Sunday evening, on reaching the home of Zebedee from the highlands north of Capernaum, Jesus and the twelve partook of a simple meal. Afterward, while Jesus went for a walk along the beach, the twelve talked among themselves. After a brief conference, while the twins built a small fire to give them warmth and more light, Andrew went out to find Jesus, and when he had overtaken him, he said: “Master, my brethren are unable to comprehend what you have said about the kingdom. We do not feel able to begin this work until you have given us further instruction. I have come to ask you to join us in the garden and help us to understand the meaning of your words.” And Jesus went with Andrew to meet with the apostles.
When he had entered the garden, he gathered the apostles around him and taught them further, saying: “You find it difficult to receive my message because you would build the new teaching directly upon the old, but I declare that you must be reborn. You must start out afresh as little children and be willing to trust my teaching and believe in God. The new gospel of the kingdom cannot be made to conform to that which is. You have wrong ideas of the Son of Man and his mission on earth. But do not make the mistake of thinking that I have come to set aside the law and the prophets; I have not come to destroy but to fulfill, to enlarge and illuminate. I come not to transgress the law but rather to write these new commandments on the tablets of your hearts.
“I demand of you a righteousness that shall exceed the righteousness of those who seek to obtain the Father’s favor by almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. If you would enter the kingdom, you must have a righteousness that consists in love, mercy, and truth—the sincere desire to do the will of my Father in heaven.”
Then said Simon Peter: “Master, if you have a new commandment, we would hear it. Reveal the new way to us.” Jesus answered Peter: “You have heard it said by those who teach the law: ‘You shall not kill; that whosoever kills shall be subject to judgment.’ But I look beyond the act to uncover the motive. I declare to you that every one who is angry with his brother is in danger of condemnation. He who nurses hatred in his heart and plans vengeance in his mind stands in danger of judgment. You must judge your fellows by their deeds; the Father in heaven judges by the intent.
“You have heard the teachers of the law say, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every man who looks upon a woman with intent to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. You can only judge men by their acts, but my Father looks into the hearts of his children and in mercy adjudges them in accordance with their intents and real desires.”
Jesus was minded to go on discussing the other commandments when James Zebedee interrupted him, asking: “Master, what shall we teach the people regarding divorcement? Shall we allow a man to divorce his wife as Moses has directed?” And when Jesus heard this question, he said: “I have not come to legislate but to enlighten. I have come not to reform the kingdoms of this world but rather to establish the kingdom of heaven. It is not the will of the Father that I should yield to the temptation to teach you rules of government, trade, or social behavior, which, while they might be good for today, would be far from suitable for the society of another age. I am on earth solely to comfort the minds, liberate the spirits, and save the souls of men. But I will say, concerning this question of divorcement, that, while Moses looked with favor upon such things, it was not so in the days of Adam and in the Garden.”
After the apostles had talked among themselves for a short time, Jesus went on to say: “Always must you recognize the two viewpoints of all mortal conduct—the human and the divine; the ways of the flesh and the way of the spirit; the estimate of time and the viewpoint of eternity.” And though the twelve could not comprehend all that he taught them, they were truly helped by this instruction.
And then said Jesus: “But you will stumble over my teaching because you are wont to interpret my message literally; you are slow to discern the spirit of my teaching. Again must you remember that you are my messengers; you are beholden to live your lives as I have in spirit lived mine. You are my personal representatives; but do not err in expecting all men to live as you do in every particular. Also must you remember that I have sheep not of this flock, and that I am beholden to them also, to the end that I must provide for them the pattern of doing the will of God while living the life of the mortal nature.”
Then asked Nathaniel: “Master, shall we give no place to justice? The law of Moses says, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ What shall we say?” And Jesus answered: “You shall return good for evil. My messengers must not strive with men, but be gentle toward all. Measure for measure shall not be your rule. The rulers of men may have such laws, but not so in the kingdom; mercy always shall determine your judgments and love your conduct. And if these are hard sayings, you can even now turn back. If you find the requirements of apostleship too hard, you may return to the less rigorous pathway of discipleship.”
On hearing these startling words, the apostles drew apart by themselves for a while, but they soon returned, and Peter said: “Master, we would go on with you; not one of us would turn back. We are fully prepared to pay the extra price; we will drink the cup. We would be apostles, not merely disciples.”
When Jesus heard this, he said: “Be willing, then, to take up your responsibilities and follow me. Do your good deeds in secret; when you give alms, let not the left hand know what the right hand does. And when you pray, go apart by yourselves and use not vain repetitions and meaningless phrases. Always remember that the Father knows what you need even before you ask him. And be not given to fasting with a sad countenance to be seen by men. As my chosen apostles, now set apart for the service of the kingdom, lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, but by your unselfish service lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasures are, there will your hearts be also.
“The lamp of the body is the eye; if, therefore, your eye is generous, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is selfish, the whole body will be filled with darkness. If the very light which is in you is turned to darkness, how great is that darkness!”
And then Thomas asked Jesus if they should “continue having everything in common.” Said the Master: “Yes, my brethren, I would that we should live together as one understanding family. You are intrusted with a great work, and I crave your undivided service. You know that it has been well said: ‘No man can serve two masters.’ You cannot sincerely worship God and at the same time wholeheartedly serve mammon. Having now enlisted unreservedly in the work of the kingdom, be not anxious for your lives; much less be concerned with what you shall eat or what you shall drink; nor yet for your bodies, what clothing you shall wear. Already have you learned that willing hands and earnest hearts shall not go hungry. And now, when you prepare to devote all of your energies to the work of the kingdom, be assured that the Father will not be unmindful of your needs. Seek first the kingdom of God, and when you have found entrance thereto, all things needful shall be added to you. Be not, therefore, unduly anxious for the morrow. Sufficient for the day is the trouble thereof.”
When Jesus saw they were disposed to stay up all night to ask questions, he said to them: “My brethren, you are earthen vessels; it is best for you to go to your rest so as to be ready for the morrow’s work.” But sleep had departed from their eyes. Peter ventured to request of his Master that “I have just a little private talk with you. Not that I would have secrets from my brethren, but I have a troubled spirit, and if, perchance, I should deserve a rebuke from my Master, I could the better endure it alone with you.” And Jesus said, “Come with me, Peter”—leading the way into the house. When Peter returned from the presence of his Master much cheered and greatly encouraged, James decided to go in to talk with Jesus. And so on through the early hours of the morning, the other apostles went in one by one to talk with the Master. When they had all held personal conferences with him save the twins, who had fallen asleep, Andrew went in to Jesus and said: “Master, the twins have fallen asleep in the garden by the fire; shall I arouse them to inquire if they would also talk with you?” And Jesus smilingly said to Andrew, “They do well—trouble them not.” And now the night was passing; the light of another day was dawning.