Jesonian … March 17th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Setting the stage:

Jesus is in the beginning of his ministry. Fresh. Optimistic. Sharing high-sounding principles to what most people might consider a low-brow audience.

One day he is interrupted by the arrival of elders from a near-by town. They are Jewish leaders. The strange thing about the situation is that they have been sent by a Roman Centurion to intercede on the behalf of his servant, for healing.

The elders waste no time. They interrupt Jesus, testifying about the quality of the character of this Centurion.

“He is a friend of our nation. He even built us a synagogue,” they tout.

Most Romans were considered by the Jews to be conquering terrorists–not that different from ISIS in our day. So for the elders of a Jewish town to bear testimony for a Roman Centurion was not only peculiar, but inspirational.

Jesus drops what he’s doing and heads off toward the servant.

Then another strange thing happens. The Centurion rethinks his position. He obviously has a keen mind, and realizes that if Jesus enters his home–the domicile of a Roman–he could ruin his ministry for all time. It would be a disgrace to be in the house of a Gentile, and Jesus would be considered unclean.

So he suggests that Jesus just say the word, proclaiming the healing. The Centurion cites that he lives by commands all the time.

Jesus is astounded. Jesus learns from him, and says he has “never seen so great a faith in Israel.”

So Jesus says the word, and the servant is healed.

It’s a beautiful story. It lets us know several things.

1. The Gospel is not a Jewish Gospel.

2. It is possible for people of all races to get along as long as they show respect to one another.

3. The power in faith is in always simplifying your belief instead of complicating it.

But let us consider a possible scenario:

Such a man as the Centurion certainly, in three year’s time, moved up in promotions. Because he got along so well with the occupied people, he would be very valuable to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. There would be a very good chance he would end up in Jerusalem.

In the Holy City, he would have been given authority and respect, and placed in charge of difficult situations–maybe a predicament like carrying out a capital punishment during Passover week–because we are told that there is a Centurion at the cross.

Just for the sake of discussion–what if it was the same man? What if he arrived at his job early that morning and discovered that he was supposed to escort a prisoner to Golgotha–three of them, actually–and crucify them before six o’clock that night?

What if he was shocked to find that one of them was Jesus, the young man who had healed his servant three years earlier?

What should he do? His heart is torn apart. Yet to try to rig an escape would be complete death for Jesus, himself and many other innocent people.

What is left to him?

The keen mind is set in motion. The Centurion realizes they’ve already taken Jesus and beaten him, and that the Temple guards had cruelly mistreated him. There’s only one thing left for him to do–a single mission to honor the one who healed his servant. He tries to make the end easier.

After all, somebody gave the command for Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross.

Someone allowed John and his mother, Mary, to be near the foot of the cross to listen to his words and encourage him.

Someone kept the soldiers from tearing his Jesus’ apart, and instead, gambled for it–with him possibly winning the prize.

Someone knelt down, and as they nailed his hands, tenderly looked in his eyes, to comfort him.

Somebody asked them to be careful when they dropped the cross in its place.

Somebody grabbed a long reed and put vinegar and medication on it for him to drink when he was thirsty.

There was compassion at the cross.

And if it was the same Centurion, he did the best with what he had, to make things better than they might be.

Maybe that’s the definition of faith–doing the best with what we have, to make things better than they might be.

And when the Earth shook, the skies darkened and Jesus took his last breath, could it have been the same Centurion who looked up at his friend on the cross, and said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”


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Jesonian … March 10th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Not every morning supplies a miracle. Weeks can go by without walking on water–or water turning into wine, for that matter.

Truthfully, life is more like dry cereal looking for milk–not much to be excited about unless you brought along your own thrills.

This was true in the life of Jesus, too.

Fortunately, the Gospel writers tell us about the good moments and also the bad ones. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John share that sometimes Jesus just hung out, to “tarry” with his friends. And just like us, often his activities were dictated by the whim, intensity and preoccupation of his audience or critics.

In the Good Book, Matthew 19, there is such a situation. Jesus is minding his own business when he is confronted by the Pharisees, who seem to spend a lot of time worrying about things that don’t matter to anyone else. They were especially distressed over the issue of divorce–not because they were against it. The Law of Moses and also the Oral Law, which had been constructed by religious leaders over many centuries, allowed men to divorce their wives simply by leaving a note on the pillow.

The Pharisees felt that Jesus had a different outlook on the subject, so they confronted him about the dilemma.

Jesus made it clear that he believed divorce to be chauvinism. He explained that marriage is meant to be an experience between people of equality, who decide to leave their families to form their own union.

