Bill's Books 'n' Beyond

Jesus Stories


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Who Is Jesus?

By William Cooper

This story about Jesus is based on information in The Urantia Book.  I am telling it to you because I think it is important for everyone to know as much about him as they can.

Let’s start way, way back.  400 billion years ago, that is four followed by eight zeroes and it is many times longer than scientists currently think anything existed.  400 billion years ago this paradise son was the 611,121st Paradise son to leave Paradise to form and govern his own universe of 10,000,000 inhabited worlds plus suns, stars, galaxies, moons, uninhabited worlds, comets, asteroids, chemicals, elements and plants and creatures.  He made all that we can sense and all that we can be, according to plans of energy organization and life implantation that he brought with him.  400 billion years, starting in empty space with nothing but the power of a Paradise Creator son, his staff, and unorganized energy. What patience, What loyalty to purpose.

Bestowal is a mysterious process whereby the Creator of a universe can at will assume the personality and share the life of one of his own subordinate creatures.  The purpose of these bestowals is so that the creator will understand the creature from the view-point of the creature’s experience.

About a billion years ago our Creator son set out on the first of seven lives lived in the way he had ordained that persons of his creation must live.  This first life lived as a person of his own creation was 100 years lived as a person of a very high order of nonmaterial personalities who serve as the intellectual and moral teachers and administrators of the Creator Son’s universe.  While living this life, he served on 24 emergency missions and earned the adoration of this order of persons by his matchless wisdom, supreme love and superb devotion to duty.

Roughly 150 million years later he set out on his second adventure of experiencing life as persons of his creation experience it.  This time as the ruler of a system of 1000 inhabited planets which its prior ruler had led into rebellion against higher authority.  He ruled for about 100 years and set the system in order with justice and mercy.  He was ardently loved, honored and respected.  He even offered to share authority with his rebellious predecessor if he would only apologize for his indiscretions.  He was the most noble and most benign system ruler that his universe had ever known.  Even his predecessor, while declining to apologize, acknowledged him as just, merciful and righteous.

About 700 million years ago our universe Creator Son set forth on his third bestowal experience.  This time he became a material son, an Adam.  He was assigned as acting planetary prince on a planet on which his predecessor had participated in a rebellion against Michael’s authority (This was the second rebellion of a system sovereign in Nebadon.)  He spent 17 standard universe years (85 of our years) living this life.  He effected the repentance and reclamation of the defaulting planetary prince and his entire staff.  He was so forgiving and understanding of the defaulters that since then no material son or daughter has joined in any rebellion in Nebadon.  “They love and honor him too devotedly ever consciously to reject him.”

Michael’s 4th bestowal was as a seraphim.  It took place about 450 million years ago and lasted for 200 of our years.  He was assigned to a corps of teaching counselors.  He served as an executive assistant to 26 master teachers on 22 worlds.  That is about all we are told about that bestowal.  But we are told elsewhere in The Urantia Book that seraphic teaching counselors are secretaries to all orders of teachers and even assist true and consecrated mortal teachers.

The 5th bestowal took place about 300 million years ago as a mortal ascender finishing up his ascension career in this super universe.  He spent 44 of our years on Uversa as Eventod.  Stories of Eventod’s sojourn on Uversa still circulate there.  He had the confidence and trust of his superiors and the respect and loyal admiration of his fellow spirits. 

Michael’s 6th bestowal was as an ascendant mortal (from the planet Endantum) at the courts of the Most High Fathers of one of his constellation headquarters worlds.  The events of this bestowal are described as a wonderful career but no details are given.  The narrator commented that after each bestowal Michael showed progressive acquirement of the creature’s viewpoint in universe administration.  Following this bestowal it was apparent that he had become a friend and sympathetic helper of even the lowest form of created intelligence in his universe.

About 35,000 years ago, as Adam and Eve were defaulting in their mission to this planet, public announcement was made that Michael’s 7th bestowal would be made as an infant on this planet, Urantia of System Satania.  The life of Jesus of Nazareth is the 7th bestowal life of Michael of Nebadon.

Jesus is a combination of God and Man.  He is unique in our universe of 10,000,000 inhabited planets.  He is both the son of a 14 year old woman and a 21 year old carpenter and at the same time the creator of this universe who is so just, fair and merciful that even those personalities who rebelled against his authority did not fear him.  He is respected, loved and honored.  In all of his bestowals Michael worked to resolve conflict and to reclaim rebels.  He was acknowledged as righteous, just and merciful by a rebel system sovereign.  He reclaimed a rebel planetary prince and his entire staff and restored them to authority.

My religious training led me to think in terms of a universe of one inhabited planet, one God, one son of God and the creation of everything within a very short time a few thousand years ago.  This narrative expands the universe, the time span and the size and governance of the universe as well as the power of God.  And it vastly increases the significance of who Jesus was.  Among other achievements, he was the revelation to both God and man (on 10,000,000 inhabited planets) of the graciousness and goodness achievable by a mortal choosing to behave as God would have him behave.


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Jesus is Coming

Sometime near the beginning of time, God the Father and the Eternal Son created the 700,000 offspring of the order of Michael. Billions of years later, the Michael sons each created and administer a universe of 10 million inhabited planets. Each Michael son engages in a series of extended personalization’s in the form of descending orders of his universe children. In the last of these personalization’s the Michael of each universe becomes a mortal and lives the life of an ordinary human in order to give him the experience of being a mortal in his own universe. Our local universe of 10,000,000 planets is named Orvonton and its headquarter sphere is Salvington. So Michael of Salvington is the creator and administrator of our universe. His first minister is Gabriel of Salvington.

Tens of thousands of years ago Michael and Gabriel authorized a study to identify the characteristics of certain inhabited planets which might be chosen as the one in ten million on which Michael would live as a human. They were apparently interested in a world that was not very advanced and which had suffered the isolation consequences of the Lucifer rebellion. Our planet was further qualified as an interesting/challenging place by the default of our Adam and Eve. So, about 37,000 years ago a message was sent to Adam and Eve, even as they were in the midst of their default turmoil, that this planet would be Michael’s mortal bestowal world.

Now I submit to you that you and I enjoy a great privilege to be natives of the planet Michael chose to be his bestowal planet and especially within such a short time after he lived his bestowal life and before the planet had changed very much in culture or climate. The circumstances of our lives are not so different from life as he lived it. The joys and the pains of his life are fully understandable to us without interpretation. The experience of living on this planet must be special, primitive, about the bottom rung on the ladder for ascending mortals.

It is important to remember who is being born. This was Michael coming as a human baby to experience human existence, to demonstrate the perfect life of intentionally living in harmony with the indwelling spirit of the Father of all creation and to spiritually uplift humanity with a living portrayal of the loving nature of our heavenly Father. This was the creator and ruler of stars and galaxies and ten million inhabited planets. This was a very big deal.

Sometime much closer to Jesus’ birth, Gabriel came here and surveyed the spiritual, intellectual, racial and geographic features of our planet as they would likely impact Jesus’ life and the spread of his teachings. He decided that the Hebrew culture and religion had advantages warranting their selection as the bestowal race. In this sense they were a chosen people; chosen to be the religious and cultural foundation of Jesus’ mortal life. Michael gave his approval to this decision and Gabriel sent the Family Commission of twelve to investigate Jewish family life. Gabriel was present at the conclusion of the study to receive nominations of three equally favorable unions. Gabriel selected Mary and Joseph.

Joseph’s family was Jewish back to Abraham but his relationship to David was by adoption generations earlier. Mary’s lineage was much more varied, embracing many of the most remarkable women in the history of our planet. Racially Mary was hardly Jewish. Joseph was a dark-eyed brunette. Mary had brown eyes and her hair was almost blond. Joseph and Mary were selected because they were average people. Michael wanted to live the life of an average person so that common people could understand and accept him.

The circumstances of this bestowal were about perfect. This planet was never before or since at a higher level of spiritual thinking or religious living. Jews, being part western and part eastern, were well suited to spreading the new religion both East and West. Tolerant political rule of the Mediterranean world by the Romans enhanced the favorable circumstances. The Greek language and culture was pervasive and Jewish religious and moral teachings were spreading rapidly. For the first time in world history, good roads connected many major cities. Seas were cleared of pirates and travel was rapidly advancing.

While it was a time of peace and prosperity, there was no middle class and most people lived a miserable and impoverished lower class existence.

Nazareth was particularly well situated because half the caravan traffic between the orient and the Mediterranean ports passed through or near it. Dispersion of Jews with over 200 synagogues and religious communities throughout the Roman world provided culture centers where the new gospel of the kingdom of heaven found its initial reception and from which it spread.

When Jesus was born, Herod the Idumean ruled both Galilee and Judeah. (Herod died in 4BC.) He was an outsider who held power because he had ingratiated himself with the Roman rulers. He built temples to many strange gods. Because Herod was friendly with Roman rulers, the world was safe for Jewish travelers and the way was open for evangelists to carry the gospel throughout the Roman Empire.

Galilee was more gentile than Jewish when Jesus was born.

Mary and Joseph married in March of 8 BC. Mary was 14 years old and Joseph was 21. Joseph and his brothers had built a one room home for the new family. In November of 8 BC Mary and Joseph conceived Jesus and the next day Gabriel appeared to Mary at dusk at her home. Joseph had not returned from work. Gabriel’s appearance shocked Mary but after she regained her composure, Gabriel said to her: “I come at the bidding of one who is my master and whom you shall love and nurture. To you, Mary, I bring glad tidings when I announce to you that the conception within you is ordained by heaven, and that in due time you will become the mother of a son; you shall call him Joshua, and he shall inaugurate the kingdom of heaven on earth and among men. Your son shall proclaim the message of deliverance with great power and deep conviction.”

It is curious to me that Gabriel told Mary what name to give her son. He had done the same with Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother. I wonder why they needed to be named John and Joshua. [In Hebrew, John (Yoghanan) means “Yahweh is gracious.” Joshua (Yehoshua) means “Yahweh is salvation”]. It is also curious to me that Gabriel spoke only to Mary and Elizabeth. Joseph and Zacharias were left with no direct communication. They had dreams but these came long after their wives had told them what had happened.

Mary didn’t tell Joseph of Gabriel’s visit for many weeks. Not until she knew she was pregnant. It was many nights before Joseph could sleep. At first he doubted the Gabriel visitation. When he became convinced of the visit, he was still troubled by how the offspring of humans could be a child of divine destiny. After several weeks, Joseph and Mary concluded that they had been chosen to be parents of the Messiah, but it hadn’t been part of the Jewish concept that the deliverer was to be of divine nature. As Mary’s time approached, Joseph had to go to Bethlehem to register for the census. Joseph virtually forbade Mary to make the journey to Bethlehem with him, but she insisted and he relented.

Jesus was born at noon, August 21, 7 BC in a grain storage room of a caravan stable of an inn in Bethlehem. The following day, a wealthy person at the inn exchanged rooms; and Mary, Joseph and Jesus resided there for three weeks until they got lodging with a distant relative of Joseph. They stayed in Bethlehem for a year because Mary, Elizabeth and Zacharias thought Jesus was to be the Jewish Messiah and that he should grow up in the city of David.

After the three wise men made inquiry in Jerusalem about the new born king of the Jews, Herod’s spies looked for Jesus for a year. Then in mid-October of 6 BC Herod ordered a systematic search of all houses in Bethlehem and the murder of all baby boys less than two years of age. Sixteen baby boys perished as a result. Jesus was a little over one year old and still living in Bethlehem but one of Herod’s assistants communicated the baby slaughter order to Zacharias, and he dispatched a messenger to Joseph. The night before the massacre Joseph and Mary left Bethlehem for Alexandria in Egypt. They journeyed alone to avoid attention. Zacharias provided the funds for them to travel on. Joseph worked in Alexandria and they lodged with well-to-do relatives of Joseph’s family. They stayed in Alexandria for two years and returned to Bethlehem only after Harod’s death.

