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The Other Guys: Pool of Bethesda

Jesus said unto him, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” Immediately the man was cured from his crippled legs and was able to walk.

Jesus left and the man stood there, staring at his legs amazed at the miracle that just took place.

“What the hell?” cried out a voice from his left.

The man looked to his left and saw Jethro sitting there with his arms flung open.

“Seriously Asher, what the hell? How is it you get healed and he walks past me? I’ve been here just as long as you!”

“Hey Jethro, I don’t know how it works. He just asked me if I wanted to get well, then he healed me. Isn’t this amazing?”

Jethro used crawled off his mat towards Asher and grabbed his leg. “I want to get well too! Who was that? What was his name? Can you find him for me?”

Asher looked around but couldn’t see the man. He didn’t recall the man telling him his name, and he couldn’t even recall what the man really looked like. It all happened so fast.

“I don’t see him. I guess I can go look…”

Jethro sighed. “Forget it. I’m happy for you. Maybe this was something God wanted for you. I don’t know. I’ll just wait here. Maybe he’ll come back. Maybe I’ll somehow throw myself into the pool when the waters get troubled…”

Asher unrolled his mat and sat down next to Jethro. Jethro looked confused. “What are you doing?”

“I’ll tell you what I’m doing. When I couldn’t walk, I didn’t have anyone to put me in the water when they were troubled. I had no one. Now I can walk. I can help you get into the water when it’s troubled, I can help you get healed. I’ll be your legs until you get a pair of your own.”

In that moment Jethro found his hope in Asher.

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Christopher Witnesses the Crucifixtion

When Fredrick came back something seemed off. Fredrick warned Christopher not to go. He said that things were not quite as he hoped them to be. Christopher never considered Fredrick to be a man of strong faith. Christopher knew that what he was about to experience would strengthen his faith. He wanted to see the crucifixion of Jesus.

After the time displacement procedure Christopher found himself surrounded by a mob. Bodies were pushing up against him as he struggled to wiggle free for a breath of air. He propelled his body forward and underestimated the force he was using. The crowd gave and he found himself on the ground. As he looked up he found himself looking at a few men that were beat, battered, and bloody.

These men looked the same. Which one was Jesus? Which one of these men would be the sacrifice to save Christopher’s soul? Whose blood was worthy? As Christopher looked at these men grouped together, mob yelling, something strange stirred up inside of him. It was compassion.

His mind went to a video someone sent him in an e-mail once. It was a video of an American soldier that was captured by a terrorist cell group. They stripped him naked and beat him. He looked so helpless and so alone. Christopher remembered the rage that overcame him when he saw that video. He wondered where the justice was when he watched that video. It was the same thing he was feeling at this moment.

No! This wasn’t a moment of injustice. This was a moment of justice! This is the moment when mens sins would be forgiven, when the wrath of God would be satisfied, when union with the father would be possible!

One of the men threw up as the Roman soldiers started to nail him to the cross.

A song started to play in Christopher’s head, “And I’ll cherish the Old Rugged Cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down, And I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.”

He found it hard to say amen to that song in this moment. He found it hard to find anything to cling to or to cherish. This just seemed wrong.

No! He knew that this wasn’t wrong! This was necessary! He needed this to happen. Jesus had to die. Christopher and the rest of the world needed this to take place for the remission of sins.

A woman cried out for Jesus from the crowd. One of the battered men looked up helplessly. This had to be Jesus. He had not been crucified yet. As Christopher looked at him he couldn’t help but to notice the weakness, the helplessness, the heaviness. He looked like someone who needed help. Christopher wanted to help him.

A commotion broke out in the crowd. There was a lot of arguing, pushing, shoving and fighting. Christopher couldn’t see what was going on but he could hear it. The Roman soldiers were distracted as some of them went to investigate this disturbance.

Jesus was unattended. Wild thoughts went through Christopher’s mind. He could help Jesus. He could pull him into the crowd and get lost. He brought some devices from his time that could be used to get out of a tight spot. If he grabbed Jesus he could take him far away from this place. He could even nurse him back to health!

