- Message in the Middle #3
- Mr. Cross gets ‘Scrooged’
- Abuses Ms. Grace
- Prophetic Warning
- Christmas-Hanukkah Past
- Christmas-Hanukkah Present
- Christmas-Hanukkah Future
- Wake Up!
- American Jewish tradition and Constructive Advice
- In the Messianic Age Christmas will be replaced by Sukkot!
- Therefore, it is written…
- Speaking and Hearing the Core Message
- The wealthy person with an unforgiving heart
- The Original Scrooge and how he got himself Scrooged
- The Mashal (מָשָׁל) of the Unmerciful Servant
- An incredibly large sum of money was owed
- The Generous King was more rich than King Solomon
- We all owe a debt that is beyond our ability to repay
- The Ungrateful Servant’s unforgiveness was inexcusable
- The Ungrateful Servant built himself his own personal prison to live in
- In the Kingdom of Adonai forgiveness is a compulsory act!
Message in the Middle #3
In the Christmas/Hanukkah season movie “Scrooged” Francis (Frank) *Xavier Cross (SNL comedian Bill Murray) is a greedy, power hungry, cold-hearted and cruel television programming executive. Frank’s favorite sick joke is that he “Cross” is the person the network owners “nail people to.” Therefore, Cross is the go-to guy the network bosses use to torment, torture, and crucify people whenever they don’t get the results they want. Tragically this ruthless treatment of others is what causes Frank to lose the love of his life, Claire (meaning “clear” in French) Phillips (from “phileo,” meaning the “love of a friend” in Greek) and to alienate him from his brother James (Ya’akov in Hebrew; meaning one who, on behalf of Adonai, “supplants” the evil world system) who sincerely loves him. [*Francis Xavier: Derived from the Basque place name Etxaberri meaning “the new house.” This was the surname of the Jesuit priest Francis Xavier (1506-1552). He was a missionary to India, Japan, China, and other areas in East Asia, and he is the patron saint of the Orient and missionaries. His surname has since been adopted as a given name in his honor, chiefly among Catholics.]
Abuses Ms. Grace:
Frank is an oppressive boss who is constantly abusing his loyal assistant Ms. “Grace.” Selfishly Mr. Cross (Frank) forces Grace to constantly devote her time, talents and abilities to him. Cruelly this causes Ms. Grace to frequently break plans with her family, resulting in the neglect of her mute son Calvin. Cross treats all his loyal staff like they exist for his own personal profit and amusement. In short, Frank is a sadistic, miserable, narcissistic jerk.
On Christmas-Hanukkah Eve Mr. Cross receives a life changing prophetic message from his deceased media mogul mentor Lew Hayward (Lew in Latin means “lion,” Hayward in English means “guard;” i.e. the “lion who guards an enclosed area or territory”) . Lew’s spirit returns from the dead to warn Frank of the error of his ways. This ghostly sober warning is followed up by the visitation of three spirits:
Christmas-Hanukkah Past is an obnoxious time traveling cab driver who takes Mr. Cross back in time to remind him of (his family of origin and his young adulthood): his childhood in 1955; his late teens in 1968 when he started his first job at a TV station; the day of his anniversary with Claire in 1969; and 1971 the year when Cross unwisely chose his job as “Frisbee the *Dog” over Claire. [*”Dogs” is what we Jews used to call you Gentiles. Even the Messiah used the term when He answered a distressed Kena’ani (Canaanite) woman, seeking spiritual help for her daughter.]
וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמַר לֹא־טוֹב לָקַחַת אֶת־לֶחֶם הַבָּנִים וּלְהַשְׁלִיכוֹ לִפְנֵי צְעִירֵי הַכְּלָבִים׃ וַתֹּאמַר כֵּן אֲדֹנִי אֶפֶס כִּי־גַם־צְעִירֵי הַכְּלָבִים יֹאכְלוּ מִן־הַפֵּרוּרִים הַנֹּפְלִים מֵעַל־שֻׁלְחַן אֲדֹנֵיהֶם׃ וַיַּעַן יֵשׁוּעַ וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלֶיהָ אִשָׁה רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֵךְ יְהִי־לָךְ כִּרְצוֹנֵךְ וַתֵּרָפֵא בִתָּהּ מִן־הַשָׁעָה הַהִיא׃
השיב לה באמרו: “לא נאה לקחת את הלחם של הבנים ולזרק אותו לכלבים.” אמרה לו: “כן, אדוני, אבל אפלו הכלבים אוכלים מן הפרורים הנופלים משלחן אדוניהם.” אמר לה ישוע: “אשה, גדולה אמונתך. יהי לך כרצונך”, ובאותה שעה נרפאה בתה.פ
“It is not good to take the children’s bread and to cast it before the little dogs” (הַכְּלָבִים). She said, “Yes, my master. However, even the little dogs (הַכְּלָבִים) eat from the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Yeshua answered and said to her, “Woman, great is your faith. Let it be for you according to your desire.” And her daughter was healed that hour.