Certain wise men of spiritual insight had been informed of the impending bestowal of Michael on Earth. This was probably an earlier announcement that he was coming. More specifically, the angels of attachment to Adam and Eve in the first garden made an announcement to Ardnon and his associates in Ur that the light of life was about to appear as a babe on earth and among the Jews. Apparently the communication to Ardnon was by way of a midwayer who either posed as or communicated through a strange religious teacher who claimed these insights came to him through a dream. This strange teacher must have been very persuasive because three Chaldean priests traveled for weeks just to have the chance to see the child. They were in Jerusalem looking for the babe when by chance Zacharias heard of their quest and directed them to Jesus in Bethlehem. Jesus was about three weeks old when they arrived.

The wise men were following fairly specific information communicated to them as interested persons who were part of the spiritual continuum. That is terribly significant because it suggests that mortals can be contacted by their celestial friends. I don’t know if this is something we can all aspire to but it is intriguing.

For a time all Nazareth was proud of his exploits confounding the wise men in the temple at Jerusalem.

Before Jesus was 14 years old he had become a good yoke maker and worked well with canvas and leather. He was rapidly developing into an expert carpenter and cabinet maker. In this 14th year he made frequent trips to the top of the hill to the northwest of Nazareth for prayer and meditation. Gradually he was becoming more self-conscious of the nature of his bestowal on earth. He continued his advanced course of reading under the teachers at the synagogue school and continued to home school his brothers and sisters. The family was prosperous and Jesus resumed his music lessons.
Joseph and Mary both had frequent doubts about Jesus’ destiny. He was brilliant but difficult to understand and nothing extraordinary ever happened. Miracles were expected of persons of destiny and Jesus didn’t produce any.

Tue, Sept .25, A.D. 8, a month after Jesus’ 14th birthday, Joseph died of injuries from a falling derrick while at work on the governor’s residence at Sepphoris. None of the family members made it to him before he died. He is buried at Nazareth.

Jesus knew nothing of the Gabriel visit to Mary before Jesus’ birth. He learned about this from John on the day of his baptism, at the beginning of his public ministry. As years passed, Jesus increasingly measured every institution of society and every usage of religion by one test: What does it do for the human soul? Does it bring God to man? Does it bring man to God?

During his 14th year it became the custom for the neighbors to drop in during the winter evenings to hear Jesus play the harp, listen to him tell stories and read the Greek scriptures. He was a master story teller. Jesus demonstrated keen business judgment and financial sagacity. He was liberal but frugal, saving but generous. He was a wise and efficient administrator of his father’s estate.

By the middle of this 15th year Jesus had taken a firm grasp on the management of his family. By the end of the year, the family savings were almost gone. They needed to sell one of the Nazareth houses Joseph owned in partnership with Jacob. Ruth was born the evening of April 17, A.D. 9. This year Jesus formulated what became known as the Lord’s Prayer. It was intended to lead his brothers and sisters into spontaneous personal prayers but the family had many forms of praise and several formal prayers and the children always fell back to using them.

This year Jesus suffered a lot of confused thinking about being about his Father’s business and the need to watch over Joseph’s family. He reasoned rightly that his earthly family had to take precedence. He had thoroughly considered the idea of the Jewish Messiah and had concluded that he was not to be the Messiah. He never expected to lead Jewish armies to overthrow foreign domination of Palestine. Nor did he believe that his spiritual mission was to be directed solely to the Jewish people. He also did not believe that he was to be the Son of Man depicted by the Prophet Daniel.

As he worked at his carpenter’s bench he pondered what his relationship should be after he started his public ministry; to the messiah if he should appear, to his family, to the Jewish commonwealth and religion, to the Roman Empire and to the gentiles and their religion. From this year on he was more cautious about sharing his unusual ideas. He longed for a trustworthy and confidential friend but his problems were too complex for human associates to understand. He had to bear his burden alone.

Jesus delivered his first sermon at the Nazareth synagogue on the first Sabbath after his fifteenth birthday. He carefully chose scriptures and sequenced them so that when he read them they conveyed the message without his having to interpret them. The scriptures chosen presented something of a preview of his future career.

Poverty was catching up with the family month by month. Clothing and meals became simpler and their best food was saved for their evening meal. They had plenty of milk, butter and cheese from their animals and vegetables from their garden in season. The Chazzan continued to believe that Jesus was to become a great teacher. Apparently all of Jesus’ plans for a career were thwarted by circumstances but he was not discouraged. He did not falter. By the end of 9A.D. Jesus was earning only the equivalent of 25 cents per day and the family found it difficult to pay the civil and temple taxes. The tax collector threatened to take Jesus’ harp. Jesus gave his copy of the Greek scriptures to the synagogue library as his maturity offering to the lord on his 15th birthday. In his 15th year Herod ruled that Joseph was owed nothing and Jesus never again trusted Herod Antipas because of the unjustness of his decision.

Jesus’ uncle took over the family supply shop. Jesus worked at his home bench so he was close to help Mary with the children. They couldn’t afford to move to the country as Jesus wanted but Jesus rented a large garden plot near their home and they had three cows, four sheep, a donkey, a flock of chickens, a dog and the doves. So they had many of the experiences of farm life.


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Birth & First Year

More than 35,000 years ago this planet was selected for Michael’s 7th bestowal.  In this final bestowal he was incarnating as a mortal baby to get the experience of growing up as an ordinary mortal person.  This happens only once in the entire history of a universe of 10 million inhabited planets.  It is a really big deal if you understand its rarity and purpose.  But no mortal on this planet did.

There was lots of planning by celestial beings in preparation.  The Melchizedeks did a study on the status of the various segregated worlds.  So the decision had already been made (probably by Michael personally) to bestow on a planet involved in a rebellion.  The 13 rebellious planets in our system of 1000 planets probably were the only planets in this universe with unresolved rebellion issues.  Gabriel of Salvington reviewed the report.  Then Michael reviewed it and selected this planet.  Gabriel then came in person as part of a study of human groups and spiritual, intellectual and geographic features of our planet.  Gabriel decided that the Hebrews had advantages warranting their selection as the race within which the bestowal would be made.  Gabriel then sent a family commission of twelve celestials to identify proper families.  They identified three families thought to be equally favorable.  Gabriel made the choice of Joseph and Mary.

It was an interesting process over substantial time periods.  There was nothing magical.  No dictates of God.  It was more like pulling together a plan by rational, thought-out and researched steps.  It was done just the way present day intelligent humans would think it should be done.

Joseph was the human father of Jesus.  He was an average, ordinary man of his place and time.  His immediate ancestors were builders, masons, carpenters and smiths.  He was a carpenter and eventually became a contractor for large buildings.  Once in a while in prior history, one of his ancestors could be found playing a role in the evolution of religion on this planet.

Mary was descended from a long line of many of the most remarkable women in the history of this planet.  Her ancestors include Eve, Enta and Ratta.  Mary was an average woman of normal temperament.  She was Jewish in culture and religion but her heredity was from various non-Jewish Mediterranean people.  Jesus was an average person and so were his parents.

John the Baptist was part of the Michael bestowal.  Gabriel in his appearance to John’s mother, Elizabeth, told her that John would be the herald of the message Jesus would proclaim.  The names John and Joshua were apparently significant because Gabriel told each mother what to name her son.  John’s parents were Elizabeth and Zacharias.  Zacharias was of advanced years and was a priest.  Elizabeth was younger and childless.

John was 5 months older than Jesus.  They were distantly related through their mothers. Before Jesus was conceived by Joseph and Mary, Gabriel told Elizabeth that Mary would bear Jesus soon.  Gabriel appeared in person to Elizabeth and Mary.  These were not dreams.  Elizabeth kept her secret for 5 months even from her husband.  Zacharias was skeptical and doubted the entire experience.  6 weeks before John’s birth, Zacharias had an impressive dream that fully convinced him that Elizabeth was to bear a child of destiny.  Zacharias and Elizabeth talked a lot about what was about to happen and concluded that Jesus was to be the Messiah and John was to be his chief advisor and assistant.  Gabriel had not said this.

Mary had her own doubts about her experience of Gabriel’s visit.  She and Elizabeth visited for three weeks at Elizabeth’s home in the City of Judah two miles east of Jerusalem.  This greatly strengthened Mary’s resolve.  It must have been hard for both women to adjust.  Neither Elizabeth nor Mary knew anything about raising a child of promise.

From infancy, John was told by Zacharias and Elizabeth that he would be a spiritual leader and religious teacher and he accepted this and pursued it.

Gabriel told Mary her son would “inaugurate the kingdom of heaven on earth and among men.”  Mary had reservations even telling Joseph about the Gabriel visit until she knew she was pregnant.  Then, Joseph had doubts about the Gabriel visit.  Joseph and Mary concluded that their son must be the Messiah but they held different views about the mission of the Messiah.  Mary’s two brothers and two sisters as well as her father and mother (Jochaim and Hannah) never became believers in Jesus’s spiritual mission during his life but several of Joseph’s family did.

Gabriel’s visit was the day after Jesus’ conception and was the only supernatural event of carrying and bearing Jesus.

Joseph was reconciled and convinced by a very impressive dream.  A brilliant celestial messenger told Joseph his son would be a great light to the world but the Jews would hardly receive him.  None of these messages said Jesus was to be the Messiah or deliverer of the Jews.  Jesus’ followers restated Jewish prophecy to make it fit Jesus being the Messiah.  The dream messenger said Jesus would be a great light in the world.  He would come to his people but they will hardly receive him.  But to those who do receive him he will reveal that they are the children of God.  He will be a divine messenger to the world.

If Joseph had lived, he would have been a believer in Jesus’ spiritual mission as were many of Joseph’s relatives. (He had 8 brothers and sisters.)  Mary went back and forth between belief that Jesus would be the Messiah and doubt.  Her family tended not to believe in Jesus’ spiritual mission.

Jesus’ Nazareth home was a one room stone structure with flat roof and an adjoining building for animals.  It was in the north, rural part of Nazareth.  It was furnished with a low stone table, pottery and stone dishes and pots, loom, lampstand, several small tools and mats for sleeping on the stone floor.  There was a separate structure for the oven and grain mill in the back yard.

Joseph and Mary met when Joseph was doing some building work at her family home in Nazareth.  They courted for two years and married in March 8BC.

Mary insisted on going to Bethlehem with Joseph for his census registration in August, 7BC.  The lures for her were the adventure, fear of Joseph being absent when she delivered Jesus and the hope of a visit with Elizabeth.  They set off on the journey early on the morning of August 18, 7BC.  It was a two and one-half day walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem north of Jerusalem.  Mary rode the donkey.  There was no room at the inn or with Joseph’s distant relatives.  The caravan stables under the inn had been cleaned and prepared for guests.  Joseph and Mary lodged in the grain storage room. Mary was weary and Joseph stayed with her.

By daybreak Aug 21, Mary was in labor.  Jesus was born at noon.  On the 22nd, Joseph enrolled for the census.  Joseph and Mary were in the stable room only one day.  On the 22nd they exchanged rooms with a traveler who had a room in the inn.  They lived there for almost 3 weeks and then moved to a distant relative’s home in Bethlehem.

Joseph and Zacharias visited during the week after Jesus’ birth.  Zacharias and Elizabeth believed Jesus would be the Messiah and wanted him to grow up in Bethlehem, the city of David.  Mary agreed so the family stayed in Bethlehem for more than a year.

Jesus had no visitors until the 3 priests (Ardnon and two others) from Ur arrived shortly before the family left the inn.  A strange religious teacher (announcement by seraphim via midwayers) at Ur had told the priests that the teacher had a dream informing him that the “light of life” was about to appear on earth as a babe and among the Jews.  They set off in search. They had been in Jerusalem for many weeks looking for the child and were about to give up and return to Ur when they ran into Zacharias.  He told them he believed Jesus was the child they sought and told them where he was.  They found him and left their gifts.  Old Herod was ruler of Judea.  His informers reported the presence of the 3 priests and their purpose of finding the newborn king of the Jews.  Herod summoned them, listened to their story and gave them a purse for the new king asking them to return and report to Herod where the child was so that he too could go worship him.  They had told Herod that the new king was a spiritual, not a temporal king.  This interview apparently was after the priests visited Jesus since they knew he had already been born to a young woman who was in Bethlehem for the census registration.

