Monday, April 25, 2011

The "holy" way or the Lowly Way

The "holy" way or the Lowly Way

Religiousity or Righteousness.

Outward appearance, or internal compliance.

Today Jesus tells a story...

Matthew 21:28
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him."

The story is one that every parent can relate to. Even if you only have two children, it is likely that they are each very different from each other.

The first son is what we would now call a "strong willed child." When asked to help his father, his first response was rebellious and confrontive. "I will not go" was his immediate reply. This is a kid who is very hard to manage. He causes his parents a lot of grief. However, in this story he changes his mind and decides to obey.

In this story, the second son is outwardly compliant. "Yes, Dad" was the answer. But he was what we would now call "passive aggressive." He said yes, so the problem of the moment was solved. But he disobeyed, doing whatever he pleased. These children are difficult for a parent because of their back handed and sneaky ways of disobeying.

Jesus asks the obvious question. Even though one kid looked good at the time, and the other kid was rebellious and hard headed, in the end, which kid did the right thing? Which kid obeyed the father?

So those who look so good on the outside, all religious and stuff, were actually not doing the will of God, but just making it hard for sincere people to find God at all.

And those who looked so bad on the outside, living a life of greed and sin, were turning from their wrongful ways, repenting, and coming to God with sincerity and trust.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hi is Risen!

Matthew 28
Jesus Has Risen
1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

This is the most important celebration of the year for Christians. Jesus came to earth, lived, did miracles, taught, died for our sins. But what validates all of that is that he rose from the dead.

Easter is about Jesus. He is Risen!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Power is a significant part of life.

Power among nations. For much of my life there was a "balance of power" (balance of terror, really) between the Soviet Union and the West, with the number and deadly force of nuclear weapons creating the balance. Now, the United States reigns supreme as the world power, but the present leadership is working diligently to destroy that.

Power among people. People with money have power. People with position have power. People with great strength, or big voice, or fierce temperament have power.

Power in relationships. Often divorces comes as a result of a power struggle between the two people.

Spiritual power. Who is close to God. Who is living a morally pure life.

Jesus gave up all his external power. But he had spiritual power in spades.

Today he dismantles the opposition with one simple question. Read on...

Matthew 21:23 "Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."

End of story!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Time to Pay Taxes!

It is April 15 this Friday.
Time to pay taxes!

Of course, we pay them all year long. We pay them every day. We pay them when we buy gas, buy food, pay our mortgage payment. We pay taxes when we die.

But right now, we are concentrating only on the income tax. The more you make, the more you pay.

We hate paying taxes. But no more than the people in the olden days. At the time of Christ, the Roman Empire controlled Palestine. They extorted taxes from the folks. Nobody liked paying those taxes.

It is the set up for today's story...

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away."

Ever since, we have used this phrase, first spoken by Jesus himself. Pay to Ceasar what is Ceasars, and to God what is God's.