At that moment, Christopher’s faith rose up within him. No. To do so would doom the whole world. Christopher could not let his compassion get in the way of what he knew had to happen. Jesus has to die.

The Roman soldiers subdued the brawl quickly. They started to prepare Jesus for crucifixion. One of the women from the crowd cried out, “Why? Why? This is not right! Someone have mercy upon him!”

A man next to Christopher scoffed at the woman’s pleas. He was wearing what appeared to be priestly robes. Christopher’s blood ran cold. This was one of the men who sentenced Jesus to death. If only he knew who he sentenced to death. Christopher turned to the man and was about to say something when he heard the man respond to the woman, “Jesus has to die.”

A chill ran down Christopher’s spine.

Fredrick Goes Back In Time To Meet Jesus

Fredrick stood before a group of men. He thought it would have been easy to spot Jesus his Lord and Savior but all the men looked the same. He knew that Jesus wasn’t going to have blond hair and blue eyes. He didn’t know how brown these first century Jews were going to be. As he stood there he waited for one of them to stand out, to glow, to start floating, to do something miraculous. Nothing happened.

Fredrick could understand the language they were speaking. It must have had something to do with the time displacement procedure. The group of men were speaking about various topics. A few were speaking about the newest Roman conquests, some were speaking on plans during the next festival, and some were just talking.

As Fredrick looked around he noticed he was standing on a countryside road. It must have been a connecting road between two cities. Fredrick approached the men, they seemed to not notice him standing there. Fredrick cleared his throat to get their attention. One of the men who was more listening to a conversation than engaging in one, turned to Fredrick and raised his eyebrow.

“Excuse me. I’m looking for Jesus.”

“He’s preoccupied right now.”

Of course, Fredrick thought. Jesus must be healing someone, casting out a demon, or deep in prayer. Why were these men not with Jesus during these miraculous events? Fredrick concluded it must be because of their little faith. “I would like to see him now. I’ve come a long way and would like to be involved in what he’s doing at this moment.”

The man stared blankly at Fredrick and replied, “He had some bad fish in the last town and is taking a shit… I think he would like his privacy. He can wipe his own ass!”

A few of the men laughed and Fredrick blushed in embarrassment. These men seemed very rough and crass. These couldn’t be the twelve he read about in the gospels. It had to be a joke. Jesus couldn’t have a stomach flu. God can’t get sick.

A man approached the group. He looked a little under the weather. His forehead was dotted with sweat beads. He was holding his stomach with one of his hands. He patted the back of one of his companions and said, “Alright, let’s move!”

The group continued on with their conversations as they began to walk down the road. Fredrick quickly stepped up to the front and started to examine the man he assumed to be Jesus. He was shorter than most of the other men in the group. His clothing was spotted with dirt around the hem and some food stains could be spotted around the collar. His hair was matted. As he watched Jesus speak to one of his disciples he noticed black dots on Jesus’ teeth. It looked like Jesus had some tooth decay.

There was a larger group down the road that Jesus was approaching with his disciples. Finally, he would see some action. There were two groups of people arguing over something about a temple. Fredrick had no idea what they were arguing about. Jesus then spoke up and started asking questions to both groups. He was talking about mercy over sacrifice, then went into something about forgiveness and loving each other. Both groups seemed to be challenged by what he was saying, but it didn’t move Fredrick the way he thought it would. Fredrick had heard better preaching on Christian Television.

This Jesus then approached a lame man in the crowd. Finally some real action! Fredrick knew that a miracle would soon take place. Jesus sat down next to the lame man and opened up a sack that he carried slung around his shoulder. He pulled out some food and some coins and gave it to the man. Jesus then kissed this man and told everyone how the least is the greatest…

This seemed to hush the crowd. This man whom everyone ignored in the heat of the argument, Jesus noticed. It seemed like everyone was ashamed of themselves in a sense, and yet a healing was happening. Fredrick didn’t see this lame man walk, but he did see everyone notice the lame man instead of pretending he wasn’t there.

Fredrick did witness a miracle. Jesus wasn’t anything he thought he was. Jesus disappointed him in appearance, disappointed him in his wonder working, and disappointed him in his preaching. He showed Fredrick a God that was not very impressive at all. He was dirty, surrounded himself with crude people, and has physical weaknesses. But what this Jesus did with that lame man seemed to transcend the moment.

