Q: I come from a background that is antagonistic, if not outright hostile, to Jesus. How do I approach Jesus in The Urantia Book? I have been trying to overcome this gut reaction...
A: Thanks so much for this heartfelt question about Jesus. You are not alone in your difficulty of approaching Jesus. And it is not surprising, since the Christian churches have appropriated him, in a sense, and sort of made him into an icon that carries a lot of baggage for those who look for him in those churches—and for those who have abandoned him there.
Before The Urantia Book, we knew relatively little about Jesus—who he was, why he came, and where he is now. We had only the Bible, and its decidedly scanty information on these matters. Any ideas that were the object of the antagonism that you grew up with are probably in need of revision and upstepping through the refreshing revelation of The Urantia Book. In order to approach Jesus with fresh eyes and heart, we have to suspend all the other ideas that we've been taught in the past. We have to be willing to see Jesus anew.
One thing that might be of immediate help to you is to start thinking about Jesus as Christ Michael of Nebadon, and to read about this order of divine Sonship. We have put together a topical study called "Michael of Nebadon, " which may be a good place for you to start...
The next thing you might want to remember is: Jesus was NOT a Christian. He did not found the Christian church.
I think there are two important ideas to think about when we want to see Jesus as he really is, and was. First, Jesus was a human being—just like you and me. He was conceived and born in the normal way that all humans are conceived and born; he grew up in a normal way, with a normal childhood. He had a mom and dad, he went to school, he had siblings and aunts and uncles and playmates. He had friends and dreams and plans for his life. He worked for a living. He learned about the world as you and I do, by experience. If this was not true, he would be something other-than-human. But his life is fairly typical of the life of an average person of his day and time.
195:10.11The true church—the Jesus brotherhood—is invisible, spiritual, and is characterized by unity, not necessarily by uniformity... this brotherhood is destined to become a living organism in contrast to an institutionalized social organization. It may well utilize such social organizations, but it must not be supplanted by them.
We can identify with his humanity... And yet—and this is the second thing—he was also God incarnate. The Urantia Book calls this a great mystery, and even the revelators do not fully understand how it happened. But it is the best news, because what we see in the life of Jesus is a true revelation of God—God as a person, as a loving Father, as a true friend. When we see Jesus, we are literally seeing God. And the picture we get through The Urantia Book is pretty much incompatible with the vengeful God many of us have come to know and fear; instead we find that God, as portrayed by Christ Michael, is the most loving and supportive spirit friend that we can ever have.
The Urantia Book tells us that the most important knowledge that we can have is knowledge of the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it. And when you do pursue that knowledge through The Urantia Book, you see many, many clues to the goodness of God, and not only that...you also get a good idea of how YOU can live a religious life that will also reveal God to others. Since Jesus was a human being like us, we can study how he approached life, how he dealt with disappointment and loss, how he demonstrated love to his family and his fellow humans, how he lived a life of commitment, duty and loyalty to ideals that are spiritual and eternal.
This passage is a good thumbnail sketch of Jesus:
And there are many other wonderful passages that show us Jesus as we have never seen him before. Only by reading the life and teachings of Jesus in Part IV of The Urantia Book—with an open mind—will you ever be able to overcome the gut reactions that are now so troubling to you. You have those reactions because the information that engendered those reactions is false. There's no need for antagonism regarding Jesus. But only by seeing him as he really is will ease those feelings and help you replace them with good feelings.
141:3.4 The Master displayed great wisdom and manifested perfect fairness in all of his dealings with his apostles and with all of his disciples. Jesus was truly a master of men; he exercised great influence over his fellow men because of the combined charm and force of his personality. There was a subtle commanding influence in his rugged, nomadic, and homeless life. There was intellectual attractiveness and spiritual drawing power in his authoritative manner of teaching, in his lucid logic, his strength of reasoning, his sagacious insight, his alertness of mind, his matchless poise, and his sublime tolerance. He was simple, manly, honest, and fearless. With all of this physical and intellectual influence manifest in the Master’s presence, there were also all those spiritual charms of being which have become associated with his personality— patience, tenderness, meekness, gentleness, and humility.
Jesus of Nazareth was indeed a strong and forceful personality; he was an intellectual power and a spiritual stronghold. His personality not only appealed to the spiritually minded women among his followers, but also to the educated and intellectual Nicodemus and to the hardy Roman soldier, the captain stationed on guard at the cross, who, when he had finished watching the Master die, said, “Truly, this was a Son of God.” And red-blooded, rugged Galilean fishermen called him Master
The pictures of Jesus have been most unfortunate. These paintings of the Christ have exerted a deleterious influence on youth; the temple merchants would hardly have fled before Jesus if he had been such a man as your artists usually have depicted. His was a dignified manhood; he was good, but natural. Jesus did not pose as a mild, sweet, gentle, and kindly mystic. His teaching was thrillingly dynamic. He not only meant well, but he went about actually doing good.
The Master never said, Come to me all you who are indolent and all who are dreamers.” But he did many times say, “Come to me all you who labor, and I will give you rest—spiritual strength.” The Master’s yoke is, indeed, easy, but even so, he never imposes it; every individual must take this yoke of his own free will.
Jesus portrayed conquest by sacrifice, the sacrifice of pride and selfishness. By showing mercy, he meant to portray spiritual deliverance from all grudges, grievances, anger, and the lust for selfish power and revenge. And when he said, “Resist not evil, ” he later explained that he did not mean to condone sin or to counsel fraternity with iniquity. He intended the more to teach forgiveness, to “resist not evil treatment of one’s personality, evil injury to one’s feelings of personal dignity.”
Thanks again for writing—please write back again whenever you like.