Jesonian … August 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3761)

Astonished.

It is the word that Saint Matthew selected, in his Gospel, to describe the reaction of the audience which heard Jesus of Nazareth share the Sermon on the Mount.

Some synonyms for astonished:

  • Shocked
  • Confounded
  • Bewildered
  • Astounded
  • Flabbergasted
  • Startled
  • Stunned
  • Dumbfounded
  • Blow your mind

Astonished is a word that combines impressed and alarmed.

It is the way Matthew perceived the mood of the hearers.

He added that they felt that Jesus had more “authority” than the scribes. As you probably know, the scribes were not the Pharisees. The scribes were the local ministers in charge of writing and reading the Law of Moses.

The style they imparted in sharing those ancient words was: read, said, dead. When the scribes read, they said what was exactly there–as dead as they possibly could, so as not to add too much flavor.

So as you can see, it was not a roaring accolade, to say that Jesus exceeded the knowledge or enthusiasm of the scribes.

The importance to the verse is that the people departing that day were “astonished.” What do people do when they’re astonished?

On the way home, as the afterglow disappears, they begin to pick at the corners of great ideas until they disassemble them, convincing themselves that these principles are implausible.

How do we know this is true?

Most of them do not follow Jesus down the hill, but instead, go to their homes, where they justify their disbelief.

Meanwhile, Jesus, who has just delivered the most radical, truthful and practical message ever heard on Earth, descends the hill, and is greeted by one leper, who asks for healing–who had probably missed the sermon.

After twenty-two years of traveling with my dear friend Janet Clazzy, to thousands of churches, I will tell you this:

It is very possible to stir up a congregation, and even their local shepherd, to the point of astonishment.

You can raise dead spirits that haven’t been alive since Grandma and Grandpa sat in the pews.

You can get people to clap, think, react, smile, and even do their best impersonation of loving one another. But you can’t go home with them.

And home is where they rationalize all their present actions–to avoid the horror of repentance.

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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 … March 10th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3607)

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 … October 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3452)

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It is nearly impossible to be Jesonian–a true follower of the heart of Jesus–without fully comprehending that there are two Gospels. Shall we name them the “Galilee Gospel” and the “Jerusalem Journey?”

It is the reason theologians struggle with the message of Jesus, finding themselves complicating it so that the dual approaches can co-habitate within one faith. But it’s an error to do so.

Jesus had one message but two missions. His two missions were:

  1. To bring the message to fulfill the love
  2. To present himself as the doorway to fulfill the law

In Galilee he talked about life–abundant life. He lived with his disciples in joy–fully. He spoke of God as a Father and all of us as brothers and sisters. He explained the dangers of anger and lust. He clarified that the things we do to other people are recorded as actions performed to God. It was human–everyday fodder for feeling and believing.

But to fulfill the Law of Moses and welcome the Children of Abraham into his mission, he labored among the stringent, inflexible Jews, trying to reason with them and gather them together under a new understanding. These religionists had “jot-and-tittled” themselves into frantic insecurity about the purposes of God, and even, to a degree, agnosticism about the existence of Jehovah.

The Jerusalem Journey was filled with thinking, musing, mulling, wondering, questioning and attempts at compromise. It was a futile effort to afford political correctness to a manifesto meant for the whole world, and not merely designed for one hundred miles of landscape in the Middle East.

Did Jesus know that the Jews were going to reject him?

Did Jesus know it would end so badly, with his execution on a cross?

You can debate that all you want, but we are certainly aware that he reached a point where he had to relent to the conclusion that you can’t “put new wine into old wine skins.”

The problem in today’s church is that we focus too much on the Jerusalem Journey and don’t thunder the celebration of the Galilee Gospel.

Too much musing, too much debate, too much thinking and too much meditation.

It’s time for us to return to the Gospel of Galilee, when life was abundant and joy was full. It’s an easy message to remember: go, do, give, be.

  • Go unto all the world.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Give and it shall be given unto you.
  • Be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

Such a message offers redemption for failure, while simultaneously providing exhortation to challenge indifference.

There is a danger that we in the church will stall–trying to fulfill the law instead of fulfilling the love.

Stop thinking so much about it.

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Jesonian: They’re History… August 24, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2331)

swirl politicsConservatives, liberals, Tea Party, politicians and pundits.

Sounds like a daily line-up of guests on America’s revolving twenty-four-hour news cycle. But really, it’s the same boondoggle that existed in First Century Palestine, without the aid of antennas, cell phones, Twitter and technological toys.

For undoubtedly, the Pharisees were the conservatives–a blue-collar group of religionists who insisted on a strict enforcement of the Law of Moses while simultaneously creating their own oral interpretation via endless discussion.

The Sadducees were the liberals, who had removed all of the internal combustion from their beliefs, didn’t believe in a resurrection, were quite agnostic and had incorporated large portions of Greek philosophy into their mindful arsenal.

Then here come the Essenes, who were kind of disgusted with both of the former configurations, and had created their own Tea Party, living outside Jerusalem–disgusted with everything going on which wasn’t born of their own fears.

Herodianspolitical think tanks, gathering to try to find a way to maintain some form of Judaism while also satisfying the vapid egos of Herod and Rome.

And finally, the Scribes–those pundits who literally studied every jot, tittle, comma and dramatic pause to attain deeper meaning, only ending up with lesser quality because they focused on unimportant issues.

And even though the five conclaves nearly despised one another during their brief time on Earth, the history books lump them into one gigantic oppositional party…attacking Jesus.

Yes, the only thing they agreed on was a single alliance–standing against heavenly progress done on Earth.