When the wise men did not return with information on the location of the child, Herod became suspicious.  Informants told Herod of the extraordinary poem by Simeon at Jesus’ circumcision ceremony.  Herod was angry that no one followed the family.  Herod sent searchers but Jesus was not found.  Jesus was hidden with Joseph’s relatives.  Joseph had taken the precaution of not working because he was afraid of being discovered.

After more than a year, Herod ordered a systematic search of every house in Bethlehem and all boy babies under 2 years were killed.  16 babies died in one day in mid-October 6BC.  An administrator at Herod’s court reported the coming slaughter to Zacharias and he got word to Joseph.  Joseph and Mary left Bethlehem the night before the slaughter to go to Alexandria.  They traveled alone on funds supplied by Zacharias.  They stayed in Alexandria until Herod died two years later.  The family stayed with a rich relative of Joseph.  Joseph worked in Egypt as a carpenter and construction crew foreman.

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Escape from Herod

Following Jesus’ birth, his family remained in Bethlehem. Mary and John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zacharias, had reasoned that Jesus was the Messiah and that therefore he should grow up in the city of David and assume the throne of David.  From the time old Herod (Herod Idumean) held the audience with the three priests from Ur (the three wise men); he had maintained an interest in finding Jesus.  He knew Jesus had been in Bethlehem but he did not know exactly where.  He was angry when he heard from his informants that the infant had been redeemed in the temple in Jerusalem (from sacrifice of the first born as provided by Jewish law) and no one had followed to determine where he was residing.  For over a year Herod’s spies continued to seek the child without success.  Finally in October of 6BC Herod gave the order to make a systematic search of Bethlehem for all infant boys less than two years of age and to slay all of them.

Zacharias was a priest at the temple at Jerusalem and he knew people who knew what was happening at Herod’s court.  One of those people got word to Zacharias of Herod’s order to slaughter the boy children.  Zacharias got a message to Joseph the evening before sixteen children were murdered and provided traveling money for Joseph’s family to go to safety with Joseph’s relatives in Alexandria in Egypt.  The family traveled alone to avoid suspicion.  Jesus’ family and friends must have had an escape plan in place with an established destination and a funding plan because they acted very quickly and without confusion.

Alexandria was and still is a large business and cultural center in the Nile River delta in Northeastern Egypt directly to the South of the Siani desert.  It was a large city and Joseph’s distant relative with whom they lodged was rich.  A few of the Egyptian family and some of their friends were informed that Jesus was a child of destiny and divine promise, probably the Messiah, and they took this seriously.  No doubt the story of the Gabriel visit to Mary was shared with this limited group of friends.

Joseph quickly found work as a carpenter and then as a foreman of a large group of workmen.  This supervisory experience eventually gave Joseph the idea of becoming a builder when he returned to Nazareth.  The family spent almost two years in Alexandria biding their time until Herod died.  Meanwhile, Jesus spent his time being a typical gleeful toddler with a loving family and friends. Nothing supernatural or miraculous was happening in his life nor would it until he was twelve years old and with his parents on his first trip to Jerusalem.  But Jesus did receive exceptionally attentive care, especially from his mother.

In 4BC Herod died and Joseph and Jesus’ Judean friends considered it safe for Jesus to return to Bethlehem.  The Alexandrian friends tried to Convince Joseph to remain permanently in Alexandria.  They reasoned that it would be a better place for Jesus to launch and manage his mission in life.  Alexandria was the second most important city in Jewish scholarship and religion as well as the second largest city in the Roman Empire.  But Joseph and Mary wanted Jesus to grow up in Israel, perhaps even in Bethlehem.

When the time set for departure came, the Alexandrian and Memphis friends sent them off with ceremony and a gift of a copy of the Greek translation of the Hebrew scripture, a precious and costly gift.

The family arrived back in Bethlehem in late August, 4BC, about the time of Jesus’ third birthday.  After counseling with friends and considering together for a few weeks whether to remain in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary decided Nazareth would be a better place to rear Jesus and that he would be safer there from Herod’s heirs.  So the family and five of Joseph’s local male relatives (for protection from thieves, remember the value of the Greek translation) made the return trip to their small home in Nazareth where one of Joseph’s four brothers had been living with his family.


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Early Childhood and Education

Within a week of returning to Nazareth, Joseph had work as a carpenter.  Joseph’s next door neighbor in Nazareth was Jacob the stone mason who was a business associate of Joseph.  Jacob had a son, also named Jacob, who was near Jesus’ age.  The boys quickly became playmates and best friends.

Jesus was in excellent health and full of excitement.  His physical development was normal but his mental activity was a little unusual.   He was full of questions about everything and he paid attention to the responsiveness of the answers he received.  He declined to say his prayers as fixed recitations as he was taught.  He insisted on saying his prayers as conversations with his heavenly Father in the same style that he conversed with his earthly father.  This was shocking to persons outside the family who chanced to hear him describe his prayer / conversations.  He was also unusual in that he wouldn’t fight with other children to hurt them or to retaliate for their injuries to him.  Jacob became his protector against the bullies who took advantage of Jesus’ pacific nature.

Jesus was almost four years old (3 BC) when Joseph built a small shop near the village spring and the busy caravan rest stop, where he made yokes and plows and did leather and rope work.  Thereafter, Jesus spent a lot of time at the shop watching his father work and listening to the conversation of the caravan conductors and passengers from everywhere.  Nazareth was on busy caravan routes between the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the Persian and Egyptian cities to the north and south and the Babylonian, Indian and Chinese trade routes to the East.  This exposed Jesus to a lot of cultural, social and economic variety.  Mary and Joseph were careful to keep secret that Jesus was a child of promise.

Jesus’ brother James was born April 2, 3 BC.  James was the first of five brothers and three sisters for Jesus.  Jesus’ inner spirit (Thought Adjuster) arrived February 11, 2 BC.  Jesus was 4 ½ years old and, like all children, unaware of this event.  Jesus’ first of three sisters, Miriam, was born July 11, 2 BC.  During the evening of July 12 Jesus had a long talk with Joseph about how various living things are born as separate individuals.  Jesus was full of questions and as usual, Joseph was very good to deal fully and honestly with all his questions.  Jesus enjoyed his baby brother and sister and helped Mary care for them

The roof of their home was a favorite place for Jesus to play.  Mary placed sand boxes on the roof and Jesus used them to make maps and write.  Jesus’ first language was Galilean Aramaic which he learned from his mother and other locals.  But additionally he learned to speak, read and write Greek from Joseph and the caravan conductors and travelers.  Aramaic was the local language.  Greek was the language of the Roman Empire.  Joseph used the Greek translation of Hebrew scripture to teach Jesus Greek.  (The translation had been given to Jesus when the family departed Alexandria to return to Palestine.)  Jesus had mastered both languages before he started synagogue school at age 7.  In school he mastered Hebrew.

There were only two copies of the scriptures in Greek in all of Nazareth.  This made Jesus’ home a popular place.  Also, Jesus’ ability to read the Greek scripture and translate it into Aramaic made him a significant person among Jewish adults in Nazareth.  In his sixth year Jesus assumed custody of this priceless manuscript.

Even at five years of age it was difficult to answer Jesus’ questions about physical or social events by telling him either that God or the devil was responsible.  For a long time he was willing to accept this explanation for mental and spiritual phenomena. However he expected there to be known causes for physical and social occurrences.

The destinies of Jesus and John the Baptist were linked to each other but there was remarkably little contact between them.  Most of the contact between them was when they were infants and while their parents counseled with one another in Bethlehem. When Jesus was five, Zacharias, Elizabeth and John visited with Joseph’s family for a few days in Nazareth.  Jesus and John were next together at age 16 when they did some planning regarding their missions and some personal matters. Their next and last time together was when Jesus was Baptized and for a short time following. They never spent time together working out how to fit their careers together or how to achieve some mutual goal.

Jesus’ family was poor until Joseph became a builder when Jesus was six.  Thereafter they were prosperous until Joseph died in a construction accident when Jesus was fourteen.  Jesus made trips with his Father to neighboring towns where Joseph had business.  Jesus was cheerful and lighthearted most of the time until Joseph’s death.  Mary and Jesus raised doves on the roof of the animal shelter.  They sold them and Jesus applied the proceeds to charitable purposes.

Jesus fell down the steps to the roof-top sleeping room when he was six and was injured.  It happened during a surprise out of season dust storm.  The question arises why this was not prevented by Jesus’ super-mortal and angelic caretakers.  The reason given is that material accidents, common place physical occurrences, are not arbitrarily interfered with by celestial personalities.  Even in special circumstances, these beings can only act in obedience to the specific mandates of their superiors.

Joseph, Jesus’ second brother was born Wednesday morning, March 18, AD 1.

Shortly before Jesus was to start school at age seven, Zacharias encouraged Nahor, a scout for one of the elite rabbinical academies in Jerusalem, to come to Nazareth to interview Jesus and recruit him to attend the Jerusalem academy.  Mary was in favor of it as something the Messiah should do (resume enhancement).  Joseph was opposed to Jesus going away from home at such a young age and he did not share Mary’s view of Jesus as a political leader.  Nahor suggested that Mary and Joseph let Jesus decide and they agreed.  Jesus wasn’t committed to either course of action so he consulted his trusted advisors, Mary, Joseph, Jacob the stone mason and his heavenly Father.  He reported back after two days saying that while he was not entirely sure what his heavenly Father had said to him, he was persuaded that he should stay in Nazareth where the people who truly loved him could continue to guide him.  Joseph, Mary and Jesus all assumed that Jesus would one day go off to an elite school for theological education.  Due to extreme poverty following Joseph’s death, it never happened.  Jesus never had earthly educational credentials.  His entire formal education was the standard six years of synagogue school in Nazareth.

Among the elite in Jerusalem, Galilee in general and especially Nazareth were viewed as backward and theologically inferior to what was available in Jerusalem.  The common derisive statement was that nothing good could come out of Nazareth.  Nazareth was more gentile than Jewish.  Jews in Nazareth were more relaxed about how they applied Jewish law.  In Nazareth Jews didn’t concern themselves about contaminating themselves by social and commercial contact with gentiles.  Nor were they concerned about walking to go somewhere on the Sabbath. They were notorious for being loose in their observance of the many Jewish laws.

Jesus started school at age seven as was the Jewish custom.  He already spoke, read and wrote Aramaic, the language of Galilee and Greek, the language of the Roman Empire.  In school, he learned Hebrew.  School at that time consisted of three years of studying the basic rules of the Book of Law in Hebrew followed by three additional years of memorization  of the deeper teachings of the law by the method of repeating after the teacher.  There were no text books.  The chazzan would utter a statement (in Hebrew) and the students would repeat it in unison after him.  There was no science, no math and no language skills formally taught; only the law.  However when Jesus was seven he met a math teacher from Damascus and developed an interest and skill with numbers, distances and proportions.

Jesus was a good but not unusual student in the early part of his schooling.  Still he was in the more progressive third of his class. This qualified him for exemption from class for one week each month which he usually spent with his fisherman uncle near Magdala on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee or with his farmer uncle five miles south of Nazareth.

Jesus received his moral training and spiritual culture in his home.  Much of his intellectual and theological education came from the chazzan.  But his real education for the actual test of grappling with the problems of life he obtained by mingling with his fellows.  In this way he was highly educated.  When he was nine he learned to milk the family cow and care for the other animals.  He learned how to make cheese, weave, operate a loom and how to draw.  Jesus was always full of searching questions and in this way advanced his own learning.  Joseph habitually took Jesus for Sabbath afternoon walks and taught him reverent and sympathetic contact with nature.

Since Jesus hung out near the village spring. he got acquainted with the people who were frequently there including the women and girls of the town who came to fetch water.  Nathan the potter set his wheel near the spring and Jesus and Jacob learned from him how to make pottery.  Jesus had an unusual liking for everything musical and when he was seven he bartered dairy products from the family cow for harp lessons.  By the time he was ten he was an accomplished harp player with skillful interpretations and improvisations.

