Urantia Gospel Parallels

There are more than 10,000 cross references between the Bible and the Urantia Book. Part IV, a New Revelation of Jesus, is a 774 pg. section which has many parallels to the Gospel stories of the Bible. This blog will be a study of such parallels, and hopefully will increase and expand the love of those already familiar with the Gospel stories of Jesus, or, conversely show the Urantia Book's New Revelation equivalents of Gospel stories.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Beatitudes


The Beatitudes
from the
Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount, as found in chapters 5 to 7 of the Gospel of Matthew, contains several of the most important teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, including the Beatitudes, the Lord's Prayer and the Golden Rule. They are essentially the road map to the blessings available to any believer who wants to join the new spiritual, internal Kingdom of God that Jesus is announcing, which is a vast enhancement of and addition to what they believed previously, which was centered upon the laws of Moses. The Judaism of that time was based upon “Thou shalt not”, as a group, tribal religion, and Jesus intended to change that to a personal, individual relationship with God as a Father.

Jesus begins the sermon with the Beatitudes. "Beatitude" comes from the Latin "beatus," meaning blessed. Each one of the Beatitudes begins with "Blessed are ..." and describes how followers can find happiness even in the face of persecution.

After spending a night in solemn meditation and prayer in the lonely mountain-range to the west of the Lake of Galilee (Luke 6:12), on the following morning our Lord called to him his disciples, and from among them chose twelve, who were to be henceforth trained to be his apostles (Mark 3:14, 15). After this solemn consecration of the twelve, he descended from the mountain-peak to a more level spot (Luke 6:17), and there he sat down and delivered the "sermon on the mount" (Matt. 5-7; Luke 6:20-49) to the assembled multitude.

Matthew 5 (New International Version)