Jesus was a human. Jesus was a common human. Jesus had flaws in Fredrick eyes. This scared Fredrick, but also gave him hope.

“I have come to…

“I have come to the place where I look at the bible as ancient people struggling with ancient problems and coming up with ancient solutions. This doesn’t mean that I still can’t find value and inspiration from what they wrote. The things that is recorded that Jesus said has been life changing for me.

With that said, I look at our constitution. Again, ancient white men with ancient mind sets dealing with ancient problems. I find it funny when people quote the constitution as ways to handle our problems today. To me, its like someone quoting Leviticus. Not to say that they didn’t have revolutionary ideas, inspirational ideas, ideas that can change our lives. But isn’t there a day when we must move on? In another 300 years will we still be bound to the mindsets of the ancients?”

—-Abraham Lincoln… of 7-11

Why is Jesus Always Coming Back Pissed?

Angry Jesus

This is a song by Michael Hardin from Preaching Peace. I love this dude BUNCHES. Check out his books, YouTube channel, and website.

Why is Jesus Always Coming Back Pissed?
©Michael Hardin

Got on an air-conditioned bus this morning
Read every sign that passed along those city streets
Lady Poverty was in the streets a-borning
But folks still found the time to smile at those they’d meet.

Ahead of me and to my right there rose a steeple
In a world of hate and violence amiss
A symbol of love with a simple sign that read
“Jesus is coming back and boy is He pissed!” Tell me,

(Chorus:)
Why is Jesus always coming back pissed
In a never-ending rhetoric of apocalypse?
It’s always fire and brimstone that we always kiss
In a story whose love we miss.
Tell me, why is Jesus always coming back pissed?

I was reading yesterday’s bad news in the Post
But reflected that the world still held firm
Though I’m aware of our poison and evil
I don’t believe that we were meant to burn

You find you’re born, you eat, you sleep, you live, you drink, you die
And wonder if you’re worth anything at all
Sure life can suck and then you find it’s over
But who’s to say we didn’t have a ball

(Chorus)

At least in the Sixties we had the Jesus movement
We danced and spoke of leave and peace and light
Now all that we’re left with are the dregs of believers
And God forbid, the Christian Right

“Jesus is Just Alright,” said the Doobies
And that’s more credible than most of the shit
You can hear on any given Sunday morning
From the thousands of angry pulpits, Oh tell me,

(Chorus)

( (c) Michael Hardin 2010)

The American Jesus – The Greatest Commandment

American Jesus

The TV studio was set up like a mountain cabin. A giant stone fireplace was lit and an expensive wood table sat in the center of the room on a Native American hand sewn rug. Sitting at the table was Jesus. His Rolex and the rings on his fingers glistened from the flames dancing in the fireplace.

The opening music for the broadcast played as the camera pulled into Jesus. As the big band music died down Jesus looked at the camera and smiled, “Hello and welcome to the Abundant Life of the Overcoming Believer’s Broadcast. I’m Jesus the Christ.”

“I was asked during my last Believers Conference what was the greatest commandment. That was a great question which requires a great answer. The Father spoke clearly to me once the question was asked. The answer is, ‘Bless God with all your heart and watch God and others bless you!’

How does one bless God? As I have mentioned before, if you have seen me you have seen the Father. Therefore, by blessing me, his son, you bless him! Let me define what I mean by blessing. You can bless with kind words, but that is a lower blessing. Words last for a moment and have no lasting value. I can’t pay the expenses of this ministry that my Father has given me with kind words. The real blessing takes real action. Sending in finances is the simplest and most effective ways to bless God. Me and my Father created all things, we authored life, we continue to allow this creation to go into the future and we didn’t even send you a bill for it. We did it for free! The least you can do is show your appreciation with a financial gift today.

One of the liberal hippies out there might be wondering about the poor. Who will take care of them? Me and my Father already have that taken care of. This principle of blessing applies to them as well!  It’s a system that is fair and unbiased. If the poor would bless God by sending me their money, they would receive a blessing back! By giving money directly to the poor you are blessing poverty, not God. Ask yourself, ‘Who do I want to bless? Poverty which comes from the devil, or Jesus who comes from God?’

