Jesonian … December 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3523)

jesonian-cover-amazon

A day in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Although most theologians would like to focus on the 24-hour period leading up to his crucifixion, the Gospels do offer us other examples. One of the primal outlines is found in Matthew, Chapters 12 and 13. You may feel free to read it–I will not tax your spirit or patience by parsing it verse by verse–but there are six things that become clear from perusing the story line.

1. Jesus was not a theologian.

His disciples walked through a field of corn, and even though it was forbidden by religious edict to eat it–especially on the Sabbath–they partook. Jesus defended them to the Pharisees, who were ready to leap upon the activity to prove the unworthiness of Jesus’ Kingdom movement. During this exchange, Jesus makes a profound statement: “The Sabbath is for man.”

It is geared for us, in order to replenish, rejuvenate and renovate our thinking.

2. Jesus was not a rabbi.

He strolls into a synagogue and disrupts the service by healing a man with a withered hand. He is accosted for this untimely interruption, and replies, “Each one of you will save a donkey from a trench, but you won’t do anything to help this fellow.”

Yes, Jesus was guilty of interrupting the flow of worship.

And contrary to the common patter:

3. Jesus was not a Jew.

Not only did he break the Jewish laws, taunting them in doing so, but we are informed that he was a voice, a spirit and a teacher in whom the “Gentiles could trust.”

Even though his proximity to Jerusalem might generate the assumption that he was a Son of Abraham, he made it clear that he was around “before Abraham.”

Shall we press on?

4. He was certainly not a traditionalist.

The religious leaders believed he was satanic. They swore he was casting out demons by the power of Satan. Of course, none of them could cast out a demon, but Jesus made it clear that he had come to destroy the works of the devil and that they needed to be careful not to mock the moving of the Holy Spirit just because it was inconvenient to their case.

So Jesus is not a theologian, a rabbi, a Jew or a traditionalist. And by the way:

5. Jesus was not a family man.

When interrupted by his mother, brothers and sisters during a time of ministry (because they wanted to take him home, thinking he was crazy) Jesus turned to the crowd and claimed them as his new family.

Yes, Jesus might find it difficult to be in a church service, welling up over allegiance with people simply because of shared DNA.

So as Matthew describes a day in the life of Jesus, when he defies theologians, upsets a rabbi, walks away from Judaism, breaks traditions and sidesteps family involvement, he ends the discourse by establishing who the Nazarene really was.

For the Master sat down and told a story: “The sower went forth to sow seed.”

6. Jesus is a sower.

He’s not concerned about isolating off perfect soil, but merely casting the seed in the direction of any possibility.

A day in the life of Jesus will let you know that his message was human, geared for humans, addressed to humans, human-friendly and human-saving.

He discarded religion in favor of the reality of those souls God sent his way.

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Jesonian: Rome, Jerusalem and Antioch… July 19th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2638)

streetwalking Jesus

The religious system is confused.

Confusion normally sets in when what we have set out to do fails miserably, and rather than admitting our lacking, we choose to cover it up with freshly concocted stupidity.

All the churches in the United States are desperately trying to hang on to every blade of grass to keep from falling off the cliff into oblivion.

The level of disinterest for all things spiritual is growing daily. Rather than allowing for candid reflection and legitimate repentance, a strange sense of nostalgia has set in, causing these diminishing denominations to grab on to one of two efforts: to either become more Rome or more Jerusalem.

For some it’s an issue of attempting to return to the tenets of the Mother Church in Rome and put greater emphasis on sacraments, liturgy, tradition and form. They cite statistics telling them that most people want their church services to be somber, guarded and filled with relics of childhood memories of spirituality.

  • So communion around the table becomes more important than communion of the saints.
  • Repetition of words becomes more prevalent than the repetition of our ongoing commitment to one another.

Although many of them are Protestant, they secretly yearn for a reconciliation with Catholicism.

Then there are those who think the key to expanding their spiritual borders and increasing their attendance is Jerusalem:

  • More emphasis on praise, worship, Old Testament practices and an apocalyptic geyser of predictions concerning the end of the world.
  • If you can’t make people happy, then make them glad they’re sad because they’re waiting for Jesus to come back and make everything right.

