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A Synopsis of Paper 151: Tarrying and Teaching by the Seaside

Jesus and his preachers gathered by the sea at Bethsaida, quietly ministering while they waited to travel into Jerusalem for the Passover. It was about this time that Jesus began to employ parables. Jesus used parables so those people who wanted the truth could learn, while his enemies would hear without understanding. Parables appeal simultaneously to different levels of intellect and spirit-they stimulate the imagination, provoke critical thinking, and promote sympathy without arousing antagonism. Parables use material reality to introduce spiritual lessons.

One of Jesus' first parables was:

"A sower went forth to sow, and it came to pass as he sowed that some seed fell by the wayside to be trodden underfoot and devoured by the birds of heaven. Other seed fell upon the rocky places where there was little earth, and immediately it sprang up because there was no depth to the soil, but as soon as the sun shone, it withered because it had no root whereby to secure moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, and as the thorns grew up, it was choked so that it yielded no grain. Still other seed fell upon good ground and, growing, yielded, some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold."

The apostles tried to unravel the meaning of Jesus' parable. Peter came to the conclusion that the parable was an allegory and tried to figure out the meaning of each part. Nathaniel also tried to assign a meaning to each detail but came to a different interpretation. Thomas, remembering that Jesus had warned them not to invent spiritual applications for every detail, interpreted the parable of the sower to mean that no matter how faithfully one teaches the gospel, degrees of success will vary due to conditions that cannot be controlled.

Jesus commended Thomas. He reiterated the danger of trying to make allegories out of parables. Jesus told them that it might be profitable to thus speculate in private, but not to offer such lessons in public work. Jesus also advised his men to adjust their presentations of truth to the hearts and minds of each audience.

The next day Jesus taught many other parables, relating the kingdom to a grain of mustard seed, leaven, a treasure hidden in a field, a merchant seeking pearls, and a sweep net.

The crowds increased as the week passed. Jesus became weary and decided to travel across the sea to rest for a few days in Kheresa. When the group reached the outskirts of Kheresa, a lunatic named Amos rushed up to them, saying, "I am possessed of many devils, and I beseech you not to torment me." Jesus took Amos by the hand and told him that he was not possessed, and commanded him to come out of his spell. Amos was so swayed by Jesus' words that he was immediately restored to his right mind. A crowd from the village had gathered, as well as some pig herders.

The herders hurried to the village to tell people that Jesus had cured Amos. Just then, dogs charged an untended herd of swine, driving them over a cliff into the sea. This occurrence prompted the legend that Jesus cured Amos by casting his devils into the swine. The whole village believed this, and Amos' belief in this erroneous tale had much to do with the permanency of his cure.

The next day the swine herders asked the apostles to leave, fearing they would lose too many pigs if Jesus stayed. Jesus left Kheresa without the much-needed rest he had sought.

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