Christmas-Hanukkah Present appears as an irritating life-size pixie who thoroughly enjoys painfully punching and slapping Frank. In the present Mr. Cross is made to see how Grace’s family lives in poverty because of his miserliness and how much his caring brother (James, i.e. Ya’acov) misses him.
After the second spirit of Christmas-Hanukkah departs and Frank is back in the present, an angry ex-employee in a drunken rage, rushes into Cross’ office with a shotgun. He wants to get revenge on his heartless ex-boss Mr. Cross. Then suddenly the spirit of Christmas-Hanukkah Future, a seven-foot-tall ghoul with a TV screen for a face, then appears and shows Frank his disastrous future where: Calvin (i.e. Protestant Calvinism) has ended up in a mental hospital, Claire has become a bitter, insensitive, cold, and uncaring person (like Frank); and only his loyal brother James (Ya’acov) and James’ wife attend his wretched and sparsely attended cremation service. As Cross’ body is being burned, Frank finally repents of the error of his ways pleading and begging for a “second chance” (cf. the meaning of Teshuvah and the “second chance” doctrine of Yamin Nora’im).
Once Cross thankfully awakens back in his office, a sincere and truly converted Frank immediately hires back, with a generous salary increase, the enraged employee he had unjustly fired. Thereafter he goes out in front of the rolling studio cameras and publicly wishes his viewers a very Merry Christmas (and Happy Hanukkah). At which point Ms. Grace’s mute son Calvin is miraculously healed (of being mute and mentally ill), choosing as his first inspired words to urge Mr. Cross to repeat with him Tiny *Tim’s historic phrase, “the [רוּחַ הַחֶסֶד-Spirit of Grace] bless us, everyone.” Then as providence would have it, adding to Frank Cross’ newly discovered good fortune, his beloved Claire appears in the studio and the two are “reconciled.” [Timothy in Greek means “honoring” “Theos;” “i.e. what is honoring to the Almighty One.”] Thereafter: At the close of the film, at the moment Frank and Claire share a romantic kiss, Grace (chesed, chen) joyously leads the other television workers and all of the audience to sing:
American Jewish tradition and Constructive Advice:
There is a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor in Scrooged that you might not get if you are not a Jew. On Christmas Day in America if you are a Jew it is a tradition to eat Chinese food and go see a movie. This is so because the Chinese restaurants are open all day on Christmas and the movies are a way to avoid all of the Christmas-mania. From a Jewish messianic point of view we find Christmas really perplexing. For it appears Christmas presently has more to do with gross materialism (i.e. greed) than it is a celebration of the Eternal Light of Adonai coming into the womb of the Jewess Miryam. Furthermore, we are somewhat embarrassed that the gentile world at the advent of winter is celebrating Christmas when it should be celebrating Chanukkah (the time of the conception of Messiah; not His birth). We believe if the gentile world wants to appropriately celebrate the birth of the Mashiach they should do so at the right time, which is in the fall during the first day of Sukkot (the fall Festival of Lights).
In the Messianic Age Christmas will be replaced by Sukkot!
We are told by the prophet Zechariah that one day, in the (near) future, the whole gentile world will correct this glaring error—regarding when to celebrate the birth of Ha-Mashiach— when all of the nations and peoples of the world will learn to correctly celebrate the Messiah’s birthday on the Festival of Sukkot; which by the way is the only Festival of Israel that is an international festival that explicitly “includes” all of the gentile peoples and nations of the world.
Therefore, it is written…
Therefore, it is written in Zechariah 14:16:
והיה כל־הנותר מכל־הגוים הבאים על־ירושלם ועלו מדי שנה בשנה להשתחות למלך ה’ צבאות ולחג את־חג הסכות׃
וְהָיָה כָּל־הַנֹּותָר מִכָּל־הַגֹּויִם הַבָּאִים עַל־יְרֽוּשָׁלִָם וְעָלוּ מִדֵּי שָׁנָה בְשָׁנָה לְהִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֹת לְמֶלֶךְ ה’ צְבָאֹות וְלָחֹג אֶת־חַג הַסֻּכֹּֽות׃
“Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the Melekh, Adonai Tseva’ot, and to celebrate Chag Ha-Sukkot” (אֶת־חַג הַסֻּכֹּֽות).