Jesus’ formal education was not special but his interest in the things people thought and did and his habit of asking searching questions served to make him highly educated, self-educated.  Much of what he was interested in and became accomplished with required lots of practice and concentration.  Playing the harp well, making pottery, weaving, making cheese, drawing and learning to understand the leading of his Heavenly Father require a lot of hours of practice.  He used his young years to pursue these interests thereby qualifying himself to be the greatest spiritual teacher we have ever known.


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When Jesus Was Seven Years Old

By William Cooper

When Jesus was seven years old, a recruiter from a prestigious school in Jerusalem came to Nazareth to recruit him to attend the Jerusalem school.  Mother Mary was in favor of sending him to the school because it would be a good education and the start of impressive credentials for Jesus.  Mary remembered Gabriel’s visit to her before Jesus was born, during which Gabriel made it clear that Jesus had a destiny to “inaugurate the kingdom of heaven on earth and among men.”  Mary saw the Jerusalem school as a start toward his career.  Mary still believed that Jesus was destined to be the Jewish Messiah, a political leader and liberator of the Jews from political oppression.  Joseph, Jesus’ father, thought Jesus would grow up to be a man of destiny but he was profoundly uncertain what that destiny would be.  Consequently, for Joseph, sending Jesus off to boarding school in Jerusalem held no special benefit.  The recruiter convinced Joseph and Mary to trust Jesus to make this decision.  So, here is the process Jesus, at age seven, followed.

Jesus’ best friend was Jacob, the son of the stone mason who lived next door to Jesus.  Jesus talked with Jacob’s father and to Mary and Joseph about the choice.  Then he had what he described as a chat with his Heavenly Father.  It was Jesus’ habit to talk to his Heavenly Father the same way he talked to his earthly father, Joseph.  In this way, he developed a loving and close personal relationship with both.  The next day he came to the adults with his decision and said since his earthly advisors were divided on this decision, he was relying mainly on the guidance of his Heavenly Father.  While he was not certain of exactly what his Heavenly Father was saying to him, he was persuaded that his Heavenly Father wanted him to stay with those who loved him and knew him well and could therefore provide better guidance for him.

Jesus continued to relate to his Heavenly Father as a friend throughout his life, and still does.  He told his followers that they too are children of this same loving and available Heavenly Father and that their Father wants them to treat each other as loving family of the same Father.  He told them to consult their inner spirit of God for guidance in how to progress in loving goodness, thereby becoming more and more like God until eventually, in eternity, they are lovingly perfect like God.  Love to God and Jesus has many, many expressions.  They are all a pleasure to live and a joy to observe.

Read more in The Urantia Book.  The Urantia Book paper 123 : section 6 . paragraph 8


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Jesus’ Consecration Trip to Jerusalem

In Jesus’ time, a Jewish boy was eligible to be consecrated as a citizen of Israel when he completed his synagogue schooling.  This usually occurred when he was 13 years old.  It was a special thing to be consecrated in a ceremony at the temple in Jerusalem at Passover so Joseph arranged to go with Jesus and several others from Nazareth to the Passover celebration following his completion of school in Nazareth.  Women seldom went to Passover in Jerusalem but Jesus virtually refused to go unless his mother went.  Mary went and therefore some other women also went.  The trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem was about a three day walk.  At Bethany on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Jesus and his family first met Lazarus and his family including Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters and their father, Simon.  The young people became immediate and life-long friends.

Jesus was in for several events of disillusionment at the temple. Mary could not attend his consecration ceremony.  She had to go to the women’s gallery.  Jesus objected to his father about this.  The consecration ritual was perfunctory and routine.  The temple could accommodate over 200 thousand so there were crowds and everything was impersonal.

Jesus was more intrigued by the contemplation of the spiritual significance of the temple ceremonies and their associated worship.  He was always disappointed with the explanations of the real meanings of these ceremonies.  He simply would not accept explanations of worship and religious devotion which involved belief in the wrath of God or the anger of the Almighty.  When Joseph pressed him to acknowledge acceptance of the orthodox Jewish beliefs, he turned suddenly on his parents and looking appealingly into the eyes of his father said “My father, it cannot be true—the Father in heaven cannot so regard his erring children on earth.  The heavenly Father cannot love his children less than you love me.  And I well know, no matter what unwise thing I might do, you would never pour out wrath upon me nor vent anger against me.  If you, my earth father, possess such human reflections of the Divine, how much more must the heavenly Father be filled with goodness and overflowing with mercy.  I refuse to believe that my Father in heaven loves me less than my father on earth.”   Joseph and Mary never again sought to change his mind about the love of God and the mercifulness of the Father in heaven.

In the temple there was irreverence everywhere.  In the court of the gentiles there was loud talking, jargon, cursing, bleating of sheep, babble of money changers and vendors of sacrificial animals and other commercial transactions.  Most offensive to Jesus was the presence of prostitutes marketing themselves in the court of the gentiles.  He was shocked by the spiritual ugliness that was visible in the faces of so many of the unthinking worshipers.  At the killing alter, the blood stained pavement, the gory hands of the priests, and the sounds of the dying animals were more than this nature loving lad could stand.

The Passover celebration was 7 days long.  The first night Jesus slept little.  He dreamed of the dying and suffering animals.  The next day Lazarus showed Jerusalem to Jesus.  Most interesting to Jesus were the places around the temple where teaching sessions were going on.  There were thousands of young people in Jerusalem and Jesus met and interviewed more than 150.  These contacts caused him to begin thinking about traveling to learn how the various groups of people earned their living.

Jesus’ absence when the Nazareth group departed Jerusalem was over-looked by both Mary and Joseph because men and women traveled in separate groups and each thought he was with the other.  Meanwhile Jesus was in the temple completely absorbed in the discussion of angels.  At noon he discovered he had been left behind but this did not concern him.  Mary and Joseph did not miss Jesus until they reached Jericho and checked in with each other and others of their group as they straggled into Jericho.

The day Jesus was left behind, he attended temple discussions but did not participate.  That evening he walked to Simon’s at Bethany and arrived at evening meal time.  He spent the night there, visiting very little and meditating a lot in the garden.  The second day Joseph and Mary returned to Jerusalem and searched for Jesus without finding him.  He was in the temple again.  This time he was determined to participate.  He did this by asking questions.  Sometimes his pointed questions were somewhat embarrassing to the learned teachers of the Jewish law, but he evinced such a spirit of candid fairness, coupled with an evident hunger for knowledge, that the majority of the temple teachers were disposed to treat him with every consideration. He questioned the justice of putting to death a drunken Gentile who wandered out of the court of the gentiles and into the forbidden sacred precincts of the temple.  At the end of the day he went again to Bethany and to the garden to meditate about what his career should be and how to begin being about his Father’s business.

On the third day Jesus again was with the scribes and teachers at the temple.  His questions to them had begun to attract spectators.   Simon came over from Bethany to see what Jesus was up to.  Joseph and Mary spent the day looking for Jesus but never thinking to look for him in the discussion groups.  Among his many questions this day were:

  1. What really exists in the holy of holies behind the veil?
  2. Why should mothers in Israel be segregated from the male temple worshippers?
  3. If God is a father who loves his children, why all this slaughter of animals to gain divine favor – has the teaching of Moses been misunderstood?
  4. Since the temple is dedicated to the worship of the Father in heaven, is it consistent to permit the presence of those who engage in secular barter and trade?
  5. Is the expected Messiah to become a temporal prince to sit on the throne of David, or is he to function as the light of life in the establishment of a spiritual kingdom?

For four plus hours, Jesus plied these Jewish teachers with thought-provoking and heart-searching questions.  He made few comments on their remarks.  He conveyed his teaching by the questions he asked.  By the deft and subtle phrasing of a question he would at one and the same time challenge their teaching and suggest his own.  In the manner of his asking a question there was an appealing combination of sagacity and humor which endeared him even to those who more or less resented his youthfulness.  He was always eminently fair and considerate in the asking of these penetrating questions.  He exhibited that same reluctance to take unfair advantage of an opponent which characterized his entire subsequent public ministry.  He seemed to be utterly free of all egoistic desire to win an argument merely to experience logical triumph over his fellows.  Jesus and Simon returned to Bethany for the night.  Again, Jesus went to the garden where he lingered late. Trying to come up with a plan for his life’s work, how to reveal a more beautiful concept of the heavenly Father and so set men free of their terrible bondage to law, ritual, ceremonial and musty tradition.  But the clear light did not come to the truth-seeking lad.

Even on the morning of the fourth day, Jesus was still unmindful of the concern his parents might have for his absence.  It didn’t seem to occur to him that they might be worried.  Jesus participated again.  The morning was devoted largely to the law and the prophets.  Jesus displayed familiarity with the Scripture in Hebrew and Greek.  The teachers were impressed with his youthfulness.  At the afternoon session, the leader invited him to come forward and have a seat beside him and express his own views regarding prayer and worship.  This is when Joseph and Mary found him.  Mary reproached him for not informing them of his whereabouts.  His mother’s comments brought to an end one of the greatest opportunities ever to be granted him to function as a teacher of truth, a preacher of righteousness, a revealer of the loving character of his Father in heaven.  His response to his mother was “Why is it that you have so long sought me?  Would you not expect to find me in my Father’s house since the time has come when I should be about my Father’s business?

On passing out of Jerusalem, Jesus paused on the brow of Olivet and said out loud and in his parents’ presence “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, and the people thereof, what slaves you are – subservient to the Roman yoke and victims of your own traditions—but I will return to cleanse yonder temple and deliver my people from this bondage.”  Mary mulled this over and concluded that it was prophetic of the messianic mission of her son as Israel’s deliverer.  She set to work to mold him into a patriot who would assume leadership of those who would restore the throne of David and cast off the gentile yoke of political bondage.


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14th and 15th Years

Jesus’ self-consciousness of divinity and destiny began when he was 12 with the message the first night at Jerusalem from Immanuel to start being about his father’s business. His 14th and 15th years were tough years. He had not much communication with his Adjuster and lots of human temptation. Like other teenagers he was trying to figure out who he would be. This was more complicated for him because of his role in the bestowal of Michael and the need to serve Michaels objectives. But he didn’t know even that he was a child of promise let alone that he was Michael’s bestowal incarnation. His achievement of self-discovery and self-definition were made the same way that all human teenagers make them. These years were the great test, the real temptation. All sorts of things happened that would have diverted his life if he had let them. He could have become the Jewish Messiah or anything else he wanted to become.

He frequently alternated between the affairs of this life and the contemplation of his relationship to his Father’s business. He spent much of his time with Joseph and no doubt talked with him about appropriate careers. His parents didn’t understand him and he didn’t understand himself for quite a while. His parents also did not talk to him about being a child of promise or tell him of Gabriel’s visit and message to Mary or of Joseph’s vivid dream.
Jesus reflected on his experience of the temple at Jerusalem. Over the years he developed a righteous resentment of the presence in the Father’s temple of the politically appointed priests and the commercial transactions. He respected sincere Pharisees and scribes but he held the hypocritical Pharisees and the dishonest theologians in great contempt. He looked with disdain upon all of those religious leaders who were not sincere.
For a time all Nazareth was proud of his exploits confounding the wise men in the temple at Jerusalem.

Before Jesus was 14 years old he had become a good yoke maker and worked well with canvas and leather. He was rapidly developing into an expert carpenter and cabinet maker. In this 14th year he made frequent trips to the top of the hill to the northwest of Nazareth for prayer and meditation. Gradually he was becoming more self-conscious of the nature of his bestowal on earth. He continued his advanced course of reading under the teachers at the synagogue school and continued to home school his brothers and sisters. The family was prosperous and Jesus resumed his music lessons.
Joseph and Mary both had frequent doubts about Jesus’ destiny. He was brilliant but difficult to understand and nothing extraordinary ever happened. Miracles were expected of persons of destiny and Jesus didn’t produce any.

