The Urantia Book
THE LAST TEMPLE DISCOURSE
175:0.1 SHORTLY after two o'clock on this
Tuesday afternoon, Jesus, accompanied by eleven apostles, Joseph
of Arimathea, the thirty Greeks, and certain other disciples,
arrived at the temple and began the delivery of his last address
in the courts of the sacred edifice. This discourse was intended
to be his last appeal to the Jewish people and the final
indictment of his vehement enemies and would-be destroyers -- the
scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and the chief rulers of Israel.
Throughout the forenoon the various groups had had an opportunity
to question Jesus; this afternoon no one asked him a question.
175:0.2 As the Master began to speak, the temple
court was quiet and orderly. The money-changers and the
merchandisers had not dared again to enter the temple since Jesus
and the aroused multitude had driven them out the previous day.
Before beginning the discourse, Jesus tenderly looked down upon
this audience which was so soon to hear his farewell public
address of mercy to mankind coupled with his last denunciation of
the false teachers and the bigoted rulers of the Jews.
1. THE DISCOURSE
175:1.1 "This long time have I been with you,
going up and down in the land proclaiming the Father's love for
the children of men, and many have seen the light and, by faith,
have entered into the kingdom of heaven. In connection with this
teaching and preaching the Father has done many wonderful works,
even to the resurrection of the dead. Many sick and afflicted have
been made whole because they believed; but all of this
proclamation of truth and healing of disease has not opened the
eyes of those who refuse to see light, those who are determined to
reject this gospel of the kingdom.
175:1.2 "In every manner consistent with doing
my Father's will, I and my apostles have done our utmost to live
in peace with our brethren, to conform with the reasonable
requirements of the laws of Moses and the traditions of Israel. We
have persistently sought peace, but the leaders of Israel will not
have it. By rejecting the truth of God and the light of heaven,
they are aligning themselves on the side of error and darkness.
There cannot be peace between light and darkness, between life and
death, between truth and error.
175:1.3 "Many of you have dared to believe my
teachings and have already entered into the joy and liberty of the
consciousness of sonship with God. And you will bear me witness
that I have offered this same sonship with God to all the Jewish
nation, even to these very men who now seek my destruction. And
even now would my Father receive these blinded teachers and these
hypocritical leaders if they would only turn to him and accept his
mercy. Even now it is not too late for this people to receive the
word of heaven and to welcome the Son of Man.
175:1.4 "My Father has long dealt in mercy with
this people. Generation after generation have we sent our prophets
to teach and warn them, and generation after generation have they
killed these heaven-sent teachers. And now do your willful high
priests and stubborn rulers go right on doing this same thing. As
Herod brought about the death of John, you likewise now make ready
to destroy the Son of Man.
175:1.5 "As long as there is a chance that the
Jews will turn to my Father and seek salvation, the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will keep his hands of mercy
outstretched toward you; but when you have once filled up your cup
of impenitence, and when once you have finally rejected my
Father's mercy, this nation will be left to its own counsels, and
it shall speedily come to an inglorious end. This people was
called to become the light of the world, to show forth the
spiritual glory of a God-knowing race, but you have so far
departed from the fulfillment of your divine privileges that your
leaders are about to commit the supreme folly of all the ages in
that they are on the verge of finally rejecting the gift of God to
all men and for all ages -- the revelation of the love of the
Father in heaven for all his creatures on earth.
175:1.6 "And when you do once reject this
revelation of God to man, the kingdom of heaven shall be given to
other peoples, to those who will receive it with joy and gladness.
In the name of the Father who sent me, I solemnly warn you that
you are about to lose your position in the world as the
standard-bearers of eternal truth and the custodians of the divine
law. I am just now offering you your last chance to come forward
and repent, to signify your intention to seek God with all your
hearts and to enter, like little children and by sincere faith,
into the security and salvation of the kingdom of heaven.