Speaking and Hearing the Core Message:
As for the subtle (hidden, disguised, mocking) comedic criticisms in “Scrooged,” regarding the (doctrines of the) cross (the doctrine of butchery), grace (the abuse thereof), and calvin(ism) (which is a ‘mute,’ insane belief system), we just find the whole silliness of it all more than a bit childish (but not hateful) and forgivable. As for the Core Message that we all (Jews, Christians, etc) need to: “Put a Little Love in our Hearts” (all year around). We consider that to be very constructive advice! There is nothing to disagree with there. We also like who the real hero role-model is in the movie script: The brother of Mr. Cross James. James of course is the English equivalent of Ya’akov. Ya’akov is the redemptive Suffering Servant in the movie. If you put a little love in your heart and help Ya’akov out then things go well for you; otherwise, things don’t go so well for you. Our sincere prayer is that Ya’akov (Israel) will one day be exactly what the movie claims: the righteous-forgiving brother; a royal and priestly nation and people who unselfishly serve our neighbor nations that Elohei Ya’akov (the G-d of Jacob) expects us to serve and convert to faith in Him! (1, 2, 3)
The wealthy person with an unforgiving heart:
Messiah spoke two thousand years ago about the original Scrooge, who unlike Frank Cross never took advantage of his opportunity to exercise the gift of the “second chance.” This highly wealthy and successful person failed to sincerely repent of his maltreatment of his fellow humanity; nor did he ever know the joy of receiving the regenerating music of the Spirit of Grace (רוּחַ הַחֶסֶד) into his empty, vain, selfish, greedy, unforgiving heart.
The Original Scrooge and how he got himself Scrooged:
Here then is a special story for the winter Holidays that all of us should take to heart. Forgiveness and generosity are especially needed during these special Holiday Season days of Hanukkah (and Christmas). Don’t you know “all” of our lives are precious, immensely valuable and definitely worth saving? There is a way, a life-line and a hope we can always hold onto. With the help of the Spirit of Grace (רוּחַ הַחֶסֶד-Ruach Ha-Chesed) let love, good-will, generosity, and forgiveness reign supreme over these Holidays. If we do, then we won’t get Scrooged! As did the following foolish, wretched, tragic person who chose the way of “bitterness,” “selfishness” and “greed” rather than the Way of the Spirit of Grace’s own Compassionate and Forgiving Heart!
The Mashal (מָשָׁל) of the Unmerciful Servant:
עַל־כֵּן דּוֹמָה מַלְכוּת הַשָׁמַיִם לְמֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וָדָם שֶׁהָיָה יוֹרֵד לְחֶשְׁבּוֹן עִם־עֲבָדָיו׃ וְכַאֲשֶׁר הֵחֵל לְחַשֵׁב הוּבָא לְפָנָיו אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הָיָה חַיָּב לוֹ עֲשֶׂרֶת אֲלָפִים כִּכְּרֵי זָהָֽב׃ וְלֹא הָיָה־לוֹ לְשָׁלֵּם וַיְצַו אֲדֹנָיו לִמְכֹּר אוֹתוֹ וְאֶת־אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת־בָּנָיו וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ וִישַׁלֵּם׃ וַיִּפֹּל הָעֶבֶד עַל־פָּנָיו וְיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לוֹ לֵאמֹר אֲדֹנִי הַאֲרֶךְ־לִי אַפֶּךָ וַאֲשַׁלֵּם לְךָ הַכֹּל׃ וַיֶּהֱמוּ מְעֵי אֲדֹנֵי הָעֶבֶד הַהוּא וַיִּפְטְרֵהוּ וַיִּמְחֹל לוֹ אֶת חוֹבוֹ׃ וַיֵּצֵא הָעֶבֶד הַהוּא מִלְּפָנָיו וַיִּמְצָא אֶחָד מֵחֲבֵרָיו וְהוּא חַיָּב־לוֹ מֵאָה דִינָרִים וַיַּחֲזֶק־בּוֹ וַיַּחְנְקֵהוּ לֵאמֹר שַׁלֵּם אֵת אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה חַיָּב לִי׃ וַיִּפֹּל חֲבֵרוֹ לִפְנֵי רַגְלָיו וַיְבַקֵּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ לֵאמֹר הַאֲרֶךְ־לִי אַפֶּךָ וַאֲשַׁלְּמָה לְּךָ הַכֹּל׃ וְהוּא מֵאֵן וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיַּנִּיחֵהוּ בַּמִּשְׁמָר עַד שֶׁיְּשַׁלֶּם־לוֹ אֶת־חוֹבוֹ׃ וְהָעֲבָדִים חֲבֵרָיו רָאוּ אֶת־אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה וַיֵּעָצְבוּ מְאֹד וַיָּבֹאוּ וַיַּגִּידוּ לַאֲדֹנֵיהֶם אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה׃ וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו אֲדֹנָיו וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אַתָּה עֶבֶד בְּלִיַּעַל אֶת־כָּל־הַחוֹב הַהוּא מָחַלְתִּי לְךָ יַעַן אֲשֶׁר־בִּקַּשְׁתָּ מִמֶּנִּי׃ הֲלֹא הָיָה גַם־עָלֶיךָ לְרַחֵם עַל חֲבֵרֶךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר רִחַמְתִּי־אֲנִי עָלֶיךָ׃
על כן דומה מלכות השמים למלך בשר ודם שרצה לערך חשבון עם עבדיו. כאשר החל לחשב הובא לפניו איש שהיה חיב לו עשרת אלפים ככרי כסף. כיון שלא היה לו לשלם צוה אדוניו למכר אותו ואת אשתו ואת בניו ואת כל אשר לו כדי שישלם החוב. כרע העבד והשתחוה לו באמרו, ‘אנא, היה סבלן כלפי ואשלם לך את הכל.’ נכמרו רחמי האדון על העבד ההוא, פטר אותו וותר לו על החוב. כשיצא העבד ההוא מצא את אחד מחבריו העבדים שהיה חיב לו מאה דינרים. תפס אותו בגרונו ואמר, ‘שלם מה שאתה חיב!’ נפל חברו לרגליו ובקש מאתו, ‘אנא, היה סבלן כלפי ואשלם לך’. אלא שהוא לא הסכים ועוד הלך והשליך אותו לכלא עד אשר ישלם את החוב. כשראו חבריו העבדים את הנעשה התעצבו מאד ובאו וספרו לאדונם את כל אשר היה. אז קרא לו אדוניו ואמר לו, ‘עבד רשע, את כל החוב ההוא מחלתי לך משום שבקשת ממני. האם לא היית צריך גם אתה לרחם על חברך העבד כשם שאני רחמתי עליך?פ
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king of flesh and blood who was going down to settle accounts with his servants. When he had began to settle a man was brought before him who was indebted to him for ten thousand kikkarim (talents) of gold. But since he did not have any way to repay, his master commanded to sell him, along with his wife and children and all that was his, for repayment to be made. The servant fell down on his face (prostrated himself before him), saying, “Master, be slow to anger with me, and I will repay everything to you.” The master of that servant was moved with compassion, so he released him and pardoned him of his debt. That servant went out from before him and found one of his fellows who owed him a hundred denarim. He grabbed him and (began to) choke him, saying, “Pay me what you owe me!” His fellow (servant) fell down at his feet and entreated him, saying, “Be slow to anger with me, that I may repay everything to you!” But he refused (was unwilling), and he went and left him in prison until he should pay back his debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were very upset, so they came and told their master all that had been done. The master called to him and said to him, “You worthless servant! I pardoned your whole debt in response to your request to me. Was it not incumbent upon you to show mercy to your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?”
ובכעסו מסר אותו אדוניו לנוגשים עד אשר ישלם את החוב כלו. ככה גם אבי שבשמים יעשה לכם אם לא תמחלו איש לאחיו בכל לבבכם.פ
וַיִּקְצֹף אֲדֹנָיו וַיִּתְּנֵהוּ בְּיַד הַנֹּגְשִׂים עַד כִּי־יְשַׁלֵּם אֶת־כָּל־חוֹבוֹ׃ כָּכָה יַעֲשֶׂה לָכֶם גַּם־אָבִי שֶׁבַּשָׁמָיִם אִם־לֹא תִמְחֲלוּ אִישׁ לְאָחִיו בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶם׃
His master became angry and gave him over to the torturers until he should repay his whole debt. “My Father who is in heaven will do the same to you, if you do not completely pardon (forgive) others from your heart.”
