Updated: Jan 31
Here we are in the middle of November. Halloween has come and gone. Now, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Next Sunday is the last week of the Pentecost season, and the first Sunday in December begins the Advent season.
During Advent, we focus on the coming birth of Christ; however on Christ the King Sunday – next week – we will read about Jesus on the cross, alongside two criminals. The death of Jesus, his end of physical life, recycles to the beginning of that life, as we prepare for the birth of Jesus.
It is important now to begin seeing how the religious year cycles. The evolution of Christ reflects the revolution of life. It is reflective of how our lives revolve and evolve. Literally and figuratively, we are born, we live, and we die.
Charles Schulz drew a cartoon in Peanuts that I have remembered since I first read it, a long time ago. I laughed hard then.
It was four panels depicting Charlie Brown and Linus leaning on the rock wall, their positions not changing. They are philosophizing, reflecting on their young lives. In this story, Linus informed Charlie that he read a book. He then told Charlie about the book: and it went like this: “A man was born. He lived and died. The end.”
The third panel was without comment, as a pause to soak up all that had been conveyed between the two.
Then, in the last panel, Charlie Brown still with his chin in his hands and with his elbows leaning on top of the rock wall said, “Gee. It makes you wish you knew the man.”
I laughed so hard as a 10-year old. I thought, “How could he say such a thing!?!?”
As I grew much older, I began to understand the esoteric meaning of that cartoon.
Jesus is that man.
We read from the book that tells about him each week – his birth, his life, his death. We need to wish we knew him, … just from the words of a book telling of a man none of us knew personally, in the flesh.
In the reading from Isaiah 65, we see how a lineage was coming to an end. That bloodline was supposed to be dedicated to the One God forever, never dying. However, it proved to be mortal.
It was born, lived and would soon die. That would have been the end, a sad ending, but God told Isaiah that he would create a new line, without all the faults and failures of the first. It would be eternal.
Isaiah wrote lyrics that sing about what should have happened to the children of Israel, had they not failed God. Instead of them weeping and crying about their distresses – the symptoms of a terminal disease – they should have been rejoicing. They could have been delighting in God’s protective graces having been spread out before them.
Instead they professed faith, but had none.
They faced death and were buried – scattered to the winds and the four corners of the earth.
That was the end of a God-selected group of people, the hand-picked humans of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They lost eternal life by gambling that their pedigree granting them favor, regardless of their actions. That mistaken belief found them giving nothing back to God, as was promised in the Covenant.
So, they lost their life.
God was going to fix that flaw by sending his Son to renew a human lineage, and make it clear just how great the reward is for having faith in the LORD, and maintaining that faith.
You can say that was going to be a reincarnation on earth, with the plan being for a resurrection to Heaven – after the new line was born, lives, and would die faithfully, allowing for resurrection.
Eternity would mark the end of their soul’s time in the physical realm.
You see, the children of Israel and Judah, meaning the people who possessed those lands, died when they lost those lands. They were more concerned with thinking those plots of soil were worth more than an unseen Heaven. Because God gave them that land to use, they thought those lands could never be taken away. They were wrong.
The contract stated, in LARGE LETTERS, “You must work to keep the land.”
Another good idea ruined by the Nazis.
The people of Israel and Judah were misled – misled by their political and religious institutions. Kings, queens, priests, and prophets slowly began to tell them it was okay to bend the rules and live like the other peoples of the world.
They said it was okay to honor some of the foreign gods. They misplaced trust, putting faith in outsiders coming into their ranks, pretending to be like them. Foreigners rose to rule over them and they then appointed corrupt priests and prophets – ones not dedicated to only one god. They served Mammon. They served Ba’al.
The children of God were misled by snakes – serpents – just like Adam and Eve were misled by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had the benefit of being the son and daughter of God, so they were immortal. They had been given eternal life; but they lost their eternal lives, through sin, and fell to earth. They became mortals.
They were born through creation, they lived, and then they died. The end.
The snake who influenced that expulsion from eternal life was called crafty, in Genesis 3. He was “more crafty than any of the other wild animals.”
The symbolism of craftiness is letting your head lead your body, instead of your heart leading your brain. I call this “Big Brain Syndrome.” A fat head is too heavy for Heaven. So, if it falls to earth, then it cannot rise to Heaven. Its food shall be dust, because crafty people long for material objects, rather than spiritual rewards.
In the Gospel reading in Luke today, we find how a conversation between Jesus and his disciples has turned to the beauty and adornments of the Second Temple. Those things, those objects, those physical niceties were grabbing their attention and making them marvel over the earthly realm.
Jesus acted as the prophet he was, when he heard their adoration. He told the disciples (who had small brains) some of what the future holds.
He told them that the temple would fall to the earth. It would suffer death, and cease to be.
