Urantia Book 21. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, Joshua ben Joseph, Christ Michael, Sovereign God of Nebadon. Jesus was working in Zebedee’s workshop for a while when runners came announcing that a man named John was preaching and baptizing penitents in the Jordan. John preached: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent and be baptized.” Jesus listened to these reports as John worked his way up the Jordan valley…When John had reached a point near Pella in January of AD 26, Jesus put down his tools and said: “My hour has come,” and presented himself to John for baptism” (134.9.8). But this was not the same Jesus that people remembered from before his ascent of Mount Hermon. ************************ John the Baptist was born on March 25, 7 BC according to the promise Gabriel made to Elizabeth. Her husband, Zacharias, didn’t believe it until he had a dream confirming it. Still, he lost his speech until John was presented to the Temple. The most exciting thing in John’s life was a trip to visit Jesus when he was 6 years old (they were relatives). John was homeschooled by both parents. His father was a priest and well-versed in the scriptures, and his mother was well-educated for the times, too. At 14 John took the Nazarite vow to live a clean life. A Nazarite was in the same class as the high priest, and was the only person besides the high priest who could enter the holy of holies in the Temple. John, after his father’s death, took up sheep herding because Jesus told him the time was not right yet. After John’s mother’s death, when he was 28, he gave his herds to the brotherhood and detached himself from the world while he fasted and prayed. John only knew the old methods of approach to divinity; he only knew the records of Elijah, Samuel and Daniel. His ideal prophet was Elijah, and he believed he himself would be the last of a long, illustrious line of the messengers of heaven (135.4.2). And he was right. John had an expectation that Elijah would come again, and this held him back from preaching for 2 years, which he spent in the Nazarite home reading the book of Isaiah and other prophets, like Malachi, who said: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers toward the children and the hearts of the children toward their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (135.4.4). So John thought Elijah had returned and he was afraid of competing with him. John knew he wasn’t Elijah reincarnated, but he theorized that, since the first prophet was named Elijah, the last prophet would be named Elijah. His doubts kept him from calling himself Elijah, however. But he imitated Elijah in all things: his bluntness, his dress, his preoccupation with sins and vices, his denunciation of religious leaders. He decided that “the kingdom of God” would be the theme of his preaching and that he would be the prophet who proclaimed the Messiah. At this point he had no doubts and one day in March of AD 25, he walked out of the Nazarite home and began preaching repentance and baptizing.**** When Jesus and John entered the scene, Jews were influenced by apocalyptic thinking. They expected an end to Roman rule and the appearance of a Messiah-king from the line of David. It was an end of times thinking; the sufferings of the Jews was a penalty for the nation’s sins. That’s how they explained the Babylonian Exile. The Messiah would bring in the kingdom of God. So when John said: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” his listeners heard a dozen different messages. As John journeyed along the Jordan, he would say: “Go tell your masters that you have heard one crying in the wilderness, as spoken by the prophet, “make ready the way of the Lord, make straight a highway for our God” (135.6.6). When asked if he were the Messiah, he would say: “There will come after me one who is greater than I, whose sandal straps I am not worthy to unloose. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (135.7.2). John had lost his certainty about all this. He was confused. The further north along the Jordan he went, the more confused he became. He had no idea if Jesus was the promised Messiah. He was sorely in doubt about the role of Jesus in the coming kingdom of God. Was the kingdom even coming? When John and his followers reached Pella, Jesus and his brothers James and Jude went to him to be baptized. They stood in line to be baptized, which John had not expected. John didn’t say anything until Jesus stood in front of him. Then he said:”But why do you come down into the water to greet me?” Jesus answered:”To be subject to your baptism.” John replied: “But I have need to be baptized by you. Why do you come to me?” And Jesus whispered to John: “Bear with me now, for it becomes us to set this example for my brothers standing here with me, and so the people will know my hour has come” (135.8.5). Jesus was baptized on Monday, January 14, AD 26. After John had baptized James and Jude, he dismissed all others for the day. As the 4 were still standing in the water they heard a strange noise, and then they heard a voice saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus’ face changed, he walked out of the water, headed east, and wasn’t seen again for 40 days.

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