Updated: Feb 1
Here Americans are without religion of any merit. Like Jesus’ disciples did as he hung dying on a cross, like they did when his body was taken down and prepared for temporary burial, and like they were when it was discovered his body was no longer in the tomb, Americans of ‘faith’ are sheltering in place, afraid “I’m next.” (Shudder in place.) Facebook church. Makes me remember my mother giving up going to church after I stopped going at sixteen. She found religion on television. Just like her, America is learning the values of stay-at-home congregations. With the right advertising and marketing agency, this could be the new boon the churches have lusted for. After all, it used to be illegal to sell anything on Sundays (except essential items) during the hours when church services were held (before noon and after 6:00 PM – called “Blue Laws”), just like it used to be a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that only shyster lawyers and back alley doctors advertised on television. Happens all the time now. Things have a way of changing. So, why not Christianity? To me, anyone with half a brain can sit in an Episcopal church over a long enough period of time and hear much, most, or all of the readings (as long as one does not only go to church on the same day(s) each year, hearing only the same readings read) and come away knowing that what was just heard in no way reflects the way things are. The greatest lie being told – and this goes back a LONG time – is “Jesus died for your sins.” It is a lie because it totally misrepresents the truth of what is read openly for all to hear; but it also is a lie because it is a simpleton conclusion that says nothing of value. “What? You mean I killed Jesus by sinning?”
That is what everyone with any intelligence should hear from those words – “Jesus died because of your sins.” That is the truth, becoming a statement that implies, “Stop sinning!”
Instead, the lie implies, “You do not have to do anything to stop sinning, because “Jesus died.” So, there is no reason for your sins (to stop). Who has not sat in a church of Christianity (any denomination) and heard the follow-up to Jesus dying for your sins, meaning all the sinners he died for now have to bear the cross of Jesus. That sounds like it says, “YOU have to play the role of Simon the Cyrene and pick up Jesus’ cross and carry it to Golgotha, where Jesus will then be nailed to it, hoisted up in place, and allowed to suffer until death.” Of course, that also says, you do not do anything other than carry a heavy wooden cross – the ole rugged cross – for a limited length of time – say, until your next feast of sins – and then it becomes repeat “I’m sorry” and repeat “Jesus died for your sins.” Does that not make you feel guilty?
Fill in the invisible blank. When Jesus said to his disciples (basically telling them): You are either with me or not, his words recorded in the Gospels are: • “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
• “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34b)
• “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
There is a whole lot of re-quoting the “take up your cross” part of those instructions, but not so much the “deny yourself” prerequisite. Christians suffering from Big Brain Syndrome know the end of the Gospel stories. That big lump of knowledge-flesh loves to leap forward to the cross of crucifixion part of the Gospel stories and say, “Look at how smart I am!!! Jesus said you have to carry his cross of death if you want to be his follower!!! Yea!!! I know that because I heard that part read before!!! I know the ending!!!” Cue the “wrong answer” game show buzzer. Aaaaaannnk. Wrong! Even though God the Father knew the way the Son would die and although Jesus the Son of Man knew his death was inevitable, he said: • “The Son of Man must suffer many things” … “and he must be killed.” (Luke 9:21b & d and Mark 8:31 b & d) • “(Jesus said) he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders” … “he must be killed.” (Matthew 16:21 b & d) There was no mention of a cross of crucifixion, not until Matthew wrote about the third time Jesus predicted his death. Then, Matthew wrote that Jesus said his coming death would involve punishment that was “to be mocked and flogged and crucified.” Mark and Luke also recorded that third time Jesus predicted his coming death, but neither of them said anything about crucifixion. Previously, the Temple Jews had tried to seize Jesus and stone him to death. He escaped that threat of death each time. But, when the Temple Jews had Jesus brought before Pilate the first time, Pilate told those Jews to punish Jesus according to their Mosaic laws and get out of there with Jesus.
