JESUS – TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OLD
This was Jesus’ first year of comparative freedom from family responsibility. James was very successful in managing the home with Jesus help in counsel and finances. The week following the Passover of this year a young man from Alexandria came down to Nazareth to arrange for a meeting, later in that year, between Jesus and a group of Alexandrian Jews at some point on the Palestinian coast. This conference was set for the middle of June, and Jesus went over to Caesarea to meet with five prominent Jews of Alexandria, who besought him to establish himself in their city as a religious teacher, offering as an inducement to begin with, the position of assistance to the chazan in their chief synagogue.
The spokesmen for this committee explained to Jesus that Alexandria was destined to become the headquarters of Jewish culture for the entire world; that the Hellenistic trend of Jewish affairs had virtually out distanced the Babylonian school of thought. They reminded Jesus of the ominous rumblings of rebellion in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine and assured him that any uprising of the Palestinian Jews would be equivalent to national suicide that the iron hand of Rome would crush the rebellion in three months, and that Jerusalem would be destroyed and the temple demolished, that not one stone would be left upon another.
Jesus listened to all they had to say, thanked them for their confidence, and, in declining to go to Alexandria, in substance said, “My hour has riot yet come.” They were nonplused by his apparent indifference to the honor they had sought to confer upon him. Before taking leave of Jesus, they presented him with a purse in token of the esteem of his Alexandrian friends and in compensation for the- time and expense of corning over to Caesarea to confer with them. But he likewise refused the money, saying: “The house of Joseph has never received alms, and we cannot eat another’s bread as long as I have strong arms and my brothers can labor.”
His friends from Egypt set sail for home, and in subsequent years, when they heard rumors of the Capernaum boat builder who was creating such a commotion in Palestine, few of them surmised that he was the babe of Bethlehem grown up and the same strange-acting Galilean who had so unceremoniously declined the invitation to become a great teacher in Alexandria.
Jesus returned to Nazareth. The remainder of this year was the most uneventful six months of his whole career. He enjoyed this temporary respite from the usual program of problems to solve and difficulties to surmount. He communed much with his Father in heaven and made tremendous progress in the mastery of his human mind.
But human affairs on the worlds of time and space do not run smoothly for long. In December James had a private talk with Jesus, explaining that he was much in love with Esta, a young woman of Nazareth and that they would sometime like to be married if it could be arranged. He called attention to the fact that Joseph would soon be eighteen, and that it would be a good experience for him to have a chance to serve as the acting head of the family. Jesus gave consent for James’ marriage two years later, provided he had, during the intervening time, properly trained Joseph to assume direction of the home.
And now things began to happen – marriage was in the air. James’ success in gaining Jesus’ assent to his marriage emboldened Miriam to approach her brother- father with her plans. Jacob, the younger stone mason, onetime self-appointed champion of Jesus, now business associate of James and Joseph, had long sought to gain Miriam’s hand in marriage. After Miriam had laid her plans before Jesus, he directed that Jacob come to him making formal request for her and promised his blessing for the marriage just as soon as she felt that Martha was competent to assume her duties as eldest daughter.
When at home, Jesus continued to teach the evening school three times a week, read the Scriptures often in the synagogue on the Sabbath, visited with his mother, taught the children, and in general conducted himself as a worthy and respected citizen of Nazareth in the commonwealth of Israel.
JESUS – TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD
This year began with the Nazareth family all in good health and witnessed the finishing of the regular schooling of all the children with the exception of certain work which Martha must do for Ruth.
Jesus was one of the most robust and refined specimens of manhood to appear on earth since the days of Adam. His physical development was superb. His mind was active, keen and penetrating – compared with the average mentality of his contemporaries, it had developed gigantic proportions – and his spirit was indeed humanly divine.
The family finances were in the best condition since the disappearance of Joseph’s estate. The final payments had been made on the caravan repair shop; they owed no man and for the first time in years had some funds ahead. This being true, and since he had taken his other brothers to Jerusalem for their first Passover ceremonies, Jesus decided to accompany Jude (who had just graduated from the synagogue school) on his first visit to the temple.
They went up to Jerusalem and returned by the same route, the Jordan valley, as Jesus feared trouble if he took his young brother through Samaria. Already at Nazareth, Jude had gotten into slight trouble several times because of his hasty disposition, coupled with his strong patriotic sentiments.
