Urantia Book 40. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, Joshua ben Joseph, Christ Michael, Sovereign God of the Universe of Nebadon. John had appointed 12 of the leaders of his disciples to be apostles. Jesus’ apostles and John’s apostles went into conference for three weeks. They solved many problems. Jesus wouldn’t help them because he only worked with individuals, not groups. And he went away the last two weeks. The apostles were in session three times a day for six days each week. The first week Jesus did consent to talk to them between sessions; he talked on sympathy, co-operation and tolerance. Andrew and Abner alternated in presiding over the joint meetings of the two apostolic groups. Jesus pledged approval of their conclusions. The first item the group agreed on was adoption of the prayer that Jesus had recently taught them (the Our Father). They would teach this prayer to new believers. Their next decision was that, as long as John was alive, the two groups would continue working and have joint meetings every three months at an agreed upon location. Baptism was a problem because Jesus hadn’t given his apostles permission to baptize. So they decided that only John’s apostles would baptize and only Jesus’ apostles would instruct the new disciples. Also, two of John’s apostles would accompany Jesus’ apostles in order to baptize believers. The joint council had unanimously voted that baptism would become the initial step in a believer’s faith journey. It was also agreed that, if John died, his apostles would present themselves to Jesus and await directions. Also, they would not baptize unless Jesus authorized it. Also, in the case of John’s death, Jesus’ apostles would begin to baptize with water as a symbol of baptism of the Holy Spirit. John’s apostles would preach “Repent and be baptized” and Jesus’ apostles would preach “Believe and be baptized.” “And this is the story of the first attempt of Jesus’ followers to co-ordinate divergent efforts, compose differences of opinion, organize group undertakings, legislate on outward observances and socialize personal religious practices” (144.6.2-9). Jesus returned on the last day, listened to their decisions, and promised to help the apostles carry them out. The Gilboa camp was broken up on November 2, AD 27.**** During November and December the group of 25 worked in the Decapolis cities of Scythopolis, Gerasa, Abila and Gadara. The UB remarks that Jesus’ new revelation paid the price of compromise with John’s preceding religion; but there were items in the old religion which the new religion tried to salvage. Baptism was the price the new religion paid, but John’s followers gave up everything except water baptism. Jesus did little public preaching during this time. John’s followers, during their special sessions with Jesus, gradually became more understanding of the reasons Jesus didn’t try to get John out of prison. But they didn’t understand why he did no miracles. They believed he was divine, both because John told them so and because their contact with Jesus led them to belief. But they wondered why he gave no outward indication of his status. During these two months, Jesus sent out one of his apostles with one of John’s apostles. They won many souls among the gentiles and fallen Jews. Abner, the chief of John’s apostles, became a devout believer in Jesus, and was later made head of a group of seventy teachers who were commissioned by Jesus to preach the gospel.****************************** In late December Jesus and his followers moved to Pella, near the Jordan. Jews and gentiles came to this camp to hear the gospel. While Jesus was preaching one day, a messenger arrived from John. John wanted to know: “Are you truly the Deliverer or should we look for another?”(144.8.1-2). Jesus answered the messenger: “Go back and tell John that he is not forgotten. Tell him what you have seen and heard, that the poor have good tidings preached to them.” Jesus then turned and addressed the crowd: “Do not think that John doubts the gospel of the kingdom. He makes inquiry only to assure his apostles who are also my apostles. John is no weakling. What did you behold in John–a reed shaken in the wind? A man of changeable moods and clothed in soft raiment? But what did you see when you beheld John? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet! Of John it was written: “Behold, I send my messenger before your face;he shall prepare the way before you.”” (144.8.3). Many that day were baptized by John’s followers, and John’s apostles were firmly attached to Jesus after that day. When the messenger brought Jesus’ words back to John, he was greatly comforted and his faith was strengthened. Jesus finished his preaching by saying : “Come, therefore, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and you shall find rest for your souls. Take upon you the divine yoke, and you will experience the peace of God, which passes all understanding”(144.8.8). John the Baptist was executed by Herod Antipas on the evening of January 10, AD 28. John’s followers went to Herod and took possession of John’s body, which they buried at Sebaste, Abner’s home. On January 12 they went back to the camp near Pella. When the burial group arrived, Jesus immediately dismissed the crowd and said: “Go into joint council and arrange your affairs accordingly. There shall be delay no longer. The hour has come to proclaim the kingdom openly and with power. Tomorrow we go into Galilee” (144.9.10). So, on Tuesday, January 13, Jesus, the apostles and 25 disciples headed for Capernaum and the house of Zebedee. They arrived the same evening and Jesus spent the next three days preparing his apostles for their first preaching tour. On Friday evening Jesus had a visit from his baby sister Ruth. She was the only family member to believe in his divinity, and she was his chief comfort during his trial, rejection and crucifixion. Also on Friday morning, Jesus was preaching by the sea and was in danger of being pushed in the water by the crowds. He was rescued by David Zebedee in a boat that Jesus had made himself. After Jesus had disbursed the crowd, David told him that they had caught no fish. Jesus, to thank them for rescuing him, told them where they could catch fish. They put their nets down at that location and caught so many fish that their nets were in danger of breaking. The fishermen thought it was a miracle, but it wasn’t. Jesus just knew the lake and where the fish were at any given time. But all the men in the boat were so impressed that they stopped fishing and followed Jesus.* The following Sabbath Jesus preached at the afternoon service on the subject “The Will of the Father in Heaven.” The first reading was from Exodus: “And you shall serve the Lord, your God, and He shall bless your bread and your water, and all sickness shall be taken away from you.” The second reading was from Isaiah: “Arise and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you…Even the gentiles shall come to this light.” Jesus was stressing that religion is a personal experience. He told his listeners that they no longer had to approach God as a group, the nation of Israel. Now they could approach God as a child approaches a Father, as an individual son or daughter. Jesus also said this was not a new idea. He quoted passages in the Hebrew scriptures to show that this was not a new idea. For example, the prophet Jeremiah, speaking for God, said: “I shall be their God and they shall be my people. In that day, they shall not say, one man to his neighbor:’Do you know the Lord?’ Nay! For they shall know me personally, from the least to the greatest!” The apostles were inspired by this message and realized anew that the gospel of the kingdom is a message directed to the individual, not the nation. As Jesus finished a young man agitated by Jesus’ sermon had an epileptic attack. The young man believed he was possessed by a demon, but Jesus knew he wasn’t. The young man, pretending to be possessed, said: “You are the holy one of God; have you come to destroy us?” Jesus said to the “demon”: “Come out of it.” And the man woke up. The UB says that cases of demon possession didn’t occur after Pentecost. So why do cases of possession still occur? Why are the Church’s exorcists still busy? That is a question to ponder, but not at night and alone in a house.