And if the foolhardy arguers of our time aren’t careful, the only thing they’ll be remembered for is standing in the way of what human beings need during our time, while generating imaginary conflicts which render improvement impossible.

Because here is what antiquity will tell you: when you ignore an emotional need of humanity by fighting and arguing over the spiritual revelation that has come your way, you will be viewed by history as a villain.

If you look at the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth very carefully, you will realize that he answered their questions, ignored their traditions, took his message to the people and then, when they finally hatched an idiotic plot to bring him before a kangaroo court and marched him off to execute him as a criminal, he warned them that “their house would be left to them desolate.”

None of these five groups exist today.

There are no Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians and Scribes.

And if we’re not careful, their counterparts in our time will be dubbed equally as meaningless.

What is the goal of the Jesonian life?

  • Find the emotional need.
  • Be sensitive to the spiritual revelation.
  • Renew the mind of your generation.
  • And grant us all the strength to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

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

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

 

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

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

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Untotaled: Stepping 14 (July 22, 1965) Getting Over the Hump… May 17, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2235)

(Transcript)

It was a summer when my raging hormones were doing constant battle against my entrenched morality.

I was a good boy with a head full of bad ideas.

So when church camp rolled around, I had lost my earlier childhood passion for scripture verses and vespers, and was more intently interested in swimming at the lake and eyeballing the fruitfulness of the blooming damsels.

This year the church had decided to draft two older teens to act as counselors for us young’uns. They were named Jack and Jill.

Really.

They were three years older, which made them both extraordinarily intimidating and elevated them to the status of Olympian gods. They were so cool. Everything they did was cool.

So one day when they went up the hill together (not kidding) I decided to follow at a distance, careful not to be seen, to ascertain what such dynamic human specimens did in their free time.

They must have walked for about fifteen minutes before finding a very private clearing in the woods. Going over to a nearby maple tree, Jack lay down and Jill climbed on top of him, fully clothed–and then he rubbed his against hers to create theirs.

I was shocked, befuddled and completely titillated.

It was like watching zoo animals, except they knew algebra.

Trying not to stumble, I exited the scene, running back to camp to ask my friend (whose father was a doctor in Columbus and who seemed to know everything about everything) what exactly my eyes had beheld.

With the calm and studious nature of a professor, he explained that Jack and Jill were “humping.” I was a little put off by the term, yet everything I came up with–for instance, “rubbing” and “entangled”–seemed no better.

He said my particular viewing of humping was of the “dry” variety.

I was enraged.

I was engorged.

I was torn between my envious nature over their pleasure and my Biblical knowledge of the perils of fornication. So blending the two together–envy and disdain–I went to the pastor in charge of the camp and squealed on them.

He promised that no one would ever find out that it was me, and a meeting was planned to dismiss the two from camp due to their immorality.

Sensing their ultimate betrayal, Jack and Jill went on the “lamb” and Splitsville.

I felt bad.

Two reasons: I realized that I hurt two people to make myself look good, and secondly, I couldn’t get the humping vision out of my mind–not because it was unpleasant, but because secretly I wished it was me.

I learned a valuable lesson that year at church camp. It had very little to do with the Law of Moses or the major doings of the minor prophets.

I learned that it is my job to pay attention to concerns that pertain to me and to try to leave other people alone.

After all, we humans are a jumbled mess of emotion, spirituality, mentality and physical urges. To sit in judgment of one another sets up the scenario for our own comical fall from the throne of self-righteousness.

Because … when Jack goes up the hill and falls down, Jill often comes tumbling after. It’s just the way we are.

It’s all because deep inside of us, we are trying to … “fetch that damn pail of water.”

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

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

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

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

Messiah Comes … June 26, 2013

(1924)

I’ll bet it didn’t even cross their minds.

The average Jew walking around prior to the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth probably never considered that the Messiah they were looking for, to solve all their problems–well, that the word “Messiah” begins with m-e-s-s.

Yes. A mess.

If they had stopped for a moment to realize that God was not going to jump through religious hoops to confirm their wishes, they might have been more prepared to hear the message, consider the toleration and move forward in their enlightenment.

After all, they thought the Messiah would be born of the seed of David. That meant that Jesus needed to be the son of Joseph. As it turns out, he was the son of Mary, with a contribution from an overshadowing Holy Spirit.

They deeply contended that the Messiah would come and preach the Law of Moses and install it as the edict of the land. Instead, Jesus brought a mess. He challenged the Law of Moses, referred to it as old-fashioned, and explained that he came to fulfill the law by offering common sense applications.

Likewise, they were totally convinced of the supremacy of their Jewish race–how they were children of Abraham. Jesus certainly messed that up, by telling them God could take stones and turn them into “Abe’s children.”

  • They wanted a conqueror. He came to explain that it was the peacemakers who were blessed.
  • They wanted a fighting king like David. He flatly announced that “those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”
  • They thought their Messiah would live on and reign forever. Instead, he died at thirty-three-and-a-half years of age, on a cross outside of Jerusalem.
  • He promised them he would come again, so they thought they could predict such a time and place. Then he robbed them of that game, by saying that his return would be in such an hour as they could not conceive.

Their Messiah was a mess to them–rather disappointing. Instead of conquering the Romans, he welcomed them into the fold of God’s pasture. Refusing to condemn the Samaritans, he held a revival with them. And rejecting the practice of cursing the sinners, prostitutes and tax-collectors, he ate and drank with them.

I am heading off tonight to Messiah Lutheran in Galva, Illinois. For the handful of folks who will gather to see this simple man that I am, let me explain one thing, and one thing only: it won’t be what you expect.

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