They arrived at Jerusalem in due time and were on their way for a first visit to the temple, the very sight of which had stirred and thrilled Jude to the very depths of his soul, when they chanced to meet Lazarus of Bethany. While Jesus talked with Lazarus and sought to arrange for their joint celebration of the Passover, Jude started up real trouble for them all. Close at hand stood a Roman guard who made some improper remarks regarding a Jewish girl who was passing. Jude flushed with fiery indignation and was not slow in expressing his resentment of such an impropriety directly to and within hearing of the soldier. Now the Roman legionnaires were very sensitive to anything bordering on Jewish disrespect; so the guard promptly placed Jude under arrest. But this was too much for the young patriot, and before Jesus could caution him by a warning glance, he had delivered himself of a voluble denunciation of pent-up anti-Roman feelings, all of which only made a bad matter worse. Jude thus, with Jesus by his side, was taken at once to the military prison.
Jesus endeavored to obtain either an immediate hearing for Jude or else his release in time of the Passover celebration that evening, but he failed in these attempts. Since the next day was a “holy convocation” in Jerusalem, even the Romans would not presume to hear charges against a Jew. Accordingly, Jude remained in confinement until the morning of the second day after his arrest, and Jesus stayed at the prison with him. They were not present in the temple at the ceremony of receiving the sons of the law into the full citizenship of Israel. Jude did not pass through this formal ceremony for several years, until he was next in Jerusalem at a Passover and in connection with his propaganda work in behalf of the Zealots, the patriotic organization to which he belonged and in which he was very active. The morning following their second day in prison Jesus appeared before the military magistrate in behalf of Jude. By making apologies for his brother’ s youth and by a further explanatory but judicious statement with reference to the provocative nature of the episode which had led up to the arrest of his brother, Jesus so handled the case that the magistrate expressed the opinion that the young Jew might have had some possible excuse for his violent outburst. After warning Jude not to allow himself again to be guilty of such rashness, he said to Jesus in dismissing them: “You had better keep your eye on the boy; he’s liable to make a lot of trouble for all of you.” And the Roman judge spoke the truth. Jude did make considerable trouble for Jesus, and always was the trouble of this same nature- clashes with the civil authorities because of his thoughtless and unwise patriotic outbursts.
Jesus and Jude walked over to Bethany for the night, explaining why they had failed to keep their appointment for the Passover supper, and set out for Nazareth the following day. Jesus did not tell the family about his young brother’s arrest at Jerusalem. But he had a long talk with Jude about this episode some three weeks after their return. After this talk with Jesus, Jude himself told the family. Ne never forgot the patience and forbearance his brother-father manifested throughout the whole of this trying experience.
This was the last Passover Jesus attended with any member of his own family. Increasingly the Son of Man was to become separated from close association with his own flesh and blood.
This year his seasons of deep meditation were often broken into by Ruth and her playmates. And always was Jesus ready to postpone the contemplation of his future work for the world and the universe that he might share in the childish joy and youthful gladness of these youngsters, who never tired of listening to Jesus relate the experiences of his various trips to Jerusalem. They also greatly enjoyed his stories about animals and nature.
The children were always welcome at the repair shop. Jesus provided sand, blocks and stones by the side of the shop, and large groups of youngsters flocked there to amuse themselves. When they tired of their play, the more courageous ones would peek into the shop, and if its keeper were not busy, they would make bold to go in and say, “Uncle Joshua, come out and tell us a big story.” Then they would lead him out by tugging at his hands until he was seated on the favorite rock by the corner of the shop with the children on the ground in a semicircle before him. And how the little folks did enjoy their Uncle Joshua. They were learning to laugh and to laugh heartily. It was customary for one or two of the smallest of the children to climb upon his knees and sit there, looking up in wonderment at his expressive features as he told his stories. The children loved Jesus and Jesus loved the children.
It was difficult for his friends to comprehend the range of his intellectual activities, how he could so suddenly and so completely swing from the profound discussion of politics, philosophy, or religion to the lighthearted and joyous playfulness of these tots from five to ten years of age. As his own brothers and sisters grew up, as he gained more leisure, and before the grandchildren arrived, he paid a great deal of attention to these little ones. But, he did not live on earth long enough to enjoy the grandchildren very much.
JESUS – TWENTY-SIX YEARS OLD
As this year began, Jesus of Nazareth became strongly conscious that he possessed a wide range of potential power. But he was likewise fully persuaded that this power was not to be employed by his personality as the Son of Man, at least not until his hour should come.
At this time, he thought much but said little about the relation of himself to his Father in heaven. And the conclusion of all this thinking was expressed once in his prayer on the hilltop, when he said: “Regardless of who I am and what power I may or may not wield, I always have been, and always will be subject to the will of my Paradise Father.” And yet, as this man walked about Nazareth to and from his work, it was literally true – as concerned a vast universe – that “in him were hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
All this year the family affairs ran smoothly except for Jude. For years James had trouble with his younger brother, who was not inclined to settle down to work nor was he to be depended upon for his share of the home expenses. While he would live at home, he was not conscientious about earning his share of the family upkeep.
