Jesonian … April 7th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3635)

Every story is better told and more effective when the facts are allowed to line up in a reasonable order.

Such is true of the Gospel of Jesus.

Theologians spend so much time proclaiming him the Son of God that they lose the fragrance and uniqueness of the Son of Man. In an attempt to make the tale “super” they lose all of the “natural.”

The average person going to church is deluded by an array of facts which just don’t add up to a crucifixion.

One of those great misconceptions is that Jesus was extremely popular. There were certainly occasions when his crowd appeal spiked, but it always revolved around three stimuli:

A. Was he doing miracles?

B. Was he feeding people?

C. Did it look like he was the Jewish Messiah?

Whenever the populace became convinced through these three “signs and wonders” that God was going to save them from the Romans, they rallied around Jesus. Whenever it was obvious that he was intent on sharing a more universal message which included people that were not Jewish, they slipped away.

Let’s look at some facts:

1. Jesus was rejected by his home town, Nazareth, and never able to return again. Not only was he ignored, but threatened with death–dangled from the edge of a cliff.

2. Even though Jesus held a great revival in Samaria with the testimony from a woman at a well, when he returned to the city, he was forbidden to enter by the town fathers because they found out he also ministered to the Jews.

3. When he fed the 5,000 in Galilee, the hordes followed him for a while–until he told them this was not a food pantry, but rather, that his words and life were the message they were supposed to “eat.” They all departed–except for the twelve.

4. Over and over again, interest sparked with the Pharisees, but when Simon, one of their number, invited him to a special meal, the Pharisee snubbed Jesus and treated him like an outsider.

5. After the resurrection, it is recorded that over 500 people saw Jesus–witnesses of the miracle. But on the Day of Pentecost only 120 remained. Kind of a drastic drop-off.

I guess we feel the need to believe that Jesus was greatly appreciated by the people in his generation, and taken to be crucified only by a handful of powerful critics.

It’s just not true.

We are told that most of the time he dealt with twelve disciples–and he focused on three of them, to be the core leaders. We have some idea of the size of a normal following of Jesus when the scriptures let us know that he sent seventy out to share in his name.

If you are trying to give credence to the message of Jesus by pointing out how enthralled the Jewish community and the Roman oppressors were, then you will be sadly disappointed when you read the actual accounts of his mistreatment and the number of individuals who desperately tried to ignore him.

We’re even told that John the Baptist’s disciples did not believe in him.

Jesus had a model. It’s very simple: Develop a hot core of followers and let them radiate the message.

Nowadays we are so eager to build up numbers in the sanctuary that we fail to build up people. Jesus basically spent three-and-a-half years working on twelve human beings.

  • One of them betrayed him and killed himself.
  • Another denied him, and was prepared to leave the work.
  • Yet another one doubted that a resurrection was possible.

Do not despair–Jesus suffered the same slings and arrows of human apathy that you and I encounter every day. He just had a great system. So when he left the planet, there was a handful of people who knew what he taught, knew what he stood for and were prepared to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to give them the power and insight to take the Gospel to the whole world.

*****

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Jesonian … March 31st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3628)

 For thirty-six hours, God walked away and left humanity to dangle in its notorious decisions.

Long ago, from six o’clock Friday to six o’clock on Sunday morning, the conclusions derived by the honoring of religion, the promotion of politics and the inclusion of jealousy reigned supreme on the Earth.

In the process, a hapless lamb was slaughtered so that a less-than-noble tribe of Bedouins could believe they were special because their ancestors had the fortitude to escape Egypt.

A governor of Judea slinked away to Caesarea to spend a quiet weekend with his wife, only to discover that she was enraged because he had failed to take her dream into consideration when judging an innocent man.

A betrayer from Kerioth who was blindly jealous of his Master, his best friend, climbed a small hill, tied a rope around his neck and hung himself from a tree.

Soldiers were demanded to guard a tomb to make sure that nobody went in, or for that matter, nobody came out.

Disciples who had followed a messenger of love were scared into hiding because they simply believed that “loving your neighbor as yourself” was not a greeting-card sentiment.

