“Who do people say that I am?“, Jesus asked his disciples, waaaaaay back. It was one of those things that made such an impression that we see its recollection spread across multiple gospels (letters) of these dudes. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all had “Jesus Identity Incident” scribbled in the margins of their manuscripts. Were they producers of modern day made for TV dramas or movies, the weird music that plays during the Law and Order “gotcha” scene would ever so quietly start playing at this part in the Bible.
I got my son Evan one of those toys for Christmas that you get your kids sure they will love, only to silently shriek in disbelief as they toss it to the side with Santa-socks and other undesirables. It was a Disney/Pixar Toy Story “Bump-an-alien” game. 7 Pizza Planet aliens light up in random succession, with the object ala-whack-a-mole to bop their heads before the light goes off. It’s built really well…not what you’d expect from a Walmart-made-in-China stocking stuffer. So now, it adorns my desk, as I was a full sized Space Ranger this Halloween. (I think Evan will heal, with time).
The toy made me think of Jesus question in Luke 9:18, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”. Because this Christmas, I was watching Facebook light up with all sorts of modern day answers. Just like Evan’s unwanted toy, there seemed to be so many “Jesus’s” that it was impossible in the flurry of the evening to “whack” them all back down. (wow, that sounds really heretical when I write it).
Imagine your spouse passes away one day, and during the eulogies, someone walks up in front of everyone (let’s pretend it’s me for an element of self-deprecating-humor) and says,
“Michael was a real team player. He got along with everyone during projects and was so humble…It was inspiring to watch him at work put his ideas on the back burner, even when he knew he was right, to maintain peace with another less experienced co-worker“.
Y’all would scratch your head and look around uncomfortably at each other. Some of you would check the bulletins you were handed at the service’s entrance, to make sure it was Michael LYDICK’s funeral. Clearly young man/young lady, you didn’t really know Mikey. If I know some of you as well as I think you do (and I hope) you’d fake a sneeze and mumble an expletive simultaneously (…..bull—t…). And you’d be right. And justified. Because the truth matters. Crazy as it is, it matters.
In true “Whack-A-Jesus” formation, let’s follow some popular bopping-aliens. People who stood up and said, “Let me tell you about Jesus….”. Some popped up on my radar in the last 24 Christ-mas-sol-stice hours. You’ll recognize others. What they said is very important. I want you to hear them each stand up in succession at this eulogy and see if you can’t resist the urge to fake a cough, or sneeze as they speak to us through time. Please read through each in its entirety. Some of it isn’t light reading, but I trust you, the juice is worth the squeeze.
Milton Filmore, Unity Church Founder.
“THE SUBCONSCIOUS realm in man has twelve great centers of action, with twelve presiding egos or identities. When Jesus had attained a certain soul development, He called His twelve apostles to Him. This means that when man is developing out of mere personal consciousness into spiritual consciousness, he begins to train deeper and larger powers; he sends his thought down into the inner centers of his organism, and through his word quickens them to life. Where before his powers have worked in the personal, now they begin to expand and work in the universal. This is the first and the second coming of Christ, spoken of in the Scriptures. The first coming is the receiving of Truth into the conscious mind, and the Second Coming is the awakening and the regeneration of the subconscious mind through the superconscious or Christ Mind……
Each of these twelve department heads has control of a certain function in soul or body. Each of these heads works through an aggregation of cells that physiology calls a “ganglionic center.” Jesus, the I AM or central entity, has His throne in the top head, where phrenology locates spirituality. This is the mountain where He so often went to pray. The following outline gives a list of the Twelve, the faculties that they represent, and the nerve centers at which they preside:
Faith–Peter–center of brain. Strength–Andrew–loins. Discrimination or Judgment–James, son of Zebedee–pit of stomach. Love–John–back of heart. Power–Philip–root of tongue. Imagination–Bartholomew–between the eyes. Understanding–Thomas–front brain. Will–Matthew–center front brain. Order–James, son of Alphaeus–navel. Zeal–Simon the Cananaean–back head, medulla. Renunciation or Elimination–Thaddaeus–abdominal region. Life Conserver–Judas–generative function.
Right here and now the great work of character-building is to be done, and whoever neglects present opportunities, looking forward to a future heaven for better conditions, is pulling right away from the kingdom of heaven within himself. [Twelve Powers of Man]
Joseph Smith, founder, The Mormon Church
I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet . . .
