The Mantle of Messiah

Saturday, October 02, 2021 3:20 PM | Ariana Horn (Administrator)

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Unlike the Christian Bible’s depiction of Jesus as unchanging, The Urantia Book portrays Jesus as evolving intellectually and growing spiritually over time. Lived experience, coupled with ripening communion with his Thought Adjuster, informed how Jesus thought about religious concepts, his relationship to God, his role in both the Jewish and Gentile communities, and how to reveal the universal family of God and the spiritual kingdom. His evolving approach to the Jewish concept of Messiah is among the most consequential of his ideological maturations, not only to the reception and subsequent distortion of his message, but to the ultimate success of his bestowal mission.  

In his fifteenth year, Jesus considered, but rejected, identifying his mission with the Hebrew prophets’ promise of the long-heralded Jewish Messiah―a reclaimer of the stolen throne of David from the succession of foreign usurpers and deliverer of the nation of Israel to the Jewish people. Jesus’ contemporaries expected that this Messiah would be a political, worldly figure dedicated to the deliverance of the Jewish people only (122:4 (1347.3)). The Hebrew Bible, the collection of sacred texts that records these prophecies, also functions as a history documenting God’s favor of the Jews as his Chosen People (Gen 15 & 17). 

The first book of the Hebrew Bible, Genesis, recounts the origin story of all creation and tells of the first divine covenant made between God and humankind. God commanded Abraham to demonstrate his faith by offering his only son Isaac, in sacrifice. Seeing that Abraham was fearful and devoted, and was willing to make the greatest of sacrifices to His glory, God stayed his hand and promised Abraham that his descendants would possess the land of Israel, the physical occupation of an earthly kingdom. 

The covenant is described in The Urantia Book as a covenant between Machiventa Melchizedek and Abraham. Melchizedek brought the third great revelation of God to Urantia around 5,000 years ago in preparation for Michael's incarnation as Jesus of Nazarath. Around 2,000 years before the birth of Jesus, Melchizedek convinced Abraham to abandon his campaign of territorial conquest and "temporal rule in favor of the spiritual concept of the kingdom of heaven (93:6.1 (1020.4))." Their covenant represented the "agreement between divinity and humanity whereby God agrees to do everything; man only agrees to believe God's promises and follow his instructions (93:6.4 (1020.7))." Salvation and God's favor is not had by sacrifice or appeasement, but by faith. Memory of the covenant was passed down through oral tradition and eventually, although incompletely and inaccurately, written down and preserved in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Successive episodes of the Hebrew scriptures tell how God’s covenant was renewed again and again with the descendants of Abraham from Isaac to Jacob, Moses to Ezra, and then Nehemiah. In the books of Samuel and Psalms, God elaborated on his promise to the faithful descendants of Abraham by bestowing authority to the House of David as heirs of the Godly nation with its governing seat in Jerusalem. This Davidic Messiah, the “anointed one,” the prophets foretold, would rule and reclaim sovereign power of the kingdom of Israel and bring material prosperity to the Jewish people (2 Sam. 7:12-17; Psalms 2: 110). This new facet of God’s commitment to the Jewish people further confirmed in the minds of many that inheritance of the promised kingdom would be a material reality, not a metaphor for spiritual heights attained in heaven.

For The Urantia Book's account of early human association of sacrifice as a means to appease the gods and the later development of covenants as a bargaining tool. See 89:8.

Jesus Adopts the Title Son of Man

Jesus did not know of Gabriel’s visit to Mary―nor of the messianic lens with which his mother interpreted the prophecy of his birth―until the day of his baptism many years later (122:8.4 (1351.8)) and 126:2.4 (1388.4)). He was well aware of the growing desire in the Jewish community for a deliverer, yet he was unmoved by such a fantastic remedy to worldly problems. Jesus “measured every institution of society and every usage of religion by the unvarying test: What does it do for the human soul? does it bring God to man? does it bring man to God” (126:2.5 (1388.5))? The mantle of Messiah held no personal attraction nor inspiration for him. Instead, Jesus decided to embrace the title Son of Man, perceiving that his Father in Heaven intended that he reveal a kingdom of the spirit, open to all regardless of lineage or nationality. To Jesus, the concept of the Son of Man as a teacher and revealer of spiritual truths better captured the intent of his mission and the role he wanted to take among his brothers and sisters on Urantia (2 Enoch; 126:3.6 (1390.1)). The God that the Son of Man extols is a Lord of the Spirit, not a Lord of territory. Jesus believed that the Son of Man concept as presented in the book of Enoch could be used as a starting point to reveal the God he knew as his Heavenly Father. 

The concept of the Messiah―as his mother Mary would all too soon remind him―lauded a sectarian, man-made political project advancing a nationalist cause (127:2 (1396.6) and 136:6.8 (1519.1)). 

136:1.3 (1509.5) They [the Jewish people] were looking for a restoration of Jewish national glory — Israel’s temporal exaltation — rather than for the salvation of the world.

Jesus’ decision to avoid association with the Zealot political campaign in his seventeenth year, however, did negatively impact how he and his message were received by his fellows in Nazareth (127:2 (1396.6)). And as his reputation grew throughout his adult life, he continued to come face-to-face with the challenge of how to handle the idea of the Messiah in relation to his mission. Could he tailor the mantle of the Davidic Messiah to fit him as a messenger of the spiritual kingdom? 

John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus’ revelation, compounded the confusion about the nature of the coming kingdom and its messenger (135:7.1 (1503.1)). John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zacharias, interpreted Gabriel’s message through the lens of the Davidic Messiah. Even though Gabriel spoke of Jesus as a “divine teacher,” “soul-healer, ” “and spirit-liberator of all mankind,” John’s parents steeped the meaning of their son’s mission in the foundational narrative of God’s covenant with Abraham and deliverance by an heir to the throne of David (122:2.3 (1345.5)). John repeated his parents’ assessment of his mission by proclaiming that he was the herald of the Messiah (135:4.6 (1499.6) and 135:7.1 (1503.1)).

John’s thundering proclamation “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand” was influenced by the apocalyptists―a school of religious teachers popular in the century before the days of John and Jesus―who held that the age of gentile domination was coming to an end and that the realization of a new kingdom of God was imminent. 

135:5.2 (1500.2) To the Jews of Palestine the phrase “kingdom of heaven” had but one meaning: an absolutely righteous state in which God (the Messiah) would rule the nations of earth in perfection of power just as he ruled in heaven — “Your will be done on earth as in heaven…

135:5.4 (1500.4) Many who read the Old Testament literally looked expectantly for a new king in Palestine, for a regenerated Jewish nation delivered from its enemies and presided over by the successor of King David, the Messiah who would quickly be acknowledged as the rightful and righteous ruler of all the world.

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