadoes," so eventually we control the weather.

  • In general, every scientific statement Jesus makes never shows up in the Bible--the listeners had no framework for it
    • And in any case, the Bible is a religious text, not a philosophic text (which would include scientific topics)

  • Spirit is not adjacent to matter; it is antipodal.

  • Have you always loved theologies that say it's all someone else's fault, instead of it being in your hands?

  • The Urantia Book is not here to provide a full historical picture of the facts of time of Jesus' life.
    • The authors leverage off the New Testament, clarifying and expanding.
    • And that ought to be enough to spark reflection and get inner lives improved.
    • Which in turn improves one's overall life.

  • Abner was not wrong... he was just uncompromising. He was faithful... full of faith, so he was righteous.
    • The story of his leadership in the Christian church is not an inner life issue.
    • Abner's story reminds us that asking "what IS wisdom?" is not such an easy question.