Good heavens! Could Jesus really have said that? This article, titled: Did Jesus really want us to chop our hands off? Dealing with temptation by Mark Woods, points out two "quotes" that Jesus is said to have spoken. One is echoed in The Urantia Book and the other one is, too...sort of.
Any Urantia Book reader can tell you that Jesus never advised mutilating our bodies in order to deal with temptation, and reason tells us that this is an idea that is quite inconsistent with the Jesus we discover in the pages of the Urantia revelation. Jesus had far more practical and reasonable advice than is ascribed to him in Scripture. Please see our blog below for the details...but first, as is usually the case, the author of this article does a good job getting to the real heart of the matter:
"Some Christians have taken him quite literally and thought he was saying that parts of the body that tempt overwhelmingly to sin should be cut off. One of the early Church fathers, Origen, was believed to have had himself emasculated because of this. A Russian Christian sect, the Skoptsy, had the same practice.
"But there are two big problems with this. One is that mutilating the body like this is profoundly unChristian. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. When we damage them we are despising the gift of God. Bodies are not neutral; they aren't just houses for souls. We are our bodies as we are our spirits.
"Second, though, it doesn't really deal with the problem. Someone who is tempted to steal might not be able to do so if their hand was removed, but it wouldn't change their heart. The desire for what doesn't belong to them would still be there
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Those who read/study The Urantia Book - and especially the Life and Teachings of Jesus in Part IV of The Urantia Book have found a portrayal of the Master that is altogether reasonable - altogether believable and consistent of a being who said that he had "come from the Father." Those who know Jesus through The Urantia Book find him kind, approachable, and non-threatening. And the same can be said for God, whose loving nature is amazingly detailed in The Urantia Book as well
In the life of Jesus we find a man who claimed: "he who has seen me has seen the Father." And if one reads the Urantia Book narrative of Jesus' life, one will find only graciousness, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, and love coming from him. Jesus never gives ultimatums or advice that is frightening, like this advice to cut off body parts if they cause one to sin. Instead, Jesus always gives advice that people can live with - advice that lifts up and inspires, never advice that causes fear. Likewise, we can glean from this understanding that God the Father himself demonstrates all of these loving qualities as well.
What about the millstones around the neck?
Yes, Jesus did warn against causing children to "stumble" - and I take this to mean that we all must carefully nurture not only the physical beings of children, but also the spiritual growth of children - to always tell them the truth and foster their highest ideals - to help them find worthy heroes and role models - and to always try to BE good role models for our kids - and other people's kids, too.
But what he said next is far more befitting a man who claims to have come from God than the portrayal of Jesus as he is seen in Matthew 18:8-9 - a man whose whole life was a testiment to the goodness of God and the loving, Fatherly affection of God for his children. Here's the full text from The Urantia Book:
158:8.1 Entering Capernaum at twilight, they went by unfrequented thoroughfares directly to the home of Simon Peter for their evening meal. While David Zebedee made ready to take them across the lake, they lingered at Simon's house, and Jesus, looking up at Peter and the other apostles, asked: "As you walked along together this afternoon, what was it that you talked about so earnestly among yourselves?" The apostles held their peace because many of them had continued the discussion begun at Mount Hermon as to what positions they were to have in the coming kingdom; who should be the greatest, and so on. Jesus, knowing what it was that occupied their thoughts that day, beckoned to one of Peter's little ones and, setting the child down among them, said: "Verily, verily, I say to you, except you turn about and become more like this child, you will make little progress in the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself and become as this little one, the same shall become greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso receives such a little one receives me. And they who receive me receive also Him who sent me. If you would be first in the kingdom, seek to minister these good truths to your brethren in the flesh. But whosoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea. If the things you do with your hands, or the things you see with your eyes give offense in the progress of the kingdom, sacrifice these cherished idols, for it is better to enter the kingdom minus many of the beloved things of life rather than to cling to these idols and find yourself shut out of the kingdom. But most of all, see that you despise not one of these little ones, for their angels do always behold the faces of the heavenly hosts."
But what about temptation?
Yes, Jesus does help us deal with temptation...here is a great Jesus story that you wil not find in the Bible, but it is an altogether reasonable and believable story that anyone could profit from.
