The Roles Jesus Refused

This is a continuation of my thoughts on the Kingdom of God and how it now appears. Here are the first parts, if you’d like to read them:
Part One: The Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Click here to read.
Part Two: The Kingdom Foretold by Daniel Click here to read
Part Three: Three Things God Needed Click here to read
Part Five: Kingdoms and Dominions to Come Click here to read
Part Four: We Have Seen His Star. Click Here to read

The Roles Jesus Refused

Reading the New Testament and studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, I see some things that our Lord flat out rejected. I’ve paraphrased the various quotes, but will include scripture references so you can read the actual accounts.

Jesus refused to be made king.
When people wanted to make him king, he slipped away. (John 6:15)

He refused to be a judge.
“And one of the company said unto him (Jesus), Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And (Jesus) he said unto him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (Luke 12:13-14)

At one point he told his listeners, “It’s not me that will judge you.”
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. (John 12: 47-48)

He refused to punish, or allow his disciples to punish, people who rejected him.
In Luke 9: 54-56 we see where Jesus and his disciples approached a Samaritan village, hoping for a warm reception. Didn’t happen.
When his disciples saw that the Samaritans wouldn’t receive Jesus, they asked him, “Lord, can we call down fire from heaven and wipe these wretches out?
And he told them, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

He refused to mix politics with religion.
Nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus criticize the government or the way the country was being run. He taught people to be fair, kind, honest, compassionate and merciful, but he never got involved in demands for justice and human rights. He encouraged giving to the poor, but he didn’t hand out money or earthly goods to the needy. He rather invited people into the kingdom of God, where there’s equality and compassion for every citizen. He healed the sick as a way of demonstrating how God is willing to deliver from sin and heal the soul, but his healings were very deliberate, it seems.

At one point the Pharisees hatched a plan to trap him in this very thing. They came to him, first buttered him up lavishly, and then put forth a seemingly innocent question. Here’s my paraphrase of that story. (See Mark 12: 13-17)
“Master, we know that you’re so honest and don’t kowtow to any man, no matter what his position; rather, you teach the way of God in truth. Now what do you think about this question: Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar or not?”
(If you say yes, you’re supporting this heathen government. If you say no, you’re rebelling against Roman authority. Either way, we’ll nail you.)
But Jesus, understanding their guile, said, “Bring me a coin.” Which they did.
Then he said, “Okay, whose image is this on the coin? What name is stamped on it?”
“Caesar’s.”
“So, render to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar. And give to God the things you owe to God.”

They didn’t have much to say in response.

He refused to endorse the death penalty for sinners.
According to John 8: 1-11, a group of Pharisees came to where he was, shoving along a woman. “Master, this woman was taken in adultery. In the very act!”
(Does anyone else wonder why they caught her and not her partner?)
So why did they drag her to Jesus? They knew – in fact they told him – what the law of Moses commanded. But they also knew that the Roman law didn’t allow anyone to be put to death without a trial.

So here was another trap. Moses’ law commanded that adulterers should be stoned, but the Roman law demanded a trial first – and would the Romans consider adultery worthy of death? So if Jesus said, “No, don’t kill her,” he was teaching disobedience to the law God gave to Moses. If he said, “Yes, stone her,” he’d fall afoul of Roman law.
His way of sidestepping the decision they were demanding was absolutely brilliant. “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”
He tossed the ball back in their court and their own consciences convicted them. One by one they left. Then Jesus looked up at her and told her, “I’m not going to condemn you, either. Go home, and sin no more.”

Jesus rejected the multiplicity of laws so dear to the Scribes and Pharisees
They’d developed interpretations of exactly how each commandment should be carried out and had tacked them on to the commandments of God. Jesus scolded them for heaping heavy rules on men’s backs.
He pointed out how some of their rules actually nullified the laws of God. In Mark 7: 6-13 he talks of one loophole and says, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”

They were trying to buy holiness by keeping their multiplicity of rules, but Jesus wasn’t buying it. He kept pointing them back to the ugliness lurking in their hearts.
“Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. …ye tithe the leaves of herbs and pass over judgement and the love of God.”
Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues and the uppermost rooms at feasts: which devour widows houses and for a pretence make long prayers, these shall receive greater damnation.”

