LIFE IN THE WORLDLY KINGDOM: XIII
Jesus, the founder of the “Absently Heavenly Kingdom,” did not isolate Himself from the world. Jesus enjoyed being at weddings. Jesus sat down to have dinners with sinners and the publicans. Jesus even let the castaway people touch Him. It was important to Jesus to make these people who cared enough to invite Him, to feel and do better themselves. The Gospel of John tells the reader that Jesus chose twelve men to be with Him on His Mission on earth. And one of the first things Jesus did with them was to go to a wedding and not to some seclusion where He could instruct his disciples in His Mission. What better place could there have been for a “Missionary” from heaven than at an earthly wedding? Here is the story and how Jesus behaved:
On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there, Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (Though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said the him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him (John 2:1-11).
To the disciples, what Jesus did was a sign that He had come from heaven. To the bride and groom, Jesus saved their marriage celebration from an embarrassment. And thanks to Jesus’ persistent mother, who believed in her Son and her Son’s heavenly gifts, His Mission was very successful. Jesus did listen to his mother and so did the servants, who made the wedding celebration more joyful. It was a lesson for Jesus Himself; namely, that there was goodness in people and goodness in being merry. God’s goodness is not just for good people only, but also for bad people and for sinners who have good ideas. In fact, Jesus instructed to listen and do what some of his worst enemies taught. Jesus gave the disciples this example:
The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but do not do what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not more them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and he best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:2-12).
The key to live with people like the scribes, who were the leading Sadducees and the Pharisees, was being humble. Humility is not feelings, but a deliberate subjection to abuse and to ridicule by those that are hostile to people who are different from them. God has not nor will God create difference or prefer one race or individual over another. The Jewish people believed being a favored of God could stop the rain from watering the earth in certain spots, but Jesus did not withhold rain from any man, sinner or saint (James 5:17-18; Matthew 5:45). It is the lack of the humble attitude in man, which keeps him out of the “Kingdom of Heaven” here on earth, where he has to enter the narrow gate (Matthew 5:3; 7:13-14). The gate to heaven or the gate into the “Kingdom of Heaven” is here on earth, and not in heaven. It is here on earth where man has to qualify for eternity, and it is here on earth where he has to learn to live, even with his enemies. Jesus set Himself the example and gave his followers direction how to emulate the Master.
As they were going along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But he said to him, “Let the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” And other said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62).
He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you. ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last” (Luke 13:22-30).
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was intended for earthlings like us, and not for the souls in heaven, that no longer have the need for directions. Jesus said, “They will be like the angels in heaven,” who are no longer subjected to persecution, murder, adultery, divorce, swearing, revenge, and hating enemies. The “Beatitudes” must be followed for Christians to succeed in this world; for without the “Beatitudes” man’s chances to enter the “Kingdom of God” are slim. Jesus said:
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:1-16).
Following the “Beatitudes,” Jesus touched on seven things that man must be restored or ends, even if the secular world is to survive. It is no longer a concern for the person who seeks to get into heaven, but for the human race that is being mutilated and can no longer allow the souls to be born that need to be redeemed as their predecessors were. These are the unborn souls like those who were aborted without the chance to choose their eternal destination. It is the worst crime that man has committed in history against man, himself. And it is only man who can stop this madness. Man has to do what Jesus taught. Particularly the “Ten Commandments” are basic to man’s survival, and to his way into the “Kingdom of Righteousness.”
Here are Jesus’ seven basic things man must be — to be restored in this world:
Number (1): Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota not a dot will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Number (2): You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.
Number (3): You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown in to hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Number (4): It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and who ever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Number (5): Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heave, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
Number (6): You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.
Number (7): You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:17-48).
I came to North America to escape the kind of life Jesus predicted his followers would have to lead in order to survive and please God. At that time, I had no inkling that the free world would become like the rest of the world, where all man must please those who govern them against they will. The change had not come by the sword, as it had in the nations where I lived before, but by legislation forced on these nations by godless leaders. Once again, Jesus suggestion how to get along among hostiles has become a necessity. The spreading of Christ’s redemptive work itself depends on the generosity of the servants of mammon. Jesus did not want his followers to become slaves to mammon, but clever enough to use mammon’s means to proclaim “God’s Kingdom.” Jesus wants us to learn from “The Parable of the Shrewd Manager.”
He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ And the steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.’ So summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence; for the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation that the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations (Luke 16:1-9).
Jesus made a special effort to eat with publicans and the sinners. The reason that this event has been attached was and still is that Jesus wanted them to join “His Kingdom.” No doubt, salvation was Jesus’ primary objective, but so was the assistance of mammon to get the project done. Tax collectors were some of the richest men in Judea and Galilee. Let us look at two people who could sustain Jesus mission and his disciples for some time. These were Matthew and Zacchaeus, who become very generous with his donation. It was also noteworthy that Jesus passed where these people lived and worked. From an economic perspective, Jesus associated with people who had money; only He never took advantage of it. We ought to wonder who provided the women who helped Jesus with assistance (Luke 7:2-3).
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners.” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have not need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:9-13).
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus, he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:1-10).
Caring for the lost, or the misfortunate victims is a sure way into God’s Kingdom.” The Parable of the Good Samaritan makes it quite clear what Christ the Lord expects of his disciples.
And behold, lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half-dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back. Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:25-37).