The Temple Jews lied, saying we cannot kill anyone. They were going to stone a prostitute to death, had Jesus not happened along. They did stone Stephen to death, as Saul (aka Paul) looked on. If that “we cannot kill anyone” BS were anywhere close to the truth, then the stupid rube disciples of Jesus, hearing his prediction of coming death at the hands of the Jews, would have NEVER thought to themselves that death would be by crucifixion. Stoning yes, but crucifixion … no way! Thus, when Jesus told them to pick up their cross and carry it, NONE thought, “Wow! Jesus wants us to be crucified!” Crucifixion was a form of execution used against hardened criminals and rebels who did crimes against Rome and its occupational forces. A body hanging, dying on a rugged cross was like those digital signs hanging over the Interstate highways today, which give warnings like, “Buckle up or be locked up,” “Drink and drive and be arrested and lose your license,” or “Shelter in place and only essential driving allowed … or else we’ll fine you!”
Crucifixion was not a typical form of punishment, as it required making a production of death. Crucifixion was much more costly than was making a criminal kneel down and lean his or her head out (usually over a stump), at which time a swift swipe of a Roman sword would yield the same result … much quicker. Seeing all this, Jesus NEVER told his disciples they had to carry a cross of crucifixion and die that way (a death several Apostles did experience later, but by no means all). Had Jesus said that or even implied that, he would have proved himself a liar by being too physically weak to bear his own rugged cross, requiring Simon the Cyrene to be ordered to carry it for Jesus. Even the word written by Matthew that says Jesus would be “crucified” is “staurōsai,” which can also mean “fenced with stakes.”
When one sees the root Greek word, “stauros,” its basic translation is as “an upright stake.” In a society that was largely agricultural, an upright stake was something commonly used to make plants grow. We use them to help tomato plants gain support from them, so when large heavy tomatoes begin to grow that weight does not make the fruit fall with the plant stem to the ground. The ground is where furry animals and birds can ruin the fruit easier. When one realizes the role wine played, as a purified form of liquid to drink (flavored water with a kick), those upright stakes became crosses. The grapevines would wrap around the cross members and the heavy grape clusters would hang from them. Therefore, the purest meaning of a “stauros” or “staurōsai” was that … not a Roman instrument of death.
Be a strong crossbar on a raised stake so the good fruit can grow well.
Matthew wrote his Gospel from a position of Apostlehood, whereby he knew how the prediction Jesus made had come true. That could have influenced his word choice, but all Holy Words, like ALL those spoken by Jesus, come from God, with divine purpose. That means Matthew was directed to throw a red herring to the Christians of today, KNOWING people with Big Brains would read it the wrong way.
Even Matthew, who heard Jesus make his predictions of death, would freely admit, “Gosh no! None of us ever imagined the Jews would have Jesus nailed to a rugged cross and left to die. When I wrote “staurōsai” I was thinking it was metaphor for his sentence by the Jews of the Temple … as a way to fence Jesus in and end his ministry.”
I mean, come on now. Is it not clear that Jesus taught his disciples to become “good fruit of the vine”? He begins John’s fifteenth chapter by saying, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. ” He talks about branches that do not bear fruit being cut off and thrown in the fire. He told them, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” Then, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Sure, fruit, branches and vines are metaphor. One has to be able to apply that analogy to real modern life. So, when one person hears stated, “Jesus died for your sins, so now you have his cross to bear,” do they understand “Jesus died to become a vine of God that grows disciple branches that must bear fruit or else AND without Jesus they cannot bear fruit”? Does that not mean “the cross of Jesus” is less like a crucifix and more like an upright stake and a cross member that supports the vine and branches and fruit?
