XVI. Return to Jerusalem
[From The Acts of Mary as translated by C.T. Edwards, A. Healy, L. Moresco, and S. Wise. The committee did not have this manuscript at the time of the events recounted herein, but we believe it and some others later made available should be included here to make the history clearer.]
After Joshua had ascended to his Father, we returned from Galilee to Jerusalem. As we entered the city, we remembered how he had ridden a donkey into the city when he came for the Passover; so we sang the Hallel as we walked
We went to the upper room where we had stayed. There we, both women and men students, along with his brothers, devoted ourselves to prayer. While we were in the room together, the sound of a great wind came down from the heavens. The whole house was filled with light.
I saw what looked like tongues of fire appear, and divide, and rest upon each of our heads. We were filled with the Holy Spirit and broke out into prayer, filled with joy and the love of our God. As it was written, “Your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.”
While we were filled with the Spirit and rejoicing, Joshua appeared to all of us, saying, “Peace be with you, my brothers and sisters. Believe that I am always with you.”
Andrew asked, “Are you going to stay here with us?”
Joshua replied, “No. If I were to stay, the Spirit could not be with you. I am with my Father and your Father; yet I am here with you, for your Father is not far from you, as if in the sky. He too is always with you, and his kingdom is already within you and around you.”
Peter asked, “Will the Kingdom be restored to Israel now?”
Joshua replied, “You cannot know the times or seasons that the Father has established. His plans are more than men can know. But now my spirit is with you. You shall preach the good news of the Kingdom in Jerusalem and Judea, in Galilee and Samaria, to the lost sheep of Israel throughout the world.”
Then suddenly he was gone, but we did not see in what way he left, as had happened in Galilee.
In the city we made our own community, sharing all things in love for one another, devoting ourselves to teaching, to the breaking of bread together, and to prayer. Those who owned property and possessions sold them and divided the money among us according to each person’s need. Our community was of one heart and one mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions were his own. We had all things in common. There was no needy person among us.
Every day we met in the temple area to pray and to teach the good news to all the people. Every day we ate together in our homes, in exaltation and sincerity of heart. We enjoyed favor with all the people, and every day more were baptized for forgiveness of their sins.
We observed all the commandments, as Joshua had told us to do, saying, “If you do not fast from the world, you will not find the kingdom. If you do not observe the sabbath as a sabbath you will not see the Father.” Once, seeing a man working on the Sabbath, he had said, “Man, if you know what you are doing, you are blest, but if not, you are cursed as a transgressor of the Law.” We also thought and prayed to understand the true purpose of each commandment, as he had also taught us, for he had preached that a man could fulfill the letter of the law and yet fail to fulfill its spirit. We observed the Sabbath with joy, fulfilling all the commandments. We also gathered for a morning meal on the first day of each week to eat and drink in his memory, as he had asked.
The men whom Joshua had called to be ambassadors continued to go from town to town, telling all the good news and healing the sick. Joshua’s spirit was so strong that it gave his students the power to forgive sins and heal illnesses as well.
We women students could not go on such journeys; it was dangerous enough for the men, so they traveled in pairs. Unaccompanied women would have faced all the evils of the world alone. But as Joshua had told my sister, I had chosen the better vocation and was his student just as the men were. Instead, we studied the scriptures. My mother taught me to read when I was young, She scolded the Rabbi for not allowing me in his schul; so now I taught the other women to read.
Joshua had taught us that the son and the daughter must inherit equally; therefore we shared in preaching and teaching, as well as the work to maintain our community. Our men allowed us to participate in work that others thought should only be allowed to men. They also did their share of what others think only women should do, taking care even of the infants.
Joshua’s brother James, my brother-in-law, whom Joshua had charged with caring for me, soon was acknowledged as the leader of our community, because of his wisdom and kindness, his generosity and compassion, his fairness and understanding of people. No one could speak a falsehood to him without being detected and disciplined. We all learned never to tell him anything that was not absolutely true and never to hold back any information that he needed to know. He spent so much time praying in the temple that his knees were as calloused as those of a camel. All the people revered him and respected his sincere faith, even those who did not believe with us that Joshua was and is the Mashiach.
We all preached the good news of the coming of the Kingdom whenever people would listen. We would explain that many of us had seen Joshua again after the Romans had murdered him. We preached to the people, saying that Joshua was the first-born of the dead, the first for whom our God’s promise of resurrection for the just had been fulfilled. He was therefore the special envoy of the Father and had been special throughout his life. When he was with us in the flesh, we often did not understand what he said or did, but now that we know he is the Mashiach, we can understand his teaching. I preached to the people, “You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant that our God made with our ancestors when he said to Abraham that ‘In your offspring al the families of the Earth will be blessed.’”
Some of the people would ask me why the Kingdom that Joshua had preached about had not come. I replied that Joshua himself began the presence of the Kingdom on Earth.
We women searched the scriptures to find the prophecies that told of his coming and of his death. Now that we know he was and is the Mashiach, we know that those prophecies have been fulfilled, just as he had fulfilled all the commandments perfectly for the first time. Thus we could know what had happened after he was arrested.
Some of our brethren argue that Joshua could not have been the Mashiach, who was to free us from the Romans, not be killed by them. But we explained that they had not succeeded in killing him, that our God had brought him back from death, for they had not understood who he was
Joshua taught us that those who take the sword will perish by the sword, that we could not win a war against the Romans. The Romans were too powerful in their legions for us to overcome. He also taught that if we changed the way we thought and accepted our God’s will for us, so that we could fulfill all commandments, then the Kingdom of God would come to be as each person believed in the good news, and the evil empire of the Romans would shrivel away.
Already many Gentiles in the world had accepted our way of life, even though they did not gain the privileges that the Romans gave to us. They recognized that our God’s commandments enabled us to live the best life possible for humans on this Earth. Our brothers, in preaching to such Gentiles and baptizing them for the forgiveness of sins, have drawn many people into the growing of the Kingdom of God and the love of the Queen of Heaven.