Folks, this is a very good article in the popular press that I saw today, and I wanted to share it with you: Ash Wednesday Sermon by Jason Micheli.
Now that we have officially enetered the pre-Easter season of Lent, it's good to get some inspiration for the season and what it can mean for us. I do recommend this one. I like the author's style and his good grasp of the real Jesus and what he can do for, and with us.
In the article, Pastor Micheli mentions Jesus' forty-day sojourn in the wilderness - the time when, according to the Bible, Jesus is said to have been tempted by the devil before he formulates the principles which would govern him in his work; I see it as a great opportunity for a blog about the Urantia Book account of this pivotal event in the Master's lfe and ministry. We'll do that blog below, but first, here's a small snip from the article.
"Beginning in the 18th century, Christians began to take their cues from the Enlightenment. Now, only that which was rationally demonstrable and confirmed by our own private experience was considered 'true.'
Rather than conforming their definitions of truth to scripture, Christians looked to scripture to confirm their a priori presumptions about what was 'true.' Where it did not, scripture was now considered 'myth.'
"So, for example, the story of Jesus' 40 Day testing by Satan in the wilderness is no longer a 'true' or realistic story about what Jesus has done. Instead Christians turned to the story of Jesus' trials in the wilderness and saw in it a parable for their own times of trial and temptation.
"Rather than being a unique story about Jesus' absolutely singular vocation, it became a generalized story about our common human experience. "
Click to read the entire article: I recommend it!
Is the Forty Days story real?
There is a question raised in this article about the forty days; it's seen here as a sort of myth...but is it? According to The Urantia Book, the forty days was not only real, but this period was a stunningly important time in Jesus' life. Both the Bible and The Urantia Book place this forty-day period right after Jesus' baptism; however, The Urantia Book teaches that the "temptation of Jesus" actualy happened months before.
In both books, The forty days is the time when Jesus formulates his plans for the remainder of his msssion to the world. In The Urantia Book, we can read the thrilling details of Jesus' plans for public work, as well as thrilling details of each of the Master's 6 great decisions that he made. This is no attempt to diminish the Biblical accounts, but the comparison between the two accounts is more than striking, I think you'll agree...
In the Biblical accounts, Jesus is said to have had the encounter with the devil during the forty days; instead, The Urantia Book teaches that while Jesus WAS visited by superhuman beings, those he met that day were far more benign; having already dealt with Lucifer months before, Jesus was visited by Gabriel and also met with a personal representative of the Most Highs who assured him that technically, his mission of incarnating as a man among men was completed; going forward was now his choice. And of course, he did choose to continue and complete the whole of his mission: that of revealing the Father to mortal man and estabishing the kingdom as a reality in the personal experience of mankind. Planning the details of that mission naturally followed.
Please see Paper 136: Baptism and the Forty Days
When did Jesus' Great Temptation Occur?
The great temptation, the subject of this article, actually occurred about six months previously. Jesus had just completed a year of solitary travel before he would be called once more to do the "Father's business." In August of that year, A.D 25, Jesus was led in his Spirit "to forsake the dwelling places of men and betake himself up to Mount Hermon that he might finish his work of mastering his human mind and complete the task of effecting his full consecration to the remainder of his lifework on earth."
And that full consecration evidently entailed meeting with his enemies - those who initiated the disastrous rebellion that had nearly destroyed our world thousands of years earlier:
Please see The Sojourn on Mount Hermon, where we read:
134:8.6 Near the end of the mountain sojourn Jesus asked his Father if he might be permitted to hold conference with his Satania enemies as the Son of Man, as Joshua ben Joseph. This request was granted. During the last week on Mount Hermon the great temptation, the universe trial, occurred. Satan (representing Lucifer ) and the rebellious Planetary Prince, Caligastia, were present with Jesus and were made fully visible to him. And this "temptation," this final trial of human loyalty in the face of the misrepresentations of rebel personalities, had not to do with food, temple pinnacles, or presumptuous acts. It had not to do with the kingdoms of this world but with the sovereignty of a mighty and glorious universe. The symbolism of your records was intended for the backward ages of the world's childlike thought. And subsequent generations should understand what a great struggle the Son of Man passed through that eventful day on Mount Hermon.
