On Jews and Jesus

There are several reasons that Jews do not claim Jesus as the Messiah.

One reason is that Jews say it is sacrilegious for a person to claim to be God.  It is a violation of the first three Commandments for God to be depicted, so a person could not be God.

Exodus 20:1-6

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides Me. Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.

However, Jesus never said he was God.  He said he was the Son of God – and also said that we all are if we do God’s will.  More often, he referred to himself as the Son of Man.

Now, Christianity says that Jesus is God, but Jesus himself never said this.  Jesus prayed to God all the time. This would be pointless if he was God.  However, he is united with God. The next point will illustrate this.

Another issue is that Jews deny the Trinity of God.

Let’s look at some points in Genesis that prove that God is more than we think.

Genesis 1:26

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

Who is God talking to when God says “in Our image”?

And here, God appears as three men in Genesis 18:1-2

“Then the Lord appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting in the entrance of his tent during the heat of the day. 2 He looked up, and he saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed to the ground.”

Even the name “Elohim”, a word commonly used in the Hebrew Scriptures to refer to God, is a plural word.

Essential to the belief of every Jew is the idea that God is one – and this is true.  At least twice a day observant Jews say the Shema, which proclaims that God is one.  However – the word “one” that is used in the Shema is “echad” – which is a composite unity.  An indivisible unity is “achid”.   “Echad” would be used to describe a bunch of grapes.  It is one thing, made up of different parts.  “Echad” would be used to describe how all of Israel was united around Mount Sinai when they received the Torah.

Yes, God is One, but that One is composed of many parts.  Essentially, God is everything, as everything came from God.

Another example of this is in Genesis 2:24

24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.

“Echad” is used in the original in this verse, to mean “one”.  They are two people, but they are united.

Jews say that Jesus violated the commandments by working on the Sabbath and saying that people could eat food that wasn’t kosher. The Messiah would never break the commandments, so Jesus can’t be the Messiah. But God said through the prophet Jeremiah that a new covenant was to come.  The old ways weren’t going to stay that way forever.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

31 “Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant they broke even though I had married them”—the Lord’s declaration. 33 “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. 34 No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.”

More importantly, the original message of the commandments had gotten watered down.  There is nothing in the Ten Commandments about keeping kosher, or any of the other 600-plus “commandments” that Orthodox Jews honor.  These extra “commandments” came from interpretations of the Torah by rabbis – and not from God.

Jesus wanted people to focus on what was important – loving God, and treating everyone with kindness.  Everything else was extra – and it was following people, not God.  That way leads to trouble.  Jesus wants to redirect our attention to what matters.

Jews say that one of the hallmarks of the Messiah is that he would be king. 

Look at John 6:14-15 which took place after Jesus fed 5,000 people:

14 When the people saw the sign He had done, they said, “This really is the Prophet who was to come into the world!” 15 Therefore, when Jesus knew that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.

Why did he refuse to be King?  Because only the immortal God is their King – not a fallible human.

Jesus knew what was in their hearts, and wanted them to search for the right things.  He wanted them to put their faith in God. He wanted them to redirect their love to God, instead of putting their trust in a person.

John 6:26-27

26 Jesus answered, “I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.”

Note that God never wanted Israel to have a human king over them.  Here is the prophet Samuel speaking to the nation:

1 Samuel 12:8-15

“When Jacob went to Egypt, your ancestors cried out to the Lord, and He sent them Moses and Aaron, who led your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place. But they forgot the Lord their God, so He handed them over to Sisera commander of the army of Hazor, to the Philistines, and to the king of Moab. These enemies fought against them. 10 Then they cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned, for we abandoned the Lord and worshiped the Baals and the Ashtoreths. Now deliver us from the power of our enemies, and we will serve You.’ 11 So the Lord sent Jerubbaal, Barak, Jephthah, and Samuel. He rescued you from the power of the enemies around you, and you lived securely. 12 But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was coming against you, you said to me, ‘No, we must have a king rule over us’—even though the Lord your God is your king.13 “Now here is the king you’ve chosen, the one you requested. Look, this is the king the Lord has placed over you. 14 If you fear the Lord, worship and obey Him, and if you don’t rebel against the Lord’s command, then both you and the king who rules over you will follow the Lord your God. 15 However, if you disobey the Lord and rebel against His command, the Lord’s hand will be against you and against your ancestors.

When the people called to God for help, he sent them leaders and prophets, but not a king.  But then they saw that other nations had kings, and wanted one – even though God was their king.  The Jews were special, unlike other nations, but wanted to be the same.  Then they chose a king to rule over them.  God did not choose the king.  God told them that if both they and the king follow God, then all will go well.  God didn’t tell them to follow the king. God wanted his people to follow God.