And even though Jesus continues to stand at the door of all of these churches and knock, no one opens up to him because all of them are possessed by forms of godliness while denying the power of the Gospel to transform our everyday experiences.

There is a third choice. It is characterized in the Book of Acts by a body of believers who lived in Antioch.

  • They were not Jews.
  • They were not Romans nor Greeks.

They rejected the term “Gentile” and instead embraced a new name: Christian.

It was a mocking title placed upon them by their pseudo-intellectual neighbors, referring to this new breed of thinker as “Little Jesuses.”

They liked it.

They understood that to be a follower of Jesus was to embrace the lifestyle he proclaimed in his Sermon on the Mount and in all his dealings with his fellow-humans.

The Roman church will not give us the intimacy required to show mercy to others. We’re too interested in our own absolution.

The Jerusalem church will not provide us enough Jesus of Nazareth to transform the lives of the congregation from Old Covenant to New Covenant. And looking to the eastern sky for a Second Coming eliminates a vision of the entire horizon.

We must go back to being Christians–but in the style of Antioch, not Rome or Jerusalem.

That particular position functions with two Jesonian tenets:

  1. We should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
  2. And we will love our neighbor as ourselves.

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Jesonian: The Pro Cons… October 19, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2386)

jesus and woman caught in adultery bigger

There is something comforting about finding yourself in the care of a professional who is willing to clarify and make things easier.

It is a beautiful thing.

It takes what would seem to be insurmountable–or even punishing–and transform it into merciful and workable.

Jesus was a pro.

He was a professional savior who was well-geared for ministering to human behavior because he, himself, was human.

But the first difficulty he faced in procuring this acumen was dealing with four “cons:” condemn, confront, control and console.

For generations, religious fervor and political bondage had created a climate of condemning and controlling. Matter of fact, even to this day a large percentage of those who claim to pursue the faith of Jesus Christ do so by condemning what they have determined to be iniquity, teaching their congregations that “God is in control of everything.”

So talk about walking into a hornet’s nest, or better phrased, a gathering of “shewbread conservatives,” Jesus arrived at the pinnacle of this judgmental juggernaut.

For the Jews had a system for condemning people for breaking the least little Sabbath rule, and the Romans had created such fear in the populace that the masses were contained and controlled by perpetual apprehension.

Our “Pro” had to dispel condemning and controlling. Had he not succeeded at that, all he would have accomplished was a new sect of Judaism, which would have no chance whatsoever of gaining attention in the Gentile world.

So the ministry of Jesus consisted of a confronting consolation, or sometimes it was a consoling confrontation.

As in the case of the woman caught in adultery, it was necessary to free her of the condemnation of the Pharisees, while snatching her out of the control of the murderous mob in order to console her and tell her that she was not condemned and confront her–to go and sin no more.

And in the case of the disciples, he confronted them in the Garden of Gethsemane–to stay awake and watch with him one hour, only to return to find them asleep, and relent in consolation: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

There is a great sense of relief when you’re in the hands of a pro–when you know that the God who made you has become the God who is like you, and has shared a message that does not condemn your ineptness, nor does it control your destiny.

Jesus was a pro.

His philosophy cost him his life. So please honor him by doing the Jesonian thing:

  • Take the time to confront so that you may console.
  • Or console those who are already being condemned, so you can gently confront them to newness of life.

 

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Jesonian: What do you know about him? … October 12, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2379)

He was called a bastard because his mother got pregnant before she was married.

He was born in poverty in a stable reeking with animal manure.

Even when his family tried to establish a life in the little town of Bethlehem, they were visited by astrologers from the East who brought gifts, but also brought down calamity on their lives because they accidentally passed on information to a jealous king who put out a contract of death on the little boy’s life. So they were forced to go into exile, into the land of Egypt, where they were strangers, and for about six years tried to subsist and carve out a life, as additional brothers and sisters were added.

His father, a man who believed in guiding his life by dreams, returned them to Judea, only to find out there was still danger, so they settled back into the community where the original gossip about his conception had brought them such pain.

He struggled to learn how to become a carpenter, even though deep in his heart, there was a strong calling toward other missions and goals.

He was made fun of by many of the local children because his customs seemed foreign, his demeanor was simple and he had not learned the letters of the Jewish law in their time-table.