They were very upset.

Yet escaping their probing, Jesus arrives back in camp to discover that his disciples, who had been cut from the same homespun philosophies and bigotry as the Pharisees, were chasing away the women and children. After all, they thought, Jesus was too important to have time for women, who were lesser, and children, who were insignificant.

The feminist in Jesus comes to the forefront. He rebukes his disciples. He tells them to bring the children–which meant the women, also–to him, and he lays hands on the tykes, blesses and enjoys them.

Often we wonder how miracles occur. Miracles happen because people who know how to treat women and children humbly ask for them.

It isn’t about extended periods of prayer, nor ministers on Sabbatical studying the original Greek. Rather, miracles are about people who know how to play with children–people who are aware that a woman is not a “weaker vessel.” When these people pray, God listens.

Jesus treated women as humans. On this week, with “International Women’s Day,” we need to consider what this entails.

Jesus gave women empathy, but not sympathy: You are as good as men, but don’t pull up lame and fall back on femininity when you think it’s to your advantage.

So even though Jesus showed compassion on the woman caught in adultery, he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Go and sin no more.”

He relished a conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria, but when she said she “had no husband,” he reminded her that she had married five husbands, and was now living with another man.

When his mother tried to interfere with his work, he spoke to her as an equal, not as a son, and said, Back off. It’s not my time.

And when busy Martha was doing all the housework, using the “gift of helps” to feed the disciples and Jesus, he stopped her and said, Your sister Mary has decided to listen to the teaching instead of playing “Harriet Homemaker. Follow suit.”

Life is not about what we do when we’re trying to be spiritual or contemplative. Life is lived in the cracks–those moments that seem insignificant when the world around us has cast a negative vibe and it is our job to bring the light.

Jesus believes that spirit begins with how women and children are treated.

I, for one, think he’s right.



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Jesonian … March 3rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


The Gospel writers had a really stiff drink to mix to stir together all the ingredients to write the cocktail of the life of Jesus.

First and foremost, let me tell you as a writer, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are not books. They are long short stories–an oxymoron. The number of words in each Gospel is about the same as a big short story.

So with an economy of words and phrases, these gentlemen set out to capsulize what is arguably the most interesting life ever lived. On top of that, they had the problem of being infested with some agendas of their own. Each one of them was intent on convincing the reader that Jesus was Messiah/Anointed One/Christ/Son of God.

They were also pretty pissed off with the Jewish leaders. This is reflected in many references. And they certainly wanted to compete with each other in the retelling of the resurrection.

I offer this preface because in a good overview of their works, there are only a few times that each of them include the same stories.

  • Crucifixion
  • Resurrection
  • Feeding of the five thousand

These are in all four Gospels. And in Matthew, Mark and Luke–the Synoptic Gospels–one other particular story is included by this trio of authors.

It seems to be a rather insignificant tale–matter of fact, I doubt if it makes its way into many sermons. But it was very important to Matthew, Mark and Luke.

On a Sabbath, the disciples were walking through a field of wheat and picked some of it because they were hungry. The story-tellers are clear that the disciples take the kernels and grind them in their hands to “get the good stuff to eat.”

The significance? According to the Pharisees, it was permissible to pick the wheat but you couldn’t grind it in your hand and eat it–not on the Sabbath. That was work. Therefore, if you were hungry, you would have to take the wheat home and wait until the next day to eat.

It is the travesty of the religious mind–to manufacture a God who is so displeased with us that He demands we function in uncomfortable contortions to receive His favor.

In this story, the Pharisees complain to Jesus.

Now, Jesus is not a diplomat. He is not determined to offend the Pharisees, but every time he did, refused to pull back from his position.

He told these fellows that King David ate the shewbread that was reserved for holy days and for the priests. His army was hungry. No one died.

Jesus explained that the Sabbath was a time to do good and not evil. It was an occasion to fulfill mankind’s needs instead of heaping heavy burdens on them.

Knowing that the Pharisees would be quite unwilling to criticize King David, he offered this argument while simultaneously insisting the his disciples should be granted the full measure and respect that David deserved.

Then, in the story, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they should learn mercy and not sacrifice–otherwise they will spend their whole lives attacking innocent people.

And if that wasn’t enough to fully flummox these religious leaders, he closed off by saying, And by the way, “I am the Lord of the Sabbath.”

This story was important to Matthew, Mark and Luke. It sniffed of their Master. It smelled like Jesus.

