Urantia Book 17. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, Joshua ben Joseph, Christ Michael, Sovereign God of the Universe of Nebadon. When the three reached Rome, Gonod carried greetings for Emperor Tiberius from the princes of India. Tiberius was in a good mood so he chatted pleasantly with them. Later the Emperor remarked to his aide, referring to Jesus,” If I had that fellow’s kingly bearing and gracious manner, I would be a real emperor, eh?” (130.0.1). Due to chronic clinical depression, I was a nihilist during college, but I married a Catholic seminary student. I found myself attracted to his theology books and eventually found my way to Christ. We were both liberals, so there were no arguments between us about religion. So I agree with Tiberius that Jesus is attractive and powerful. Now back to our trio. Gonod had much business to transact in Rome, and Ganid had reached the age where he had to learn his father’s business, so Jesus had whole days to himself. He became thoroughly acquainted with this city of 1 million people. He would often go to the Forum, the center of political, legal and business life. He often went up to the Capitoleum and thought about the ignorance in which these people lived as he admired the temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. He also frequented Palatine Hill, the location of the emperor’s residence, the temple of Apollo and the Greek and Latin libraries. The Roman Empire at that time occupied all of southern Europe, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Northwest Africa, including every country of the Eastern Hemisphere. Jesus’ desire to study this mix of people was the chief reason he accepted Gonod’s invitation. One of the most valuable experiences of Jesus’ 6 months in Rome was his contact with and influence on the religious leaders the city. He sought out the leaders of the Cynics, the Stoics and the Mithraic mystery cult. Jesus saw his disciples coming to Rome to preach the Gospel, and thus prepared the leaders of Rome to accept these disciples and their message. So, Jesus spent time with 5 of the leading Stoics, 11 of the Cynics, and 16 of the mystery-cult leaders in intimate association. He seldom met with more than one person to converse with. Never once did he attack their errors or the flaws in their teachings. In each case he would select the truth in what they taught; he would embellish this truth until it crowded out the flaw. These Jesus-taught men and women were thus prepared for the recognition of additional and similar truths in the teachings of the early Christian missionaries. From the teaching of these religious leaders, only 2 did not bear fruit. The others became pivotal individuals in the establishment of Christianity in Rome, and some aided in turning the chief Mithraic temple into the first Christian church of Rome. There were 3 factors of paramount value in setting the stage for the rapid spread of Christianity: “1. The choosing and holding of Simon Peter as an apostle. 2. The talk in Jerusalem with Steven, whose death led to the winning of Saul of Tarsus. 3. The preliminary preparation of these 30 Romans for the subsequent leadership of the new religion in Rome and throughout the Empire”(132.0.5). (Note: These are the writers’ opinions. I believe good roads and trade enabled the spread. Also, when people worship the emperor or a marble statue, there is going to be a sense of disillusionment, and the timing of Christianity was just right in that regard. Jesus spent all night with a Stoic named Angamon, who subsequently became a close friend of Paul. Here is a summary of Jesus’ teaching: “The standard of true values must be looked for in the spiritual world and on divine levels of eternal reality. To an ascending mortal all lower and material standards must be recognized as transient, partial and inferior. The scientist, as such, is limited to the discovery of the relatedness of facts”(132.1.2). Jesus went on to say that if materialism in a society dominates moral insight and spiritual attainment, it will menace civilization. Civilization will collapse if there is no return to spiritual values. The scientist and idealist will always be in conflict unless they have a common standard of high moral and spiritual levels. Both scientists and religionists must recognize that they are on trial before the bar of human need. They must stop fighting long enough to justify their continued survival by enhanced devotion to the service of human progress (UB). ******************* Mardus, the leader of the Cynics in Rome, became a friend to the “scribe of Damascus.” He wanted Jesus’ views on good and evil. Jesus’ views are surprising: “My brother, good and evil are merely words symbolizing relative levels of human comprehension of the observable universe. If you are ethically lazy and socially indifferent, you can take as your standard of good the current social usages. If you are spiritually indolent and morally unprogressive, you may take as your standard of good the religious practices and traditions of your contemporaries. But the soul who survives time and emerges into eternity must make a living and personal choice between good and evil as they are determined by the true values of the spiritual standards established by the divine spirit which the Father in heaven has sent to dwell within the heart of man. This indwelling spirit is the standard of personality survival. Goodness, like truth, is always relative and unfailingly evil-contrasted. An experience is good when it heightens the appreciation of beauty, augments the moral will, enhances the discernment of truth, enlarges the capacity to love and serves one’s fellows, exalts the spiritual ideals, and unifies the supreme human motives of time with the eternal plans of the indwelling Adjuster, all of which lead directly to an increased desire to do the Father’s will, thereby fostering the divine passion to find God and to be more like him”(132.2.1-4). Jesus said that evil per se is not necessary; its only necessary to give man a choice between good and evil. Evil only becomes a reality when a mortal mind makes evil its choice.************** Jesus also conversed with Nabon, a Greek Jew and leader in the Mithraic mystery-cult. Nabon tried to convert Jesus, and the shoe was on the other foot, but Jesus wasn’t buying. Here’s what he said: “Truth cannot be defined with words, only by living. Truth is always more than knowledge. Knowledge pertains to things observed, but truth transcends such purely material levels in that it consorts with wisdom and embraces such imponderables as human experience, even spiritual and living realities. Knowledge originates in science; wisdom in true philosophy; truth, in the religious experience of spiritual living. Knowledge deals with facts; wisdom with relationships; truth, with reality values” (132.3.1-2). The joint creation of the material mind and the indwelling spirit is revealed truth and the supreme delight of the human soul. But everything depends on faith, because man’s thoughts, wisdom, ethics and ideals will not rise higher than his faith. I wouldn’t want to put that to the test!