Tue, Sept .25, A.D. 8, a month after Jesus’ 14th birthday, Joseph died of injuries from a falling derrick while at work on the governor’s residence at Sepphoris. None of the family members made it to him before he died. He is buried at Nazareth.
Jesus knew nothing of the Gabriel visit to Mary before Jesus’ birth. He learned about this from John on the day of his baptism, at the beginning of his public ministry. As years passed, Jesus increasingly measured every institution of society and every usage of religion by one test: What does it do for the human soul? Does it bring God to man? Does it bring man to God?

During his 14th year it became the custom for the neighbors to drop in during the winter evenings to hear Jesus play the harp, listen to him tell stories and read the Greek scriptures. He was a master story teller. Jesus demonstrated keen business judgment and financial sagacity. He was liberal but frugal, saving but generous. He was a wise and efficient administrator of his father’s estate.

By the middle of this 15th year Jesus had taken a firm grasp on the management of his family. By the end of the year, the family savings were almost gone. They needed to sell one of the Nazareth houses Joseph owned in partnership with Jacob. Ruth was born the evening of April 17, A.D. 9. This year Jesus formulated what became known as the Lord’s Prayer. It was intended to lead his brothers and sisters into spontaneous personal prayers but the family had many forms of praise and several formal prayers and the children always fell back to using them.

This year Jesus suffered a lot of confused thinking about being about his Father’s business and the need to watch over Joseph’s family. He reasoned rightly that his earthly family had to take precedence. He had thoroughly considered the idea of the Jewish Messiah and had concluded that he was not to be the Messiah. He never expected to lead Jewish armies to overthrow foreign domination of Palestine. Nor did he believe that his spiritual mission was to be directed solely to the Jewish people. He also did not believe that he was to be the Son of Man depicted by the Prophet Daniel.

As he worked at his carpenter’s bench he pondered what his relationship should be after he started his public ministry; to the messiah if he should appear, to his family, to the Jewish commonwealth and religion, to the Roman Empire and to the gentiles and their religion. From this year on he was more cautious about sharing his unusual ideas. He longed for a trustworthy and confidential friend but his problems were too complex for human associates to understand. He had to bear his burden alone.

Jesus delivered his first sermon at the Nazareth synagogue on the first Sabbath after his fifteenth birthday. He carefully chose scriptures and sequenced them so that when he read them they conveyed the message without his having to interpret them. The scriptures chosen presented something of a preview of his future career.

Poverty was catching up with the family month by month. Clothing and meals became simpler and their best food was saved for their evening meal. They had plenty of milk, butter and cheese from their animals and vegetables from their garden in season. The Chazzan continued to believe that Jesus was to become a great teacher. Apparently all of Jesus’ plans for a career were thwarted by circumstances but he was not discouraged. He did not falter. By the end of 9A.D. Jesus was earning only the equivalent of 25 cents per day and the family found it difficult to pay the civil and temple taxes. The tax collector threatened to take Jesus’ harp. Jesus gave his copy of the Greek scriptures to the synagogue library as his maturity offering to the lord on his 15th birthday. In his 15th year Herod ruled that Joseph was owed nothing and Jesus never again trusted Herod Antipas because of the unjustness of his decision.

Jesus’ uncle took over the family supply shop. Jesus worked at his home bench so he was close to help Mary with the children. They couldn’t afford to move to the country as Jesus wanted but Jesus rented a large garden plot near their home and they had three cows, four sheep, a donkey, a flock of chickens, a dog and the doves. So they had many of the experiences of farm life.


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Jesus and Jude

When Jesus was fourteen, his father, Joseph died suddenly in a construction accident. Jesus was the eldest child and the responsibility for raising his father’s family fell to him and of course Jesus was a very good parent to his five brothers and three sisters. He was probably the best father our world has ever known. But even the world’s best father can have his problem child.

Jude was Jesus’ problem child. He was Jesus’ forth younger brother and he was twelve years younger than Jesus. Jude was not just a problem, he was an outright troublemaker. By the time he was thirteen, Jude’s quick temper and strong patriotic sentiments had gotten him into trouble on several occasions in Nazareth.

It was Jesus’ custom to take each of his brothers to Jerusalem for Passover ceremonies following their graduation from the synagogue school in Nazareth. So in the spring after Jude’s graduation, when he was thirteen, Jesus and Jude set out on the two day walk to Jerusalem for Passover. Jesus chose their route carefully to avoid opportunities for Jude’s temper to cause problems and they arrived at Jerusalem without incident. As they crested the hills at the East of Jerusalem and Jude caught his first glimpse of the city, he was thrilled to the depths of his soul. There before him lay the city and the temple which were the symbols of the political and spiritual aspirations of all Jews everywhere. It was an extraordinary moment for this young patriot.

Jesus and Jude proceeded directly to the temple, but on the way they happened to meet Jesus’ very good friend, Lazarus of Bethany. As Jesus stood visiting with Lazarus and arranging their joint celebration of the Passover, Jude passed the time watching what was going on in the street.

A roman guard standing nearby made some course and explicit remarks regarding a Jewish girl who was passing by. Jude flushed with indignation and his anger and resentment of Rome exploded in a torrent of vicious words.

The Zealots were a very active political faction in Israel at this time and they were encouraging armed rebellion against Roman rule. So the Roman military in Jerusalem was especially sensitive to such anti-Roman outbursts and without hesitation, the soldier placed Jude under military arrest. To be arrested for defending the honor of Jewish womanhood was just too much, and before Jesus could do anything, Jude delivered a loud and emotional denunciation of pent up anti-Roman feelings. And so Jude, with Jesus by his side, was taken immediately to the military prison and locked up.

Jesus tried to get Jude released in time for the Passover celebration that evening but he failed in these attempts. So Jude remained in jail for two days and Jesus stayed at the jail with him.

On the morning of the third day, Jesus appeared before the military magistrate on Jude’s behalf. He made apologies for his brother’s youth and explained judiciously and tactfully what had provoked Jude’s initial outburst. When Jesus finished, his charm and sincerity had worked their magic. The magistrate allowed that the youngster might have had some possible excuse for his violent outburst and he released him.

But Jude did not learn his lesson from this experience. Even after this, there were many occasions when Jude made trouble for Jesus because of his belligerent and violent clashes with civil authorities arising from his thoughtless and unwise patriotic outbursts. Being a man of peace, Jesus was embarrassed by Jude’s fighting and threatening and by his incitements to patriotic violence.

James and Joseph, Jesus’ two eldest brothers, were in favor of casting Jude out of their home because of his effect on the family, but Jesus would not consent. When their tolerance was exhausted, he would advise them to be patient and counsel Jude wisely. He told them to be eloquent in their lives so that their younger brother might first know the better way and then be constrained to follow them in it. But Jude was never brought to his sober senses until after his marriage at age nineteen.

This story illustrates Jesus’ love for and his loyalty to even his problem children. He was patient with Jude, never rejecting. He always had faith in Jude that he would eventually choose to make mature decisions and to exercise appropriate self discipline. Jesus never gave up on Jude and would not allow his brothers to give up on him. Jesus was always ready to counsel and encourage Jude toward better behavior but he did not seek to compel Jude. He encouraged him but left him free to choose.

This illustration of Jesus’ way of dealing with his brother’s youthful rebellion and embarrassing behavior shows us a lot about how Jesus still deals with his spiritual children who neglect or reject his one commandment for them to love and serve their spiritual family.

Jesus’ unswerving response still is that regardless embarrassing, regardless of how vexing; his little brother or sister is still part of his family and he will preserve their status as a son or daughter of God even against the consequences of their own foolishness. It is the will of our Father in heaven and our good father-brother, Jesus, that not even one shall be lost.


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Gadiah and Jesus

Bill Cooper 7-25-93

The story of Jesus and Gadiah relies on our knowledge of the Old Testament story of Jonah and the whale. So the first thing we need to do is refresh our memories regarding Jonah.

Jonah was told by God to go to Ninevah and tell the people of Ninevah that their behavior was immensely offensive to God and if they did not mend their ways promptly, God would destroy them and their city in forty days. Now the Ninevahans regularly raided, pillaged and plundered the northern tribes of Israel. Jonah was well aware of their reputation for heartless cruelty and pointless savagery. Jonah no doubt hated them but more importantly, he greatly feared what they would do to him and perhaps to Israel if he delivered the prophecy God had directed. And personally, Jonah preferred that God should destroy Ninevah with no warning and no offer of mercy.

So instead of making the land journey North and East to Ninevah, he boarded a ship at Joppa destined for Tarshish, a kingdom in the south of Spain. This is the opposite direction and the end of the known world from Ninevah. So it is clear that Jonah intended to avoid doing God’s will regarding the message.

Jonah’s ship for Tarshish departed and when well out to sea, it was overtaken by a mighty tempest. The captain required everyone to pray to their respective gods. When this did not quiet the sea, they drew lots to determine who God was angry with. Jonah drew the short straw and confessed that he was running away from the presence of God and from doing God’s will.

Then the men asked Jonah what they must do to get the sea to quiet down. He told them that they must throw him overboard. They were reluctant to do this but to prevent the innocent from perishing; they agreed to cast him into the sea. And so they did.

The scripture says the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. Jonah was in the fish’s belly for three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for having been saved by God from the sea and he pledged to honor God with sacrifices. Then God had the fish spit Jonah up on dry land. Then God spoke to Jonah a second time telling him to go to Ninevah. This time he went and to his great disappointment Ninevah repented and was spared.

And that is the story of Jonah that the story of Gadiah and Jesus revolves around.

When Jesus was serving as translator and tutor for Gonod and Ganid, the three spent a few days at Joppa, the port city at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea from which Jonah had departed. While at Joppa, Jesus visited frequently with a young man named Gadiah. Gadiah was a great truth seeker. So, of course, he and Jesus became warm friends.

One evening as Jesus and Gadiah walked and visited together, they strolled down by the sea. Gadiah pointed out to Jesus a ship landing which was reputed to be Jonah’s departure point. Gadiah recounted the Jonah story and ended with the question to Jesus, “But do you suppose the big fish really did swallow Jonah?”

Jesus knew that the story of Jonah being in the fish’s belly was figurative and not actual but he did not say “No of course not. God doesn’t behave that way and it is scientifically unsound.” Jesus understood that the story of Jonah was a tremendous influence on Gadiah and that it had impressed on him the folly of trying to run away from duty. So Jesus carefully said nothing that would suddenly destroy the foundations of Gadiah’s present motivation for practical living.

In answering Jesus said:

“My friend we are all Jonahs with lives to live in accordance with the will of God, and at all times when we seek to escape the present duty of living by running away to far off enticements, we thereby put ourselves in the immediate control of those influences which are not directed by the powers of truth and the forces of righteousness. The flight from the duty of doing God’s will is the sacrifice of truth. The escape from the service of light and life can only result in those distressing conflicts with the difficult whales of selfishness which lead eventually to darkness and death unless such God-forsaking Jonahs shall turn their hearts , even when in the very depths of despair, to seek after God and his goodness. And when such disheartened souls sincerely seek for God – hunger for truth and thirst for righteousness – there is nothing that can hold them in further captivity. No matter into what great depths they may have fallen, when they seek the light with a whole heart, the spirit of the Lord God of heaven will deliver them from their captivity; the evil circumstances of life will spew them out upon the dry land of fresh opportunities for renewed service and wiser living.”

Look at what Jesus has done. He has taken a spiritually outdated story of a demanding, forceful and threatening God and transformed it into a wonderful representation of a loving, merciful and rescuing God.

So it is no surprise that Gadiah was mightily moved by Jesus’ teaching, and they talked long into the night by the seaside, and before they went to their lodgings, they prayed together and for each other.

That is the story of Jesus and Gadiah. It is a wonderfully revealing story of how Jesus relates to all of us. He is a carefully involved listener. He not only hears the words but he also hears the importance of what is being said. He desires to take nothing away suddenly which is part of our motivation for practical living, even if there is factual or scientific error involved. Instead of taking away the error, he adds truth to it so that it becomes a reminder of the truth it now reveals. And the greatest wonder and miracle of it all is that he relates to each of us today through his Spirit of Truth just as lovingly and understandingly as he did in mortal form with Gadiah two thousand years ago.


