PS stands for Plain and Simple! I love writing stories to enhance reading of God's Word. The Holy Bible has always been transforming lives and penetrative to our inner souls where no other books can ever do. I desire every Christian to love God's Word as fresh bread from the oven of heaven!
Aaron hears the sounds of the motorbike approaching. He has been eagerly waiting for a letter about the project he tendered a few weeks ago. Smiling as he reaches out to take the pile of letters from the surprised postman.“Thank you, Mr. Postman!”Aaron utters quickly. Sitting at the steps to his house, he swiftly tears open the letters.“Bills, bills, bills, Ahhh,”he mutters and then springs up. Jumping with delight, Aaron punches his fist in the air.“Finally, I made it!”While he still prances around, his eyes catch hold of a letter on the ground.“How could I miss this beautiful letter?”he whispers. Tearing it, his eyes begin to widen.
Jimmy looks at his new signboard at the flower shop he owns. Just ten minutes ago, the last customer had bought a large amount of flowers for his new company. For the past few weeks since the shop opened for business, every evening, Jimmy would stare at his shop and smile. Success is indeed sweet for him as he has failed many times in business before. His wife pats on his shoulder and whispers,"Darling, today it is another record sales for us.”Jimmy hugs her and both of them grin, looking at the beautiful designed sign on top of his shop.“Before I forget, Darling, there is a letter for you,”Jimmy’s wife tells him.“Here, see what it says”.Jimmy opens the letter and stares at it with a stunned face.“What’s wrong, Darling?”
Christopher gazes at his wife as she lays there sleeping. His mind flashes back at the time when he had to work doubly hard just to get her attention. The pressures he suffered at the hands of so many other admirers, going after her including some of his close friends. The world stood still on that fateful day when she said,“Yes, I will marry you.”He gives his beautiful wife of two days a kiss on the cheek without waking her up. “I will never trade her with anything in the world,” he whispers to himself. Upon waking up en route to the bathroom, he sees a letter on her dressing table. He takes it and slowly opens the beautiful decorated letter. Reading it, he slumps down onto a chair.
Aaron, Jimmy and Christopher are the adopted sons of Mr. Rodney. He had taken them in to his home when they were orphans at a centre. There were many others he generously offerred a chance to lead normal lives. He now wants them to celebrate the handover of his entire business to his own flesh and blood, Rodney Junior. Rodney Senior wants all his adopted sons and daughters to come home and rejoice with him.
Aaron, Jimmy and Christopher at a restaurant nearby.
Christopher:Have you received the second letter from Uncle Rodney?
Aaron:Yes. I am not going. What is there to celebrate? Absolutely nothing for us.
Jimmy:Everything is Rodney Jr. I am fed up. Did he once talk about giving me a slice of his vast estate?
Aaron:That’s right. I have to work like a dog. Anyway I can’t go as I have just won a tender. I don’t even bother to let him know.
Christopher: I rather spent my time looking at my wife than to see Rodney Junior’s face.
Jimmy:By the way, did you see the news yesterday?
Christopher:What happened? I didn’t as I was busy.
Aaron:I know you are busy with your beautiful wife. It is reported widely that some adopted sons of Uncle had beaten up some servants who came to invite them to go. Now the police are investigating.
Christopher:Whew! I won’t go to that extent. I am jealous but not until you beat people up. Just don’t go. That would break his heart and show him how we feel.
Jimmy:Anyway, my business is starting to pick up. It is also none of my business going there. To go there and just clap for his son, eeiew!
They walk out of the restaurant green with envy and decide not to participate.
The news has reached Mr. Rodney that all his adopted sons and daughters had refused to go back home and celebrate with him and his only flesh and blood. The party needs to go on as foods have been catered and canopies are all set up. He recalls with tears how he treated all of them with dignity and respect and brought them up to live normal lives. In his down trodden state, he decides to listen to his heart one more time. This time, he invites the poor again to his home, those who can’t afford to even survive.
At the party...
Mr. Rodney gestures to the crowd to address them. “Thank you for coming to celebrate the handover of my business to my only son, Rodney Junior. I am saddened by the fact that all those I have treated so well have rejected my invitation to celebrate this occasion. They have spurned my generosity. I invite you here not only to feast and celebrate the occasion. I invite you here to tell you that my son, Rodney Junior will inherit what I do. To invest all my money to help people live normal lives. All of you here today will get a slice of my vast estate. But one thing you must do. To help others enjoy what you have."
At the party, Rodney catches hold of one man without a tag. He has gate-crashed in. By the look on his proud face, he is neither poor nor wanting to share Rodney’s dream. He swiftly calls security and warns him not to come near his house anymore. He is not welcomed at all. Mr. Rodney has learnt his lesson well. Not everyone responds to generosity with generosity. These people don’t deserve even a cent from him.
The parable of the Wedding Banquet is found in Matthew 22:1-14 and one with a difference in Luke 14:15-24.
