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A Synopsis of Paper 148: Training Evangelists at Bethsaida

Between May and October, 28 AD, Jesus and the apostles ran a camp for prospective evangelists in Bethsaida. David Zebedee was camp supervisor and Peter was in charge of the school. The apostles taught groups of trainees in the morning, and the trainees and apostles together taught visitors in the afternoons. Several thousand people attended this camp during the five months it existed.

While in Bethsaida, Jesus spent much of his time in the hills "about his Father's business." The apostles taught their own personal interpretations of the Master's truth, which Jesus harmonized during his weekly instructions.

One evening Jesus defined evil, sin, and iniquity. Evil is unintentional transgression of divine law and a measure of human imperfection. Sin is the deliberate transgression of the Father's will-a measure of unwillingness to be led. Iniquity is persistent transgression of divine law.

Nathaniel asked why God permits afflictions. Jesus explained that God does not send afflictions to men, but that our world has been upset by sins of those disloyal to God. He said people bring a lot of unnecessary pain to themselves by refusing to heed the divine will. Humans suffer from the accidents of time and from immaturity. God never sends afflictions as arbitrary punishment for wrongdoing, neither does material wealth indicate God's favor.

One day while Jesus was speaking in the synagogue, the leader of the Pharisee spies convinced a man with a deformed hand to ask Jesus whether it was lawful for him to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus asked whether this man would rescue a sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath. The man said yes. The audience agreed. Jesus then looked at the audience and said, "I know wherefore you have sent this man into my presence. You would find cause for offense in me if you could tempt me to show mercy on the Sabbath day." "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! I proclaim that it is lawful to do good to men on the Sabbath day."    The man was healed.

The angry spies hurried to Tiberias to report this to Herod, but Herod was not interested. This protest against meaningless Sabbath restrictions was the first miracle Jesus worked as a direct response to his enemies.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, an influential member of the Sanhedrin was publicly baptized in a fountain by Abner. The donation this convert made to the apostolic funds helped launch nearly one hundred newly trained evangelists from the camp. This conversion caused some consternation in Jerusalem among Jesus' enemies. Messengers set out to bring the six spies home.

During the final days of the camp, a paralyzed man sought healing while the Master was teaching in the Zebedee home. The house was so crowded that the man's friends could not get him into the room. They climbed a ladder onto the roof, lifted the man up with them, removed some roof tiles, and lowered the man into the room directly in front of the Master. The paralytic asked for healing, saying, "I am not like those who received healing and immediately forgot your teaching. I would be made whole that I might serve in the kingdom of heaven." Jesus, seeing man's faith, replied, "Son, fear not; your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you."

The Pharisees thought this was blasphemy, and began to murmur among themselves. Jesus said, "But that you who witness all this may finally know that the Son of Man has authority and power on earth to forgive sins, I will say to this afflicted man, Arise, take up your bed, and go to your own house." The man stood up and walked out of the room, much to the astonishment of everyone present.

At about this time the messengers of the Sanhedrin arrived to instruct the spies to return to Jerusalem. The leader and two others returned, but three of the spies had come to believe in Jesus and were baptized into the kingdom.

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