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A Synopsis of Paper 164: At the Feast of Dedication

In December, 29 AD, to give the Jerusalem leaders one more opportunity to embrace the gospel, Jesus took Nathaniel and Thomas to Jerusalem to attend the feast of the dedication.

On the way, they stopped for the night in Jericho. During a discussion with the local people, a lawyer began asking questions, hoping to entrap or embarrass Jesus. "Teacher, I should like you to tell me just who is my neighbor?" Jews generally looked upon all non-Jews as less than human, and Jewish law defined neighbors as "the children of one's people."

Jesus, knowing the lawyer's motive, responded by telling a story. A traveler was robbed, beaten, and left half dead on the roadside. Soon, a priest passed by. When he saw the unfortunate traveler he crossed to the other side of the road and continued his journey. Likewise, a Levite passed by without stopping. Later, a Samaritan came upon the wounded man. Moved with compassion, he bound the man's wounds, brought him to an inn, and cared for him. Jesus then asked the lawyer, "Which of these three turned out to be the neighbor of him who fell among the robbers?" And the lawyer replied, "He who showed mercy on him." Jesus answered, "Go and do likewise." By turning the lawyer's question back to him, Jesus simultaneously taught a lesson to his followers, renounced the Jewish attitude toward Samaritans, and avoided the lawyer's trap.

In Jerusalem, the Master met with a group of educated men in the home of Nicodemus, many of whom were or had been members of the Sanhedrin. They listened to his teachings intently and offered to help him in winning over the others. Jesus declined, saying that he would wait for his Father's guidance.

The next morning, on the Sabbath, Jesus and the two apostles encountered a well-known blind beggar named Josiah near the temple. As an open challenge to the Sanhedrin, Jesus decided to restore Josiah's sight. He spat on the ground and mixed some clay, which he placed over Josiah's eyes. Jesus told Josiah that his eyes would be restored when he washed the clay away in the pool of Siloam. Josiah obeyed him, and when his sight was restored, he returned to his usual place and began telling people what happened.

An intense public discussion arose. The Sanhedrin convened in direct violation of the rule that forbade meeting on the Sabbath, and summoned Josiah for questioning. After hearing the story, the leaders fell to arguing whether this act was one of God or of the devil. A serious division arose among them.

The Sanhedrin sent for Josiah's parents and questioned them, and then resumed Josiah's interrogation. Josiah became impatient with his questioners, asking them, "I have told you how it all happened, and if you did not believe my testimony, why would you hear it again? Would you by any chance also become his disciples?" As the Sanhedrin broke up in confusion, Josiah said, "Look then, all of you, upon me and realize what has been done this day in Jerusalem! I tell you, if this man were not from God, he could not do this."

During the time the session was in progress, Jesus was teaching close by, but the Sanhedrin were afraid to send for him. The opportunity they had so diligently sought was given them voluntarily by the Master, but they feared even calling him as a witness. Later, as Jesus continued to teach, some of the Jewish leaders baited him. One man asked, "If you are the Messiah, why do you not plainly tell us?"

Jesus said, "I have told you about myself and my Father many times, but you will not believe. The teacher of truth attracts only those who hunger for the truth and who thirst for righteousness. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. And to all who follow my teaching I give eternal life; they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. The Father and I are one." Many who heard would have liked to stone him, but Jesus left the temple unharmed.

When Jesus heard later that Josiah had been cast out of the synagogue, he invited him to go with them to the camp in Pella. Josiah proved to be a worthy recipient of the Master's miracle by becoming a lifelong preacher of the gospel.

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