An incredibly large sum of money was owed:
The amount owed in the story, by the unmerciful servant, is an extremely large sum (cf. Mattai 18:23-35). Ten thousand talents was an amount equal to sixty million denarim (denarii) and one denari was a normal daily wage. Contrast this amount with Herod’s annual income, which was nine hundred talents. Solomon’s temple, world renowned for the massive amount of gold it contained, possessed an amount of just over eight thousand talents (1 Chronicles 29:4-7). Incredibly, this man owed ten thousand talents. An ancient talent normally weighed between seventy-five to one hundred and ten pounds. So the forgiven amount was just over twelve million ounces of gold!
The Generous King was more rich than King Solomon:
The story setting is placed at the court of an oriental potentate, where gold flows like water and the courtiers are called ‘servants.’ The debtor to the king was likely a man of high rank. Ancient kings assigned provincial governors to collect their taxes and administer their affairs throughout their kingdoms. For this king to have forgiven the vast sum of ten thousand talents, he would have had to be a person who possessed greater material wealth than King Solomon. This extreme degree of material affluence, existing on a grand millennial scale, would not have escaped the notice of the Jewish populace of Messiah’s day. More inspiring was the King’s extreme generosity, compassion, and forgiveness. In a very real sense the debt forgiven was nonetheless a debt owed to the Forgiving King himself.
We all owe a debt that is beyond our ability to repay:
The story of the Unforgiving Servant is a deconstructing one. It addresses our taken-for-granted assumption that forgiveness is a preferential option and not a Divine compulsory act. The story opens us up to the possibility that our own personal experience of Divine forgiveness has been so great that we are morally obligated to give forgiveness to whoever has need of it. This redemptive story of Messiah revises our thinking and re-authors our lives. We have been forgiven a debt which is beyond all paying; for the sins of every person have brought about the death of Adonai’s own Son. The Messiah’s payment of our inestimable debt of sin to Adonai has re-storied our lives. It has inverted our sense of entitlement. No temporal debt owed to us can ever in any way compare to the eternal debt we owe Adonai. Our debt to the heavenly Father has placed such a severe obligation upon us that others are entitled to obtain whatever forgiveness they need from us.
The Ungrateful Servant’s unforgiveness was inexcusable:
The high ranking servant’s blatant public insensitivity to the preferences of the Forgiving King was insulting and disgraceful. The Ungrateful Servant in his impudence, self-importance, and lack of compassion and mercy had harmed the Good King’s name, reputation, and word. The reputation of a king is enhanced by the loyal behavior of his subjects. A subordinate, especially one of the high rank and privilege enjoyed by this man, should have known that he more than others was expected to live his life and administer his affairs in perfect accord with his king’s noble words and deeds. The Forgiving King’s generous and compassionate act of mercy toward his high ranking servant obligated not just the governor but all of the kings’ servants to do likewise. Therefore, the Message here is by accepting the Divine forgiveness we are all obligated to forgive all others who have need of our forgiveness. Tragically, the unmerciful servant who owed ten thousand talents or twenty million ounces of gold, could not bring himself to forgive his fellow servant who owed one hundred denarii (roughly three months pay for an average laborer). This decision greatly and cruelly harmed the humble servant, his wife, and children. It harmed the innocent observers, who also were employed in the service of the Forgiving King. These loyal servants grievously watched as their ruler’s (inspiring) precedent-setting act of compassion and generosity was completely discounted. Ignored by one of highest ranking servants- governors in the Forgiving King’s kingdom.
The Ungrateful Servant built himself his own personal prison to live in:
Most of all the Unmerciful-Unforgiving Servant had harmed himself. For out of his own hardness of heart he constructed the means for his own permanent and “torturous” imprisonment because his debt was too high to ever be repaid. Torturous, for certainly in the tormenting years to come the unmerciful servant must have repeatedly rehearsed in his mind the privileged life he had so foolishly given up for such a small act of self-satisfaction. For in his foolishness the unmerciful servant had traded his place in a kingdom characterized by unlimited compassion, generosity, and affluence for the severe confinement and permanent deprivation, depression, and despair of a jail cell.
In the Kingdom of Adonai forgiveness is a compulsory act!
This story is a somber warning to all of us: that if we fail to embrace forgiveness in our hearts for others we will inevitably subsist in a prison of our own hard-heart’s making. This is because in the Kingdom of Heaven the practice of compassion, mercy, and forgiveness is not optional. It is universally required. Therefore, in the Kingdom of Heaven forgiveness is a compulsory act! Those subjects of The Forgiving King who foolishly persist in practicing vengeance, anger, wrath, malice, bitterness and unforgiveness will ultimately incur the wrath of Adonai. In the exact measures that these ungrateful servants have ruthlessly punished others so will their punishment be. Divine Forgiveness or Judgment? The decision this Chanukkah season is really entirely up to us.