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A Synopsis of Paper 166: Last Visit to Northern Perea

A wealthy Pharisee named Nathaniel invited Jesus to breakfast with a group of Pharisees as the guest of honor. Many of the guests knew of Jesus' teachings, and were not surprised when he came to the table without washing his hands, but Nathaniel and an unfriendly Pharisee started whispering about it. Jesus rebuked them, saying, "How carefully you cleanse the outside of the cups and the platters while the spiritual-food vessels are filthy and polluted! You make sure to present a pious and holy appearance to the people, but your inner souls are filled with self-righteousness, covetousness, extortion, and all manner of spiritual wickedness."

After a lengthy dissertation, Jesus left. Some of the Pharisees who heard him that day became believers, but most continued to oppose him.

The next day, Jesus explained to the apostles that gentiles and less orthodox Jews were more accepting of the gospel than orthodox Jews. He pointed out how their message had been readily received by the Galileans and Samaritans. Just then, the apostles encountered a group of lepers-nine Jews and one Samaritan. When the lepers saw Jesus coming near they called him to have mercy and heal them.

Simon Zelotes wanted Jesus to pass the lepers by without stopping, but the Master seized the opportunity to reinforce his lesson. Jesus told the lepers that they would be made whole if they went and presented themselves to the priests. They set out to do as Jesus asked, and as they left they were made whole.

When the Samaritan saw that he was healed, he returned to Jesus, fell on his knees, and gave thanks, while the others continued on their way. Jesus remarked, "You see how it is that the children of the house, even when they are insubordinate to their Father's will, take their blessings for granted.but the strangers, when they receive gifts from the head of the house, are filled with wonder and are constrained to give thanks in recognition of the good things bestowed upon them."

One day, a believing Pharisee asked, "Lord, will there be few or many really saved?" The Jewish people had been taught that only Jews would be allowed into the kingdom of heaven, and that the way to eternal life was straight and narrow. Jesus said, "I declare that salvation is first a matter of your personal choosing. Even if the door to the way of life is narrow, it is wide enough to admit all who sincerely seek to enter, for I am that door. And the Son will never refuse entrance to any child of the universe who, by faith, seeks to find the Father through the Son." Jesus declared that whether few or many are to be saved altogether depends on whether few or many heed his invitation: "I am the door, I am the new and living way, and whosoever wills may enter to embark upon the endless truth-search for eternal life."

Thomas asked whether spiritual beings are concerned with events in the material world, and whether angels could prevent accidents. Jesus replied that believing prosperity was a sign of divine approval or that adversity was a sign of God's displeasure was superstitious. "The Father causes his rain to fall on the just and the unjust; the sun likewise shines on the righteous and the unrighteous." Jesus continued to teach them, saying that matters of sickness and health are the result of material causes rather than divine favor or disfavor, but he found it difficult to dissuade the apostles from their long-held beliefs.

Jesus and the apostles traveled to Philadelphia, where Abner was teaching three times daily in the synagogue.

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