Dear TruthBook Friends and Family,
We have great news ... another painting has arrived! This time it’s a big painting to commemorate a big event in the earth life of the Son of Man, an event known and beloved by Christians and Urantia Book students alike: Peter’s confession.
Painted in a beautiful, crisp style by Michael Dudash, the new image is titled “The Son of the Living God” – Peter’s Confession. You may remember the name of Michael Dudash because he has painted several other scenes in the Jesus collection … Light of the World; Follow Me; Fishers of Men; and others. Michael is, we think you’ll agree, quite talented at capturing both atmosphere and personality.
This is a very large painting (30” x 40”), fitting for such an important event; it is filled with light and optimism, a sunny image showing Jesus and Peter under a mulberry tree as several of the other apostles sit and observe their conversation. We know from the story that the rest of the apostles were there too, and it’s as if the other five are somehow sitting with us on this side, all of us witnessing this amazing conversation together.
As we view this scene, we see that it is a beautiful Summer day in August. Jesus and the apostles had stopped for lunch near the Waters of Merom, a lake formed by the Jordan River, and after they had all been talking about what people were saying about Jesus, the Master stood and asked the question that brought Peter to his feet: “But who say you that I am?” And Peter leaps up to respond: “You are the Deliverer, the Son of the living God!”
Millions of cranes migrate from Europe to Africa right over the Waters of Merom, which is probably just out of sight in the upper part of the picture; accordingly, we see a flock of these graceful birds as they take glad flight over this momentous scene, adding to the sense of movement and spontaneity of this important development in Jesus’ ministry.
The longest of the stories about Peter’s confession in the Bible is contained at Matthew 16:13; it consists of seven lines (ASV):
13 Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is? 14 And they said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
In The Urantia Book, this story is quite a bit longer, spanning two papers and full of illuminating detail.
Here’s the story from The Urantia Book:
“Early Tuesday morning Jesus and the twelve apostles left Magadan Park for Caesarea Philippi, the capital of the Tetrarch Philip's domain. Caesarea Philippi was situated in a region of wondrous beauty. It nestled in a charming valley between scenic hills where the Jordan poured forth from an underground cave. The heights of Mount Hermon were in full view to the north, while from the hills just to the south a magnificent view was had of the upper Jordan and the Sea of Galilee.
“Jesus had gone to Mount Hermon in his early experience with the affairs of the kingdom, and now that he was entering upon the final epoch of his work, he desired to return to this mount of trial and triumph, where he hoped the apostles might gain a new vision of their responsibilities and acquire new strength for the trying times just ahead. As they journeyed along the way, about the time of passing south of the Waters of Merom, the apostles fell to talking among themselves about their recent experiences in Phoenicia and elsewhere and to recounting how their message had been received, and how the different peoples regarded their Master.
“As they paused for lunch, Jesus suddenly confronted the twelve with the first question he had ever addressed to them concerning himself. He asked this surprising question, ‘Who do men say that I am?’
“Jesus had spent long months in training these apostles as to the nature and character of the kingdom of heaven, and he well knew the time had come when he must begin to teach them more about his own nature and his personal relationship to the kingdom. And now, as they were seated under the mulberry trees, the Master made ready to hold one of the most momentous sessions of his long association with the chosen apostles.
“More than half the apostles participated in answering Jesus' question. They told him that he was regarded as a prophet or as an extraordinary man by all who knew him; that even his enemies greatly feared him, accounting for his powers by the indictment that he was in league with the prince of devils. They told him that some in Judea and Samaria who had not met him personally believed he was John the Baptist risen from the dead. Peter explained that he had been, at sundry times and by various persons, compared with Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. When Jesus had listened to this report, he drew himself upon his feet, and looking down upon the twelve sitting about him in a semicircle, with startling emphasis he pointed to them with a sweeping gesture of his hand and asked, ‘But who say you that I am?’ There was a moment of tense silence. The twelve never took their eyes off the Master, and then Simon Peter, springing to his feet, exclaimed: ‘You are the Deliverer, the Son of the living God.’ And the eleven sitting apostles arose to their feet with one accord, thereby indicating that Peter had spoken for all of them.
“When Jesus had beckoned them again to be seated, and while still standing before them, he said: ‘This has been revealed to you by my Father. The hour has come when you should know the truth about me. But for the time being I charge you that you tell this to no man. Let us go hence.’
“And so they resumed their journey to Caesarea Philippi arriving late that evening and stopping at the home of Celsus, who was expecting them. The apostles slept little that night; they seemed to sense that a great event in their lives and in the work of the kingdom had transpired.”
The day after Peter’s confession, we learn just why this event contains so much meaning and value for us yet today.
Again, from The Urantia Book:
“After they had partaken of their meal and were engaged in discussing plans for the forthcoming tour of the Decapolis, Jesus suddenly looked up into their faces and said: ‘Now that a full day has passed since you assented to Simon Peter's declaration regarding the identity of the Son of Man, I would ask if you still hold to your decision?’ On hearing this, the twelve stood upon their feet, and Simon Peter, stepping a few paces forward toward Jesus, said: ‘Yes, Master, we do. We believe that you are the Son of the living God.’ And Peter sat down with his brethren.
“Jesus, still standing, then said to the twelve: ‘You are my chosen ambassadors, but I know that, in the circumstances, you could not entertain this belief as a result of mere human knowledge. This is a revelation of the spirit of my Father to your inmost souls. And when, therefore, you make this confession by the insight of the spirit of my Father which dwells within you, I am led to declare that upon this foundation will I build the brotherhood of the kingdom of heaven. Upon this rock of spiritual reality will I build the living temple of spiritual fellowship in the eternal realities of my Father's kingdom. All the forces of evil and the hosts of sin shall not prevail against this human fraternity of the divine spirit. And while my Father's spirit shall ever be the divine guide and mentor of all who enter the bonds of this spirit fellowship, to you and your successors I now deliver the keys of the outward kingdom—the authority over things temporal—the social and economic features of this association of men and women as fellows of the kingdom.’ And again he charged them, for the time being, that they should tell no man that he was the Son of God.
“And ever since that day this same Jesus has been building that living temple upon that same eternal foundation of his divine sonship, and those who thereby become self-conscious sons of God are the human stones which constitute this living temple of sonship erecting to the glory and honor of the wisdom and love of the eternal Father of spirits.”
As is true of many of the stories of Jesus life as told in The Urantia Book, this one narrates in great detail what really happened and what it meant in the life of Jesus and his mission to the world. Up until the gift of the Urantia revelation to us, we had an incomplete idea of what happened that day. Now, with this beautiful painting that so richly illustrates this watershed event, all of us – Christians and Jesusonians of every religion - can fully appreciate the restated story with fresh eyes and with a fresh understanding. This painting in particular may be one that you’ll be excited to share with your Jesus-loving associates.
As with all of our Jesus paintings, “The Son of the Living God” – Peter’s Confession will now reside in the Jesus Paintings collection of TruthBook’s Religious Art Gallery. There, you can peruse all of the Jesus paintings to date. The collection is growing!
There are still more paintings to come in the days and weeks ahead. As they become available, we will be sharing them with you, so watch your mail…!
And from all of us to all of you: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Your TruthBook Team