The misinformation that is passed on by people wearing robes, having done little more than pass exams at some institution of higher learning that does absolutely NO EXPLAINING about what Scripture says, what Scripture means, and what Scripture says about what it takes to have one’s own sins die, so eternal life can be gained. Seminaries and theological schools take one’s children’s church mentality about Bible Stories and dresses them up in robes, puts ropes around their waists, their necks showing large, flashy crosses dangling down, and makes ignorance look impressive, because impressive does not need to explain anything. Having taught priests, ministers and preachers to cross themselves (or not), spread their arms out with palms up (or not), to sing psalms and/or liturgy loudly (or not), and preach a twelve minute sermon (or not) that will usually be more confusing than the Scripture it supposedly explains, seminaries are like religious puppy mills. They breed pedigree inbreds for the money they make. Churches would go out of business if they actually taught people how to BE CHRISTIAN, rather than act like what they imagine that would be like. They fear people becoming Apostles and going out to minister to the seekers of the world, seeking to bring them to also learn how to be a true Christian. None would ever again be found sitting on a church pew as a ‘member of an exclusive club’. No longer would those graduates be found dropping a twenty dollar bill in the offering basket … never again would they be wealthy enough to be found writing pledge checks that would be cashed to pay one priest (or more), and pay maybe one accountant / secretary (or full office personnel), and maybe also pay the mortgage and utility bills. Schools have become priest mills that train low-wage workers (with good benefits) to manage the big business of church organizations. If you want to know the truth from that awareness, it is Jesus died because of your sins. The lack of understanding that means a lack of desire to understand that, because a desire to understand brings about God’s Holy Spirit, which explains everything CLEARLY. The clearer Scripture becomes the higher one’s FAITH climbs. But, alas, the Churches have become like fish out of water, thumping around on a dock, gasping their last dying breaths. They refuse to let their Big Brains die and be reborn as Jesus Christ. They love the crucifix too much to give it up and let Jesus become incognito in them. The true meaning of “Jesus died for your sins” is that Jesus died so his soul and Spirit would no longer be limited to just one body of flesh. That is the seed metaphor.
A seed has to die by going into the ground, where the outer covering is shed and the inner parts take root and then pierce skyward. That growth leads to fruit and a continuous cycle of new life. Jesus did not die as a seed so you could eat from the fruit of his vine. That is what Genesis calls the tree in the middle of the garden that bears the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. Eat from the fruit of Jesus and you will surely die – where “die” means you will always remain an eternal soul in a dead piece of flesh, bound to die sometime.
In the Easter Sunday reading (from John, in this year’s Facebook church services) we read about the tomb being opened and the guards keeping watch there became like dead bodies. The metaphor of that earthshaking awareness is the resurrection of Jesus (a man thought dead) means those not in the tomb (guards who thought they were alive) suddenly realized they were mortals and assured of nothing but a death that was certain to come.
In the liturgy of Good Friday, where Jesus is not treated very well and killed, everybody whimpers and cries. The reason is not that they feel sorry for Jesus. The Big Brain knows he comes out of all that in good shape. The sadness is just like the shock that filled those Roman guards – Oh My God! We just killed Jesus!
If a priest, pastor, minister, or preacher does not seriously look out over his audience EVERY SUNDAY and say, “Friends, everything just read aloud today speaks about us here, now. “How do I know that?” you might ask. Well, you are here today and not out telling others how to become Jesus reborn. Until one reaches that state of being, everything in the New Testament is about how sinful we are. For that reason alone, we need to see ourselves as the bad guys BEFORE anyone can think about being in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Pause and ask yourself this question: “When was the last time I heard my pastor tell me, ‘I admit it. I am the Pharisee in this reading. I stand before you like I know the answers, when I do not known anything. I just know none of you will call me on that lack of insight.”
Take a minute to think about your answer.
I thought so.
Jesus died as a seed so YOU could become a piece of good fruit that comes from his vine. For YOU to be a fruit growing from the Jesus vine, YOU have to die. YOUR Big Bran has to be laid to rest, because that is what causes you to think you are some god, equal to the true God, and able to tell Jesus and God what to do. YOU cannot will yourself not to sin.
Remember how Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing”? Well, nothing good. Apart from Jesus you can sin like an Olympic gold medal winner, but gold medals won’t get anyone eternal life.
By not becoming a piece of Jesus good fruit, you will always succumb to the lures of the serpent: “Here, take another bite and think you are a god. It is okay to do every sin in the book, because you can forgive yourself … as a god.” You fall for that trick every time you think “Jesus died for my sins” and think that means you have to do nothing to gain heaven.
The lesson of Jesus’ life is sacrifice for a higher goal. He taught that lesson every time he said, “Verily,” which means “Truthfully,” which means he spoke no lies.
He taught the lesson of sacrifice every time he said, “I do not speak as if Jesus is a man with a huge brain that is greater than all others.” [Solomon would have said something like that]. Instead, Jesus said, “I speak what the Father tells me to speak, because I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”
Jesus then taught the lesson that his followers could be the same, saying “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” That truth follows the preface, “If you love me, keep my commands.” Now, one has to ask oneself (if one does indeed take belief in Jesus and God seriously), “Do I really love Jesus? Do I keep his commandments?”