For they experienced and knew that Jesus was a champion for the human race and would not tolerate anyone attacking people, especially if it were being done in the name of God.

Damn it to hell, you don’t pick wheat and then not eat it. It is illogical, irrelevant, irreverent and inhuman. Jesus didn’t come to turn human beings into gods.

Jesus was the personification of God turning himself into a human being.

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Jesonian … February 24th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Throughout the ten thousand years of chronicled human history, three repetitive actions have continually pushed their way to the forefront:

  1. Human beings resolve conflict through war
  2. Women are considered inferior to men
  3. Children are property and can be treated any way deemed necessary for maintaining order and discipline

Only in the past seventy-five years has the concept of equal rights for women and the possibility of child abuse even been considered.

Although we consider our species to be continually learning and growing, at the core of our actions–our relationships with each other–we are still neanderthal.

This is why the character, personality and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are so radical, even to this day. In a world where children were considered “chattel,” Jesus demanded, bring them to me because they are the symbol of heaven.

He warned that anybody who offended one of these “little ones” should have a millstone hung around his neck, drowned in the deepest sea.

And when trying to describe the temperament and energy of believers, he suggested that we find the heart of a child.

Even though in his day this teaching in itself would be enough to have him ridiculed and perhaps murdered, our society has not progressed much beyond believing that our offspring are community property which can be split down the middle into “visitation sessions.”

We leave our children confused over the term family because they often find themselves having to call a half-dozen or more people grandma or grandpa. And we make them privy to our “love struggle” instead of granting them the security of growing up in peace and finding themselves.

We are a wicked generation, mocking the foolishness of the past while keeping souvenirs.

This is also true with women. Jesus doubly astounds his disciples by going to Samaria–a forbidden area for any good Jew to even enter–but while there, talking to a woman in broad daylight, and using her as a conduit for revival. It left them speechless.

Also, forgiving a woman caught in adultery in the midst of an all-male audience was certainly not a popular choice, and having his ministry underwritten financially by three women of means raised a few eyebrows over the water being drawn from the community well.

I have always felt that Jesus made a mistake in not having a female disciple. But he quickly corrects this after the resurrection by appearing to Mary Magdalene first, making her the messenger to tell his disciples that he was raised from the dead.

Please do not come into Christianity thinking you can use Jesus to undergird your misogyny or disdain for children. Matter of fact, you can judge a nation by how much equality is given to the women, and how much true respect is offered to children.

We don’t need to “harden” our schools. We don’t need to tell our sons and daughters that they must be surrounded by guns or they won’t be safe.

It is our concern, love, mercy, tenderness and watchful eye that is the source of their protection.

If you’re going to be Jesonian, you need to stop living with a caveman consciousness toward children and women, while holding an I-phone in your hand.

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Jesonian: Lukey 13 … February 17th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


I gave this essay a title.

I don’t very often–but since I planned to refer to the Good Book in Luke the 13th Chapter, I decided to get cute: “Lukey 13.”

Very simply, this is where Jesus explains how the planet functions, progresses and purifies.

The explanation was required because the folks who surrounded Jesus of Nazareth were caught up in politics and blamed the government for all the ills that came their way. This spilled over into their conversation with the “carpenter-turned-preacher.”

They wanted to get his opinion on an event. Pontius Pilate, the governor, had killed a group of people who came to a religious service to offer sacrifice, and were brutally attacked by the Roman Legions–murdered during their ceremony.

The people dramatically cited to Jesus that “the blood of the victims was mingled with the sacrifices.”

They failed to say that the Romans knew these folks to be Zealots, viewing them as terrorists who raided the army and killed infantrymen.

(There are always two sides to a story, usually with neither one being the truth.)

The people wanted Jesus to be enraged. They wanted Jesus to be a nationalist. They wanted Jesus to be a Zionist. He astounds them.

He replies, If you won’t change, you’re next. (The actual wording was, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”)

He asked them if they thought the Galileans who were killed were bad people because it happened to them. He asked if a tower which had recently fallen on innocent folks was punishment for their sins, once again closing with, if you don’t change, you’re next.

What is his message? First, it is impossible to comprehend the ministry of Jesus without realizing that he came to bring understanding to the Natural Order instead of having people believe in mysterious protections from a Supernatural Border.

The Jews thought as long as they were Jews, God should take care of them. They felt no responsibility to the world around them, referring to people who were not Sons of Abraham as “heathens.” They became targets for cultures which were stronger in military might, and in no mood to be called “dogs.”

