The Eighteenth Year (A.D. 12)
In the course of this year all the family property, except the home and garden, was disposed of. The last piece of Capernaum property (except an equity in one other), already mortgaged, was sold. The proceeds were used for taxes, to buy some new tools for James, and to make a payment on the old family supply and repair shop near the caravan lot, which Jesus now proposed to buy back since James was old enough to work at the house shop and help Mary about the home. With the financial pressure thus eased for the time being, Jesus decided to take James to the Passover. They went up to Jerusalem a day early, to be alone, going by way of Samaria. They walked, and Jesus told James about the historic places en route as his father had taught him on a similar journey five years before.
In passing through Samaria, they saw many strange sights. On this journey they talked over many of their problems, personal, family, and national. James was a very religious type of lad, and while he did not fully agree with his mother regarding the little he knew of the plans concerning Jesus' lifework, he did look forward to the time when he would be able to assume responsibility for the family so that Jesus could begin his mission. He was very appreciative of Jesus' taking him up to the Passover, and they talked over the future more fully than ever before.
Jesus did much thinking as they journeyed through Samaria, particularly at Bethel and when drinking from Jacob's well. He and his brother discussed the traditions of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He did much to prepare James for what he was about to witness at Jerusalem, thus seeking to lessen the shock such as he himself had experienced on his first visit to the temple. But James was not so sensitive to some of these sights. He commented on the perfunctory and heartless manner in which some of the priests performed their duties but on the whole greatly enjoyed his sojourn at Jerusalem.
Jesus took James to Bethany for the Passover supper. Simon had been laid to rest with his fathers, and Jesus presided over this household as the head of the Passover family, having brought the paschal lamb from the temple.
After the Passover supper Mary sat down to talk with James while Martha, Lazarus, and Jesus talked together far into the night. The next day they attended the temple services, and James was received into the commonwealth of Israel. That morning, as they paused on the brow of Olivet to view the temple, while James exclaimed in wonder, Jesus gazed on Jerusalem in silence. James could not comprehend his brother's demeanor. That night they again returned to Bethany and would have departed for home the next day, but James was insistent on their going back to visit the temple, explaining that he wanted to hear the teachers. And while this was true, secretly in his heart he wanted to hear Jesus participate in the discussions, as he had heard his mother tell about. Accordingly, they went to the temple and heard the discussions, but Jesus asked no questions. It all seemed so puerile and insignificant to this awakening mind of man and God -- he could only pity them. James was disappointed that Jesus said nothing. To his inquiries Jesus only made reply, "My hour has not yet come."
The next day they journeyed home by Jericho and the Jordan valley, and Jesus recounted many things by the way, including his former trip over this road when he was thirteen years old.
Upon returning to Nazareth, Jesus began work in the old family repair shop and was greatly cheered by being able to meet so many people each day from all parts of the country and surrounding districts. Jesus truly loved people -- just common folks. Each month he made his payments on the shop and, with James's help, continued to provide for the family.
Several times a year, when visitors were not present thus to function, Jesus continued to read the Sabbath scriptures at the synagogue and many times offered comments on the lesson, but usually he so selected the passages that comment was unnecessary. He was skillful, so arranging the order of the reading of the various passages that the one would illuminate the other. He never failed, weather permitting, to take his brothers and sisters out on Sabbath afternoons for their nature strolls.
About this time the chazan inaugurated a young men's club for philosophic discussion which met at the homes of different members and often at his own home, and Jesus became a prominent member of this group. By this means he was enabled to regain some of the local prestige which he had lost at the time of the recent nationalistic controversies.
His social life, while restricted, was not wholly neglected. He had many warm friends and stanch admirers among both the young men and the young women of Nazareth.
In September, Elizabeth and John came to visit the Nazareth family. John, having lost his father, intended to return to the Judean hills to engage in agriculture and sheep raising unless Jesus advised him to remain in Nazareth to take up carpentry or some other line of work. They did not know that the Nazareth family was practically penniless. The more Mary and Elizabeth talked about their sons, the more they became convinced that it would be good for the two young men to work together and see more of each other.
Jesus and John had many talks together; and they talked over some very intimate and personal matters. When they had finished this visit, they decided not again to see each other until they should meet in their public service after "the heavenly Father should call" them to their work. John was tremendously impressed by what he saw at Nazareth that he should return home and labor for the support of his mother. He became convinced that he was to be a part of Jesus' life mission, but he saw that Jesus was to occupy many years with the rearing of his family; so he was much more content to return to his home and settle down to the care of their little farm and to minister to the needs of his mother. And never again did John and Jesus see each other until that day by the Jordan when the Son of Man presented himself for baptism.
On Saturday afternoon, December 3, of this year, death for the second time struck at this Nazareth family. Little Amos, their baby brother, died after a week's illness with a high fever. After passing through this time of sorrow with her first-born son as her only support, Mary at last and in the fullest sense recognized Jesus as the real head of the family; and he was truly a worthy head.
For four years their standard of living had steadily declined; year by year they felt the pinch of increasing poverty. By the close of this year they faced one of the most difficult experiences of all their uphill struggles. James had not yet begun to earn much, and the expenses of a funeral on top of everything else staggered them. But Jesus would only say to his anxious and grieving mother: "Mother-Mary, sorrow will not help us; we are all doing our best, and mother's smile, perchance, might even inspire us to do better. Day by day we are strengthened for these tasks by our hope of better days ahead." His sturdy and practical optimism was truly contagious; all the children lived in an atmosphere of anticipation of better times and better things. And this hopeful courage contributed mightily to the development of strong and noble characters, in spite of the depressiveness of their poverty.
Jesus possessed the ability effectively to mobilize all his powers of mind, soul, and body on the task immediately in hand. He could concentrate his deep-thinking mind on the one problem which he wished to solve, and this, in connection with his untiring patience, enabled him serenely to endure the trials of a difficult mortal existence -- to live as if he were "seeing Him who is invisible."
--Presented by the Midwayer Commission, from the Urantia Papers.
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