Remember, before you go and answer too soon, Jesus said you cannot serve two masters, because you will love the one and hate the other. If you love Jesus, then you hate your big brain and the ego it strokes so well. Given that truth being told … maybe you just like Jesus a lot?
After all, doing that is the key to the promise of sins forgiven. Still, Jesus (always keep in mind how his lips were moving and his voice was heard, but the source of his words were God the Father) made it crystal clear when he said, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Jesus died so his soul and Spirit could be “in you.” That does not mean in some box at the local church, or up in heaven sitting on a throne next to daddy. It means what it says – IN YOU. Now, take a second and think about that – “in you.” Now, scratch your head and ask, “Does that mean ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’ identifies someone who has Jesus in him or in her, as the soul and Spirit of Jesus Christ in their bodies of flesh, with Jesus commanding them what to do?” Think about that a few seconds more. (Jeopardy theme song plays in the background.) Okay, I’ll tell you.
You are prone to sin, simply because you are made of flesh. Jesus was also made of flesh, which makes him a real life model of YOU, with one difference. That difference is the soul and Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth was held up, above sin, by the Father’s constant presence. Jesus was tempted to sin – as often as anyone born of the flesh is likewise tempted – BUT he did not sin because God divinely helped Jesus. God sent Jesus the advocate he promised would be sent to us – the one we call the Holy Spirit. Just because Jesus could resist sin does NOT mean we can. It also does NOT mean that Jesus is too perfect to be like, because he could resist sin, then we cannot. That reasoning (a product of the Big Brain) says, “I am too unworthy to do good … so, I guess I’ll just go out and have some more sinful fun. Then I can always crawl my guilty ass back into a church building where some hired hand will kiss all my boo boos away. They will tell me, “Go out and sin some more brother or sister.” They’ll tell me. ‘Jesus died so you can sin.’”
Jesus died to be free to enter you.
Here is another concept your have heard but never thought about seriously. You have never seriously considered this simply because the church teachers learned all they know at children’s church, knowing nothing of value beyond what most lay people learn as children, through picture book Bible Stories. However, as adults hearing the readings Sunday to Sunday, can you remember the stories about demons being cast out? Jesus cast them out. Remember the demon named Legend and the demons sent from a man possessed into pigs, who then ran and threw themselves off a cliff, into the sea of Galilee and drown? There were others. The commissioned disciples went out and cast out demons too, but they could not do it to some. The disciples asked Jesus, “Why could we not cast out that demon?”
Here is a reading from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19, verses 13-16. You might have missed the Sunday this was read aloud:
“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.“
Fun stuff, is it not?
Take this and sleep on it overnight:
IF you believe the divinity of the Holy Bible, then you believe that bad demons can join in a body of flesh and become joined with a weak soul, controlling that weak soul’s body of flesh. This is a great Hollywood topic. I’m thinking now of The Three Faces of Eve and Sybil and, of course, The Exorcist. Modern psychology explains demonic possession as multiple personality disorder. The Roman Catholic Church has long trained some priests to be official exorcists, who cast out demons. They act just like Jesus and Paul (et al). Well, reverse that possibility now and think of God sending His Son Jesus to do the same kind of possession, joined with a weak sinner soul, so Jesus takes control over that body of flesh and it never sins again.
Rather than a demonic possession, this is a Holy Spirit possession. In Ancient Greek, the word translated as “demon” is “daimon,” which in Latin is “daemon.” In mythology the word commonly used is “eudaemon.” According to the Wikipedia article named “Eudaemon,” this is written: “in Greek mythology was a type of daemon or genius (deity), which in turn was a kind of spirit. A eudaemon was regarded as a good spirit or angel, and the evil cacodaemon was its opposing spirit.” In Acts 19:13 is found written “pneumata ta ponēra,” which translates as “spirits of evil.” The Greek word “pneuma” means “spirit,” which (when capitalized) and paired with “Hagion” means “Holy Spirit.” Thus, the Holy Spirit IS a Sacred-Divine-Set Apart by God Holy … Daimon … aka “Eudaemon.”
Can you imagine that? Well, that is how Jesus died for your sins.
R. T. Tippett
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