The Urantia Book
Ordination of the Seventy at Magadan
(1800.1) 163:0.1 A FEW days after the return of Jesus and the twelve to Magadan from Jerusalem, Abner and a group of some fifty disciples arrived from Bethlehem. At this time there were also assembled at Magadan Camp the evangelistic corps, the women’s corps, and about one hundred and fifty other true and tried disciples from all parts of Palestine. After devoting a few days to visiting and the reorganization of the camp, Jesus and the twelve began a course of intensive training for this special group of believers, and from this well-trained and experienced aggregation of disciples the Master subsequently chose the seventy teachers and sent them forth to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. This regular instruction began on Friday, November 4, and continued until Sabbath, November 19.
(1800.2) 163:0.2 Jesus gave a talk to this company each morning. Peter taught methods of public preaching; Nathaniel instructed them in the art of teaching; Thomas explained how to answer questions; while Matthew directed the organization of their group finances. The other apostles also participated in this training in accordance with their special experience and natural talents.
(1800.3) 163:1.1 The seventy were ordained by Jesus on Sabbath afternoon, November 19, at the Magadan Camp, and Abner was placed at the head of these gospel preachers and teachers. This corps of seventy consisted of Abner and ten of the former apostles of John, fifty-one of the earlier evangelists, and eight other disciples who had distinguished themselves in the service of the kingdom.
(1800.4) 163:1.2 About two o’clock on this Sabbath afternoon, between showers of rain, a company of believers, augmented by the arrival of David and the majority of his messenger corps and numbering over four hundred, assembled on the shore of the lake of Galilee to witness the ordination of the seventy.
(1800.5) 163:1.3 Before Jesus laid his hands upon the heads of the seventy to set them apart as gospel messengers, addressing them, he said:
(1801.2) 163:1.5 When Jesus had thus spoken to the seventy, he began with Abner and, as they knelt in a circle about him, laid his hands upon the head of every man.
(1801.3) 163:1.6 Early the next morning Abner sent the seventy messengers into all the cities of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. And these thirty-five couples went forth preaching and teaching for about six weeks, all of them returning to the new camp near Pella, in Perea, on Friday, December 30.
(1801.4) 163:2.1 Over fifty disciples who sought ordination and appointment to membership in the seventy were rejected by the committee appointed by Jesus to select these candidates. This committee consisted of Andrew, Abner, and the acting head of the evangelistic corps. In all cases where this committee of three were not unanimous in agreement, they brought the candidate to Jesus, and while the Master never rejected a single person who craved ordination as a gospel messenger, there were more than a dozen who, when they had talked with Jesus, no more desired to become gospel messengers.
(1801.5) 163:2.2 One earnest disciple came to Jesus, saying: “Master, I would be one of your new apostles, but my father is very old and near death; could I be permitted to return home to bury him?” To this man Jesus said:
(1801.6) 163:2.3 Another disciple came to the Master and said: “I would become an ordained messenger, but I would like to go to my home for a short while to comfort my family.” And Jesus replied:
(1801.7) 163:2.4 Then Andrew brought to Jesus a certain rich young man who was a devout believer, and who desired to receive ordination. This young man, Matadormus, was a member of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin; he had heard Jesus teach and had been subsequently instructed in the gospel of the kingdom by Peter and the other apostles. Jesus talked with Matadormus concerning the requirements of ordination and requested that he defer decision until after he had thought more fully about the matter. Early the next morning, as Jesus was going for a walk, this young man accosted him and said: “Master, I would know from you the assurances of eternal life. Seeing that I have observed all the commandments from my youth, I would like to know what more I must do to gain eternal life?” In answer to this question Jesus said:
(1802.1) 163:2.5 Then said the young man: “But, Master, I am not content to be your disciple; I would be one of your new messengers.” When Jesus heard this, he looked down upon him with a great love and said:
(1802.2) 163:2.6 When Matadormus heard this, his countenance fell. He arose and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. This wealthy young Pharisee had been raised to believe that wealth was the token of God’s favor. Jesus knew that he was not free from the love of himself and his riches. The Master wanted to deliver him from the love of wealth, not necessarily from the wealth. While the disciples of Jesus did not part with all their worldly goods, the apostles and the seventy did. Matadormus desired to be one of the seventy new messengers, and that was the reason for Jesus’ requiring him to part with all of his temporal possessions.