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Two Public Women

On the way back from Rome, Gonod had extensive business to transact in Corinth so the travelers remained in this large and cosmopolitan Greek city for two months. Of course, Jesus and Ganid were busy getting to know the city and its more spiritually forward looking citizens. They were frequent guests in the home of Justice and his wife Martha. Justice was a devout Jewish merchant who lived next door to the synagogue.

Ganid loved to visit the Citadel which stood almost two thousand feet above the sea. One evening as Jesus and Ganid were walking near the Citadel, they were propositioned by two prostitutes. Now, in their months of association, Ganid had correctly gathered that Jesus would never participate in anything unclean or that savored of evil. So he responded to the women sharply and rudely motioned them away.

When Jesus saw this, he spoke to Ganid and in the presence of the women. “Ganid, you mean well, but you shouldn’t presume to treat the children of God that way, even if they happen to be his erring children. We have no need or right to sit in judgment on these women. You don’t know all of the circumstances which led them to resort to this method of earning a livelihood. Stop and let’s talk about these matters.” The two courtesans and Ganid were astonished at what Jesus was saying.

As they stood in the moonlight, Jesus went on, “Ganid, there lives within every human mind a divine spirit, the gift of the Father in heaven. This good spirit ever strives to lead us to God and to know God. But also within mortals there are many natural physical tendencies which the Creator put there to serve the well-being of the individual and the race. Men and women often become confused in their efforts to understand themselves and to grapple with the many difficulties of making a living in a world so largely dominated by selfishness and sin. Ganid, neither of these women is willfully wicked. I can tell by their faces that they have experienced much sorrow; they have suffered greatly at the hands of an apparently cruel fate; they have not intentionally chosen this sort of life; they have in discouragement bordering on despair, surrendered to the pressure of the hour and accepted this distasteful means of earning a livelihood as the best way out of a situation that, to them, seemed hopeless. Ganid, some people are really wicked at heart; they deliberately choose to do mean things, but, tell me, as you look into these now tear-stained faces, do you see anything bad or wicked?”

And as Jesus paused for his reply, Ganid’s voice choked up and he stammered out his answer: “No teacher, I do not. And I apologize for my rudeness to them. I deeply desire their forgiveness.”

Then Jesus said, “And I speak for them that they have forgiven you as I speak for my Father in heaven that he has forgiven them. Now all of you come with me to a friend’s house where we will seek refreshment and plan for the new and better life ahead.”

Jesus took them to Justice’s house where he surprised Martha with the guests and presumed upon her to help the women find a way out of their lifestyle. And Martha overcame her shock, fed them and helped them find respectable employment. Both became lifelong followers of Jesus.

The very first words Jesus spoke in the women’s presence told them that they were children of God and worthy of respect. Jesus took a situation of Ganid’s casual evil treatment of the women and quickly transformed it into a manifestation of spiritual power by applying love, mercy, understanding and forgiveness. This is an example of the transforming power of doing good instead of evil.

From the time Ganid rebuked them until Jesus and Ganid left them with Martha, neither woman had spoken. All of what Jesus had said about them had come from Jesus’ understanding of their lives and his reading of the expressions on their faces. Jesus saw Ganid home and then went out into the night, prostrated himself on a rock and prayed for the women. Pray with him. Feel what Jesus feels for his wrongdoing children. Reflect on their past and future. Ask our Father and his universe of helpers to assist them, to free them from the bad habits and influences of their past and set them on a course for a glorious and eternal future of spiritual achievement of divine values.

Peace be unto you.


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John Mark

10-18-93 Bill Cooper (UB paper 177)

This is a story about John Mark and Jesus. At the time of these events John was 15 years old. He had followed along with Jesus’ preaching tours for most of the past two years. He was part of Jesus’ camp and was present at every opportunity

to hear Jesus teach his apostles and other followers. He was like a junior apostle.

This story takes place on Wednesday before the last supper on Thursday evening and before Jesus’ betrayal, trial and execution on Friday. Jesus knew he was about to die. He had talked to his followers about this several times in the preceding week. On Tuesday he had been very direct with his apostles and followers regarding his impending death, his brief return and then his departure to be with his Heavenly Father. Jesus’ followers were finally realizing that this was about to happen, and they were stunned that their beloved teacher and friend was about to die.

So as our story begins, it is breakfast time in Jesus’ camp on Mount Olivet on Wednesday. All is solemn and pervaded by an ominous silence as the meal proceeds.

About half way through breakfast Jesus speaks to all present and says, “I want all of you to take today as a day of rest. Take time to think about everything that has happened while we have been in Jerusalem, and meditate on what is just ahead, of which I have plainly told you. Make sure that the love of our Father abides in your lives and that you daily grow to be more like him.”

After breakfast Jesus advised Andrew that he would be absent for the day and suggested that the apostles should spend the time according to their own choosing, except that under no circumstances should they go within the gates of Jerusalem.

Jesus then made ready to go into the hills alone. He put on his outer robe and tied it, laced his sandals and picked up his staff. As he did this, David Zebedee and three of his men approached. David spoke to Jesus,”Master, you well know that the Pharisees and rulers seek to destroy you and yet you make ready to go alone into the hills. To do this is folly; I will therefore send these men with you, well prepared to see that no harm befalls you.”

Jesus looked over the three well-armed and stalwart Galileans, and said to David, “You mean well, but you fail to understand that the Son of Man needs no one to defend him. No man will lay hands on me until that hour when I am ready to lay down my life in conformity to my Father’s will. These men may not accompany me. I desire to go alone, that I may commune with the Father.”

On hearing this, David and his armed guards withdrew. Then as Jesus started off alone, John Mark came forward with a small basket of food and water. He suggested that if Jesus intended to be away all day, he might become hungry. The master smiled at John and reached down to take the basket.

As Jesus was about to take the lunch basket from the boy’s hand, John ventures to say, “But Master, you may set the basket down while you turn aside to pray and go on without it. Besides, if I go along to carry the lunch, you would be freer to worship, and I would surely be silent. I will ask no questions and will stay by the basket when you go apart by yourself to pray.”

The nearby listeners who had just heard Jesus tell David Zebedee that David’s men could not accompany him, were astonished that John would implore Jesus so insistently to go with him. There John and Jesus stood, both still holding the basket. At last Jesus released the basket and, Looking down at the lad said, “Since with all your heart you long to go with me, it shall not be denied you. We will go off by ourselves and have a good visit. You may ask me any question that arises in your heart, and we shall comfort and console each other. You may start out carrying the lunch; and when you grow weary, I will help you. Follow on with me.”

Now I want to stop and consider what has happened. Jesus has just granted John’s request but he has also released john from every promise John had made in bargaining for Jesus’ consent. So we see there is no price required to be with Jesus. Jesus had denied David’s proposal because David’s men wanted only to protect Jesus and he needed no protection. John Mark’s proposal was accepted because he longed with all his heart just to be with Jesus.

Jesus spent his last day of quiet on earth visiting with John and talking with his Paradise Father. Jesus sincerely enjoyed this day with John.

This event became known on high as “the day which a young man spent with God in the hills.” It is an event of cosmic significance in our universe. Forever this occasion exemplifies the willingness of the creator to fellowship the creature. Even a spiritually inexperienced person, a youngster, if the desire of the heart is really supreme, can command the attention and enjoy the loving companionship of the Creator of the Universe, actually experience the unforgettable ecstasy of being alone with God in the hills and for a whole day. And such was the extraordinary experience of John Mark on this Wednesday in the hills of Judea.

And remember why this happened, because this is still the technique by which fellowship with Jesus and with our Heavenly Father can be had. Jesus said, “Because with all your heart you long to be with me, it shall not be denied you.”

It isn’t how smart, how rich, how powerful, or even how spiritual you are. The experience of knowing God is available to whomever longs sincerely to be with him.


David Zebedee

William Cooper

Jesus spent his twenty-sixth year preparing to leave home.  He spent a lot of time with each family member.  His oldest brother, James, married Esta.  His oldest sister, Meriam, married his good friend Jacob, the son of the stone mason.

Then one rainy Sunday morning in January of his twenty-seventh year he said his good-byes to his family, explained that he was going to Tiberius and other cities around the Sea of Galilee.  With that he left home, never again to be a regular member of the household.

Jesus spent only a week in Tiberius.  Then he traveled through Magdala and Bethsaida to Capernaum where he stopped to visit with his father’s friend, Zebedee the boat builder.  Zebedee’s three sons, James, David and John were fishermen.

Jesus was expert at designing and building and he was a master at working with wood.  Zebedee had long known of Jesus’ skill.  For a long time, Zebedee had contemplated making improved boats.  He laid his plans before Jesus and invited him to join in the enterprise.  Jesus readily consented.

So, from this commercial transaction arose the extraordinary friendships between Jesus, Zebedee, Salome – Zebedee’s wife, and their sons James, David and John.  Jesus lived in the Zebedee home for a little over a year.  He created a new type of boat as well as the entirely new methods to build it.  The boat was far safer than earlier designs and within five years nearly all the boats on the Sea of Galilee had been built in Zebedee’s shop.  Jesus greatly enjoyed working with Zebedee.  They worked together like very compatible father and son.

Zebedee’s four daughters looked upon Jesus as an elder brother.  Jesus often went fishing with James, John and David.  The Zebedee family almost worshipped Jesus.  Zebedee was moderately wealthy, not rich, but what he had was at Jesus’ disposal throughout Jesus’ life.  Zebedee’s home was Jesus’ home.  Several of the healings, sermons and teachings recounted in the scriptures took place in the Zebedee back yard at Bethsaida.  The training of the apostles took place at Zebedee’s home.

James and John Zebedee were attracted to Jesus’ philosophy and religion.  David admired and respected Jesus for his carpentry skills.  All three loved him more than life itself.  James and John became apostles.  David too became fully involved in Jesus’ ministry but as an administrator rather than as a preacher or teacher.

David ran the Evangelist training camp at Bethsaida following the apostle’s first preaching tour.  Simon Peter saw to the teaching and training of evangelists but David ran the camp and it was large.  For five months there were between 500 and 1500 people in residence.  David saw to the tents, food, security, sanitation, etc. and made the camp self-supporting.

When Jesus and the apostles decided to move on, it was David who closed-down the camp, sold the tents and other assets and turned the proceeds over to the apostolic treasury.  He assumed a lot of responsibility for a twenty something year old fisherman.  But the sons of Zebedee were intelligent, courageous, and versatile people.

The first preaching tour when the apostles went out by twos into the countryside probably suggested the need for a messenger service to David.  David’s principal service to Jesus and the building of Jesus’ new kingdom was the intelligence service including secret agents and the messenger service.  The messenger service consisted of more than 25 runners who carried messages and funds among centers of believers, evangelists, and Jesus’ camp.  David was the organizer and dispatcher of the messengers.  They were bound to David and to each other by solemn oath.  They delivered messages as far away as Alexandria in Egypt and established an overnight messenger service between Bethsaida and Jerusalem.  This could not have been either safe or comfortable for these young men.

David was often in Jesus’ camp and in his personal presence. He was a trusted and loved friend of Jesus and rightly so.  David was present in Jerusalem for the crucifixion Passover.  He learned from his secret agents in Jerusalem of the plot to capture and kill Jesus and of Judas’ involvement, but he never revealed this to the apostles.  David took Jesus aside after the noon meal on last supper Thursday to ask him if Jesus knew and Jesus replied “Yes David, I know all about it, and I know that you know, but see to it that you tell no one.  But be assured in your own heart that the will of God will prevail in the end.”

Thursday evening was full of Jesus’ final admonitions to the apostles, his final discourse, the last supper, the foot washing, the new commandment, the vine and the branches and it was near midnight when Jesus and his exhausted apostles returned to their camp on Mount Olivet.  And David was there.  Of the seventy followers of Jesus encamped there, only David and John Mark and Jesus himself knew that Judas and the Sanhedrin guards would come to arrest Jesus that night.  The others expected trouble on Friday morning.  Jesus sent his apostles and other followers to their tents to sleep except James, John, and Peter whom he requested to go with him to pray.