We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. … he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible…
The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.……I first mentioned the doctrine in public when preaching the funeral sermon of Brother Seymour Brunson; and have since then given general instructions in the Church on the subject. The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead. … Without enlarging on the subject, you will undoubtedly see its consistency and reasonableness; and it presents the Gospel of Christ in probably a more enlarged scale than some have imagined it
…the moon is inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and they live to a greater age than we do – they live generally to near the age of 1000 years. The men averaging nearly six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style….”
“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me… When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! …I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong” (every church on the planet at that time).
Charles Russell, founder, Jehovah’s Winesses
“A 40-year harvest of souls has begun which will end in 1914 with the termination of the time of the Gentiles and the coming of God’s Kingdom.”
Not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the Scripture Studies [Russell’s teachings] aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years – if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the Scripture Studies with their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.”
“Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874, A.D…….The Millenium began in 1874, with the return of Christ…..in the spring of 1878 all the holy apostles and other ‘overcomers’ of the Gospel age who slept in Jesus were raised spirit beings…”
“The great Pyramid of Egypt, standing as a silent and inanimate witness of the Lord, is a messenger; and it’s testimony speaks with great eloquence concerning the divine plan”.
“Jesus is not God and never claimed to be…(“Should you Believe?”,2000). Jesus can be understood “from the scriptures to be Michael the Archangel” (Watchtower, 1979,p29). “Michael the great prince is none other than Jesus Christ himself (Watchtower, 1984 p29). “There is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return…” (Watchtower, May15, 1969)
I admit, I’m crazy. By the world’s standards. I am a College Educated Electro-Mechanical engineer with United States Patent accreditation that believes in some crazy ass stuff. I understand Kepler’s Laws and Newtonian physics. I can hold my own in a conversation about the Higgs Boson particle, and the gravitational red wave doppler shift phenomenon first observed by modern day astronomers.
And I believe in Jesus.
Which one? That’s the important question, isn’t it? Because not days after the documented Resurrection and ascension of God did the proverbial printing presses start flying. People started cashing in on the news, and leveraging people’s curiousness for personal and financial gain. Some for intellectual bragging rights.
I love this quote,
“Science fiction editor and author Sam Moscowitz tells of the occasion when (L. Ron) Hubbard spoke before the Eastern Science Fiction Association in Newark, New Jersey in 1947: `Hubbard spoke … I don’t recall his exact words; but in effect, he told us that writing science fiction for about a penny a word was no way to make a living. If you really want to make a million, he said, the quickest way is to start your own religion.‘”
People went nuts after Jesus death, burial, and Resurrection All sorts of writings started flying up. Writings about Jesus as a baby boy, making clay into flying birds, and magically stretching wood so his dad could build stuff with what he had. How Jesus wasn’t real, or that he was a human until he was on the cross, and then a spirit, and then a human again, and then a spirit. Or that he switched places (mysteriously, David Copperfield style) with Simon the Cyrene (the dude who was helping him carry the cross).
Not 30 years after the single most important date arguably in human history, the Apostles were coming up against the poop, and the fan, left and right. The Apostle Paul wrote,
“If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (1 Tim. 6:3-5”
These three men I’ve quoted above, are like the modern day “Truthers” as related to President Obama. Say what you want about our President, he was born in Hawaii. There’s a paper to prove it. But listen y’all….just saying, “No he wasn’t” starts a revolution of the mind. It proves positively that people want to believe stuff that directly opposes what actually happened. There’s something in us that says, “it can’t be that easy….it couldn’t have really happened that way”. There are things where that is definitely the case. Most times though, the simplest answer is usually the right one.
There were approximately five thousand six hundred copies of the New Testament manuscripts, copies that were written less than 100 years between the copy and the original. That’s 5,593 more than Plato’s writings. 5,550 more than anything Aristotle ever wrote. 4,900 more copies than Homer’s “Iliad”. Documentation – testimonies of men who put pen to papyrus and said, “Here’s what we saw”, and “Here’s what He told us to tell you…”. Men who said, “Listen up….there are people who are making crap up. Don’t listen to them.”
Am I crazy for believing what I believe? I don’t think so. But we’ll see soon enough.
Are you crazy for taking what I believe and mixing up some extra-spicy-crazy from men like the founder of Scientology? Like Tom Cruise crazy? We’ll see soon enough.
For now, it’s important to defend what we know. To stare ludicrous in the eye and know it’s true name. In the eyes of men who some 2,000 years later woke up and thought to themselves, “Nah…..I’ll tell you how it all went down”. To do it lovingly…expose their words against the backdrop and scrutiny of time and let them flourish or die against the backdrop of the real Jesus. Not the fluffy Tony Robbins goody two shoes most people make him out to be.
Or the one that “went to India” to “learn from the guru’s” during his “lost years”.