God wants children who love Him, and each other.
One scribe asked Jesus, “What’s the greatest commandment?” You can read this account in Mark 9: 28-34. As this man listened to Jesus’ answer, the light went on. He got it.
“Well, Master, you’ve said the truth. There is one God, and none other but he. And to love him with all our heart, all our understanding, with all our soul and all our strength –and to love our neighbour as ourself, this is of more value than all our burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Israel was the prime example — and God meant it to be the prime example – of why a lot of rules would never hold people’s hearts. Those who were dedicated to serving God would do so, and those who wanted a way around would find it somehow. Holiness must be voluntarily pursued. People first desire it with all their hearts; then, with God’s help, they will do their best to live it.

Some Bible scholars today, all enthused about what’s coming on planet earth, say that Jesus plans to return and set up a literal kingdom. Jesus, whose life on earth was all about offering people a choice, is going to rule over an earth full of people who will be forced to serve Him. Is this really a correct interpretation of future events? What about all the scriptures that indicate a spiritual kingdom? Jesus calls himself “the door” to the Kingdom of God; a kingdom, he says, “that cometh not with outward observation.” (Luke 17:20-21)

“He came unto his own and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

Tunes: The Surrey or Just the Fringe?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was FRINGE

When I saw the prompt word this morning my mind immediately went to a snatch of song from back in childhood. I don’t remember anything of the words or music, just the line “the nice little surrey with the fringe on the top.”

Now, who wrote that song? What were the words? When was it popular? A thousand blessings on the unseen folk who have answered all the questions people put to Google!

The song was written by Richard Rodgers and comes from the musical play, “Oklahoma.” I see another song listed as well, one that was very popular in its day. I can hear again in memory the whole cheerful chorus:
“Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day!
I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way.”
It’s easy to remember and to sing; the words are appealing and the music’s a great fit.

With some songs, the words are so-so and would get nowhere without their tune. As I read over the song, “The Surrey With the Fringe on the Top,” I can’t see anything especially “musical” or appealing about the words, so I conclude it’s one where the tune was the surrey and the words were the fringe. (Click HERE to read the lyric, if you wish.)

Many songs have great lyrics that touch our hearts. They’d easily stand alone as a poem – and a lot were poems, finally set to music. Our national anthems, songs of home and family, love and courage, longing for the old folks or the girl left behind. For example:
“Way Down Upon the Swanee River…”
“When you and I were young, Maggie…”
“By yon bonny banks and by yon bonny braes…”

I don’t know if there’s been a more prolific poet than the blind Christian writer, Fanny Crosby. She wrote more than 8000 verses, many of which ended up as gospel songs and have been paired with the perfect music – lively, or slow and thoughtful – for carrying the message.

“All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.”

Another One Coming Down

It’s time for another Crimson’s Creative Challenge
Every Wednesday she posts a photo (the one below) and bloggers can respond with something CREATIVE:

  • An answering photo
  • A cartoon
  • A joke
  • A caption
  • An anecdote
  • A short story (flash fiction)
  • A poem
  • A newly minted proverb, adage or saying
  • An essay
  • A song—the lyrics or the performance

She gives only two criteria:

  • Your creative offering is indeed yours
  • Your writing is kept to 150 words or less

I’ve read various reports lately about statues coming down because of their association with past evil. While I understand this principle and don’t find fault with it, I recall what a wise man often told his children back in the early 1900s. Once people get started, will they know where to stop? Which gave the “seed” for this tale:

Another One Comes Down

“Here by this door,” Alix pointed. “Great place for another charge.”

Tonya eyed the structure. “Isn’t this overdoing things? I mean…”

“No way! These temples of opulent indulgence were built on the suffering of starving peasants, slaving to pay crushing rent to greedy lords. And think of all the wars plotted here…the blood shed to defend this place.”

“True. But still…the tourist revenue.”

“Money has triumphed over human rights too long,” Alix declared. “Just think of the debauchery that went on behind these walls. Lecherous nobs forcing themselves on helpless servant girls; wives enduring philandering husbands; unwanted babies hustled away to a nunnery; thousands of daughters pressured into wretched marriages to forge political alliances. And tourists are worshipping all this evil!”

“Not exactly. It’s the history…”

“Right! All these castles are coming down.”

Tonya shook her head. Didn’t Grandpa always say, “There’s no moderation in the human race”?

The Love of Poetry

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is CURFEW

Seeing this prompt, one might launch into the latest news in the US, but my thinking goes to that old poem, “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight,” written by an imaginative sixteen-year-old girl from Michigan in 1867, Rose Hartwick Thorpe.