Jesus also told them to follow God.  He drew attention away from himself –

Luke 18:18-19

18 A ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God. 20 You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.”

Jesus was king, but not of this world. Read what happened in his trial before Pilate:

John 18:33-37

33 Then Pilate went back into the headquarters, summoned Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you asking this on your own, or have others told you about Me?” 35 “I’m not a Jew, am I?” Pilate replied. “Your own nation and the chief priests handed You over to me. What have You done?” 36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.” 37 “You are a king then?” Pilate asked. “You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”

Jews say that it is not acceptable for a human to be sacrificed, yet they do not include the prophecy about Jesus from Isaiah in their readings in synagogue.

Isaiah 53:1-6 is talking about Jesus.

Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to? He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.

However, it is important to note that Jesus himself never said that he died for other people’s sins.  That is something that the Christian church says.  What we can learn from what Jesus did was to show complete unwavering loyalty to God.  God asked him to be crucified, and he obeyed.  His resurrection then proves the grace of God, and that even death has no power.  God is powerful over everything.  Jesus proves that if we trust in God and do his will, we have nothing to be afraid of.  A life without trusting in God isn’t a life, after all.

 Jews also say that another reason that Jesus cannot be the Messiah is that he didn’t rebuild the Temple.  It is essential to realize that God never wanted a permanent physical building.  God had them build a travelling tabernacle when the Jews were in the desert.  All of Israel was there, together.

Exodus 25:8

“They are to make a sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them.”

Exodus 29:45

“I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.”

God wants to dwell among us – to be where we are.  How can God dwell among us if we are scattered all over the world?  One building won’t do.

Later, in Leviticus 26:11

“I will place My residence among you, and I will not reject you.”

Jesus speaks about the need to NOT have one place to worship God –

Matthew 6:19-20

19 “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

It is dangerous to give so much attention to any physical thing.  It becomes an idol.  Instead, Jesus knew that people need to focus on God, and to make a dwelling place for God in our hearts.  That is the true tabernacle – our own selves.

 

Jews are also concerned that they are being misled – that they are being told to worship another god.

Deuteronomy 12:1-6

“If a prophet or someone who has dreams arises among you and proclaims a sign or wonder to you, and that sign or wonder he has promised you comes about, but he says, ‘Let us follow other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us worship them,’ do not listen to that prophet’s words or to that dreamer. For the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. You must follow the Lord your God and fear Him. You must keep His commands and listen to His voice; you must worship Him and remain faithful to Him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he has urged rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the place of slavery, to turn you from the way the Lord your God has commanded you to walk. You must purge the evil from you.”

However, Jesus consistently said to worship God – the God of Abraham.  Not him.  Jesus never told anyone to worship him.

 

Pilgrimage, wander

“A pilgrimage is not a journey toward transformation…but a transforming journey.” – Jonathan Omer-Man

Solvitur ambulando /ˈsɒlvɪtər ˌæmbjʊˈlændoʊ/ is a Latin term which means: It is solved by walking.

Sometimes, the journey itself is the destination. It doesn’t matter where you go – just that you go. Get moving. Get going. Moving at all is healthy, for body, mind, and soul.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at.” – Bruce Lee

Stomach distress?

I’m noticing that many people right now are experiencing stomach distress.  They believe they have the flu or some virus.  I believe that their distress is unprocessed emotions related to the current political climate in the United States, which isn’t very “united” right now.

Many people were very surprised by the results of the election, and held out hopes that something unusual would happen to change it.  They waited until after the Electoral College voted to admit that their fears had been realized.  Now they are protesting everything that they are learning about.  People who were politically inactive before are now glued to whatever news they can get.

What you focus on expands.  What you think about, you are. If all you focus on is bad, that is all you will see.  Anger and fear leads to more of the same.

Life is all about choice.  You have a choice as to what you read or do or think, but first you must become aware.  You must become mindful of what is going on at the deepest level.

The stomach processes some of our most basic emotions – fear, anger, grief.  We feel things “at a gut level”.  We are “gutted” when something terrible happens.  Our stomach not just processes food, but feelings.  Our entire body is a sensory organ, and each unique organ receives and processes external stimuli in unique ways.  We accept that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, but few people are yet able to understand that we have many other senses that are registered throughout the amazing gift of our corporeal forms.