Jesus asked David to send him his fastest and most trustworthy messenger.  David brought Jacob, a former runner in the overnight messenger service between Bethsaida and Jerusalem.  Jesus sent Jacob to Abner in Philadelphia with this message.  “The Master sends greetings of peace to you and says that the hour has come when he will be delivered into the hands of his enemies who will put him to death, but he will rise from the dead and appear to you shortly, before he goes to the Father, and that he will then give you guidance to the time when the new teacher will come to live in your hearts.”  As Jacob was departing, Jesus said to him “Fear not what any man may do to you, Jacob, for this night an unseen messenger will run by your side.”

Jesus’ camp probably did not ordinarily have sentries, but this evening it would.  David had arranged personally to take sentry outpost duty on the upper trail to the camp but before he departed, he spoke his farewell to Jesus.  “Master I have had great joy in my service with you.  My brothers are your apostles, but I have delighted to do the lesser things as they should be done, and I shall miss you with all my heart when you are gone.”  And then Jesus said to David, “David, my son, others have done what they were directed to do, but this service have you done of your own heart, and I have not been unmindful of your devotion.  You, too, shall someday serve with me in the eternal kingdom.”  As he prepared to go on watch by the upper trail, David said to Jesus, “You know, Master, I sent for your family, and I have word by a messenger that they are tonight in Jericho.  They will be here early tomorrow forenoon since it would be dangerous for them to come up the bloody way by night.” And Jesus looking down on David only said, “Let it be so, David.”  David then departed the camp to take up his post as sentry at the upper trail and Jesus went apart to pray.

When David heard the commotion in the camp upon Jesus’ arrest, he rushed back and began to set up a center for the messenger service to gather and disseminate information regarding Jesus’ capture, trial, and crucifixion.  John stayed with Jesus throughout the hours of his trial.  David quickly established a rotation of messengers who contacted John about each half hour to find out what was happening.  Then David dispatched this news to Jesus’ followers in hiding around Jerusalem and elsewhere, even as far away as Philadelphia, Sidon, Damascus, and Alexandria in Egypt.  David acted very quickly to get information in and out and he always seemed to have sufficient messengers on hand.  Only when Jesus was laid in Joseph of Aramathea’s tomb did David dismiss his messengers for Passover; but he instructed all of them to report to him Sunday morning at Nichodemus’ house where he would spend the Passover with other believers in hiding. David was the only one of Jesus’ leading disciples who took a literal and matter of fact view of Jesus’ assertion that he would die and rise again on the third day.  Therefore, David directed his messengers to be present Sunday morning to carry the news.

Jesus was resurrected at 3:02 am Sunday morning.  His first appearance was to Mary Magdalene and four other women at the tomb at 3:30 and the second one was 15 minutes later at the tomb and again to Mary.  The third was to his brother James at Bethany at noon.  So, at 9:30 when the last of the messengers reported to David, the only report of seeing Jesus was from Mary Magdalene.  The despondent and depressed followers of Jesus discounted her report as seeing things that weren’t there.  They believed Jesus would return someday but not so soon.  They thought that his body had been taken and hidden by the Jewish officials.  David believed otherwise and he was encouraged by the fact that Jesus’ grave clothes remained in the tomb as though his body had disappeared without disturbing them.  This was too tidy and too difficult for Sanhedrin body thieves.

When the messengers gathered at Nicodemus’ house and were receiving their message, most of the believers present urged David not to send messages advising Jesus had risen.  David would not be dissuaded.  At 9:30 David assembled his 26 messengers in the courtyard of Nicodemus’ home and addressed them as follows: “Men and brethren, all this time you have served me in accordance with your oath to me and to one another, and I call you to witness that I have never yet sent out false information at your hands.  I am about to send you on your last mission as volunteer messengers of the kingdom, and in so doing I release you from your oaths and thereby disband the messenger corps.  Men, I declare to you that we have finished our work.  No more does the Master have need of mortal messengers; he has risen from the dead.  He told us before they arrested him that he would die and rise again on the third day.  I have seen the tomb—it is empty.  I have talked with Mary Magdalene and four other women, who have talked with Jesus.  I now disband you, bid you farewell, and send you on your respective assignments, and the message which you shall bear to the believers is: ‘Jesus has risen from the dead; the tomb is empty.’”

David remained at Bethany with Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary and helped them dispose of their possessions so that they could Join Lazarus at Philadelphia.  David married Jesus’ youngest sister, Ruth, in early June and the following day he, Ruth, Martha and Mary went to Philadelphia to live and where he became the administrator and financial steward of the early church at Philadelphia.


The new teacher Jesus promised to Abner is the spirit of Jesus which has come to live in our hearts and who will lead and guide our actions.

  • Praise God, Jesus is still a person.  He lives.
  • Praise God, there is life after this life.
  • Praise God, evil cannot defeat good.

The story of David charms me each time I hear it.  David’s love for Jesus and his gift of himself to serving Jesus move me every time I go over this story.  David is my friend now and I hope he is
Peace be unto you.


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The Walk

By William Cooper

Now, let’s enjoy a few minutes of spiritual rest and relaxation in the form of a guided visualization.  It is called “The Walk”.  It takes about five minutes, so assume a comfortable position.  Take a few deep, slow breaths to relax and establish an inner calm.

Imagine you are attending a spiritual retreat and you are walking with a new friend in a park-like place along a small stream.  It is a perfect spring day.  The temperature is just right.  The breeze gently caresses your arms and face as you walk.  The sky is an extraordinary blue with a few fluffy white clouds slowly drifting by.  There are flowers here and there and the colors and fragrances fill your heart with joy.  The breeze gently moves the flowers and grass and rustles the young leaves on the trees.  Ahead you see a stream winding through the valley.  You descend to walk in the shade along the water’s edge.

As you walk, you chat with your friend about your appreciation of the beauty and the renewal of spring time.  You feel thankful to your Heavenly Father for having created such beauty to share with you.  Your conversation turns to thoughts of Jesus and what his life was like 2000 years ago in a land much like this.  As you pause by a huge spreading tree at the edge of the stream, your friend remarks, “Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have lived then and to have walked and talked with Jesus.  Then you could really know him instead of just knowing about him.”

As you proceed, you hear footsteps of another walker on the path and you hear his rich voice call to you, “My friends, may I walk with you for a while.”  You turn to see a young man approaching from the far side of the tree you have just passed.  There is friendliness in his smile and in his eyes.  You gesture for him to follow, and you reply, “Yes, come with us while we walk and visit.”

As the three of you climb the stream bank ahead, the young man says, “I heard you talking about Jesus, and so I wanted to join you.  You know, you are not limited to merely knowing about Jesus.  You can come to know him even better than those who walked and talked with him 2000 years ago.”

“ How can that be?” you ask with great interest as you invite your friends to rest under a large oak tree on a high bank overlooking the pale aquamarine pools of the stream.  As you sit in the sun-speckled shade of the tree, your new friend replies, “Jesus loved all people with an astonishing and generous love.  He loved them so much that when he departed, he sent his Spirit of Truth to teach and befriend all who sincerely desire to know him.”  The young stranger is silent for a moment as he stares into the distance with a smile.  Then he picks up a twig and marks in the dirt at his feet before he continues.  “It’s easy to know Jesus.  Just imagine he is present and talk to him about anything that is important in your life.  He is genuinely interested.  Then imagine what his response will be.  Remember, he loves you and longs for you to know him and his response will reflect that.”

Then the young man stands to depart.  As you rise to say goodbye, you look directly into his eyes.  Suddenly you are aware—this is Jesus.  His eyes smile as he says, “Yes” and as he puts his arms around you, he says “Farewell for now my new friend, but remember my words.”  As he walks away, he disappears into golden white light.  On the ground you notice the words he wrote in the dust—and they are, “I will never forsake you.”

For several moments you think about Jesus.  Could this miracle of contact in spirit have really happened?  Is Jesus here in spirit now?  Can you really know him?  But you cannot disbelieve because the promise written in the dust is now written in your heart.  “I will never forsake you.”

9-10-1993  William Cooper


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Honest Nathaniel

By Jackson Allen

139:6.1 Nathaniel, the sixth and last of the apostles to be chosen by the Master himself, was brought to Jesus by his friend Philip. He had been associated in several business enterprises with Philip and, with him, was on the way down to see John the Baptist when they encountered Jesus.

139:6.2 When Nathaniel joined the apostles, he was twenty-five years old and was the next to the youngest of the group. He was the youngest of a family of seven, was unmarried, and the only support of aged and infirm parents, with whom he lived at Cana; his brothers and sister were either married or deceased, and none lived there. Nathaniel and Judas Iscariot were the two best educated men among the twelve. Nathaniel had thought to become a merchant.

139:6.3 Jesus did not himself give Nathaniel a nickname, but the twelve soon began to speak of him in terms that signified honesty, sincerity. He was “without guile.” And this was his great virtue; he was both honest and sincere. The weakness of his character was his pride; he was very proud of his family, his city, his reputation, and his nation, all of which is commendable if it is not carried too far. But Nathaniel was inclined to go to extremes with his personal prejudices. He was disposed to prejudge individuals in accordance with his personal opinions. He was not slow to ask the question, even before he had met Jesus, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” But Nathaniel was not obstinate, even if he was proud. He was quick to reverse himself when he once looked into Jesus’ face.

139:6.4 In many respects Nathaniel was the odd genius of the twelve. He was the apostolic philosopher and dreamer, but he was a very practical sort of dreamer. He alternated between seasons of profound philosophy and periods of rare and droll humor; when in the proper mood, he was probably the best storyteller among the twelve. Jesus greatly enjoyed hearing Nathaniel discourse on things both serious and frivolous. Nathaniel progressively took Jesus and the kingdom more seriously, but never did he take himself seriously.

139:6.5 The apostles all loved and respected Nathaniel, and he got along with them splendidly, excepting Judas Iscariot. Judas did not think Nathaniel took his apostleship sufficiently seriously and once had the temerity to go secretly to Jesus and lodge complaint against him. Said Jesus: “Judas, watch carefully your steps; do not overmagnify your office. Who of us is competent to judge his brother? It is not the Father’s will that his children should partake only of the serious things of life. Let me repeat: I have come that my brethren in the flesh may have joy, gladness, and life more abundantly. Go then, Judas, and do well that which has been intrusted to you but leave Nathaniel, your brother, to give account of himself to God.” And the memory of this, with that of many similar experiences, long lived in the self-deceiving heart of Judas Iscariot.

139:6.6 Many times, when Jesus was away on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, and things were becoming tense and tangled among the apostles, when even Andrew was in doubt about what to say to his disconsolate brethren, Nathaniel would relieve the tension by a bit of philosophy or a flash of humor; good humor, too.

139:6.7 Nathaniel’s duty was to look after the families of the twelve. He was often absent from the apostolic councils, for when he heard that sickness or anything out of the ordinary had happened to one of his charges, he lost no time in getting to that home. The twelve rested securely in the knowledge that their families’ welfare was safe in the hands of Nathaniel.

139:6.8 Nathaniel most revered Jesus for his tolerance. He never grew weary of contemplating the broadmindedness and generous sympathy of the Son of Man.

139:6.9 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. ……….Urantia Paper #139


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John Zebedee

By Jackson Allen

139:4.1 When he became an apostle, John was twenty-four years old and was the youngest of the twelve. He was unmarried and lived with his parents at Bethsaida; he was a fisherman and worked with his brother James in partnership with Andrew and Peter. Both before and after becoming an apostle, John functioned as the personal agent of Jesus in dealing with the Master’s family, and he continued to bear this responsibility as long as Mary the mother of Jesus lived.

139:4.2 Since John was the youngest of the twelve and so closely associated with Jesus in his family affairs, he was very dear to the Master, but it cannot be truthfully said that he was “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” You would hardly suspect such a magnanimous personality as Jesus to be guilty of showing favoritism, of loving one of his apostles more than the others. The fact that John was one of the three personal aides of Jesus lent further color to this mistaken idea, not to mention that John, along with his brother James, had known Jesus longer than the others.