The crucifixion of Jesus draws near and He lays his cards on the table. The parables get clearer, especially to those who oppose Jesus and what He came to do. The story irks the religious leaders and they know that Jesus is rebuking them. They had treated badly all God’s messengers, right from the Old Testament up to the present time. Not only they reject God’s messengers, they reject even His Son.
However, to those poor and common people, they are delighted to know they are also invited for the banquet. God shows no favouritism, whoever willing will get in. All are invited regardless. But only few choose to go. It sometimes defies the mind.
So, some are angry with Jesus for telling this parable. Some are happy that Jesus mentions the poor, delighted that they are loved and called to participate in the Kingdom of God. But there are also people who are upset with those who refuse to go to the banquet in this parable. Wedding banquets are such joyous occasions. Sometimes even the whole town rejoices and it normally takes a week of celebration. How could anyone refuse to go after being so cordially invited over and over again? The person who sent the invitation is not a commoner for crying out loud. He is the KING! Come on! This is exactly what Jesus wants to accomplish with parables. To introduce radical kingdom living involves telling something radical. A parable that creates tension and at the same time, portrays hope!
To put it in the nutshell, God has sent out an invitation to the world. God’s intense love for mankind brings out the best in Him: sending His only Son to suffer punishment on a cross. You can make excuses or you can outright spurn Him, the decision you make is God’s decision to allow you to participate in the greatest Party in history. The Wedding of God's Only Son!
Have we lost Jesus? What is the consequence of losing Jesus?
The answer to the first question is “almost” and to the second, “everything!”
JESUS MANIFESTO is to me a timely Book, a Now Book in a time where Christians did almost everything, sometimes wonderfully efficient, without clearly giving glory to Jesus who is everything we existed for! This book sets me free from knowing there is much more about Jesus that I don’t even realise. So much I thought I know and then comes this spoiler! Jesus Christ is so simple to understand yet so profound to grasp. It is so easy to learn about Jesus, yet so difficult to study Him.
Throw out WWJD, reject imitating Christ and start to embrace the imparting of an implanted Christ in all of us. Those were revolutionary thoughts to me. Sometimes it is so comfortable to do everything we know and are familiar with. JESUS MANIFESTO invites us to go where most of us would resist, like just doing what the Father asks us to do. Is that difficult? Seems like it. This is because we cinch it. We have everything under control. Take away that control, pry open our grip, we may find ourselves shoving and kicking in disagreement.
One of the most compelling messages for me in this book is that the church is Jesus Christ in corporate expression (Pg. 143). Before I am lost into the mysterious world of the Person of Jesus Christ, I am awakened to that familiar word I grew up in. So much so that the authors want to restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ, they hit the nail in bringing out the community called church which we can express ourselves. They put it succinctly; Jesus Christ cannot be separated from His church (Pg. 141).
Clearly, I am mesmerised quite a lot by this Book as I am seeking Christ more and more in these trying times. But to those who stroll through their Christian walk casually may find this Book a little bit boring.
I give 4 stars to this Book.
Disclaimer: Jesus Manifesto was provided free to me by Thomas Nelson through the BookSneeze program for the purpose of this review.
Richard high-fives Tony and cheers resound from across the room. Another deal is done, another feather in their caps. Hi-Vision Co’s southern sales division have again achieved another record-breaking year. Popularly called “The Duo”, Richard and Tony, are now known as the company’s highest achievers in its 30-year history.
As Richard sits grinning at his office desk, the phone rings. On the other line, Chris Lang congratulates him for a job well done. As the CEO and the owner of the company, Chris keeps tabs on everything that is going on in all divisions even though he often goes abroad for a long period of time.
“I am in China and I heard of the news. Tomorrow night, bring your whole division to a nice fancy restaurant. My treat,”Chris speaks with a sense of pride.
“Oh.. Okay, Thank you, Mr. Lang!”Richard answers.
“I am coming back to join in the celebration,”the CEO announces.
“Okay. Er..That’s great!”Richard replies with a startled tone. Due to his success, the other three sales divisions hail him as “Our Director”, directing the vision of the company. And it seems Mr. Lang’s coming back may take away some glory from him.
“Mr. Lang, I have little news I need to brief you,”the top sales executive tells the CEO.“Few days ago, Ray and Cindy where you brought in to oversee all the sales divisions have resigned.”
“I know. They called me,”Chris answers quickly.
“Oh…,”Richard clears his throat. His confidence wavers a bit.“I told them to stay but they insisted on going,”he adds.
“Is there anything else going on that I need to know, Richard?”Chris Lang enquires.
“Oh, I nearly forgot. Your son, Jonathan also intended to leave the company and I told him no,”Richard informs his Boss.“I bet he would have called you too,”he continues, rushing to get this off his chest.
“Yes. He did call me. He said he was threatened but I laughed it off,” the Boss speaks calmly.“Anyway, he is so stressed that I asked him to take a long leave,”he adds, sounds a little bit disappointed.