(1802.3) 163:2.7 Almost every human being has some one thing which is held on to as a pet evil, and which the entrance into the kingdom of heaven requires as a part of the price of admission. If Matadormus had parted with his wealth, it probably would have been put right back into his hands for administration as treasurer of the seventy. For later on, after the establishment of the church at Jerusalem, he did obey the Master’s injunction, although it was then too late to enjoy membership in the seventy, and he became the treasurer of the Jerusalem church, of which James the Lord’s brother in the flesh was the head.
(1802.4) 163:2.8 Thus always it was and forever will be: Men must arrive at their own decisions. There is a certain range of the freedom of choice which mortals may exercise. The forces of the spiritual world will not coerce man; they allow him to go the way of his own choosing.
(1802.5) 163:2.9 Jesus foresaw that Matadormus, with his riches, could not possibly become an ordained associate of men who had forsaken all for the gospel; at the same time, he saw that, without his riches, he would become the ultimate leader of all of them. But, like Jesus’ own brethren, he never became great in the kingdom because he deprived himself of that intimate and personal association with the Master which might have been his experience had he been willing to do at this time the very thing which Jesus asked, and which, several years subsequently, he actually did.
(1803.1) 163:2.10 Riches have nothing directly to do with entrance into the kingdom of heaven, but the love of wealth does. The spiritual loyalties of the kingdom are incompatible with servility to materialistic mammon. Man may not share his supreme loyalty to a spiritual ideal with a material devotion.
(1803.2) 163:2.11 Jesus never taught that it was wrong to have wealth. He required only the twelve and the seventy to dedicate all of their worldly possessions to the common cause. Even then, he provided for the profitable liquidation of their property, as in the case of the Apostle Matthew. Jesus many times advised his well-to-do disciples as he taught the rich man of Rome. The Master regarded the wise investment of excess earnings as a legitimate form of insurance against future and unavoidable adversity. When the apostolic treasury was overflowing, Judas put funds on deposit to be used subsequently when they might suffer greatly from a diminution of income. This Judas did after consultation with Andrew. Jesus never personally had anything to do with the apostolic finances except in the disbursement of alms. But there was one economic abuse which he many times condemned, and that was the unfair exploitation of the weak, unlearned, and less fortunate of men by their strong, keen, and more intelligent fellows. Jesus declared that such inhuman treatment of men, women, and children was incompatible with the ideals of the brotherhood of the kingdom of heaven.
(1803.3) 163:3.1 By the time Jesus had finished talking with Matadormus, Peter and a number of the apostles had gathered about him, and as the rich young man was departing, Jesus turned around to face the apostles and said:
(1803.4) 163:3.2 When Peter and the apostles heard these words, they were astonished exceedingly, so much so that Peter said: “Who then, Lord, can be saved? Shall all who have riches be kept out of the kingdom?” And Jesus replied:
(1803.5) 163:3.3 As they went off by themselves, Jesus was grieved that Matadormus did not remain with them, for he greatly loved him. And when they had walked down by the lake, they sat there beside the water, and Peter, speaking for the twelve (who were all present by this time), said: “We are troubled by your words to the rich young man. Shall we require those who would follow you to give up all their worldly goods?” And Jesus said:
(1804.1) 163:3.4 And then said Peter, “But, Master, we have left everything to follow you, what then shall we have?” And Jesus spoke to all of the twelve:
(1804.5) 163:4.1 It was a stirring time about the Magadan Camp the day the seventy went forth on their first mission. Early that morning, in his last talk with the seventy, Jesus placed emphasis on the following:
(1804.6) 163:4.2 1. The gospel of the kingdom must be proclaimed to all the world, to gentile as well as to Jew.
(1804.7) 163:4.3 2. While ministering to the sick, refrain from teaching the expectation of miracles.
(1805.1) 163:4.4 3. Proclaim a spiritual brotherhood of the sons of God, not an outward kingdom of worldly power and material glory.