He spent years in a small-town life without ever taking a wife of his own.

When he embraced the aching wishes of his heart and began to share a message of love and hope, which included not only Jew but Gentile, the local townsfolk pushed him to the edge of a cliff and threatened to murder him.

He escaped to a nearby fishing village, where he began to teach and discovered there was often healing, and miracles which followed when the people brought their faith to the situation.

His brothers and sisters thought he was crazy and came to retrieve him, so he was forced to alienate himself from them. He would not see them again for two years.

Even though his message did nothing to hinder the well-being of the Roman Empire, all the factions of the religion of his countrymen turned against him as one, plotting his demise.

Yet he persisted.

The advancements he presented in his teachings are still a stumbling block to many fundamentalists today:

  • Women are as good as men.
  • “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is foolish.
  • It is what we do to the least of our fellow-humans that matters most.
  • There is neither Jew nor Greek.
  • We are not to judge.
  • There are people who are born to be eunuchs and born by the will of God to be a certain way.

Eventually he was betrayed by one of his closest friends, accused on trumped-up charges and killed for a crime of sedition, which was the furthest thing from his doctrine–for he believed it was important to render unto Caesar the things that were Caesar’s and unto God the things that were God’s.

He was abandoned by his friends and tucked away quickly in a borrowed tomb so that the surrounding faithful could honor the traditions of their religiosity.

It was in that tiny enclosure that he was finally able to manifest the true essence of his power, by being allowed to rise from the dead.

But after nearly two thousand years, a name that was reviled, persecuted, rejected and cast aside from his brethren is now the central figure in the history of the world.

Because when war has finished tallying all of its victims, there will always be a need for the voice of peace. And the voice of peace was found in his throat and resounded through his message.

Do you know him?

How much do you know about him?

Because the more you know, the lighter your load.

 

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Jesonian: Faith Without Smart Is … October 5, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2371)

woman touching

She had tried everything, depleting both her funds and energy.

A small trickle of blood was constantly flowing from her body, leaving her weary and exhausted, threatening to take away the will to persevere. But she knew one thing for certain: long before we arrive in the tomb, we haunt the graveyard of self-pity.

So she kept looking.

One day she heard about a young man who was touted to have healing powers. Too decimated by her illness to compete with the crowds that surrounded this wonder boy, she devised a plan. She would wait until he was passing her way, and then crawl through the sea of legs surrounding him, touch the hem of his garment and in so doing, trigger her needed recuperation.

She did not allow herself to second guess her own inkling. Such a reflection would have made her doubtful, causing her to give up.

It worked.

And her healing friend told her that it was her faith that made her whole.

****

He was a Roman Centurion, a stranger in a strange land. He was hated simply for the uniform he donned. When his servant became ill, he was frustrated that there was no remedy. All the Roman and Greek cures failed to provide comfort.

He heard about a carpenter from Nazareth who was supposed to possess a linkage with God, granting supernatural powers. He sent a messenger, telling this fellow of his situation.

When he realized that the young preacher was heading his way to assist, his wisdom told him that this was foolish. There was no need to come to his house. The Centurion was deemed unworthy by the citizens, and if the healer came, his reputation would be tainted by assisting a Roman.

“Just say the word and my servant will be healed.”

The Miracle Man smiled, shook his head and replied, “I’ve never seen such great faith.”

By the way, the servant was healed.

****

A prodigal son lying in squalor and self-imposed poverty comes to himself one night, realizing that it is prideful and unnecessary to remain indigent. He devises a plan, and because his humble reasonings produce faith, he ends up being returned to his position as son.

****

A Gentile woman comes to the young prophet of Galilee, wanting her daughter to be freed from demons. She is a bit surprised that he rebuffs her, being surrounded by bigots who deemed her less than human. But rather than being offended or full of self-contempt, she instead banters with him, explaining that although the people around her believed her to be a dog, that “even the puppies get the scraps from the table.”

The Galilean chuckles. “Your daughter is healed. Your faith has made you whole.”

****

Faith without smart is fear–and fear is always the unwillingness to conjure an idea. If it is faith that makes us whole, then our wholeness is determined by coming up with our own inspiration.

Sometimes we don’t know what to pray. (In that case, the Spirit intervenes on our behalf.)