When we are unable or unwilling to accept the reality of the messages that our bodies are sending us, we start to think that the messages ARE us.  We are able to understand that what we see through our eyes is simply a vision.  It is an observed phenomenon.  If we see a bird in flight, it does not mean that we are a bird.  Likewise, it is important to separate the sensations we experience through our other body parts from our selves, our being.  We do not have to be angry when we feel anger.  It is just a feeling, a sensation.

The purpose of being awakened isn’t to feel joyful all the time.  The purpose is to feel – everything – in a mindful and detached way.  You are not the feeling – you are feeling the feeling, just like you are seeing the birds fly above you.

It helps to be rooted in a faith that there is a guiding force that is over all things.  Having faith that the political leaders are not the true leaders is healthy and healing.

You must take care of your body in order to take care of your spirit.  There is nothing new here – diet and exercise count now more than ever.  Make healthy food choices.  Stress eating, eating “comfort food”, will bring your body and spirit down. Get regular exercise.  Just going for a short walk every day is excellent.  More is better.  Don’t overdo it, though, because that becomes a distraction.  It is important to be present.

Learn to be OK with sitting still in silence.  The need to constantly be busy is an addictive behavior the same as smoking cigarettes or drinking. Substance abuse isn’t just about drugs, but anything and everything. Doing anything mindlessly can be harmful to your body and spirit.

Having to check social media, read a book, or do chores can all be distractions.  Balance is what is necessary here. It is good to read a book – but if you feel anxiety if you are without one, then it is time to sit with that feeling and listen to it.  It is a sign that you feel a need to escape.  Use your feelings, regardless of what they are, to learn.  Do not run from “bad” feelings – they are trying to teach you that something is out of balance in your life.

Instead of protesting – of saying what you are against, spend your energy on building up.  What are you for?  What will bring healing to your community?  Who is hurting? Who is marginalized?  Go help them.  Go be a force for good.  Do what you can with what you have.  Your little efforts count.  Join with others to do more.  Don’t wait for the government to help – those times are over.  Be the change you wish to see.  Teach an immigrant child how to read and write.  Learn a foreign language.  Build a home for a homeless person. Teach a class on money management. Learn nonviolent conflict resolution.

Focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.  Spend more time on figuring out how you can do something instead of coming up with excuses for why you can’t.  Don’t blame others for your own choices.

Possessed by drugs

If you get caught with drugs, you are charged with possession. But I believe it would be more accurate to say that you should be diagnosed with possession. You are possessed.

You don’t do drugs. Drugs do you. They act upon you quietly and insidiously. They end up taking over your life. They don’t enhance it – they take away from it.

Perhaps if we saw drug use as possession we would be able to actually treat it for a change. We would no longer see it as a lack of willpower but as a dangerous force that takes up residence inside you and makes you do things that you wouldn’t normally do.

It is important to understand that this doesn’t start off as a passive action. You, sober, make the first move. You, sober, are the one who first starts using drugs. They don’t have a hold of you at that point. So you have control at the beginning.

This is the same as with possession.  You have to allow that demon into your soul for it to harm you.  Once you do, you are in big trouble.  Just like with drugs, you’re in over your head very fast.

Age limits?

Our society is doomed.  We either are raising children who are too stupid to have common sense, or we are overly litigious.  Both indicate the failure of people to take personal responsibility for their lives and think ahead before they do anything.

Check this out.

age1

This is for a credit-card sized magnifier with a light.  Seems simple enough, right?  Yet it is “Not recommended for children under 12.”  What is so dangerous about it that it can’t be used by a child who is 10? Or 6?

And this, discovered on the same day.  age2age3

 

It is a scarf (emblazoned with the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter) that is for ages 14 and up.

What world have we found ourselves in (or created) that 13 year old  people can’t wear a scarf safely?  Or 12? Or even 8?   Sure, I can see a very young child might get tied up in it and choke himself. But only for 14 and up?

Perhaps you recall seeing these?

age8age11

Why would anyone think it would be a good idea to put their child in an enclosed plastic tub?  If you anyone is that dumb, doesn’t the Darwin award come into effect?

And if humans are so inept that we can drown in a few inches of water in a bucket, then why are we even still around?  Baby animals can take care of themselves far better than humans can very soon after being born.  Kittens can live independently at 6 weeks of age.  Meanwhile, humans can’t be left alone until they are at least 12, and that is only for a few hours.  Some can’t even support themselves at 50 and still live in their parent’s basements.

There are other warning labels around, to advise against hurting yourself. Here’s some great ones about fingers and hands.

age10age9

Here are ones that are sarcastic.

age4age6age7age5

Monastery Immaculate Conception

150 Sisters of Saint Benedict live in community in Ferdinand, Indiana.  Here are some pictures I took when I went on a silent retreat there.

