Jesonian … May 19th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3677)

With all the focus being placed on Jerusalem, dubbed “the Holy City,” I thought it might be fascinating to take a look at what Jesus felt about this newly-proclaimed capital of Israel.

For instance, his mother and father visited there before his birth, ended up stranded in the suburbs in a little town called Bethlehem, where there was no room for them in the Inn, and there they birthed their first-born in a barn.

When Jesus was twelve he visited the city, asking lots of questions which produced no answers. The fussy religionists basically told him to “go back home, little boy.”

Although he didn’t make many trips to Jerusalem itself, he frequently encountered a stony-headed group of followers of the Law of Moses who were more concerned about his eating habits than his message.

One day, while visiting the Temple with his disciples and realizing that they were enamored by all the gold and architecture, he explained to them that very soon “there would not be one stone left on another.”

Jesus was very upset about how Annas had turned the Temple into an unrighteous trading center, cheating the visiting pilgrims out of their money on goods and exchanges. He took a whip, beat the money changers and drove them out of the Temple.

When he raised Lazarus from the dead, not far from Jerusalem, spies and assassins were hired to plot the death of the resurrected man because it was bringing much notoriety to this upstart Galilean movement.

Eventually the religious leaders found a fellow-Judeean named Judas to betray Jesus. They put Jesus on trial, lied to Pontius Pilate about him, pretended that they were disinterested in having a “King of the Jews” because they were satisfied with Caesar, screaming for the Nazarene to be nailed to a cross.

On his way to his death, women who were weeping for him were rebuked by Jesus, who stated, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for your children and yourselves.”

I believe at this point he might have flashed back in his mind to several days earlier, when he looked over the city of Jerusalem, and with tears, lamented, “How often I would have gathered you under my wings, like a hen does its chicks, but you would have none of it. Your house is left to you desolate.”

If you’re curious about the definition of “desolate,” it is “a place deserted of people, with a dismal emptiness.”

Even after they killed him–murdered him on the cross–the Jerusalem leadership was still afraid that the disciples might steal his body, so they placed guards in front of his tomb.

When he rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, Jerusalem continued to persecute the disciples and early church members, killing and scattering them into the world.

So there weren’t many Christians left in 70 A.D., when Jesus’ prophesy about the destruction of Jerusalem came to fruition, with the Roman Legions destroying the Temple and the town.

As you can see, Jesus had no love affair with Jerusalem.

He angered the Jewish people because he told them that he existed “before Abraham,” and that “God had the ability to take stones and make children of Abraham.”

So it is a good idea for us to check out the Jesonian view of Jerusalem instead of joining the pandering that is done in this country under the auspice of “Judeo-Christian.”

I will tell you, certainly Jesus was not anti-Semitic. He loved the whole world.

But I also must tell you, he certainly was not pro-Israel.

 

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Jesonian … December 23rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A baby being born in a sheep stall in Bethlehem of poor Palestinian parents is not difficult to believe. After all, poverty extracts much of the comfort of good cheer.

Maybe the angels seem a little far-fetched to you (but you know how it is with stories about your young’uns.)

Believing that a year-and-a-half later, a troop of astrologers made their way into town to proclaim this child the hope of the world and the King of the Jews does seem highly unlikely–yet there are always people who have their eccentric ways and live them out because they have enough money to fund them.

Comprehending that there could be a leader of a nation who was so insecure that he was frightened of any competition, and scared a young family away, fearing for their lives, does not seem improbable. Matter of fact, it could be ripped from the headlines. One more refugee family ending up in a foreign land where they have neither kin nor kind is certainly well within the grasp of reality.

Having that young boy return to his alleged home town at age seven, carrying all the trappings and mannerisms of the heathen, would certainly make growing up difficult, not to mention the colliding wills of an every-growing collection of siblings.

Thinking that this boy would have no interest in carpentry, but instead, a precocious passion for humanity and the things of Spirit, is not implausible. After all, he’s the ugly duckling, whom we assume might one day become a swan. He grew in wisdom and stature, and even though he was a foreigner, gradually gained the favor of his neighbors.

It’s not difficult to believe that he lost his Papa, his only real connection with the village of Nazareth, and like many young men, launched out to find some purpose, ending up at the Jordan River, interacting with a wild and wooly cousin named John.

You can certainly believe he got baptized, and probably went out into the wilderness for a while, just to find himself, coming back with claims of interfacing with the devil. You might even forgive his youthful explanation, knowing that to some degree, we all wrestle with our demons.

But the story stalls.

He is rejected by his home town, moves to Capernaum next to the Sea of Galilee, encompassed by a sea of apathy, picks up some friends and followers, and starts traveling the countryside. It is hit-and-miss at best.

It is at this point that many folks who consider themselves to be intelligent and reasonable become cynical about a miracle-worker who calms the waves and casts out demons. But to a certain degree, even those sardonic souls might be able to explain away this and that, but still maintain their interest in the story–especially since he begins to hammer away at religion, loses the favor of the crowd and opens the door of the hierarchy to plot against him, find a betrayer, try him, beat him, nail him to a cross and kill him.

If the story ended there, the baby born in Bethlehem had a life that was a complete failure. His friends are scattered in every direction, his movement was about to become a joke–a piece of farcical history.

So this is where faith comes in. That’s right–you don’t really have to use much to this point. You can just glide along with the story, picking and choosing at will.

But the tale that unfolds, spoken of by those who claimed to be eyewitnesses, is that this baby of Bethlehem rose from the dead.

Now … faith is in full function and also full demand.

Did Jesus of Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth, Jordan River, wilderness, Capernaum and Mesopotamia end his life as a failure, beaten down by his critics?

Or did God, the power of the Ethos and the Spirit of the Universe, choose to resurrect him to give the message one more chance?

It’s a very important decision.

It changes this story from a baby shower to a heaven-ordained miracle.

For as we know, several weeks later, a hundred and twenty people in an Upper Room believed it was true. Twelve disciples gave their lives as martyrs, insisting they had witnessed a resurrection.

And at last count, 2.2 billion humans still living two thousand years later have taken their faith beyond the crib, past the crypt … and placed it in the Christ.

 

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Good News and Better News… March 6th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3238)

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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