139:4.3 Peter, James, and John were assigned as personal aides to Jesus soon after they became apostles. Shortly after the selection of the twelve and at the time Jesus appointed Andrew to act as director of the group, he said to him: “And now I desire that you assign two or three of your associates to be with me and to remain by my side, to comfort me and to minister to my daily needs.” And Andrew thought best to select for this special duty the next three first-chosen apostles. He would have liked to volunteer for such a blessed service himself, but the Master had already given him his commission; so he immediately directed that Peter, James, and John attach themselves to Jesus.

139:4.4 John Zebedee had many lovely traits of character, but one which was not so lovely was his inordinate but usually well-concealed conceit. His long association with Jesus made many and great changes in his character. This conceit was greatly lessened, but after growing old and becoming more or less childish, this self-esteem reappeared to a certain extent, so that, when engaged in directing Nathan in the writing of the Gospel which now bears his name, the aged apostle did not hesitate repeatedly to refer to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” In view of the fact that John came nearer to being the chum of Jesus than any other earth mortal, that he was his chosen personal representative in so many matters, it is not strange that he should have come to regard himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” since he most certainly knew he was the disciple whom Jesus so frequently trusted.

139:4.5 The strongest trait in John’s character was his dependability; he was prompt and courageous, faithful and devoted. His greatest weakness was this characteristic conceit. He was the youngest member of his father’s family and the youngest of the apostolic group. Perhaps he was just a bit spoiled; maybe he had been humored slightly too much. But the John of after years was a very different type of person than the self-admiring and arbitrary young man who joined the ranks of Jesus’ apostles when he was twenty-four.

139:4.6 Those characteristics of Jesus which John most appreciated were the Master’s love and unselfishness; these traits made such an impression on him that his whole subsequent life became dominated by the sentiment of love and brotherly devotion. He talked about love and wrote about love. This “son of thunder” became the “apostle of love”; and at Ephesus, when the aged bishop was no longer able to stand in the pulpit and preach but had to be carried to church in a chair, and when at the close of the service he was asked to say a few words to the believers, for years his only utterance was, “My little children, love one another.”

139:4.7 John was a man of few words except when his temper was aroused. He thought much but said little. As he grew older, his temper became more subdued, better controlled, but he never overcame his disinclination to talk; he never fully mastered this reticence. But he was gifted with a remarkable and creative imagination.

139:4.8 There was another side to John that one would not expect to find in this quiet and introspective type. He was somewhat bigoted and inordinately intolerant. In this respect he and James were much alike— they both wanted to call down fire from heaven on the heads of the disrespectful Samaritans. When John encountered some strangers teaching in Jesus’ name, he promptly forbade them. But he was not the only one of the twelve who was tainted with this kind of self-esteem and superiority consciousness.

139:4.9 John’s life was tremendously influenced by the sight of Jesus’ going about without a home as he knew how faithfully he had made provision for the care of his mother and family. John also deeply sympathized with Jesus because of his family’s failure to understand him, being aware that they were gradually withdrawing from him. This entire situation, together with Jesus’ ever deferring his slightest wish to the will of the Father in heaven and his daily life of implicit trust, made such a profound impression on John that it produced marked and permanent changes in his character, changes which manifested themselves throughout his entire subsequent life.

139:4.10 John had a cool and daring courage which few of the other apostles possessed. He was the one apostle who followed right along with Jesus the night of his arrest and dared to accompany his Master into the very jaws of death. He was present and near at hand right up to the last earthly hour and was found faithfully carrying out his trust with regard to Jesus’ mother and ready to receive such additional instructions as might be given during the last moments of the Master’s mortal existence. One thing is certain, John was thoroughly dependable. John usually sat on Jesus’ right hand when the twelve were at meat. He was the first of the twelve really and fully to believe in the resurrection, and he was the first to recognize the Master when he came to them on the seashore after his resurrection.

139:4.11 This son of Zebedee was very closely associated with Peter in the early activities of the Christian movement, becoming one of the chief supporters of the Jerusalem church. He was the right-hand support of Peter on the day of Pentecost.

139:4.12 Several years after the martyrdom of James, John married his brother’s widow. The last twenty years of his life he was cared for by a loving granddaughter.

139:4.13 John was in prison several times and was banished to the Isle of Patmos for a period of four years until another emperor came to power in Rome. Had not John been tactful and sagacious, he would undoubtedly have been killed as was his more outspoken brother James. As the years passed, John, together with James the Lord’s brother, learned to practice wise conciliation when they appeared before the civil magistrates. They found that a “soft answer turns away wrath.” They also learned to represent the church as a “spiritual brotherhood devoted to the social service of mankind” rather than as “the kingdom of heaven.” They taught loving service rather than ruling power— kingdom and king.

139:4.14 When in temporary exile on Patmos, John wrote the Book of Revelation, which you now have in greatly abridged and distorted form. This Book of Revelation contains the surviving fragments of a great revelation, large portions of which were lost, other portions of which were removed, subsequent to John’s writing. It is preserved in only fragmentary and adulterated form.

139:4.15 John traveled much, labored incessantly, and after becoming bishop of the Asia churches, settled down at Ephesus. He directed his associate, Nathan, in the writing of the so-called “Gospel according to John,” at Ephesus, when he was ninety-nine years old. Of all the twelve apostles, John Zebedee eventually became the outstanding theologian. He died a natural death at Ephesus in A.D. 103 when he was one hundred and one years of age………………………………………………………………………Urantia Paper #139


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How Jesus Taught Each Person

By William Cooper

Jesus spent six months in Rome with Gonod and Ganid. The Urantia Book says Jesus’ message in personal ministry while in Rome was always the fact of the Heavenly Father’s love and the truth of his mercy coupled with the good news that people are the faith children of this same God of love. So, we are going to look at an event in his personal ministry on the trip to Rome for more understanding of how to proclaim the good news

During the six months in Rome, Jesus came into affectionate and loving contact with over 500 people. That is about three new persons per day. He was interested in people for two reasons. He wanted to learn their reaction to the life they were living, and he wanted to do something to make that life richer and more worthwhile. His religious teachings were no different from those he used later in life.

Jesus’ usual method of socil contact was to draw people into talking with him by asking them questions. Then they would usually ask him questions. He was adept at teaching by either asking or answering questions. As a rule, to those he taught the most, he said the least. I suppose this looked like a few good questions, a few good answers and a lot of sincere listening. Those who got the most benefit from his personal ministry were overburdened, anxious and dejected mortals who were relieved to unburden their souls to a sympathetic and understanding listener.

Jesus always offered practical and immediately helpful suggestions looking toward the correction of their real difficulties. He also spoke words of present comfort and immediate consolation. Invariably he would tell these distressed mortals about the love of God and impart the information in various ways that they were a child of this loving Father in heaven. (UB 1460)

So, briefly stated, that is how Jesus taught the good news of sonship in the midst of very practical and personal ministry to the needs of others. Let’s take a look at the Fortune story to see the style, flow and charm of Jesus doing these things.

Jesus met Fortune in the mountains of Crete on Jesus’ journey to Rome with Gonad and Ganid. Jesus and Gonod’s entourage came upon Fortune alone in the mountains. My Guess is that Fortune’s appearance and demeanor said very clearly and at a distance that Fortune was a lonely, discouraged, disappointed and depressed person. Those things are often pretty apparent even to us. So, Jesus knew at a distance that Fortune was a prime candidate to benefit from Jesus’ personal ministry. As Jesus approached Fortune, he had a few seconds to pray in the moment for celestial assistance in reaching Fortune’s soul with the life-changing message Fortune needed to hear. This is a technique we can use as well. It doesn’t take long to utter such a prayer for all available help to open both ends of the communication channel. The prayer would be for Jesus to say graciously what needs to be said, and for Fortune to hear with his soul what he needs to hear.

It was Jesus’ habit to engage almost every individual he met and to show sincere interest in them. So, as he approached Fortune, he was thinking of effective ways to do this. His initial approach to Fortune’s soul was a friendly greeting with a question designed to draw him into meaningful conversation. Jesus said “Greetings my friend! Why so downcast on such a beautiful day? If something has happened to distress you, perhaps I can in some manner assist you. At any rate it affords me real pleasure to offer my services.” (UB 1437)

That apparently brought forth either silence or a response that, in essence said, ‘Go away. You can’t help. I don’t want to talk about it.’

Jesus was persistent in his effort to be of service. His second approach to Fortune’s soul was to ask Fortune to help Jesus find the best trail to Phenix. In doing this he crafted his request carefully. He said, “I understand you came up into these hills to get away from people so of course you don’t want to talk to me, but I would like to know if you are familiar with these hills; do you know the direction of the trails?” What Jesus has said here is, ‘I won’t bother you much, but I would appreciate your help. You are probably very knowledgeable about the trails in these hills and I could use some directions’.

I doubt that Jesus really needed directions. Gonod probably had good guides and perhaps even maps. What Jesus needed was a way to engage Fortune in a conversation so that Jesus could help him. He did that by asking Fortune about the thing Fortune was most confident about and most expert on – the local trails. What young man would not have explored the trails in detail?

And this approach worked. Fortune started talking actively and drawing in the dirt. I am sure Jesus listened carefully and asked questions that were respectful of Fortune’s knowledge and, his willingness to help. Jesus listened through Fortune’s instructions without proclaiming the gospel or anything else. He was being friendly and respectful to make a connection with Fortune in order to have an opportunity to help him.

So, Jesus said goodbye and prepared to leave. Then he turned to Fortune and began by acknowledging what Fortune was feeling. He said, ‘I know you want to be left alone but it would not be kind or fair of me to accept your generous help in finding the best way to Phenix and then thoughtlessly go away without making an effort to answer your appealing request for help and guidance regarding the best route to the goal which you seek in your heart.’

Look at the charm of this offer. It talks about fairness, generosity, and appealing request. How could Fortune say, “no”? Then Jesus told Fortune that he knew the way to Fortune’s goal as well as Fortune knew the way to Phenix. And he offered his help to Fortune. This time Fortune responded to Jesus’ offer like a starving person being offered food.

Jesus’ talk with Fortune was packed with truth and wisdom for the young man. It is interesting to me that Jesus was not reasoning with him. He was not trying to persuade Fortune that what Jesus was saying was true. He was not giving facts for his material mind to consider. He was speaking truth which Fortune’s Adjuster could confirm.

  1. He started by offering comfort: ‘Be optimistic. The big things of life are on your side. Dwell on your strengths, not your weaknesses and employ your strengths in life. You have a strong body. You have a good mind. You can do great things in life if you will go where great things are waiting to be done. Jesus expressed a lot of confidence in Fortune and this encouraged self confidence in the young man. It lent confidence in himself and confidence that life would work out with God’s active help. Much of what Jesus said was in the nature of affirmations -affirmations of Fortune’s strengths.

He gave practical advice: ‘You can’t run away from your problems, but you can set your mind to work to solve its problems. Teach your intellect to work for you. Your mind should be your courageous ally in the solution of your life problems.’

  1. Jesus told Fortune of the adventure that awaits him. ‘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 your body. What you must do is to release the spirit from the restraints of fear. If you do that, then your spiritual nature will begin your deliverance from the evils of inaction by the power of living faith. This very faith will vanquish your fear of men by a new love of your fellows which grows out of your new awareness that you are a child of God.’
  2. Finally, Jesus gave Fortune more comfort – an affirmation of what his life would become: ‘Today you are to be reborn, re-established as a man of faith, courage, and devoted service to man, for God’s sake. Once you have become adjusted to this new life, your whole life will become one of victorious accomplishment.

Jesus was a charming and intelligent truth teacher. We would do well to be as charming and intelligent as we can be, too. I said intelligent, not intellectual. Jesus used his intelligence to do what others needed so that they could grasp the truth he wanted to give them. Little if any of this advice is unique to Fortune. It would be good advice for almost anyone.

If you don’t know what on earth you could say to overburdened, anxious and dejected people to open the way for them to unburden their souls, study the papers on Jesus’ tour of the Roman world. There is a lot of information there on what Jesus said and did. It is very instructive to study it to understand what Jesus was doing and how. A lot of what he was doing was being positive, confident, optimistic and aggressive toward life for them. And of course, his graciousness, tact, tolerance and patience were apparent.


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