Good News and Better News… March 6th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesus-politician

They were known as the Herodians.

They were one of three political parties that stumped around in Jesus’ time, completely enveloped in a cloud of self-importance.

Unlike their counterparts, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the Herodians had quietly given up on the power of Jewish tradition, scriptural integrity and even the intervention of God. They had decided to seek a more “earthly” solution. In doing this, they proclaimed that Herod was the Messiah and the King of the Jews. This immediately eliminated a need to wait for anything, believe in anything outrageous or follow commandments which seemed to be a dead-end street.

It was the Herodians who actually put the nails in Jesus’ hands.

Both the Pharisees and Sadducees were so frightened of the people that they were never able to come up with a plan to trap Jesus. It was only when the cunning Herodians, with their defiled political thinking, came on the scene, that a plot was put in place to put an end to the “Jesus question.”

I bring up the Herodians this morning because we have a similar situation in America. The church has flirted with politics for years, feeling that it gave them some sort of pass to “big-town thinking.” Yet somehow or another, the religious system was able to keep itself from becoming the whore to Washington.

Then somewhere along the line, we gave up on faith.

We gave up on “love your neighbor as yourself.”

And to a huge degree, we gave up on Jesus.

We started looking for a secular leader to represent us–an imposter–so we once again have come up with a scheme rid ourselves of Jesus.

This is why we’re so confused. It’s why worship has a feeling of vanity and purposelessness to it. Numbers are dropping. The young people are uninspired, and the clergy teeter between fanaticism and apathy.

It is time for us to identify the Herodians, expose them as the quitters they are, and once again give our faith, hope and charity a chance to do its mystery.

Here’s the good news: Jesus is not political.

Here’s the better news: He’s still in the business of loving people and saving souls.

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Jesonian: Don’t Call Me a Dog… January 18, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2477)

doggy under table bigger

It is rather doubtful that Jesus was able to grow up in a small village, surrounded by Jewish tradition, without absorbing a little of the local prejudice.

I didn’t.

I was born in Central Ohio and spent my youth there at a time when civil rights was being argued in the country. So as an adult, when I went out and tried to become open-minded to ethnic groups, I found it very awkward, my attempts riddled with clumsiness.

I made mistakes.

My heart was right, but the verbiage and training in my mind were tainted by false concepts.

So … when a Greek woman–a Gentile–asked Jesus to heal her daughter, the young Nazarene tried to ignore her. “Maybe she’ll just go away.”

She didn’t.

So then Jesus tried to explain to those around him, his faithful, why he was ignoring her–because her kind of people were beyond his scope of outreach.

She persisted.

So finally he told her directly, “I can’t help you because you’re a dog. A Gentile dog. And it wouldn’t be right for me to assist you and take my energies, which are reserved for my people, to help you.”

This is what we call an impasse. We have many of them in our society today. They happen when prejudice comes face-to-face with insecurity and defensive attitudes, generating volatile situations.

But in our story, this woman is not insecure. She doesn’t scream, “Don’t call me a dog! How dare you, you Jew bigot!”

Or even, “You’d better damn well respect me!”

For you see, screaming an objection at bad training is wasting words on the deaf.

Instead, she reasons:

“Okay. You think I’m a dog. But don’t the puppies get to eat the crumbs that fall underneath the table from the children’s plates?”

An amazing answer.

A metered response.

And even though she caught Jesus on a bad day, when a little too much of his childhood prejudice was creeping through, she also happened to be talking to someone who was moved by faith.

The Good Book says Jesus told this woman that because of her answer, the daughter would be healed. Insight: Jesus made a mistake but didn’t get stubborn about defending it.

Let us never forget that it also says:

  • Jesus grew in wisdom.
  • That’s right. He wasn’t born with all of it.
  • He learned obedience. Just like us, it didn’t come naturally.
  • He was moved with compassion. It wasn’t infused into him by his divine mission.
  • And he was touched with our infirmities.

He realized that such an intelligent, well-meaning, creative and enduring lady deserved to be respected and blessed.

May I share this? Nothing good happens in the church from insisting that Jesus was perfect. We all hate perfect people.

Jesus made mistakes but caught them before they cemented into horrible habits and sin. That’s pretty perfect. At least, as perfect as human beings get.

And even though, in a moment of weakness he proclaimed this woman to be a dog … she was still able to bark out the right answer.

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