175:1.7 "My Father has long worked for your
salvation, and I came down to live among you and personally show
you the way. Many of both the Jews and the Samaritans, and even
the gentiles, have believed the gospel of the kingdom, but those
who should be first to come forward and accept the light of heaven
have steadfastly refused to believe the revelation of the truth of
God -- God revealed in man and man uplifted to God.
175:1.8 "This afternoon my apostles stand here
before you in silence, but you shall soon hear their voices
ringing out with the call to salvation and with the urge to unite
with the heavenly kingdom as the sons of the living God. And now I
call to witness these, my disciples and believers in the gospel of
the kingdom, as well as the unseen messengers by their sides, that
I have once more offered Israel and her rulers deliverance and
salvation. But you all behold how the Father's mercy is slighted
and how the messengers of truth are rejected. Nevertheless, I
admonish you that these scribes and Pharisees still sit in Moses'
seat, and therefore, until the Most Highs who rule in the kingdoms
of men shall finally overthrow this nation and destroy the place
of these rulers, I bid you co-operate with these elders in Israel.
You are not required to unite with them in their plans to destroy
the Son of Man, but in everything related to the peace of Israel
you are to be subject to them. In all these matters do whatsoever
they bid you and observe the essentials of the law but do not
pattern after their evil works. Remember, this is the sin of these
rulers: They say that which is good, but they do it not. You well
know how these leaders bind heavy burdens on your shoulders,
burdens grievous to bear, and that they will not lift as much as
one finger to help you bear these weighty burdens. They have
oppressed you with ceremonies and enslaved you by traditions.
175:1.9 "Furthermore, these self-centered rulers
delight in doing their good works so that they will be seen by
men. They make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of
their official robes. They crave the chief places at the feasts
and demand the chief seats in the synagogues. They covet laudatory
salutations in the market places and desire to be called rabbi by
all men. And even while they seek all this honor from men, they
secretly lay hold of widows' houses and take profit from the
services of the sacred temple. For a pretense these hypocrites
make long prayers in public and give alms to attract the notice of
175:1.10 "While you should honor your rulers and
reverence your teachers, you should call no man Father in the
spiritual sense, for there is one who is your Father, even God.
Neither should you seek to lord it over your brethren in the
kingdom. Remember, I have taught you that he who would be greatest
among you should become the server of all. If you presume to exalt
yourselves before God, you will certainly be humbled; but whoso
truly humbles himself will surely be exalted. Seek in your daily
lives, not self-glorification, but the glory of God. Intelligently
subordinate your own wills to the will of the Father in heaven.
175:1.11 "Mistake not my words. I bear no malice
toward these chief priests and rulers who even now seek my
destruction; I have no ill will for these scribes and Pharisees
who reject my teachings. I know that many of you believe in
secret, and I know you will openly profess your allegiance to the
kingdom when my hour comes. But how will your rabbis justify
themselves since they profess to talk with God and then presume to
reject and destroy him who comes to reveal the Father to the
175:1.12 "Woe upon you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! You would shut the doors of the kingdom of heaven
against sincere men because they happen to be unlearned in the
ways of your teaching. You refuse to enter the kingdom and at the
same time do everything within your power to prevent all others
from entering. You stand with your backs to the doors of salvation
and fight with all who would enter therein.
175:1.13 "Woe upon you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites that you are! for you do indeed encompass land and sea
to make one proselyte, and when you have succeeded, you are not
content until you have made him twofold worse than he was as a
child of the heathen.
175:1.14 "Woe upon you, chief priests and rulers
who lay hold of the property of the poor and demand heavy dues of
those who would serve God as they think Moses ordained! You who
refuse to show mercy, can you hope for mercy in the worlds to
175:1.15 "Woe upon you, false teachers, blind
guides! What can be expected of a nation when the blind lead the
blind? They both shall stumble into the pit of destruction.