Join me tomorrow as we will learn how to pray communism away, the greatest threat to Gods blessing system.”

As the camera away from Jesus the broadcast faded to a neatly arrayed stack of books, DVDs, and CDs. A voice over began to announce the product being offered. “For a blessing of $120.00 you can receive all 20 teachings of The Greatest Commandment. If you act now, Jesus will even give you a free gift of Miracle Mud. This mud was spit on by Jesus and can be applied to your checkbook, bills, your body, or your spouse for miraculous results.”

Jesus, Hank, and the Street Preacher

Jesus, Hank, and the Street Preacher

Jesus, Hank, and the Street Preacher

The crowd was gathered listening to the sweaty street preacher, yelling while gripping his bible. Pointing at a young man, he asks “Have you ever lied? Yes? That makes you a lair! Have you ever lusted after a woman? Yes? That makes you an adulterer! Have you ever hated someone? Yes? That makes you a murderer…”

The preacher continued to list the reasons why this young man deserved hell. On the outskirts of the crowd stood Jesus and Hank. Hank was an average church goer. He attended every Sunday he could. He owned a few Christian books on his bookshelf and was secure in his salvation. Jesus was a Jew. He cared more for people than religion. As they stood there, Hank shook his head in disgust. “This guy is making us look so bad. That is no way to win people over to Christianity.”

Jesus stroked his chin. “What about this guy is making your people look bad?”

Hank laughed. “He’s treating people like dirt! He’s running people away from Christianity! That is not the way to go about it, I’ll tell you that.”

Jesus thought for a moment. He turned to Hank and asked, “Do you believe in the hell he speaks of? Do you believe sinners are going to this place if they don’t agree in the Christ he speaks of?”

The question caught Hank off guard. He shifted uncomfortably as he thought of a tactful way to answer the question. “Well, yea. I do believe that there is a hell that non-believers are going to. But what he is doing is running them further away! You have to be lead by the spirit.”

Jesus shuffled his feet, thinking how he should say this with tact. “What you seem to disagree with is the mans method, but not his message. That is troubling to me. If you do believe that there is a hell, a place where people are tormented eternally for not believing in this Christ, than why are you not like this preacher here? He is taking his belief seriously. You seem to not care that most will be tormented forever.”

Hank felt his face get red. Its not that he didn’t want to save people from hell, it just seems so wrong when he sees it acted out in front of him. This street preacher made him uncomfortable. Was it because of how he was preaching, or was the message itself ugly?

Jesus seemed to sense his discomfort. “Hank, relax. I don’t know who this Christ is that this man preaches about. In my day, there were many Christ’s. If this man makes you uneasy, its not his method. Its his message. Something in you realizes that this is ugly, that this isn’t right. Trust that feeling.”

The street preacher locked eyes with Jesus. He pointed to Jesus with his bible and asked, “You sir. If you died today do you know where you would go?”

“Yes. I would probably go into the ground. Hopefully in something tasteful, like oak or mahogany.” The crowd laughed at Jesus’ reply. The street preacher wasn’t laughing.

“Do you think eternity is a joke? Laugh now, but there won’t be any laughing in hell. Have you ever lied sir?”

“Let me stop you right there. This Christ you speak of is a monster. If he is the one I must trust to get into heaven, I’d rather suffer in hell. Let me answer your question in regards to eternity. There was a man who was invited to a party. When he received his invitation, he went around town and rubbed it in everyones face. He judged those based on who he thought would attend the party, and those whom he thought wouldn’t. When the night of the party came this man walked in the door. To his dismay the whole town was invited to the party. He was angry feeling deceived and fooled. When the man saw the head of the party, he confronted him asking why he allowed him to believe it was a private party. The head of the party replied, because it made him laugh.”

The preacher gave him a blank stare. “Sir, have you ever lied?”

Jesus laughed. “Lets go, Hank. I’m hungry. If I’m going to hell, I might as well do it on a full stomach.”