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A Synopsis of Paper 167: The Visit to Philadelphia

Over six hundred people accompanied Jesus on his visit to Philadelphia in February. No miracles happened during the preaching tour through the Decapolis and, except for the cleansing of the lepers, there had been none so far in Perea. During this tour the gospel was being taught without miracles and for the most part without the presence of Jesus or the apostles.

One day a wealthy Pharisee in Philadelphia invited Jesus to breakfast. A large number of visitors, including many Pharisees, also attended. Near the end of the meal a diseased man came in from the street. One Pharisee voiced his objection that the sick man was allowed to enter the room, but Jesus smiled so warmly at the man that he drew closer and sat down on the floor.

Jesus asked the men gathered, "Is it lawful to heal the sick and afflicted on the Sabbath day, or not?" No one replied. Jesus took the sick man's hand and said, "Arise and go your way. You have not asked to be healed, but I know the desire of your heart and the faith of your soul." Addressing the guests Jesus continued, "Such works my Father does, not to tempt you into the kingdom, but to reveal himself to those who are already in the kingdom."

Jesus told a parable: A ruler invited guests to a wedding supper. When the time for the feast arrived his friends did not attend, and the ruler sent his servants out into the street to fill the house with the poor, the lame, the blind, and the outcasts. One of the Pharisees listening understood Jesus' meaning and was baptized into the kingdom that same day.

On the Sabbath, Abner arranged for Jesus to teach in the synagogue. After the service the Master spoke to a woman bowed down by depression and fear. Believing in him, she straightened up for the first time in years and began to glorify God.

The chief ruler of this synagogue was an unfriendly Pharisee who objected to this healing because he believed that healing was work and should not be performed on the Sabbath. Jesus responded, asking, "Does not everyone of you, on the Sabbath, loose his ox from the stall and lead him forth for watering? If such a service is permissable on the Sabbath day, should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham who has been bound down by evil these eighteen years, be loosed from this bondage and led forth to partake of the waters of liberty and life, even on this Sabbath day?" As a result of this public criticism, the ruler of the synagogue was deposed and was replaced by one of Jesus' followers.

A messenger from Bethany brought news that Lazarus was very sick. Jesus told his apostles to prepare to travel to Judea. The apostles thought it was too dangerous for Jesus to travel to Bethany and they pleaded with him not to go.

Jesus told the apostles that Lazarus was dead. The Master wanted to give the Jews one more chance to believe in his Father's message. He told his men that even if no more Jews were brought into the kingdom, the trip to Bethany would give the apostles a new belief in the gospel that would strengthen them when after he was gone.

The apostles saw that Jesus would not be dissuaded. Some were reluctant to accompany him, but Thomas rallied them, saying, "We have told the Master our fears, but he is determined to go to Bethany. I am satisfied it means the end; they will surely kill him, but if that is the Master's choice, then let us acquit ourselves like men of courage; let us go also that we may die with him."

On the way to Judea, Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. A Pharisee stood in the temple and prayed, giving thanks that he was not like other men, and listing all the good deeds he had done. The publican stood with his eyes turned down, asking for God's mercy on his sins. Jesus said, "I tell you that the publican went home with God's approval rather than the Pharisee, for every one who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."

In Jericho, Jesus was asked to discuss marriage. While he was reluctant to make pronouncements about marriage and divorce, Jesus taught that marriage was honorable and was to be desired by all men. He denounced the lax divorce laws used by the Pharisees on the grounds that they were unjust to women and children.

Jesus' message about marriage and children spread all over Jericho. The next morning, scores of mothers came to where Jesus lodged to have the Master bless their children. The apostles tried to send the women away, but Jesus reproved them, saying, "Suffer little children to come to me; forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." He laid his hands on the children, and spoke words of courage and hope to the mothers. Women's status was much improved by Jesus' teaching, and so it would have been throughout the world if his followers had not departed from his teachings.

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