The words of Jesus in modern verse

paraphrased and annotated by Donivan Bessinger

4. The Realm of Spirit

[Sections 50-74]

50. Reeds in the desert. John's followers ask whether Jesus is the expected Messiah.

What did you expect to see                                                                     a
   out there in the desert?
Reeds shaking the breeze?
To see a man in fancy clothes?
To see fancy clothes
   you go to the king's palace!
So then, why did you go
   into the desert out there?
To see a preacher? 
I think you went to see more than a preacher.
You went to see the one
   the scripture talks about --
   `Behold, I send my messenger
    And he shall prepare the way before me.'                                            b
No one born of woman                                                                           c 
No one since Adam has been
   greater than John,
But it's true --
The lowest one in the spiritual realm
   is greater than he.
Since John, the spiritual realm                                                                  d 
   has been coming violently.
Violent men are trying to force it.
Up until John, it was the prophets and the Law
   who spoke of the spiritual realm.
Now, John is the promised Elijah.
Just accept that.
You need to pay attention.
This generation! Is there anything to compare it to?                                  e 
It is like children playing in the marketplace
   calling to each other,
`We played you a tune, but you didn't dance.’                                         f
We did the wailing, but you didn't grieve.
John came, fasting. 
   They said, He's crazy.
I came, eating and drinking as usual.                                                        g
   They say, He's a glutton and a drunkard!
   He's even a friend of tax collectors and sinners!
Well, you can tell Wisdom by her offspring!
These cities! If Tyre and Sidon                                                                h 
Had seen such powerful forces at work                                                   i
They would have turned around long ago                                                 j
   and lived.
On the day of judgment, Sodom's going                                                   k
   to come out better
   than Capernaum!                                                                                 L

             [50] [T] 

51. Healing by Satan? Jesus was accused of healing -- 'casting out demons' -- in the name of the `prince of devils'.

If Satan casts out Satan
   he is tearing himself apart.
Any nation divided against itself   
   is tearing itself apart.
Any city 
Any household divided against itself
   is tearing itself apart.
If Satan has risen up against himself
   he is coming to an end.
If I am healing in the spirit of evil 
Then by what spirit are you healing?
   Judge that for yourself.
But if I am healing by the spirit of God
Then the spiritual realm is here already.
You cannot rob a strong man's house 
   unless you tie up the owner.
Then you could plunder the place.
The one who is not with me 
   is against me.
If you do not gather with me
   you scatter instead.
Every mistake,                                                                                        a 
Every irreverence can be forgiven
Except denial of spirit.
If you speak out against me                                                                     b
   you can be forgiven.
If you are speaking out                                                                            c
   against the spirit
   against the holy
You are denying yourself eternity.
             [51]  [T] 

52. The seed and the word.

A farmer was sowing --
Some seeds fell beside the path
   The birds ate those seeds.
Some seeds fell among the rocks.
   With so little soil for the roots
   they died in the hot sun.
Some seeds fell among the weeds.
   The weeds choked them out.
Some seeds fell in good soil.
   Those seeds yielded grain
   In some places a hundred stalks
   In some, sixty
   In some, thirty.
You get the message.
Better pay attention.                                                                                a
I teach in stories like that 
   to help you understand.
I am letting you in on secrets
   of the spiritual realm,
Secrets still hidden from others.
It's like the passage in Isaiah:
   `You will hear without understanding                                                    b
   You will see without perceiving.
   The people's hearts are weak
   Their ears are tired of hearing
   They close their eyes to
      keep from seeing
   For if they didn't
   They would see, hear, and understand
   And come to me for healing.'
But you, my disciples 
Are very fortunate.
Your eyes see
Your ears hear.
Many good people have longed
   to see what you see
   but did not see it.
Many good people have longed
   to hear what you hear
   but did not hear it.
This is what I meant by the story of the sower.
The seed on the path?
   That is the word of the spiritual realm
   when it is snatched away
   by the evil one.
The seed among the rocks?
   You may receive the word with joy
   But unless it takes root within you
   It will be scorched away
   By the problems of life.
The seed among the weeds?
   The weeds are your worries
   And your obsession with getting rich.
   That chokes out the word
   So that it can't bear fruit.
The seed in the good soil?
   The one who hears the word
   And understands it bears fruit
   Sometimes a hundred times
   Sometimes sixty
   Sometimes thirty.
Listen to what you hear.                                                                          c 
Those who have much
   will be given more.
Those who have little
   will have it taken away.
             [52] [T] 