(1805.2) 163:4.5 4. Avoid loss of time through overmuch social visiting and other trivialities which might detract from wholehearted devotion to preaching the gospel.
(1805.3) 163:4.6 5. If the first house to be selected for a headquarters proves to be a worthy home, abide there throughout the sojourn in that city.
(1805.4) 163:4.7 6. Make clear to all faithful believers that the time for an open break with the religious leaders of the Jews at Jerusalem has now come.
(1805.5) 163:4.8 7. Teach that man’s whole duty is summed up in this one commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself. (This they were to teach as man’s whole duty in place of the 613 rules of living expounded by the Pharisees.)
(1805.6) 163:4.9 When Jesus had talked thus to the seventy in the presence of all the apostles and disciples, Simon Peter took them off by themselves and preached to them their ordination sermon, which was an elaboration of the Master’s charge given at the time he laid his hands upon them and set them apart as messengers of the kingdom. Peter exhorted the seventy to cherish in their experience the following virtues:
(1805.7) 163:4.10 1. Consecrated devotion. To pray always for more laborers to be sent forth into the gospel harvest. He explained that, when one so prays, he will the more likely say, “Here am I; send me.” He admonished them to neglect not their daily worship.
(1805.8) 163:4.11 2. True courage. He warned them that they would encounter hostility and be certain to meet with persecution. Peter told them their mission was no undertaking for cowards and advised those who were afraid to step out before they started. But none withdrew.
(1805.9) 163:4.12 3. Faith and trust. They must go forth on this short mission wholly unprovided for; they must trust the Father for food and shelter and all other things needful.
(1805.10) 163:4.13 4. Zeal and initiative. They must be possessed with zeal and intelligent enthusiasm; they must attend strictly to their Master’s business. Oriental salutation was a lengthy and elaborate ceremony; therefore had they been instructed to
“salute no man by the way,”which was a common method of exhorting one to go about his business without the waste of time. It had nothing to do with the matter of friendly greeting.
(1805.11) 163:4.14 5. Kindness and courtesy. The Master had instructed them to avoid unnecessary waste of time in social ceremonies, but he enjoined courtesy toward all with whom they should come in contact. They were to show every kindness to those who might entertain them in their homes. They were strictly warned against leaving a modest home to be entertained in a more comfortable or influential one.
(1805.12) 163:4.15 6. Ministry to the sick. The seventy were charged by Peter to search out the sick in mind and body and to do everything in their power to bring about the alleviation or cure of their maladies.
(1805.13) 163:4.16 And when they had been thus charged and instructed, they started out, two and two, on their mission in Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.
(1806.1) 163:4.17 Although the Jews had a peculiar regard for the number seventy, sometimes considering the nations of heathendom as being seventy in number, and although these seventy messengers were to go with the gospel to all peoples, still as far as we can discern, it was only coincidental that this group happened to number just seventy. Certain it was that Jesus would have accepted no less than half a dozen others, but they were unwilling to pay the price of forsaking wealth and families.
(1806.2) 163:5.1 Jesus and the twelve now prepared to establish their last headquarters in Perea, near Pella, where the Master was baptized in the Jordan. The last ten days of November were spent in council at Magadan, and on Tuesday, December 6, the entire company of almost three hundred started out at daybreak with all their effects to lodge that night near Pella by the river. This was the same site, by the spring, that John the Baptist had occupied with his camp several years before.
(1806.3) 163:5.2 After the breaking up of the Magadan Camp, David Zebedee returned to Bethsaida and began immediately to curtail the messenger service. The kingdom was taking on a new phase. Daily, pilgrims arrived from all parts of Palestine and even from remote regions of the Roman Empire. Believers occasionally came from Mesopotamia and from the lands east of the Tigris. Accordingly, on Sunday, December 18, David, with the help of his messenger corps, loaded on to the pack animals the camp equipage, then stored in his father’s house, with which he had formerly conducted the camp of Bethsaida by the lake. Bidding farewell to Bethsaida for the time being, he proceeded down the lake shore and along the Jordan to a point about one-half mile north of the apostolic camp; and in less than a week he was prepared to offer hospitality to almost fifteen hundred pilgrim visitors. The apostolic camp could accommodate about five hundred. This was the rainy season in Palestine, and these accommodations were required to take care of the ever-increasing number of inquirers, mostly earnest, who came into Perea to see Jesus and to hear his teaching.