“Is that so? I am sorry for him,”Richard offers his sympathy.
“Okay then. I see you tomorrow night,”the CEO bids goodbye and ends the conversation.
At the restaurant….
Before Chris Lang walks in, he can hear shouts of joy and clinking of glasses in the room. To his surprise he sees groups of people from the other sales divisions joining in the celebration.“To our Director!”they shout in unison, laughing out loud. One man yells,“I propose a toast to ‘The Duo’, not only for their astounding achievements but also someday, they may even take over the whole company.”
As he turns around to address the crowd, he bumps into Mr. Lang. The whole atmosphere changes to an awful silence.
“Oh, Boss! I…I thought you will come in later,”Tony stammers.
Chris takes a glass of champagne and says with a poker face,“I propose a toast to Richard and Tony and the rest of the Southern Division, a grand farewell from the company.”
“Boss, you are kidding, aren’t you? I present to you, Mr. Chris Lang, the Joker,”Richard quickly chips in. No one laughs. The silence is deafening and embarrassing.
“Boss, I gave my life to this company. Hey guys, you promised me that you back me up in this,”he adds in desperation.
“Your division has been threatening all the employees of this company and you think I don’t know,”Chris thunders. “And success has got into your heads. You have depended on the platform in Hi-Vision Co for all your success. You owe me everything. And I know what you did to my son,”he adds angrily.
Meanwhile two familiar faces stroll into the room, like they are waiting for the right moment.
“Richard and Tony had told us that if we don’t leave the company, we will be in for a hard time. I was threatened many times,”Ray recalls his side of the story.
“They deliberately blocked my car on my way home and some of my files went missing. No one dared to cooperate with us due to ‘The Duo’,”Cindy interjects.
Some police officers rush in when Chris calls for them. “Richard and Tony, you guys have a lot to explain to the officers with your intimidation, fraud and all,”he speaks sternly, shaking his head.
As ‘The Duo’ are hauled away, Chris signals for all Southern Division staff to go too. They gladly leave knowing that they are spared from being arrested as well. As they scramble out, they see a dashing young man wearing a smart tuxedo walks in. Jonathan Lang, the son of the CEO, stands in front of all those remaining in the room.
“I have an announcement,”Chris finally speaks with a smile.“My son, Jonathan will now be the CEO of the company.”The crowd breaks out in thunderous applause, relieves that peace has finally settled in Hi-Vision Co.
The parable of the Tenants is found in Matthew 21:33-41; Mark 12:1-9; Luke 20:9-16.
As the time draws near for Jesus to eventually sacrifice His life on the cross, His teachings and tone of language begin to change. From a lovey-dovey appearance, Jesus now presents provoking messages both to His disciples and the religious authority.
This parable is indeed fiery and sharp. Like the prophets of old proclaiming their prophecies, Jesus pronounces judgment to those who reject Him and what He stands for. Jesus warns them through the parable that their rejection of Him is the rejection of the Cornerstone of God which is the Messiah. In fact, to reject Jesus is to reject God’s Word, thus God Himself.
The Chief Priests and the Pharisees have lost much of their popularity as Jesus takes on more followers. They see their ‘religious kingdom’ being torn apart while Jesus’ Kingdom of God is gathering steam. In their pride to protect their power, no one must stand in their way. Even Jesus who did tremendous miracles, believed to be a prophet by the masses, must be killed off. With their eyes blinded and ears bound with dullness, they will never grasp what God is doing through His Son. All they know is that Jesus spoke the parable against them, protraying them as the ones that persecute the servants of the Land Owner. Jesus warned them against repeating history of God's prophets being persecuted and killed by the religious leaders!
All three gospel writers have captured this all-important parable to warn people of rejecting Jesus. So many people today build their own little kingdoms without the Cornerstone. In the end, there can be nothing but brokenness and destruction.
There are several meanings to the usage of cornerstones…
1. A stone that forms a corner or angle in a structure in making sure that the building is evenly balanced and stable when completed.
2. A stone prominently situated near the base of a corner in a building as a foundation stone. Such a stone, often inscribed, laid at a ceremony marking the origin of a building.
3. A fundamental principle or underlying concept: base, basis, foundation, fundamental.
4. An indispensable and fundamental basis: the cornerstone of an argument.
To make it plain and simple, rejecting Jesus means living a life which is unbalanced and meaningless. There is no foundation whatsoever to stand on, no past nor future to base on. These people just live for the present and the only treasure is the pleasure of this world.
Rest assure that all of us will give our account to God one day. You can be very successful in the world but success without Jesus is no success! In fact, you will be cornered by the Cornerstone when the time finally comes.
Jesus is the centre of earth’s history. History is literally His story.
(Col 1:16-17) For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Therefore, let Christ be the centre of our lives! With Christ as the cornerstone of our lives, we will not only stand firm, we are ready for battles ahead to expand the kingdom of God!