53. The growing seed

The spiritual realm is like
A seed growing in the earth.
The farmer does not know how it grows
   but continues on
   day by day.
The seed grows of its own accord.
The earth itself produces, showing
   first the leaf
   then the ear
   then the full grain.
Then the grain is ripe.
Then it is ready
   for the farmer's sickle.

             [53]  [T] 

54. The field with the weeds.

The spiritual realm is like this:
A farmer sowed a field with wheat.
While his field-hands were sleeping,
An angry neighbor sowed the field with weeds.                                        a
The wheat came up 
But so did the weeds.
The field-hands asked  
   Why do you have weeds?
The farmer said
   An enemy must have done this.
They asked
   Shall we cut them?
The farmer said
   No. If you do that you will
   Pull up the wheat as well.
   Let them both grow for now.
   At harvest time
   I'll tell the reapers to gather
   The weeds first,
   Bundle them and burn them
   But bring the wheat into the barn.
The Image-of-God 
   is the one who sows the good seed
The field is the world.
The good seeds are
   the people of the spiritual realm.
The weeds are
   those who serve evil.
The enemy is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age.
The reapers are
   the spiritual forces for good.                                                                 b
These spiritual forces for good
   with the Image-of-God
Will gather up those who live by evil
   and burn them in the furnace of despair.

Then the spiritual realm will shine
   with the light of the sun,
   with the light of those
   who serve the good.
That is the message.
You'd better pay attention.

             [54]  [T] 

55. The mustard seed.

The spiritual realm is like
A grain of mustard seed.
When you plant it,
The smallest of all seeds
Grows to a large shrub
Then a tree
So that the birds
Can nest in its branches.
             [55]  [T] 

56. The flour and the yeast.

The spiritual realm is like yeast.
A woman takes yeast
Mixes it into three measures of flour
Then waits for it all to rise.
             [56]  [T] 

57. The hidden treasure.

The spiritual realm is like
A treasure hidden in a field.
A man found it, then
Covered it up again.
He happily sold everything he had
So that he could buy that field.
           [57]  [T] 

58. The pearl.

The spiritual realm is like this.
A merchant searched
Until he found a pearl of highest value.
He sold everything he had
So that he could buy that pearl.
     [58]  [T] 

59. The net.

The spiritual realm is like
A large draw net.                                                                                    a
The net was cast into the sea
And filled with fish of every kind.
The fishermen pulled the net ashore
Then sorted the fish
   saving the good into buckets
   throwing the bad away.
That is how it will be at the 
   end of the age.
The spiritual forces will sort
The evil from the good
Throwing the evil into the furnace of fire.                                                  b
There will be much despair.
             [59]  [T] 

60. The lost sheep.

The Image-of-God is here                                                                       a
   to rescue the lost.                                                                                 b
Suppose a man had a hundred sheep.                                                      c 
If even one of them wandered off
   What would he do?
He would leave the ninety-nine sheep
   and look for the one
   which was lost.
And when he finds it 
   he picks it up
   lays it on his shoulders
And takes it back.
He would be happier over that one
Than over all the ninety-nine others.
He would call his friends
    to celebrate with him.
He'd say I found my sheep
    which was lost.
The Beloved Creator does not want
     to lose any sheep.
There is more joy in the spiritual realm
    over one who turns away from evil
Than over ninety-nine people
   who are good already.