Here it is in it's entirety:
156:5.3 On the evening of this same day Nathaniel asked Jesus: "Master, why do we pray that God will lead us not into temptation when we well know from your revelation of the Father that he never does such things?" Jesus answered Nathaniel:
"It is not strange that you ask such questions seeing that you are beginning to know the Father as I know him, and not as the early Hebrew prophets so dimly saw him. You well know how our forefathers were disposed to see God in almost everything that happened. They looked for the hand of God in all natural occurrences and in every unusual episode of human experience. They connected God with both good and evil. They thought he softened the heart of Moses and hardened the heart of Pharaoh. When man had a strong urge to do something, good or evil, he was in the habit of accounting for these unusual emotions by remarking: `The Lord spoke to me saying, do thus and so, or go here and there.' Accordingly, since men so often and so violently ran into temptation, it became the habit of our forefathers to believe that God led them thither for testing, punishing, or strengthening. But you, indeed, now know better. You know that men are all too often led into temptation by the urge of their own selfishness and by the impulses of their animal natures. When you are in this way tempted, I admonish you that, while you recognize temptation honestly and sincerely for just what it is, you intelligently redirect the energies of spirit, mind, and body, which are seeking expression, into higher channels and toward more idealistic goals. In this way may you transform your temptations into the highest types of uplifting mortal ministry while you almost wholly avoid these wasteful and weakening conflicts between the animal and spiritual natures.
"But let me warn you against the folly of undertaking to surmount temptation by the effort of supplanting one desire by another and supposedly superior desire through the mere force of the human will. If you would be truly triumphant over the temptations of the lesser and lower nature, you must come to that place of spiritual advantage where you have really and truly developed an actual interest in, and love for, those higher and more idealistic forms of conduct which your mind is desirous of substituting for these lower and less idealistic habits of behavior that you recognize as temptation. You will in this way be delivered through spiritual transformation rather than be increasingly overburdened with the deceptive suppression of mortal desires. The old and the inferior will be forgotten in the love for the new and the superior. Beauty is always triumphant over ugliness in the hearts of all who are illuminated by the love of truth. There is mighty power in the expulsive energy of a new and sincere spiritual affection. And again I say to you, be not overcome by evil but rather overcome evil with good."
And there's more
Dealing with temptation is something all of us are faced with, every day. Jesus understood mankind very, very well. And he really wanted to help us gain control over our animal natures. Here is more sage advice from the Master about "self-mastery."
143:2.4 "By the old way you seek to suppress, obey, and conform to the rules of living; by the new way you are first transformed by the Spirit of Truth and thereby strengthened in your inner soul by the constant spiritual renewing of your mind, and so are you endowed with the power of the certain and joyous performance of the gracious, acceptable, and perfect will of God. Forget not—it is your personal faith in the exceedingly great and precious promises of God that ensures your becoming partakers of the divine nature. Thus by your faith and the spirit's transformation, you become in reality the temples of God, and his spirit actually dwells within you. If, then, the spirit dwells within you, you are no longer bondslaves of the flesh but free and liberated sons of the spirit. The new law of the spirit endows you with the liberty of self-mastery in place of the old law of the fear of self-bondage and the slavery of self-denial.
And there's much more in this discourse in the way of solid, uplifting, ennobling advice. Read it all here
Part IV of The Urantia Book: The Life and Teachings of Jesus contain the whole life of Jesus - not just the few years at the end of his life that we have had for the centuries since he lived among us. These stories - all of the details - have been faithfully kept over the centuries by those who were actually present during Jesus' life. They have been preserved for the time when the world could receive them once again. And they have been presented to us now - in book form - so that all succeeding generations of believers can profit from them.
There's a reason that The Urantia Book had to wait until now. For one thing, the printing press was not invented until about 500 years ago - and for another thing, The Urantia Book arrived for us right before the dawn of the electronic age, making the dissemination of this amazing book far more possible.
It is a revelation for you, too. The entire text is available for free on our TruthBook.com site, so come and have a look! If you love Jesus in the Bible, you'll love him even more when you know the rest of the story!