This story supposedly took place during the English War of the Roses. A young woman’s sweetheart is imprisoned for some fault and sentenced to be shot that night at the ringing of the curfew bell. Our young heroine, trusting General Cromwell will pardon him — but Cromwell may come too late — rushes to the church sexton and begs him not to ring the curfew bell.

The sexton insists on doing his duty and turns her away, so she sneaks into the bell tower and when the sexton pulls the rope to ring the bell, she declares that, “Curfew must not ring tonight,” and grasps the bell clapper. Bashed back and forth, she bravely holds on until the sexton gives up. When Cromwell arrives, hears her story and sees her injuries, his heart is touched and he pardons the young man.

This poem was one of Queen Victoria’s favorites, according to Wiki.

It may seem odd that this old poem instantly comes to me, but the penchant is genetic. I love poetry, my Mom F (nee Vance) loved poetry; apparently her mother and father enjoyed reciting long epic poems; and her Grandmother Smith likewise. My Vance uncles were keen storytellers and cousin Linda is working on her own tales, having written down most of her Dad’s stories. I don’t know if there’s actually such a thing as a poetic gene, but evidence would lean that way.

It used to be that school children were given long poems to memorize; this task was supposed to sharpen young minds. Often the verse came with a dash of humor, like this one by Anon., to sweeten the effort:

“The little boys were awfully strong
when Father was a boy.
They’d weed the cornfields all day long
when Father was a boy.
And when the day at last was o’er
they’d go and do up every chore,
Then come and beg to work some more
when Father was a boy.”

I believe young minds were improved by this exercise. Moreover, the concept in a good poem can ripple for centuries. Writers and speakers still echo the sympathetic wisdom of Bobby Burns in his poem, Ode to a Mouse:

“The best-laid plans of mice and man go oft astray
and leave us not but grief and pain for promised joy.”

“Older Than Dirt”

I was talking with a friend yesterday and she asked me if I felt a year older now. No, not a whole year older. However, I just came across a file while scrolling through my DropBox and as I reread it, I realized that I, too, am “older than dirt.”
Renee Boomer shared these thoughts about eight years ago. They’re surely worth posting again. I hope they give you youngsters under fifty a smile today, too.

Man reflectingMy husband always tells the grandchildren that he is ‘older than dirt’. They find that quite funny. When I was approaching my sixtieth birthday they looked at me and said, “Gamma, now you will be ‘older than dirt’ just like Papa.
Ha-ha. They will have their turn.

Old-Time Memories

When my Dad was cleaning out my grandmother’s house he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea.
She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. I knew it as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to ‘sprinkle’ clothes with because we didn’t have steam irons. Man, I am old!

How many of these do you remember?
– Head lights dimmer switches on the floor.
– Ignition switches on the dashboard.
– Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.
– Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.
– Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.
— Ice boxes and home delivery of ice.
— Galvanized steel bath tubs.
Toy doll in tub

Here’s an official Older Than Dirt Quiz :
Count all the ones that you remember not the ones you were told about.
Then see your rating at the bottom. 🙂

Candy cigarettes
Coffee shops with table-side juke boxes
Home milk delivery in glass bottles
Telephone party lines
Newsreels before the movie
TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the morning. There were only 3 channels — if you were fortunate!
Peashooters
Howdy Doody
45 RPM records
Hi-fi’s
Metal ice trays with lever
Blue flashbulb
Cork popguns
Studebakers
Wash tub wringers

If you remembered 0-3 = You’re still young
If you remembered 3-6 = You are getting older
If you remembered 7-10 = Don’t tell your age
If you remembered 11-15 = You’re older than dirt!

I might be “older than dirt” but those memories are some of the best parts of my life!

Remembering When…

The Your Daily Word prompt for today is EMINENT:

According to Merriam-Webster this means:
1: exhibiting eminence especially in standing above others in some quality or position : prominent
2 : standing out so as to be readily perceived or noted : conspicuous
3 : jutting out : projecting

Here’s my musing on the topic. Not really a poem, but rather an oldie’s ramble down memory lane

Beaver
Pixabay

Remember “buck teeth”?
Those prominent beaver-like
incisors nobody has these days
thanks to the workmanship
of orthodontists and braces?

And “Leave It To Beaver”
back before the name
became politically incorrect
or considered offensive
even though it was, sort-of,
but that was life back then.

Are you old enough to recall
scenes where and moms and dads
were considered eminently wise
and allowed to advise
their attentive offspring?
That was life back then.