             [60]  [T] 

61. The lost coin.

Suppose a woman had ten silver coins.                                                    a
If she should lose one
What would she do?
She would light a lamp 
She would sweep the house
She would search every corner
Until she found it.
And when she found it 
She would call her friends
    to celebrate with her.
She'd say I found my coin
   which was lost.
It is like that in the spiritual realm.
There is joy there too
When someone turns away from evil.

             [61] [T] 

62. The little children.

Let the little ones come to me.
Do not stop them
For the spiritual realm IS little children.                                                    a
It's true. 
Unless you become like a child
You cannot enter the spiritual realm.
Have you never read this?                                                                       c
`Out of the mouths
   of newborn babies
And nursing infants
You have brought forth
   perfect praise.'

             [62] [T] 

63. The unmerciful servant.

The spiritual realm is like this:
A king wanted to settle accounts with the servants.
When they checked the books
One servant owed a huge amount,
   several year's wages.
Since he could not pay it
The king ordered him and his family
   sold into slavery
   so he could collect.
But the servant begged him 
   `Have pity, I will pay everything.'
The king did have pity
   released him, 
   and forgave the debt.
That same servant went 
   to another servant
   who owed him only a small amount,
   only a few day's wages.
He grabbed him by the throat
   and yelled `Pay me!'
The other servant begged him
   `Have pity, I will pay everything.'
But the servant did not have pity.
He had the man thrown into jail.
All the other servants were very upset.
They went to the king
   and told what had happened.
The king called the servant
   `You're wicked!
   I forgave your debt
   just because you asked me.
Why didn't you have mercy
   on your fellow servant
Just as I had mercy on you?'
The king was very angry 
And turned him over to the torturers                                                       a
Until he would pay.
That's the way the ruler of the spiritual realm
   deals with you
If you don't forgive completely,
   from the heart.

             [63] [T] 

64. The laborers.

The spiritual realm is like this.
An estate owner went out one morning
To hire workers for the vineyard.
Those hired first 
Agreed to work for the regular daily wage
And went to the vineyard.
Later in the morning the owner 
Saw other workers standing idle in town.
`You also go work for me.
I pay the usual fair wage.'
And so they went to work.
Still later in the morning the owner 
Went out twice again, hiring more
Workers for the vineyard.
In the afternoon, the owner 
Saw still other workers standing idle.
`Why are you standing idle here all day?'
They answered, `Because no one has hired us.'
The owner answered
`You also go to the vineyard
And I will pay the usual fair wage.'
In the evening, after work 
The owner told the manager
`Call the workers
Pay them their wages
But pay first the ones hired last.
Those hired last received a full day's wage
The same as promised to the first.
Those hired first thought they should get more.
They complained, `Those last ones worked only one hour.
You made us equal to them
Even though we worked in the heat all day.'
The owner answered 
`No, I have not short-changed you.
I paid what we agreed.
Take what you've earned and go.
What if I do pay the same
   to the first and the last?
Is it not my right to do as I wish with what is mine?
Are you jealous because I am good?'                                                      a
The first shall be last.
The last shall be first.
      Many are called.
      Few are chosen.
             [64] [T] 

65. The maidens.

The spiritual realm is like 
The ten maidens who took their lamps,
Who went to meet the bride                                                                    a
        and the bridegroom.
Five were foolish 
Five were wise.
The foolish ones took lamps without oil.
The wise ones took oil with their lamps. 
The wedding party was delayed.
They all fell asleep.
In the middle of the night
They were awakened by a shout
   `Here they are!
   Come to meet them!'
All the maidens got up to tend their lamps.                                               b
The foolish ones asked the wise
    `Give us some of your oil !
   Our lamps are going out !'
The wise ones said 
`There might not be enough for all of us.
     Go to the dealers,
     Buy some for yourselves.'
While they were gone 
The wedding party arrived.
The wise maidens went into the marriage feast
And the door was shut.
When the foolish maidens arrived 
They knocked, `Sir, open the door !'
But the bridegroom replied
      `Really! I do not know you!'
So then be ready. 
You do not know
      the day
     or the hour.
             [65] [T] 

