The Story of Everything: A Synopsis of The Urantia Book
Paper 147: The Interlude Visit to Jerusalem
Jesus and the apostles traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover in April, 28 AD. They set up camp in Gethsemane and moved between there and Bethany to avoid crowds of followers. The apostles were somewhat restless.
John brought Jesus to a nearby hot spring reputed to cure the sick of everything that ailed them. John hoped that Jesus, seeing the sick people there, would feel compassion for them, work a miracle, and win Jerusalem to the gospel. Again, Jesus attempted to explain to John that wonders and miracles were no substitute for teaching the gospel.
That same evening, Nathaniel asked Jesus to teach them how the golden rule could be applied universally. Nathaniel used the example of a lustful man, asking "How can we teach that this evil-intending man should do to others as he would they should do to him?" The apostles disappointed Jesus because they failed to interpret his teachings from the spiritual perspective. He described the levels of application of the golden rule, from the lowest level of the flesh, through the levels of feelings, mind, brotherly love, and morality. Spiritually interpreted, the golden rule means that we should treat others as we believe God would treat them.
A wealthy Pharisee, Simon, invited Jesus to his home for a meal. The Pharisee custom was to leave the doors open when they entertained so beggars could come in for food. During this dinner, a new convert to the kingdom, a former brothel owner, came in and stood behind Jesus as he ate. She had brought a flask of lotion with which to anoint his feet, and as she did so, she began to kiss his feet and weep with gratitude. Simon thought to himself that if Jesus were really a prophet, he would know what a sinner this woman was.
Jesus knew what Simon was thinking and said, "A certain wealthy moneylender had two debtors. The one owed him five hundred denarii and the other fifty. Now, when neither of them had wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which of them do you think, Simon, would love him most?" In the ensuing discourse, Jesus described how those who have the most sins forgiven may be led to love God most deeply. God is available to everyone who sincerely seeks Him, even the most humble sinner.
Jewish leaders in Jerusalem wanted to be rid of Jesus. They tried to get Herod to arrest him, but Herod refused. The priests then sent six spies to follow Jesus so they could gather evidence of blasphemy, a crime that could be tried by the Sanhedrin themselves.
The spies soon witnessed an infraction against Jewish law. Some of the apostles had plucked ripe grain from the roadside and eaten it. The spies told Jesus that harvesting grain was the same as working on the Sabbath. Jesus pointed out that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. "If you are here present with us to watch my words, then will I openly proclaim that the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." The spies were confounded.
Jesus and the apostles traveled to Bethsaida by boat, trying to escape the crowd that followed them. By the next day, the spies had caught up with them. One evening in Bethsaida, one of the spies asked Jesus why he did not insist his disciples fast and pray as the Pharisees and John the Baptist taught. Jesus replied that praying is natural for the children of God but fasting is not. "My disciples show wisdom in that they do not bring too much of the old order over into the new teaching of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven... the sons of God shall experience freedom from fear, and joy in the divine spirit." Jesus taught that it was faith that makes man secure with God, not afflictions of the body or fasting. It is right that old truth should be kept and new falsehood rejected, but one must also have the courage to accept new truth.