Repairmen came to clean up after an unexpected earthquake shook the region, leaving behind great damage, even in the Temple.

The world proceeded with a nauseating sameness, which gained the smugness of superiority because it appeared that any variables were nailed down and silenced.

The kingdom of religion seemed to succeed–a philosophy contending that tradition must decide.

The kingdom of politics stomped around the Great Hall, believing that greed decides.

And the kingdom of jealousy slithered away to lick its wounds, confident of temporary victory because fear had made its decision.

For thirty-six hours, God removed Himself from the circumstances, leaving religion, politics and jealousy to win the day.

It seemed that the obvious forces in power were as formidable as advertised–because everything which had objected, contradicted or shared a different approach was beaten, crucified and buried.

At first sight, there was no light.

And then God returned.

Actually, it was the Kingdom of God, which is within us. It is a Kingdom where faith decides because we are the ones who offer the input.

Even though the disciples of the slain Master were still tucked away, three women bravely made their way to a tomb.

They were not expecting a resurrection.

They were not anticipating finding a miracle.

They did what women have done since the beginning of time–they viewed how men had screwed everything up and they came to clean up the mess.

No bands played, no dignitaries arrived with a key to the city, no men who had pledged eternal allegiance surfaced.

Just three women carrying a bunch of spices, which they immediately dropped when they saw an empty tomb.

Easter is a time when we celebrate more than a resurrection. It is a moment in history when God shows us that even though insanity may temporarily take control, His grace, mercy, understanding and wisdom are never far away.

It was not easy to survive thirty-six hours without God. But because those thirty-six hours showed us the foolishness of religion, politics and jealousy, we can now revel with great joy in the Kingdom of God, which allows our faith to decide.


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Jesonian … March 3rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3600)

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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G-Poppers … April 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3277)

Jon close up

Jesus.

What does the name evoke?

G-Pop remembers a time when the mention of Jesus would flood one’s mind with images of mercy, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance and most certainly, love.

But the years have pressed on, and the insanity of religious fanaticism has begun to lump Jesus in with all his errant practitioners and sour-faced sheep.

It may be the greatest tragedy of Good Friday. Not only was he crucified by ignorant rabble, who had memorized scripture but had no Word in their hearts, but he is now re-wounded by those who fail to comprehend that they are imitating the primer of his murderers instead of the mindset of the Master.

G-Pop recalls a phrase Jesus once used: “Except your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Exceed.

Exceed what?

Prayer? No–it can’t be that. Jesus warned his disciples not to advertise their prayer life, but instead, find a closet, shut the door and create intimacy.

Study? Highly unlikely. Jesus accused the Pharisees of parsing every jot and tittle as they “strained at the gnat and swallowed the camel” forgetting the “weightier matters” of God’s message–that being justice and mercy.

Fasting? Once again, both he and his disciples were accused of never fasting, and Jesus told them that if they did, to make sure they literally put on a happy face.

So how did he want his disciples to exceed the religious people around them?

In the humanities.

  • Training themselves to give a damn instead of insisting that they just couldn’t muster the energy.
  • Refusing to judge other people, even though it temporarily makes us feel ooey and goooey with superiority.
  • Realizing that the folks who are considered the least on Earth have the heavenly Father’s eyeball–to see who will come and gently tend to them.

G-Pop points out that as we consider the crucifixion of Christ, we have to ask ourselves, why such a drastic measure? Why kill him?

And the answer is simple. There was a danger that if Jesus lived, or his disciples were still filled with his power and spunk, that religion would not be able to manipulate people into enough guilt to trap them in ceremony–as it robbed their pockets.

“This Jesus, this Jesus, this Jesus must die.”

G-Pop thinks the best tribute we can give to Jesus on this dark day in history is to exceed the Pharisees that walk the Earth today–by using the humor, kindness, gentleness, cleverness and mercy that he taught us to possess.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 12th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3275)

A Goddam Hill

I’ll bring the nails

You get the wood

The plan never fails

Who thinks it should?