In a parable, Jesus explains the nature of Nature. He also outlines the nurture of the Father:

You cannot get God’s grace if you do not honor Nature’s place.

Jesus tells a story about a tree. It had leaves, bark and roots. No fruit. This tree was deemed by those in charge to be worthless, and was marked to be cut down.

Consider: although God loves me, He wants me to understand that since I live on Planet Earth, I have to follow the rules of the trees. I am not allowed to take up space, suck out nutrients and just sprout leaves. I am expected to bear fruit.

What is fruit? What defines fruit? “I am trying to improve my life, therefore understand why you are attempting to do the same.”

That’s fruit.

Nature wants to get rid of anything that is not fruitful. Some people might even say that Nature is prepared to get rid of Earth, because its inhabitants are no longer respectful of the system.

Yet let’s talk about you and me. There is a Natural Order and a Supernatural Border. It is impossible to come under the grace of God if you’re not submissive to Earth. And on those occasions when you find yourself erring, and in danger of being eliminated because of your mistake, you will need the Supernatural Border.

There is only one way to get under the protection of God’s mercy: humility.

Yes. Be the first one on your block to know you’ve done something stupid. Repent of it before anyone else even knows you did it, and dip your head in respect to Mother Nature as a way of honoring Father God. When God sees this, He comes to Mother Nature and He says, “Dig and dung.” In other words, let’s not eliminate this person yet. Let’s give him or her a chance. Fertilize with dung.

To put this process in a lexicon we better understand: to gain God’s help, you must humbly admit your weakness and allow Him to send some shit your way so you can grow.

If you’re convinced it’s not your fault, and you reject the shit, get ready for the buzzsaw.

If you’re going to be oblivious, be prepared to be the next one eliminated. But if you honor Nature and the order of things and realize that it’s not the government’s fault–there is no massive plan against spirituality, but rather, misdirection on your own part, which needs to be humbly corrected–then God has the ability to extend His grace, to help you establish your change.

It is a powerful passage. It is our “Lukey 13.”

And if we comprehend its meaning, we have an earthly advantage over the religious fanatics who believe God owes them something, and also the secular world, which contends it can out-muscle the competition.

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Jesonian … February 10th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


There are two distinct types of abuse.

There is physical abuse, punctuated by an attack against body, heart or mind. It leaves cuts, bruises and scars. It is nasty, evil and inexcusable.

The other form of abuse is neglect. Being commissioned to perform a responsibility, someone decides to set it aside in favor of other pursuits, leaving that which was meant to be cared for destitute.

Although a case could be made that the religious system continues to physically abuse Jesus of Nazareth by crucifying him weekly in sermons, attempting to stimulate some sort of passion from the congregation, I shall step aside from such discussion in favor of presenting the true abuse.

We preach a Gospel of salvation which includes emphasis on “one time only, better do it today, this could be your last chance, hell is hot, Jesus loved you so much that he bled, and don’t you want to go to heaven” rhetoric in an attempt to frighten hearers who have already heard this many times before.

Meanwhile the real message of Jesus–the one that makes him our intimate, elder brother, and also affords the planet an opportunity for peaceful cohabitation–is often read aloud with the energy of reciting last week’s grocery list.

If you’re going to be Jesonian, you need to love Jesus. If you’re going to love Jesus, you’re going to get to know what’s close to his heart. And when you get to know what’s close to his heart, you will no longer be satisfied with a crucified Savior, but instead will become a disciple, pursuing a dynamic lifestyle.

You don’t have to go any further than the first three beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount to see what Jesus was all about. Matter of fact, I could spend the rest of my life elaborating on that trio and never run out of material.

It begins with the reality, follows with a challenge and culminates with wisdom.

The reality: we are happy because we are poor in spirit.

The reason that makes us happy is because we can stop trying to be spiritual instead of human. Once you find your classification, it’s so much easier to compete. Not an angel, not a saint, not a theologian, but rather, a human who is impoverished in the realm of spirit.

First realization: I am human and it is good.

God said so when He got done creating us. I don’t think He lied. Sure, we’re unpredictable, but since He’s not afraid of that, why should I apologize?

This is followed with a challenge. “Blessed are those who mourn.”

I have emotions and this is good.

Although we try to suppress them, these feelings continue to pop to the forefront, churn up our throats and waggle our tongues. Rather than deny them, we should use them to feel, to laugh, and most certainly, to mourn–to escape being uncaring bastards and instead, weep over the loss and pain in the world around us.

This climaxes with a bit of eternal, precious wisdom. “Blessed are the meek.”