175:1.16 "Woe upon you who dissimulate when you
take an oath! You are tricksters since you teach that a man may
swear by the temple and break his oath, but that whoso swears by
the gold in the temple must remain bound. You are all fools and
blind. You are not even consistent in your dishonesty, for which
is the greater, the gold or the temple which has supposedly
sanctified the gold? You also teach that, if a man swears by the
altar, it is nothing; but that, if one swears by the gift that is
upon the altar, then shall he be held as a debtor. Again are you
blind to the truth, for which is the greater, the gift or the
altar which sanctifies the gift? How can you justify such
hypocrisy and dishonesty in the sight of the God of heaven?
175:1.17 "Woe upon you, scribes and Pharisees
and all other hypocrites who make sure that they tithe mint,
anise, and cumin and at the same time disregard the weightier
matters of the law -- faith, mercy, and judgment! Within reason,
the one you ought to have done but not to have left the other
undone. You are truly blind guides and dumb teachers; you strain
out the gnat and swallow the camel.
175:1.18 "Woe upon you, scribes, Pharisees, and
hypocrites! for you are scrupulous to cleanse the outside of the
cup and the platter, but within there remains the filth of
extortion, excesses, and deception. You are spiritually blind. Do
you not recognize how much better it would be first to cleanse the
inside of the cup, and then that which spills over would of itself
cleanse the outside? You wicked reprobates! you make the outward
performances of your religion to conform with the letter of your
interpretation of Moses' law while your souls are steeped in
iniquity and filled with murder.
175:1.19 "Woe upon all of you who reject truth
and spurn mercy! Many of you are like whited sepulchres, which
outwardly appear beautiful but within are full of dead men's bones
and all sorts of uncleanness. Even so do you who knowingly reject
the counsel of God appear outwardly to men as holy and righteous,
but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and iniquity.
175:1.20 "Woe upon you, false guides of a
nation! Over yonder have you built a monument to the martyred
prophets of old, while you plot to destroy Him of whom they spoke.
You garnish the tombs of the righteous and flatter yourselves
that, had you lived in the days of your fathers, you would not
have killed the prophets; and then in the face of such
self-righteous thinking you make ready to slay him of whom the
prophets spoke, the Son of Man. Inasmuch as you do these things,
are you witness to yourselves that you are the wicked sons of them
who slew the prophets. Go on, then, and fill up the cup of your
condemnation to the full!
175:1.21 "Woe upon you, children of evil! John
did truly call you the offspring of vipers, and I ask how can you
escape the judgment that John pronounced upon you?
175:1.22 "But even now I offer you in my
Father's name mercy and forgiveness; even now I proffer the loving
hand of eternal fellowship. My Father has sent you the wise men
and the prophets; some you have persecuted and others you have
killed. Then appeared John proclaiming the coming of the Son of
Man, and him you destroyed after many had believed his teaching.
And now you make ready to shed more innocent blood. Do you not
comprehend that a terrible day of reckoning will come when the
Judge of all the earth shall require of this people an accounting
for the way they have rejected, persecuted, and destroyed these
messengers of heaven? Do you not understand that you must account
for all of this righteous blood, from the first prophet killed
down to the times of Zechariah, who was slain between the
sanctuary and the altar? And if you go on in your evil ways, this
accounting may be required of this very generation.
175:1.23 "O Jerusalem and the children of
Abraham, you who have stoned the prophets and killed the teachers
that were sent to you, even now would I gather your children
together as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you
175:1.24 "And now I take leave of you. You have
heard my message and have made your decision. Those who have
believed my gospel are even now safe within the kingdom of God. To
you who have chosen to reject the gift of God, I say that you will
no more see me teaching in the temple. My work for you is done.
Behold, I now go forth with my children, and your house is left to
175:1.25 And then the Master beckoned his
followers to depart from the temple.