I hope you are in good shape if you go there.  The dormitory is downhill from everything else – dining hall, the chapel…and there are over 70 steps to get there.

There is a way to get where you need to go if the weather is bad.  There can be some pretty impressive snowfalls in Indiana, so there are tunnels all over this complex. They can be a bit damp, however.

Here’s one of the places you are headed to – the dining hall.  The food is served cafeteria style, and guests and nuns eat the same food.  They keep a separate eating area for us so we can be silent. The nuns are quite chatty and amiable, and while that is nice, it is hard if you are trying to have a silent retreat.

dining1

Some scenes in the dormitory.

In my room, I made  little votive shrine of the saint cards I bought at the gift shop.  All churches should have gift shops, in my opinion, and the Catholics do not disappoint in this regard.

icons1

In the basement is a lounge area with a lot of recliners.  It is quite homey and inspires naps.  I wonder if the chairs came from the nuns when they entered and had to give up all their possessions?

There is a statue of a young Mary with Jesus in the basement dining area – I’ve seen the same statue, painted, at a Sisters of Mercy convent.

There are some other interesting things in the dormitory that seem very old.

The various services were quite confusing.  We were fortunate that the nuns understood and took the time to set up our prayer books for us so we could follow along without getting lost.  They recite the office of the hours several times a day. Note all the different bookmarks – this is for just one service.

 

inside7

The pews were cleverly designed – you could create your own bookstand. This is closed, and then open.

Here is the pew-side view of the service.  The nun who helped us at this one is sitting in front of me on the right.  They no longer wear their habits. But you can still tell they are nuns by their kindness.  They have a sort of inner glow.

More of their impressive chapel – the baptismal font is the first thing you notice (on purpose).  Ideally, it is always in line with the table where the Lord’s supper is celebrated. This unites the two sacraments.

 

Views from outside the chapel, and the grounds.

I was especially enamored of this corner, and took the time to sketch it. It looks a little strange broken up like this, but I didn’t know my phone could do panoramas at this point. While sketching, some nuns noticed me and started to ask me questions.  They thought that I should stay with them.  I’m not sure how that would work out since I’m married, not a Catholic, and past their age requirement for entry. But it was kind of them to see a calling in me.

 

 

Private places

There are places at St. Meinrad’s Archabbey that are most certainly off limits.  They spell it out with signs, saying that you are not welcome in this area.

 

There was one area that had a sign and a frosted glass window.

chapter house 2

 

 

But there was a clear spot higher up, so I just held up my camera.

chapter house1

 

There is a lock on the holy oil vials, presumably to keep you from accidentally anointing yourself, or from desecrating it.  Wonder why these vials are on public display then, if they are not for public use?  To show off how pretty they are? These were prominently displayed at the center of the Abbey.

oil2

 

There are enclosed gardens that I wanted to explore.  I saw them on Google Maps before I went there and looked forward to going.  There were not open to lay people, however.  But there were windows, so I took pictures. I was sad to see them not even being used by the monks.  These beautiful gardens, alone, locked away, unappreciated.  Perhaps the monks stare at them from their rooms, while they are locked away from the world they are called to serve?

 

They even tried to block the view with signs like this.

3

But I found a way around it.  These pictures are taken through the glass.

 

Monasticism as it is practiced was not mentioned by Jesus at all. Living together, sharing resources, sharing lives – yes.  It is good for all to work together for the common good.  However, he did not intend that we were to separate ourselves from the world entirely.  When we work together and share what we have, we are stronger people, better able to help others.  However, when we focus all of our energy inwards to the group, we defeat the purpose of what Jesus calls us to do.

 

With all these signs, I was continuously reminded of the “us and them” approach the Catholic church has to life in general – either you are “in” (a Catholic) or “out” (either not Christian, or just not Catholic).  The most obvious example of this is with their approach to communion.  This exclusionary practice is not Christ-like, and will turn more people away from the message of Jesus than they could ever imagine.

 

Interestingly, I spent time at their “sister” community, just down the road a few months later.  The Sisters of Saint Benedict have a community in Ferdinand, IN, called Monastery Immaculate Conception.  I walked all over that place and only saw one sign saying “private”.  In fact, the nun who took us on a tour of the place told us we could sit in that area if we wanted.  I’m pretty sure I accidentally wandered into some areas I shouldn’t have, but nobody got upset with me.  Their monastery was older, a little shabbier.  It was obvious that their “brothers” got more money and better resources.  But the Sisters were far more kind and welcoming, always helpful and kind, with open smiles.