The Story of Everything: A Synopsis of The Urantia Book
Paper 153: The Crisis at Capernaum
Returning from Jerusalem to Bethsaida, Jesus seemed preoccupied. The apostles were downhearted. Andrew went to the Capernaum synagogue to secure permission for Jesus to speak on the following Sabbath day.
More that fifty Pharisees and Sadducees from Jerusalem gathered on the Sabbath in the synagogue along with leaders from neighboring synagogues. Jesus, knowing that Jewish leaders intended to initiate open opposition to the gospel, took the offensive. Jesus understood that half-hearted followers were going to reject him and that his disciples would get the training they needed to fully assert their growing faith in the gospel.
Jesus began his sermon by reading sections of Deuteronomy and Jeremiah about people who didn't listen to the word of God. He asked the congregation what signs they needed as evidence of his mission. He berated those who had pursued him looking for miracles and would have crowned him king as reward for bread for which they had not labored. Jesus told them they needed to look for spiritual food that nourishes eternal life. "He who comes to me shall not hunger, while he who believes me shall never thirst. Will you now take the bread of the spirit as you then so willingly ate the bread of this world?"
When asked why he and the apostles did not wash their hands properly before they ate, Jesus said, "It is not that which enters into the mouth that spiritually defiles the man, but rather that which proceeds out of the mouth and from the heart... Do you not know it is from the heart that there come forth evil thoughts, wicked projects of murder, theft, and adulteries, together with jealousy, pride, anger, revenge, railings and false witness? And it is just such things that defile men, and not that they eat bread with ceremonially unclean hands."
One of his enemies brought a young man who was possessed and asked if Jesus could cure him. Jesus banished the evil spirit. Immediately the lad behaved normally, and the people marveled. The Pharisee charged that Jesus' power to cure the lad was from Satan. Jesus replied, "How can Satan cast out Satan?" He warned them against ascribing works of God to the devil, declaring that those who knowingly blasphemed against God would not be forgiven.
This meeting lasted for more than three hours. When Jesus finished, his somewhat frightened apostles led him home to Bethsaida. They were amazed at Jesus' sudden use of such militant tactics. Jesus secluded himself while the apostles ate supper.
A little after midnight Jesus gathered the disciples and tried to comfort them, saying, "I realize that this sifting of the kingdom distresses you, but it is unavoidable. Why is it that you are filled with fear and consternation when you see the kingdom being divested of these lukewarm multitudes and these halfhearted disciples? My beloved, you must remember that it is the spirit that quickens; the flesh and all that pertains thereto is of little profit. The words which I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
Jesus fully understood how men prepare themselves for courageous performance during a crisis by the slow process of reiterated choosing between the recurring situations of good and evil. He knew that when his followers met the final test, they would make their decisions in accordance with habitual mental and spiritual attitudes. Jesus subjected his chosen messengers to repeated rehearsals in disappointment, and provided them with frequent opportunities for choosing between the right and wrong ways of meeting spiritual trials.