2. STATUS OF INDIVIDUAL JEWS
175:2.1 The fact that the spiritual leaders and
the religious teachers of the Jewish nation onetime rejected the
teachings of Jesus and conspired to bring about his cruel death,
does not in any manner affect the status of any individual Jew in
his standing before God. And it should not cause those who profess
to be followers of the Christ to be prejudiced against the Jew as
a fellow mortal. The Jews, as a nation, as a sociopolitical group,
paid in full the terrible price of rejecting the Prince of Peace.
Long since they ceased to be the spiritual torchbearers of divine
truth to the races of mankind, but this constitutes no valid
reason why the individual descendants of these long-ago Jews
should be made to suffer the persecutions which have been visited
upon them by intolerant, unworthy, and bigoted professed followers
of Jesus of Nazareth, who was, himself, a Jew by natural birth.
175:2.2 Many times has this unreasoning and un-Christlike
hatred and persecution of modern Jews terminated in the suffering
and death of some innocent and unoffending Jewish individual whose
very ancestors, in the times of Jesus, heartily accepted his
gospel and presently died unflinchingly for that truth which they
so wholeheartedly believed. What a shudder of horror passes over
the onlooking celestial beings as they behold the professed
followers of Jesus indulge themselves in persecuting, harassing,
and even murdering the later-day descendants of Peter, Philip,
Matthew, and others of the Palestinian Jews who so gloriously
yielded up their lives as the first martyrs of the gospel of the
175:2.3 How cruel and unreasoning to compel
innocent children to suffer for the sins of their progenitors,
misdeeds of which they are wholly ignorant, and for which they
could in no way be responsible! And to do such wicked deeds in the
name of one who taught his disciples to love even their enemies!
It has become necessary, in this recital of the life of Jesus, to
portray the manner in which certain of his fellow Jews rejected
him and conspired to bring about his ignominious death; but we
would warn all who read this narrative that the presentation of
such a historical recital in no way justifies the unjust hatred,
nor condones the unfair attitude of mind, which so many professed
Christians have maintained toward individual Jews for many
centuries. Kingdom believers, those who follow the teachings of
Jesus, must cease to mistreat the individual Jew as one who is
guilty of the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. The Father and
his Creator Son have never ceased to love the Jews. God is no
respecter of persons, and salvation is for the Jew as well as for
3. THE FATEFUL SANHEDRIN MEETING
175:3.1 At eight o'clock on this Tuesday evening
the fateful meeting of the Sanhedrin was called to order. On many
previous occasions had this supreme court of the Jewish nation
informally decreed the death of Jesus. Many times had this august
ruling body determined to put a stop to his work, but never before
had they resolved to place him under arrest and to bring about his
death at any and all costs. It was just before midnight on this
Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30, that the Sanhedrin, as then
constituted, officially and unanimously voted to impose the
death sentence upon both Jesus and Lazarus. This was the answer to
the Master's last appeal to the rulers of the Jews which he had
made in the temple only a few hours before, and it represented
their reaction of bitter resentment toward Jesus' last and
vigorous indictment of these same chief priests and impenitent
Sadducees and Pharisees. The passing of death sentence (even
before his trial) upon the Son of God was the Sanhedrin's reply to
the last offer of heavenly mercy ever to be extended to the Jewish
nation, as such.
175:3.2 From this time on the Jews were left to
finish their brief and short lease of national life wholly in
accordance with their purely human status among the nations of
Urantia. Israel had repudiated the Son of the God who made a
covenant with Abraham, and the plan to make the children of
Abraham the light-bearers of truth to the world had been
shattered. The divine covenant had been abrogated, and the end of
the Hebrew nation drew on apace.
175:3.3 The officers of the Sanhedrin were given
the orders for Jesus' arrest early the next morning, but with
instructions that he must not be apprehended in public. They were
told to plan to take him in secret, preferably suddenly and at
night. Understanding that he might not return that day (Wednesday)
to teach in the temple, they instructed these officers of the
Sanhedrin to "bring him before the high Jewish court sometime
before midnight on Thursday."
