The Urantia Book -- Part IV. The Life And
Teachings Of Jesus
PAPER 155: Section 3.
At Caesarea Philippi
Although Jesus did no public work during this two weeks' sojourn near Caesarea
Philippi, the apostles held numerous quiet evening meetings in the city, and
many of the believers came out to the camp to talk with the Master. Very few
were added to the group of believers as a result of this visit. Jesus talked
with the apostles each day, and they more clearly discerned that a new phase
of the work of preaching the kingdom of heaven was now beginning. They were
commencing to comprehend that the "kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink but
the realization of the spiritual joy of the acceptance of divine sonship."
The sojourn at Caesarea Philippi was a real test to the eleven apostles; it
was a difficult two weeks for them to live through. They were well-nigh depressed,
and they missed the periodic stimulation of Peter's enthusiastic personality.
In these times it was truly a great and testing adventure to believe in Jesus
and go forth to follow after him. Though they made few converts during these
two weeks, they did learn much that was highly profitable from their daily conferences
with the Master.
The apostles learned that the Jews were spiritually stagnant and dying because
they had crystallized truth into a creed; that when truth becomes formulated
as a boundary line of self-righteous
exclusiveness instead of serving as
of spiritual guidance and progress, such teachings lose their creative and life-giving
power and ultimately become merely preservative and fossilizing.
Increasingly they learned from Jesus to look upon human personalities in terms
of their possibilities in time and in eternity. They learned that many souls
can best be led to love the unseen God by being first taught to love their brethren
whom they can see. And it was in this connection that new meaning became attached
to the Master's pronouncement concerning unselfish service for one's fellows:
"Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me."
One of the great lessons of this sojourn at Caesarea had to do with the origin
of religious traditions, with the grave danger of allowing a sense of sacredness
to become attached to
nonsacred things, common ideas, or everyday events. From
one conference they emerged with the teaching that true religion was man's heartfelt
loyalty to his highest and truest convictions.
Jesus warned his believers that, if their religious longings were only material,
increasing knowledge of nature would, by progressive displacement of the supposed
supernatural origin of things, ultimately deprive them of their faith in God.
But that, if their religion were spiritual, never could the progress of physical
science disturb their faith in eternal realities and divine values.
They learned that, when religion is wholly spiritual in motive, it makes all
life more worth while, filling it with high purposes,
dignifying it with transcendent
values, inspiring it with superb motives, all the while comforting the human
soul with a sublime and sustaining hope. True religion is designed to lessen
the strain of existence; it releases faith and courage for daily living and
unselfish serving. Faith promotes spiritual vitality and righteous fruitfulness.
Jesus repeatedly taught his apostles that no civilization could long survive
the loss of the best in its religion. And he never grew weary of pointing out
to the twelve the great danger of accepting religious symbols and ceremonies
in the place of religious experience. His whole earth life was consistently
devoted to the mission of
thawing out the
frozen forms of religion into the
liquid liberties of enlightened sonship.