He plays the hurt one

Toying with fire

Claimed he was God’s son

What a fuckin’ liar

I’ll find the place

You smack his face

Plenty of blood to drink

Never the time to think

Man lives by bread alone

We are merely flesh and bone

Shut the hell up about your heaven

First there’s four, five, six and seven

Give me that spear

I’ll stab the queer

Your putrid love

Is cursed by fear

Die today

For all the sin

Then on Sunday

Pronounce your win

Bring the whip

I’ll do the beating

Losing my grip

Passion is fleeting

Why won’t he leave me

In my misery?

Die, you feckless teacher

Alone, sucking for air

Be silent, ragged preacher

The world does not care

We are filth, a moral flirt

Squeezed together from the dirt

We are nothing but skin and trash

Shut your mouth, take the lash

We just won’t, can’t you see?

We just can’t, leave us be

Yet the stranger of Galilee

Continues to smile at me

Though wracked with pain

He will never refrain

So we murdered a King

On a goddam hill

Let his praises ring

For he trusts us still.

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Jesonian… February 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3222)

jesonian-cover-amazon

 

Christianity is not a religion–it is a lifestyle.

It is based upon the human example left behind by Jesus of Nazareth. Any attempt to build the Kingdom of God on doctrines, practices, rituals, worship, attendance, prayer, Bible study or fasting will flail, because the Kingdom of God is within us.

In other words, until we tap ourselves–our passions, our errors and get our questions answered–there really is no Kingdom of God.

Or maybe better stated, it’s a theory.

To emphasize this, Jesus told us that God is our Father.

Once we realize that He is our Daddy and not the smoke at the top of the mountain, an angry disciplinarian, the Force, or just karma, we can then predict what God’s reaction will be in situations due to His paternal instincts.

  • As a Father, He is certainly not going to plan our lives for us. Any dad who would do that would be considered a first-class asshole.
  • As a Father, He’s not going to give up on us, disown us, or throw us out in the desert with a canteen.
  • But as a Father, He will institute chores for us to perform–and by our faithfulness, evaluate our present mindset.

Jesus came to show us the Father.

We should be studying the life, ideas, tendencies and predilections of the Nazarene. Instead we focus on His arrest, trial and death.

In doing so, we attempt to divert the Christian message from being a revelation of the Father to a pre-destined, pre-ordained human execution in order to acquire blood atonement.

Actually, the crucifixion makes so much more sense when you realize that the Father was hoping his children would be more receptive–but still made a pathway of salvation for all of us through the courage and sacrifice of our elder brother, Jesus.

It is not that dissimilar to the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, who is thrown into a pit by his brothers, left for dead, only to redeem those same brethren in Egypt after he gained power, rescuing them from destitution.

Nothing good happens in the Christian church until we realize that the entire ministry of Jesus was about showing us the Father.

Even in the midst of the agony of the cross, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

So if you’re wondering why religion is leaving you flat, and church seems redundant and meaningless, it’s because invented ideas have been passed along and given primary importance, while the congregation thirsts for the relationship with their Father promised to them by Jesus.

It is time for us to show Jesus to the community–so he can reveal the Father to all of us.

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Jesonian… February 4th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3208)

jesonian-cover-amazon

Don’t Be in a Hurry

Jesus of Nazareth spent his twenties hangin’ around his house, living off his parents.

Most good Jewish boys of that day were married and breeding more of the Children of Israel.

I think the reason he didn’t leave home until he was thirty is rather simple: Jesus couldn’t start his work until it was definite that he was the one starting it.

He had too many helpers.

His mother, Mary, wanted him to do little miracles to impress the Ladies’ Auxiliary. Joseph was disappointed that Jesus wasn’t thrilled with carpentry.

Cousin John the Baptist thought he should be the ‘Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world.’

Then there were the disciples. Most of them were waiting for Jesus to beat the crap out of the Romans. It was going to be HUGE and make Israel great again.

And the Jewish leaders thought Jesus would really look good dead, so they hired a mob to yell, “Crucify him.”

Everybody’s going to have an opinion on what you should do. So learn from Jesus’ life. Turn down the noise.

And by the way, don’t be in a hurry to play God.

Because even if you tell people you love them, folks are so angry, frustrated and religious … that they just might nail you.

 

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