Matthew 5

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
 1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
The Beatitudes
    He said:
   3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
   11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Urantia Part IV: Jesus, The New Revelation
(1573.3) 140:5.1 From the Sermon on the Mount to the discourse of the Last Supper, Jesus taught his followers to manifest fatherly love rather than brotherly love. Brotherly love would love your neighbor as you love yourself, and that would be adequate fulfillment of the “golden rule.” But fatherly affection would require that you should love your fellow mortals as Jesus loves you.
(1573.4) 140:5.2 Jesus loves mankind with a dual affection. He lived on earth as a twofold personality — human and divine. As the Son of God he loves man with a fatherly love — he is man’s Creator, his universe Father. As the Son of Man, Jesus loves mortals as a brother — he was truly a man among men.
(1573.5) 140:5.3 Jesus did not expect his followers to achieve an impossible manifestation of brotherly love, but he did expect them to so strive to be like God — to be perfect even as the Father in heaven is perfect — that they could begin to look upon man as God looks upon his creatures and therefore could begin to love men as God loves them — to show forth the beginnings of a fatherly affection. In the course of these exhortations to the twelve apostles, Jesus sought to reveal this new concept of fatherly love as it is related to certain emotional attitudes concerned in making numerous environmental social adjustments.
(1573.6) 140:5.4 The Master introduced this momentous discourse by calling attention to four faith attitudes as the prelude to the subsequent portrayal of his four transcendent and supreme reactions of fatherly love in contrast to the limitations of mere brotherly love.
(1573.7) 140:5.5 He first talked about those who were poor in spirit, hungered after righteousness, endured meekness, and who were pure in heart. Such spirit-discerning mortals could be expected to attain such levels of divine selflessness as to be able to attempt the amazing exercise of fatherly affection; that even as mourners they would be empowered to show mercy, promote peace, and endure persecutions, and throughout all of these trying situations to love even unlovely mankind with a fatherly love. A father’s affection can attain levels of devotion that immeasurably transcend a brother’s affection.
(1573.8) 140:5.6 The faith and the love of these beatitudes strengthen moral character and create happiness. Fear and anger weaken character and destroy happiness. This momentous sermon started out upon the note of happiness.
(1573.9) 140:5.7 1. Happy are the poor in spirit — the humble.” To a child, happiness is the satisfaction of immediate pleasure craving. The adult is willing to sow seeds of self-denial in order to reap subsequent harvests of augmented happiness. In Jesus’ times and since, happiness has all too often been associated with the idea of the possession of wealth. In the story of the Pharisee and the publican praying in the temple, the one felt rich in spirit — egotistical; the other felt “poor in spirit” — humble. One was self-sufficient; the other was teachable and truth-seeking. The poor in spirit seek for goals of spiritual wealth — for God. And such seekers after truth do not have to wait for rewards in a distant future; they are rewarded now. They find the kingdom of heaven within their own hearts, and they experience such happiness now.
(1574.1) 140:5.8 2. Happy are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Only those who feel poor in spirit will ever hunger for righteousness. Only the humble seek for divine strength and crave spiritual power. But it is most dangerous to knowingly engage in spiritual fasting in order to improve one’s appetite for spiritual endowments. Physical fasting becomes dangerous after four or five days; one is apt to lose all desire for food. Prolonged fasting, either physical or spiritual, tends to destroy hunger.
(1574.2) 140:5.9 Experiential righteousness is a pleasure, not a duty. Jesus’ righteousness is a dynamic love — fatherly-brotherly affection. It is not the negative or thou-shalt-not type of righteousness. How could one ever hunger for something negative — something “not to do”?
(1574.3) 140:5.10 It is not so easy to teach a child mind these first two of the beatitudes, but the mature mind should grasp their significance.
(1574.4) 140:5.11 3. Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Genuine meekness has no relation to fear. It is rather an attitude of man co-operating with God — “Your will be done.” It embraces patience and forbearance and is motivated by an unshakable faith in a lawful and friendly universe. It masters all temptations to rebel against the divine leading. Jesus was the ideal meek man of Urantia, and he inherited a vast universe.
(1574.5) 140:5.12 4. Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Spiritual purity is not a negative quality, except that it does lack suspicion and revenge. In discussing purity, Jesus did not intend to deal exclusively with human sex attitudes. He referred more to that faith which man should have in his fellow man; that faith which a parent has in his child, and which enables him to love his fellows even as a father would love them. A father’s love need not pamper, and it does not condone evil, but it is always anticynical. Fatherly love has singleness of purpose, and it always looks for the best in man; that is the attitude of a true parent.
(1574.6) 140:5.13 To see God — by faith — means to acquire true spiritual insight. And spiritual insight enhances Adjuster guidance, and these in the end augment God-consciousness. And when you know the Father, you are confirmed in the assurance of divine sonship, and you can increasingly love each of your brothers in the flesh, not only as a brother — with brotherly love — but also as a father — with fatherly affection.
(1574.7) 140:5.14 It is easy to teach this admonition even to a child. Children are naturally trustful, and parents should see to it that they do not lose that simple faith. In dealing with children, avoid all deception and refrain from suggesting suspicion. Wisely help them to choose their heroes and select their lifework.
(1574.8) 140:5.15 And then Jesus went on to instruct his followers in the realization of the chief purpose of all human struggling — perfection — even divine attainment. Always he admonished them: “Be you perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” He did not exhort the twelve to love their neighbors as they loved themselves. That would have been a worthy achievement; it would have indicated the achievement of brotherly love. He rather admonished his apostles to love men as he had loved them — to love with a fatherly as well as a brotherly affection. And he illustrated this by pointing out four supreme reactions of fatherly love:
(1575.1) 140:5.16 1. Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” So-called common sense or the best of logic would never suggest that happiness could be derived from mourning. But Jesus did not refer to outward or ostentatious mourning. He alluded to an emotional attitude of tenderheartedness. It is a great error to teach boys and young men that it is unmanly to show tenderness or otherwise to give evidence of emotional feeling or physical suffering. Sympathy is a worthy attribute of the male as well as the female. It is not necessary to be calloused in order to be manly. This is the wrong way to create courageous men. The world’s great men have not been afraid to mourn. Moses, the mourner, was a greater man than either Samson or Goliath. Moses was a superb leader, but he was also a man of meekness. Being sensitive and responsive to human need creates genuine and lasting happiness, while such kindly attitudes safeguard the soul from the destructive influences of anger, hate, and suspicion.
(1575.2) 140:5.17 2. Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Mercy here denotes the height and depth and breadth of the truest friendship — loving-kindness. Mercy sometimes may be passive, but here it is active and dynamic — supreme fatherliness. A loving parent experiences little difficulty in forgiving his child, even many times. And in an unspoiled child the urge to relieve suffering is natural. Children are normally kind and sympathetic when old enough to appreciate actual conditions.
(1575.3) 140:5.18 3. Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Jesus’ hearers were longing for military deliverance, not for peacemakers. But Jesus’ peace is not of the pacific and negative kind. In the face of trials and persecutions he said, “My peace I leave with you.” “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This is the peace that prevents ruinous conflicts. Personal peace integrates personality. Social peace prevents fear, greed, and anger. Political peace prevents race antagonisms, national suspicions, and war. Peacemaking is the cure of distrust and suspicion.
(1575.4) 140:5.19 Children can easily be taught to function as peacemakers. They enjoy team activities; they like to play together. Said the Master at another time: “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life shall find it.”
(1575.5) 140:5.20 4. Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”
(1575.6) 140:5.21 So often persecution does follow peace. But young people and brave adults never shun difficulty or danger. Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.” And a fatherly love can freely do all these things — things which brotherly love can hardly encompass. And progress has always been the final harvest of persecution.
(1575.7) 140:5.22 Children always respond to the challenge of courage. Youth is ever willing to “take a dare.” And every child should early learn to sacrifice.
(1575.8) 140:5.23 And so it is revealed that the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount are based on faith and love and not on law — ethics and duty.
(1575.9) 140:5.24 Fatherly love delights in returning good for evil — doing good in retaliation for injustice.




Commentary
This teaching is hard at first blush; yet, when one perceives that the teachings of Jesus are 2,000 years old, one must try to see them through a modern lens, and that includes modern language interpretation.