(1806.4) 163:5.3 David did all this on his own initiative, though he had taken counsel with Philip and Matthew at Magadan. He employed the larger part of his former messenger corps as his helpers in conducting this camp; he now used less than twenty men on regular messenger duty. Near the end of December and before the return of the seventy, almost eight hundred visitors were gathered about the Master, and they found lodging in David’s camp.
(1806.5) 163:6.1 On Friday, December 30, while Jesus was away in the near-by hills with Peter, James, and John, the seventy messengers were arriving by couples, accompanied by numerous believers, at the Pella headquarters. All seventy were assembled at the teaching site about five o’clock when Jesus returned to the camp. The evening meal was delayed for more than an hour while these enthusiasts for the gospel of the kingdom related their experiences. David’s messengers had brought much of this news to the apostles during previous weeks, but it was truly inspiring to hear these newly ordained teachers of the gospel personally tell how their message had been received by hungry Jews and gentiles. At last Jesus was able to see men going out to spread the good news without his personal presence. The Master now knew that he could leave this world without seriously hindering the progress of the kingdom.
(1807.1) 163:6.2 When the seventy related how “even the devils were subject” to them, they referred to the wonderful cures they had wrought in the cases of victims of nervous disorders. Nevertheless, there had been a few cases of real spirit possession relieved by these ministers, and referring to these, Jesus said:
(1807.2) 163:6.3 And it was at this time, just before partaking of the evening meal, that Jesus experienced one of those rare moments of emotional ecstasy which his followers had occasionally witnessed. He said:
(1807.3) 163:6.4 When Jesus had thus spoken to the Father, he turned aside to speak to his apostles and ministers:
(1807.4) 163:6.5 Then, speaking to all the disciples, he said:
(1807.5) 163:6.6 The next day being the Sabbath, Jesus went apart with the seventy and said to them:
(1808.2) 163:6.8 And they found the Master’s words to be true when they put his promises to the test. And since that day countless thousands also have tested and proved the surety of these same promises.
(1808.3) 163:7.1 The next few days were busy times in the Pella camp; preparations for the Perean mission were being completed. Jesus and his associates were about to enter upon their last mission, the three months’ tour of all Perea, which terminated only upon the Master’s entering Jerusalem for his final labors on earth. Throughout this period the headquarters of Jesus and the twelve apostles was maintained here at the Pella camp.
(1808.4) 163:7.2 It was no longer necessary for Jesus to go abroad to teach the people. They now came to him in increasing numbers each week and from all parts, not only from Palestine but from the whole Roman world and from the Near East. Although the Master participated with the seventy in the tour of Perea, he spent much of his time at the Pella camp, teaching the multitude and instructing the twelve. Throughout this three months’ period at least ten of the apostles remained with Jesus.
(1808.5) 163:7.3 The women’s corps also prepared to go out, two and two, with the seventy to labor in the larger cities of Perea. This original group of twelve women had recently trained a larger corps of fifty women in the work of home visitation and in the art of ministering to the sick and the afflicted. Perpetua, Simon Peter’s wife, became a member of this new division of the women’s corps and was intrusted with the leadership of the enlarged women’s work under Abner. After Pentecost she remained with her illustrious husband, accompanying him on all of his missionary tours; and on the day Peter was crucified in Rome, she was fed to the wild beasts in the arena. This new women’s corps also had as members the wives of Philip and Matthew and the mother of James and John.
(1808.6) 163:7.4 The work of the kingdom now prepared to enter upon its terminal phase under the personal leadership of Jesus. And this present phase was one of spiritual depth in contrast with the miracle-minded and wonder-seeking multitudes who followed after the Master during the former days of popularity in Galilee. However, there were still any number of his followers who were material-minded, and who failed to grasp the truth that the kingdom of heaven is the spiritual brotherhood of man founded on the eternal fact of the universal fatherhood of God.