That was the Second Temple. The Temple of Solomon had been destroyed by the Babylonians of Nebuchadnezzar. It had been risen from dust, lived for centuries, then returned to the dust.
The disciples had been marveling at the second coming of the temple – the reincarnation of a great achievement by man. Jesus told his disciples that the building only appeared to have life, in the here and now; but the here and now was an illusion that would not last forever. The Second Temple too would fall from its heavenly state.
Think about that for a moment.
The Temple was more brain than heart. It had been contrived by the minds of men.
Men who thought, “Let us go back to square one and pretend the failures of our ancestors never happened. We will recreate the state of Israel-Judah, as it was in Jerusalem, the way it was when the last breath of the Israelites left them.
Thus, the Second Temple was not honoring God – it honored those who had been given a chance to renew a path that led to death. The minds running the Temple were rejecting Jesus and his message. They would later turn on the Apostles.
Jesus forewarned his disciples, “Beware that you are not led astray.”
The same warning could have been told to Adam and Eve. The same warning applies to us today … and to our children tomorrow.
Jesus warned the disciples that there would come many people – not just in their lifetimes, but in our lifetimes too – who would try to act as did the serpent and say, “I speak for Jesus! The end is coming, so you need to do as I say. Come, follow me!”
“Do not go after them,” Jesus said.
The reason is the same reason Eve could have used to reject the serpent in the Garden of Eden: With God within your heart, God will tell you everything you need to know, so you have no reason to think someone else has God telling them, “Go! Tell the world to follow you!”
Why would one who is connected to God, directly (as was Eve) or indirectly (through Christ), need to follow someone else? With God in your heart, God will lead you.
I heard a term the other day … not a nice term … which is “sheeples.”
It means people with herd mentality, who are ready, willing, and wanting to follow someone … anyone … who is bold enough to say, “Follow me!”
Being a “sheeple” does not mean you are brainless. It means finding good reason to follow, because following makes one less responsible for their actions. If all goes wrong … point the finger and say, “He, she, it said to do it.”
Jesus said, “I will give you words and a wisdom.”
This means he will tell you what to do from within your heart, not by sending some stranger to lie to you. Jesus will tell you what to say, and he will tell you how to act upon those words. This is the Holy Spirit, which Christ advocates for you to receive, so you do not need to follow the lead of strangers.
If you need a good shepherd to prepare you to use your own Holy Spirit-driven abilities, Jesus will give you the wisdom to listen. But, you do not follow a good shepherd either.
That is because you alone control your destiny. No one but you can get you beyond this plane of existence, to eternal life.
Thus … having the Holy Spirit within you means hard work. It is a 24/7 commitment – and I do not mean 24 days a month, seven months a year. I mean twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Full time … with the best benefits possible, although those come with a very high deductible … constant work.
Hard work scares a lot of people off.
It certainly scared off the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They ended a sacred line. The became a dead branch, a stump.
Still … a shoot grew from the root of Jesse, which led to that dead stump. A new line was started by Christ, which had the bloodline that went back to Adam and Eve. Jesus used the same genetics of the remnants of Israel – the DNA of a dead body … beginning Christianity with Jews who possessed the same flawed potential of past failures. Thus, that lineage has been inherited by Christians.
The same tendency to look for the easy way, to look for excuses, to let others do our work, and to shun the deeds of faith is born in us. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and told them to beware the lazy Christians. He said to look out for the ones living in idleness, who were unwilling to do the work of a true Christian.
Paul told them; and as a living branch from that new tree, Paul waves before you today in full blossom, telling you too: “Do not be weary in doing what is right.”
Jesus told the disciples that the Second Temple would die. He told them that around 32-33 AD. It died in 70 AD, or 37-38 years later. Today, it is still dead, although there has long been talk about reincarnating it.
If only the Muslims had not built the Dome of the Rock in its place. If only Christians had not built their own holy monument-temples … many times over, since then.
How many people here today expect to be still living in 37-38 years? That would be the year 2040 or 2041.
In my case, if all goes well, I will be 96-97 years old in 37-38 years.
The point of that question is, in the grand scheme of things, on the timeline of the history of the earthly realm, 37-38 years is no more than a drop in the ole time bucket. That means, for a mortal, the end IS ALWAYS NEAR.
The end means the end of our life in this world; and when the world comes to an end for us individually, everything in our world ceases to matter.
Who can you follow that will take you to Heaven, so you can live forever with God?
The answer is you … and only you.
You need to be led by your heart well before the time you pass on.
You want your personal biography to read: You were born. You lived and died in the physical realm. The end of misery was granted by God.
No one left on earth will know of your resurrection. Once entered into an eternal life, nothing else needs to be rewritten. You were reborn … endlessly.
Now, all you have to do is watch out for snakes in the grass.