66. Water into wine. At the wedding feast, water becomes wine. Mary said, `They are out of wine.'

Why should we worry about that?
My time is not yet here.
Fill the jars with water.
Now pour some of it out
   and take it to the
   steward of the feast.
             [66] [T] 

67. Pay constant attention to the spiritual realm.

Keep dressed and on duty all the time                                                     a
     with a light on.
Be like servants waiting for the owner                                                      b
To return from the wedding celebration.                                                   c
Be ready to open the door
   anytime the Lord knocks.
If the Lord comes and you are ready
You are happily fulfilled.
The Lord will put on the servant's towel                                                   d
And have you lie down
That he may serve you.
Whether late at night, 
Or early in the morning
You are happily rewarded.
Keep this in mind.                                                                                   e
If the head of a household
   could have known
   when a thief was coming
A watch could have been set
And the house not be plundered.
You be ready, too.                                                                                   f 
The Image-of-God comes 
   when you least expect.
Who is the wise and faithful manager 
Whom the owner can put in charge                                                          g
To measure out the household’s grain?      
If the master returns                                                                                h 
   and finds you doing that
   you are happily fulfilled.
You will be placed in charge of everything.
But if you say to yourself 
The Lord won't be back for a long time
And you start to abuse the servants
And you indulge yourself and live wildly
Then the Image-of-God will
   come when you least expect
At a time you do not know.
You'll be cut off                                                                                       i
And your share given to others.
A servant who knows the rules                                                                j 
     of the estate but does not 
      follow them
Is beaten many times.
The one who did not know
     deserves a beating
      but is punished lightly.
If you have been given much, 
Much will be required from you.
If people have entrusted you with much,
They will demand even more.
             [67] [T] 

68. The `thesaurus'.

Have you understood all these stories?
Everyone who learns through them
   to decipher the words of Spirit                                                             a
Becomes head of a household
Who keeps turning up treasure --
   new and old.  

[68]   [T]

69. Who is greatest in the spiritual realm?

This is certainly true --
You cannot enter the spiritual realm
You cannot receive it
Unless you turn yourselves around
And become like little children.
To be greatest in the spiritual realm                                                          a 
   you must humble yourselves
   like this child.
To be first, you must be last.                                                                    b
You must be a servant
   to everyone.
The greatest will be the youngest.
The leader will be one who serves.
The greatest among you                                                                          c 
   will be the servant.
Whoever tries to be great
   will be humbled.
Whoever is humble
   will be lifted to greatness.
             [69] [T] 

70. A stranger was healing in Jesus' name.

Don't stop him.
If he is working in my name
   he isn't likely to be
   speaking out against me
   any time soon.
Anybody who is not against you
   is for you.
:   Anybody who is far away                            a 
:     from you today
:   Will soon be near you.   :
             [70] [T] 

71. A rich young man's question:   Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Why call me good?
Only God is Good.
You know the commandments 
   Do not kill
   Do not commit adultery
   Do not steal
   Do not give false testimony
   Do not defraud
   Honor your parents.
Yet you lack one thing.
If you want to be whole                                                                           a
Go, sell everything you own.
Give the proceeds to the poor
Then your treasure will be 
     in the spiritual realm.
Then, come follow me.
How hard it is for those who are rich
To enter the spiritual realm!
It's true!
Getting a millionaire into the spiritual realm                                               b
Is as hard as getting a camel
   through a needle's eye!
That is not possible in the human realm
But with God everything is possible.
In the new beginning                                                                                c 
When the Image-of-God
   sits on the throne of Glory
I will assign to you who have followed me                                                d
Who have endured with me in my trials                                                    e
    a realm of your own
Just as the Beloved Creator
   assigned a realm to me.
You will eat and drink with me in my realm
And sit on thrones                                                                                   f
One for each of you sitting over
The twelve tribes of Israel.                                                                      g
Those of you who have
Left family and given up property for my sake
Will be rewarded a hundred times over.
You will receive
   the life of the timeless realm.                                                                 h
Many who now are first                                                                          i
   will be last.
Many who now are last
   will be first.
             [71] [T] 

72. Theological debates:    A question from the Saducees (If a woman had several husbands, all brothers who died, whose wife would she be in heaven?); then a question to the Pharisees.