134:8.7 To the many proposals and counterproposals of the emissaries of Lucifer, Jesus only made reply: "May the will of my Paradise Father prevail, and you, my rebellious son, may the Ancients of Days judge you divinely. I am your Creator-father; I can hardly judge you justly, and my mercy you have already spurned. I commit you to the adjudication of the Judges of a greater universe."
134:8.8 To all the Lucifer-suggested compromises and makeshifts, to all such specious proposals about the incarnation bestowal, Jesus only made reply, "The will of my Father in Paradise be done." And when the trying ordeal was finished, the detached guardian seraphim returned to Jesus' side and ministered to him.
134:8.9 On an afternoon in late summer, amid the trees and in the silence of nature, Michael of Nebadon won the unquestioned sovereignty of his universe. On that day he completed the task set for Creator Sons to live to the full the incarnated life in the likeness of mortal flesh on the evolutionary worlds of time and space. The universe announcement of this momentous achievement was not made until the day of his baptism, months afterward, but it all really took place that day on the mountain. And when Jesus came down from his sojourn on Mount Hermon, the Lucifer rebellion in Satania and the Caligastia secession on Urantia were virtually settled. Jesus had paid the last price required of him to attain the sovereignty of his universe, which in itself regulates the status of all rebels and determines that all such future upheavals (if they ever occur) may be dealt with summarily and effectively. Accordingly, it may be seen that the so-called "great temptation" of Jesus took place sometime before his baptism and not just after that event.
Later that year:
134:9.8 ...rumors came to Capernaum of one John who was preaching while baptizing penitents in the Jordan, and John preached: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent and be baptized." Jesus listened to these reports as John slowly worked his way up the Jordan valley from the ford of the river nearest to Jerusalem. But Jesus worked on, making boats, until John had journeyed up the river to a point near Pella in the month of January of the next year, A.D. 26, when he laid down his tools, declaring, "My hour has come," and presently presented himself to John for baptism.
134:9.9 But a great change had been coming over Jesus. Few of the people who had enjoyed his visits and ministrations as he had gone up and down in the land ever subsequently recognized in the public teacher the same person they had known and loved as a private individual in former years. And there was a reason for this failure of his early beneficiaries to recognize him in his later role of public and authoritative teacher. For long years this transformation of mind and spirit had been in progress, and it was finished during the eventful sojourn on Mount Hermon.
Following his baptism then, of course we go back to the forty days...
The Urantia Book provides "Ourstory"
If you are new to The Urantia Book, seeing these familiar stories so large, so expanded might seem strange, maybe even intimidating. But much in the Life and Teachings of Jesus is like that. Much like Jesus himself, The Urantia Book is larger than life. These pivotal events in the life of Jesus are part of our world's history - it is truly "our-story," and it is vital that we know and understand the significance of the totality of Jesus' matchless incarnation here as a Son of God.
The Urantia Book is a gift of revelation about the incarnation of this divine Son of God as a mortal man - a revelation that fills in all the details about Jesus that we have never had before. Not only these famous stories of the Forty Days and the Temptation of Christ, but unfamiliar ones like those never known from Jesus' "missing years," his childhood, his siblings, his travels. And many, many more...
The Urantia Book teaches:
196:1.3 To "follow Jesus" means to personally share his religious faith and to enter into the spirit of the Master's life of unselfish service for man. One of the most important things in human living is to find out what Jesus believed, to discover his ideals, and to strive for the achievement of his exalted life purpose. Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value (emphasis mine) is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it.
If you love Jesus and sincerely want to know more about his life - how he lived, what were his religious values, what did he say, what did he do, how did he interact with his world, what did he think about - you really owe it to yourself to explore Jesus in The Urantia Book.