Jesus was a man of peace, and ever and anon was he embarrassed by Jude’s belligerent exploits and numerous patriotic outbursts. James and Joseph were in favor of casting him out, but Jesus would not consent. When their patience would be severely tried, Jesus would only counsel: “Be patient. Be wise in your counsel and eloquent in your lives, that your brother may first know the better way and then be constrained to follow you in it.” The wise and loving counsel of Jesus prevented a break in the family; they remained together. But Jude never was brought to his sober senses until after his marriage.
Mary seldom spoke of Jesus’ future mission. Whenever this subject was referred to, Jesus only replied: “My hour has not yet come.” Jesus had about completed the difficult task of weaning his family from dependence on the immediate presence of his personality. He was rapidly preparing for the day when he could consistently leave this Nazareth home to begin the more active prelude to his real ministry for men.
Never lose sight of the fact that the prime mission of Jesus in this, his seventh and final mandated bestowal of the life experiences of the seven levels of his vast universe’s subordinate living creatures, was the acquirement of mortal creature experience, the successful completion of which resulted in his achievement of not only (then) the Creator of all things and beings in our universe, but the Sovereign Ruler of Nebadon, as well. And in the gathering of this very experience he made the supreme revelation of the Paradise Father to our planet Urantia, and to his entire local universe. Moreover, incidental to these purposes he also undertook to untangle the complicated affairs of this planet as they were related to the Lucifer rebellion (detailed in the Urantia Book).
This year Jesus enjoyed more than usual leisure, and he devoted much time to training James in the management of the repair shop and Joseph in the direction of home affairs. Mary sensed that he was making ready to leave them. Leave them to go where? To do what? She had about given up the thought that Jesus was the Messiah. She could not understand him, she simply could not fathom her first-born son.
Jesus spent a great deal of time this year with the individual members of his family. He would take them for long and frequent strolls up the hill and through the countryside. Before harvest he took Jude to the farmer uncle south of Nazareth, but Jude did not remain long after the harvest. He ran away, and Simon later found him with the fisherman at the lake. When Simon brought him back home, Jesus talked things over with the runaway boy and since he wanted to be a fisherman, went over to Magdaia with him and put him in the care of a relative; a fisherman, and Jude worked fairly well and regularly from that time on until his marriage, and he continued as a fisherman after his marriage.
At last the day had come when all Jesus’ brothers had chosen, and were established in, their lifework. The stage was being set for Jesus’ departure from home.
In November, a double wedding occurred. James and Esta, and Miriam and Jacob were married. It was truly a joyous occasion. Even Mary was once more happy except every now and then when she realized that Jesus was preparing to go away. She suffered under the burden of a great uncertainty: If Jesus would only sit down and talk it all over freely with her as he had done when he was a boy, but he was consistently uncommunicative, he was profoundly silent about the future.
James and his bride, Esta, moved into a neat little home on the west side of town, the gift of her father. While James continued his support of his mother’s home, his quota was cut in half because of his marriage, and Joseph was formally installed by Jesus as head of the family. Jude was now very faithfully sending his share of funds home each month. The weddings of James and Miriam had a very beneficial influence on Jude, and when he left for the fishing grounds, the day after the double wedding, he assured Joseph that he could depend on him “to do my full duty, and more if it is needed.” And he kept his promise.
Miriam lived next door to Mary in the home of Jacob, Jacob the elder having been laid to rest with his fathers. Martha took Miriam’s place in the home, and the new organization was working smoothly before the year ended.
The day after this double wedding, Jesus held an important conference with James. He told James, confidentially, that he was preparing to leave home. He presented full title to the repair shop to James, formally and solemnly abdicated as head of Joseph’s house, and most touchingly established his brother James as “head protector of my father’s house.” He drew up, and they both signed, a compact in which it was stipulated that, in return for the gift of the repair shop, James would henceforth assume full financial responsibility for the family, thus releasing Jesus from all further obligations in these matters. After the contract was signed, after the budget was so arranged that the actual expense of the family would be met without any contribution from Jesus, Jesus said to James: “But my son, I will continue to send you something each month until my hour shall have come, but what I send shall be used by you as the occasion demands. Apply my funds to the family necessities or pleasures as you see fit. Use them in case of sickness or apply them to meet the unexpected emergencies which may befall any individual member of the family.”
And thus did Jesus make ready to enter upon the second and home-detached phase of his adult life before the public entrance upon his Father’s business.
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