The Setting
The people of Galilee in Jesus’ time were essentially rural, and without education other than religious. They farmed, raised flocks, and lived in small villages and towns. They had no cars, electricity, hospitals, schools, stores or newspapers, made their own clothing, were overtaxed, and generally lived labor intensive, hard scrabble lives. They were under Roman occupation as well as local political rule.

They were a moral society, having remained Theocratic (one God belief)  since Abraham 2,000 years earlier and Moses 1400 years earlier. They had been expecting a Messiah (Deliverer) for about 100 years. Palestine however, was orderly, had good Roman roads, and had little crime. The climate was temperate, and semi tropical. Since the people were expecting a Deliverer, this was the perfect place and time for a new religion.


The religion of Jesus was to bring the individual person directly in relationship with God as a Father of all, and to teach the individual about God as the Father. He mainly used miracles of healing to illustrate these teachings, even though occasionally he used nature miracles.

The introduction of Jesus’ Gospel (Good News)
Jesus had chosen and ordained his Apostles, mainly Galilean fisherman, but included a tax collector and a Judean (Judas Iscariot). His public ministry was now being announced to the Galilean people, which also included some Pharisees, part of the very small middle class of professionals and merchants.


Synopsis
John Stott puts it this way: "The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed" (The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, InterVarsity Press, 1978, p. 15).

These passages are not a list of how God wants us to act. For example, when Jesus proclaimed blessed are the poor, those who mourn, those who are persecuted and those who hunger, he was not saying we should be poor in spirit or wealth, mourning, persecuted or hungry. However, many of that time were, as are many today.

The message of Jesus here is this: his blessings come to people regardless of whatever condition they're in. He came to say no one is too far gone to receive God's blessings. According to Dallas Willard in his book The Divine Conspiracy, "The religious system of his day left the multitudes (poor)  out, but Jesus welcomed them all into his kingdom. Anyone could come as well as any other . . . That is the gospel of the Beatitudes."

Matthew's passage covers people with spiritual and emotional troubles, such as the poor in spirit, the mourners and those hungering for righteousness.

The Ten Commandments, given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the Old Testament Book of Exodus, relates a series of "Thou shalt nots," evils one must avoid in daily life on earth.

In contrast, the message of Jesus was one of humility, charity, and brotherly love, internally motivated. He taught transformation of the inner person. Jesus presents the Beatitudes in a positive sense, virtues in life which will ultimately lead to reward. Love becomes the motivation for the believer. All of the Beatitudes have an eschatological meaning, that is, they promise us salvation - not in this world, but in the next. Mathew’s Beatitudes initiate one of the main themes of Matthew's Gospel, that the Kingdom so long awaited in the Old Testament is not of this world, but of the next, the Kingdom of Heaven. The New Revelation Beatitudes include this world as well.

While the Beatitudes of Jesus provide a way of life that promises salvation, they also provide peace in the midst of our trials and tribulations on this earth. The Beatitudes serve as assurances to those who are currently weak and oppressed - they will have a place in the kingdom of heaven. The Beatitudes are not, therefore, commands but statements of fact.

Having recognized, a need for God takes us on the path of virtue and wholeness in God. The path transforms us through sorrows and suffering without succumbing to despair and bitterness. Christ walked the path of the Beatitudes perfectly. Trying to model his example gives us hope in a broken world. Courage and faith in God’s love help the process. Only recognizing the need for God can we simplify our lives.

When we put our love for God as a priority, things fall into place. We become recipients of the blessings of God. We are then aware of the tentative nature of discouragement and frustration.

Having the attitude to see the best in situations is one of the blessings. Things which complicate our lives become much more tolerable.

Faith in virtue (Godliness) transforms the lives of the faithful. Acceptance becomes a more frequent element in the spiritual journey. The experience of life becomes much more enjoyable. We then find that courage is no longer elusive. With a God-centered way of being, people move into more challenging roles.

Yes, the Gospel challenges people. It transforms maladies into blessings.

In today’s world of 2010, with worldwide unemployment so high in both the industrialized and third world, rampant disease, environmental problems, sophisticated weapons of war and mass destruction, terrorism, and mountainous national debts, the vast majority of people are living marginalized, compromised lives.

Yet, when one has a spiritual dimension and is in touch with God through Jesus and faith, he receives internal help. The peace Jesus promised begins to work. Studying the word of God enhances faith, and makes the spiritual pipeline wider, as does prayer. The hope of eternal life after the short one here makes this one better. Knowing we live in a friendly universe helps. Knowing about the angels as our helpers helps. Pain is much easier to bear. Fear, anger and hatred subside and disappear. Jesus is the way.

Even though you can’t see God, Jesus and the Spirit with human eyes, you can see them through the eyes of faith.

As anyone can see, the New Revelation expands the Gospel, and helps one to understand it somewhat better. This is in keeping with my hope that any Christian will quickly realize its message is not inconsistent with the Bible, just more comprehensive and clearer to the reader.