But more often, we have the brain to attain what we are blessed to possess.

For after all, intelligence is not a rejection of grace. Intelligence is grace … with a map to Jesus’ house. 

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G-44: Blogging… October 3, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2369)

Paul writing

Paul was a blogger.

Although it’s commonly accepted that he authored books, what he really penned were entries which he posted to various individuals and congregations, expressing his mood in the moment.

So sometimes we have:

  • happy Paul
  • sad Paul
  • angry Paul
  • theological Paul
  • philosophical Paul
  • bruised Paul
  • attacking Paul
  • judgmental Paul
  • merciful Paul
  • Pharisee Paul
  • and Gentile Paul

Nothing much is achieved in reading the New Testament without understanding this concept. For if you isolate off one of Paul’s posts and attempt to characterize his entire message by its content, you will soon be frustrated by another entry, which seems to be contradictory.

Before you become critical of this grab-bag styling, you might want to consider the audience Paul was trying to reach. First, he worked around the erroneous premise of trying to be “all things to all men so that he might save some.” Here’s the problem with the idea: the Jews seek for a sign, the Greeks want wisdom, the Romans crave power and the Barbarians yearn for an identity. It’s difficult to believe that any singular paragraph, clump of verses or accumulation of chapters could appease all of these sensitivities.

So by the time the first century came to an end, and all of the original folks who ate and lived with Jesus were dying off, the message was suffering from a “clarification crisis.”

Some people favored Paul, some Peter, some Apollos, and others, some no-name who didn’t make the Biblical cut.

Simultaneously, the Romans were gradually getting tired of killing Christians and because of the failings of their Empire, were looking for a fresh motivation. So as time marched on, the Romans embraced this “Mesopotamia Message” as their own, and of course, in the process, swallowed it up with their bureaucracy.

The Romans, being authoritarians, felt that the weakness of the Pauline preaching was that it allowed too much freedom for the individual, without the structure of a governing body filled with superiors.

So this new Roman church was structured exactly the same as Rome itself–with an Emperor, a Senate, tribunals and even, to a certain degree, legions of soldiers.

The ironic result was that a God who came to study man was ignored in favor of men who decided to study God.

Meanwhile, the Barbarians discovered a potent identity. They could defeat Rome and rule the world, such as it was.

So a message which was intended to place the Kingdom of God within the heart of each believer was now placed within the whim of a potentate.

Alas, my friends … leave it to human beings to make things worse when they organize. 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Coupling … February 27, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2163)

cells divideOver the Christmas holidays a friend asked me to go to a movie. I joked with him that two guys in a theater together might be perceived as “gay.”

In the midst of what we consider to be a great transformation of cultural awareness in the United States of America, we are also simultaneously becoming more cautious, provincial and suspicious. At times I wonder if I could take my fifteen-year-old granddaughter out to dinner without people musing whether it’s an episode of Law and Order: SVU.

And then there’s the issue that for eighteen years I have been traveling with a vibrant woman who is talented, plays music and is a great business partner, but I still have people asking if we’re married. How many married people do you know who make music together? There’s a difference between two turtle doves in a nest and a pair of eagles, soaring high.

This led me to think about the dilemma faced by Jesus in the Good Book, when he decided to send his friends and disciples out two by two. How controversial that must have been.

  • Could he send two guys together without everybody thinking they were Greek homosexuals?
  • How about a man and woman, without everybody speculating on their copulating?
  • Check this one out–could two women go out in that male-dominated society and make an impact for his Kingdom Movement?
  • One black, one white?
  • How about  Jew and  Gentile?
  • And what would happen if you mixed a Samaritan in there, whom, it seemed, everybody hated?

Yes, the decision to send people out two by two–coupling them–was probably one of the more radical propositions Jesus ever initiated.

Because even though we proclaim that our world needs more good news, human beings are actually drawn to bad news, even as they insist how ugly it is, and then whisper the gossip to every living soul they meet.

So this I know:

  1. Do what works.
  2. Don’t expect it to be accepted.
  3. Get the chip off your shoulder and refuse to be defensive.
  4. Keep doing it … and bear fruit.

America will be a much better country when we get out of our national funk of abiding arrogance …  and crippling fear.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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