4. THE SITUATION IN JERUSALEM
175:4.1 At the conclusion of Jesus' last
discourse in the temple, the apostles once more were left in
confusion and consternation. Before the Master began his terrible
denunciation of the Jewish rulers, Judas had returned to the
temple, so that all twelve heard this latter half of Jesus' last
discourse in the temple. It is unfortunate that Judas Iscariot
could not have heard the first and mercy-proffering half of this
farewell address. He did not hear this last offer of mercy to the
Jewish rulers because he was still in conference with a certain
group of Sadducean relatives and friends with whom he had lunched,
and with whom he was conferring as to the most fitting manner of
dissociating himself from Jesus and his fellow apostles. It was
while listening to the Master's final indictment of the Jewish
leaders and rulers that Judas finally and fully made up his mind
to forsake the gospel movement and wash his hands of the whole
enterprise. Nevertheless, he left the temple in company with the
twelve, went with them to Mount Olivet, where, with his fellow
apostles, he listened to that fateful discourse on the destruction
of Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish nation, and remained with
them that Tuesday night at the new camp near Gethsemane.
175:4.2 The multitude who heard Jesus swing from
his merciful appeal to the Jewish leaders into that sudden and
scathing rebuke which bordered on ruthless denunciation, were
stunned and bewildered. That night, while the Sanhedrin sat in
death judgment upon Jesus, and while the Master sat with his
apostles and certain of his disciples out on the Mount of Olives
foretelling the death of the Jewish nation, all Jerusalem was
given over to the serious and suppressed discussion of just one
question: "What will they do with Jesus?"
175:4.3 At the home of Nicodemus more than
thirty prominent Jews who were secret believers in the kingdom met
and debated what course they would pursue in case an open break
with the Sanhedrin should come. All present agreed that they would
make open acknowledgment of their allegiance to the Master in the
very hour they should hear of his arrest. And that is just what
175:4.4 The Sadducees, who now controlled and
dominated the Sanhedrin, were desirous of making away with Jesus
for the following reasons:
175:4.5 1. They feared that the increased
popular favor with which the multitude regarded him threatened to
endanger the existence of the Jewish nation by possible
involvement with the Roman authorities.
175:4.6 2. His zeal for temple reform struck
directly at their revenues; the cleansing of the temple affected
175:4.7 3. They felt themselves responsible for
the preservation of social order, and they feared the consequences
of the further spread of Jesus' strange and new doctrine of the
brotherhood of man.
175:4.8 The Pharisees had different motives for
wanting to see Jesus put to death. They feared him because:
175:4.9 1. He was arrayed in telling opposition
to their traditional hold upon the people. The Pharisees were
ultraconservative, and they bitterly resented these supposedly
radical attacks upon their vested prestige as religious teachers.
175:4.10 2. They held that Jesus was a
lawbreaker; that he had shown utter disregard for the Sabbath and
numerous other legal and ceremonial requirements.
175:4.11 3. They charged him with blasphemy
because he alluded to God as his Father.
175:4.12 4. And now were they thoroughly angry
with him because of his last discourse of bitter denunciation
which he had this day delivered in the temple as the concluding
portion of his farewell address.
175:4.13 The Sanhedrin, having formally decreed
the death of Jesus and having issued orders for his arrest,
adjourned on this Tuesday near midnight, after appointing to meet
at ten o'clock the next morning at the home of Caiaphas the high
priest for the purpose of formulating the charges on which Jesus
should be brought to trial.
175:4.14 A small group of the Sadducees had
actually proposed to dispose of Jesus by assassination, but the
Pharisees utterly refused to countenance such a procedure.
175:4.15 And this was the situation in Jerusalem
and among men on this eventful day while a vast concourse of
celestial beings hovered over this momentous scene on earth,
anxious to do something to assist their beloved Sovereign but
powerless to act because they were effectively restrained by their