Although there is a campaign to promote the notion that the more we brag, the stronger we are, the human race actually has a tendency to cut the stilts out from under those who try to walk too tall.

We honor humility. We are geared to destroy pride, even when it dwells within us.

Humble: “I am weak and it is good.”

In these three statements Jesus establishes a Gospel which is not only able to be mastered by humans, but can also be passed along as the living bread of truth that we all desperately need before we starve to death emotionally and spiritually.

I am human and it is good.

I have emotion, and it is good.

I am weak, and damn straight–it is good.


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Jesonian … February 3rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Slow, stalled, passed the exit.

These are positions we find ourselves in when it comes to the progress of our lives.

Sometimes it feels like things are going too slow.

Certainly we can feel stalled.

And those who possess a pint of wisdom are fully aware that you can go so fast that you pass the exit.

The human instinct is to cover up the situation–for after all, it’s difficult to admit that you’re slow or stalled, and confessing to being oblivious and missing an opportunity is extraordinarily painful.

Jesus was human–therefore he went through this.

After all, he didn’t get started until he was thirty. Talk about a failure to launch. History is kind to him because once he got going he was rather productive. Yet had he continued to minister with the same passion he demonstrated as a carpenter, the most famous Jesus in the world would be a baseball player from the Dominican Republic.

The secret to his emergence is found in John the 2nd Chapter. It’s a seven step process–which sounds formidable, but since it is so logical, it may be fairly easy to remember.

At thirty years of age, he decided to find himself.

1. Find yourself.

Yes, don’t annoy the world around you by arriving at your dream without a map–especially absent the GPS to your own soul.

Jesus went into the wilderness, he dealt with his appetites and emerged with the correct meshing of awareness and humility. Once he discovered himself, he went out to:

2. Find some friends.

It’s usually more a mutual discovery. When you clarify your position and you’re transparent, other humans who share your convictions stumble upon you.

Sometimes we try to make relationships work. Truthfully, if they don’t, they don’t. You can have a thousand conversations and never arrive at a point of agreement.

Embracing some friends led to the next step:

3. Find your place to start.

In the case of Jesus, since he had a message, his instinct might have been to preach or teach. He wanted to lead people to a greater understanding of themselves as children of God.

Jesus knew his goals. He aspired to share a manifesto which was simple to follow.

So Jesus went to a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It was the next thing on his calendar and it was his way of expressing that those who pursued him should welcome a celebration instead of a series of seminars.

Find your place to start.

And at this point in his ministry, five disciples came along to enjoy the festivities.

Almost immediately, Jesus was in a position where, like all of us, he needed to:

4. Find your calling.

This may surprise you, but Jesus was immediately cornered by a family member. His mother.

She felt it was her obligation to steer him in the right direction. After all, she was his mama, right?

So when she heard they had run out of wine at the wedding, she came to Jesus, explained the predicament–but also prodded him to use the occasion to manifest his workings.

At this point, Jesus chose his calling over his mother. Although he loved her, probably for the first time in his life, he referred to her as “woman.” Not “mother.” Not “my dear.”

He said, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?”

In that moment, he established an adult relationship, letting her know that they would now be walking the Earth as peers, not as “Mother Mary and little Jesus.”

If you can’t break away from your family obligation enough to find your calling, you will use those binding responsibilities to excuse your lack of activity.

5. Find your time.

That’s what Jesus said to Mary. I’m looking for the right time for me. Not your right time. Not my disciples’ right time. The time that’s right for me to do what I believe I’m supposed to do.

After considering this, Jesus did the bidding of his heart.

6. Do what you do.

He had the servants fill up the ceremonial clay pots with water. Hours earlier the water within those pots had been used to cleanse dirty feet, but Jesus asked that they be put to work again. Once they were filled, the contents of the vessels should be drawn off and taken to the master of ceremonies.

Speaking of that, all of this process grants us the privilege to:

7. Do it with flair.

People weren’t turning water into wine. They certainly were not using foot-washing pots to do it. The most common phrase uttered by those who had an encounter with Jesus was, “Wow. We’ve never seen it like this before.”

Don’t expect to make a difference if you aren’t different.

If you plan on following the common grid, filling in the blanks faithfully, you will also find yourself standing in line your whole life, with no distinguishing gifts.

Jesus took a wedding feast to establish the fact that he had found himself, acquired friends, had picked the place to start, and was ready to walk away from family obligations to pursue his calling. He had selected this time to do what he was able to do, and he performed it with flair.

This was not only the first public miracle of Jesus–this was his coming out party.

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