You are wrong.                                                                                       a
You do not understand the scripture
Or the power of God.
Those who rise above death                                                                    b 
Do not marry or arrange marriages.
They are like angels in heaven.
What about the rising above death?
Have you not read what God said?
`I am the God of Abraham                                                                      c
   the God of Isaac
   the God of Jacob.' 
God is not god of the dead
   but of the living.                                                                                    
What do you think                                                                                  d
   of the Messiah?
Whose son is he?
        ** [R(Ph):  “The son of David”]
How then could David 
Inspired by Spirit
Call him Lord?
These were his words --
   `Said the Lord to my Lord                                                                   e
   Sit here on my right
   Until I put your enemies down.'
If David calls the Messiah `Lord'
How can the Messiah be David's son?
             [72] [T] 

73. Coming of the realm: The Pharisees asked, When will the kingdom of God come?

The spiritual realm is not something
Whose coming you can see.                                                                    a
You cannot say
   `Here it is!' or
   `There it is!'
For the spiritual realm
   is within you.                                                                                        b
:   The spiritual realm                                                                               c
:      is in the midst of you
:   And if you know yourself
:      you will find it.        ::
:   If those who lead you say                                                                    d
:   `See, the kingdom is in the sky'
:   Then the birds have the advantage!
:   If they say
:      `It is in the sea'
:   Then the fish have the advantage!
:      No,
:   The spiritual realm is
:      inside of you
:      and outside of you.
:   When you know yourselves 
:   Then you will be known.
:   You will see that you
:      are heirs of the
:      Beloved Creator.
:   If you do not know yourselves
:      you are poor.
:   You are poverty itself.     ::
:   The spiritual realm will not come                                                          e
:      by your waiting for it.
:   It is not a matter of saying
:      `Here it is!' or
:      `There it is!'
:   No, the spiritual realm
:   Is spread all over the earth
:   And people do not even see it.    ::
There will come a time                                                                            f
When you want to catch a glimpse of
   the spiritual realm
But you will not sight it.
They will tell you
   `Look here!' or
   `Look there!'
Do not go off following them.
The Image-of-God will come to you 
   at that time
As lightning strikes across the heavens
   first here
   then there.
But I                                                                                                       g
Will endure many things before then.
The Image-of-God will be rejected
By this generation.
It will be like the days of Noah.                                                                 h
The people were
   eating and drinking
   marrying and
   arranging marriages
Right up until the moment
Noah entered the ark
   and the flood
   destroyed everything.
It will be like the days of Lot.
The people were
   eating and drinking
   buying and selling
   planting, building
Then on the day Lot left Sodom
   the sulfurous fire from heaven
   destroyed everything.
That's how it will be when 
   the Image-of-God
   is revealed.
In that time
If you are on the roof
   stay there
Leave your possessions
   in the house
Leave your work
   in the field.
Do not look back.
Remember Lot's wife.
If you want to save your psyche                                                              i
   you will lose it
But if you lose your psyche
   you preserve it.
On that night 
Of two people in bed
   one will receive it                                                                                 j
   the other will be left out.
Of two people grinding grain together
   one will receive it
   the other will be left out.
Of two people in the field
   one will receive it
   the other will be left out.
                   - R(D):  Taken where?”- 
Wherever the living body is                                                                     k
Eagles will be gathered.
             [73] [T] 

74. Selections from the Gospel of Thomas


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