Archive for September, 2012

Jesus sits at a table in the back of McCoy’s Irish Pub in Capernaum, near the docks. Peter, James and John are sitting with him. There’s a line of guys facing the table cuing up to interview for a job. Bumper is sitting at Jesus feet. Amy and John McCoy let Jesus and his disciples have the run of the pub because John used to be blind.

Peter (looking around): So, why is it we’re taking applications for disciples in John’s pub? Wouldn’t a booth in the agora or in front of the synagogue be better?

Jesus: The pub screens out undesirables.

Peter: But pubs are usually full of undesirables.

Jesus: Yep. We want disciples who are comfortable around undesirables. Plus, following me will make these guys undesirable in the long run. They need to get used to it.

James: Why 70? Seems like alot. We’ve been doing great with twelve. Seems like overkill.

Jesus: Two things: First, it’s symbolic. After Noah, it was assumed the world was repopulated by 70 nations. I’m sending a disciple to each one. Second, we’re laying the foundation for a world-wide church.  These guys will be like John the Baptist in the Wilderness. They’re going to proclaim my kingdom to the corners of the world.  We’ll be global within a handful of generations.

John: In that case, 70 doesn’t seem like enough.

Jesus: You, twelve, will follow them and will appreciate their lead work after the Temple falls.

James: Temple fall? You keep saying that.

Jesus (looking up): Yeah, the whole thing’s coming down in your lifetime. You’ll follow the 70 out into the world and proclaim my resurrection.

Peter (scratching his head): Could you go over all that again? It’s still foggy to me.

Jesus: Not now, work to do. Next!

Rich guy: Jesus, I’d follow you anywhere!

Jesus: Sounds good. Sell all you have, give it to the poor and I’ll send you to Norway.

Rich guy (Looking downfallen): Sell everything? Norway? I need to think about this.

Jesus: Next!

Philip: I’d like to be a disciple. As you know, I’ve been following you guys around for a while. I carried the wine at the wedding.

Jesus: How do you like my dog, Bumper?

Philip (scratching Bumper’s head): He seems a good dog. Golden retriever?

Jesus: No, mixed. Okay, I’ve seen your grace Philip. You sure you’re up for this? I’m going to send you to Japan.

Philip: You instruct. I follow.

Jesus: Meet us in the agora tomorrow morning at 7:00. Next!

Shem the Pharisee: I’m here about the discipleship training.

Jesus (looking up): Hmm. How do you like my dog?

Shem (looking askance): He looks okay, I suppose.

Jesus: Would you let him lick you?

Shem: Not unless you wanted me to be licked.

Jesus: You are a ‘Man of the Law’ but you’re gonna have to let grace overrule the law. Can you do that?

Shem: Yes. God wanted the Children of Abraham to become a Holy Priesthood, but we haven’t done that too well. I’m convinced you are the Hope of Israel and the world.

Jesus: You’ve answered well, Shem. How do you feel about Moscow? You’ll be doing lead work for Andrew.

Shem: I’m in.

Jesus: Okay, meet at the agora tomorrow morning at 7:00. Next!

Chainsaw: Love the Lord your God completely and your neighbor as yourself!

Jesus (smiling): Why do they call you Chainsaw?

Chainsaw: I used to wrestle professionally in Jericho. I’ve been doing Power Team shows at local synagogues.

Jesus: How’s that working out?

Chainsaw: We get through to alot of the kids, break bricks and stuff, but I’m wanting to do something deeper and more meaningful. I think God has a greater plan for me.

Jesus: What sort of plan?

Chainsaw: Ever heard of Mongolia? I read about it in a National Geographic at the dentist’s office. Well, I feel I should imitate your ministry with Mongolians.

Jesus (grinning and shaking Chainsaw’s hand): Meet us in the agora at 7:00 tomorrow morning. Next!

Thomas (wandering up to the table): You guys want another round?

Jesus: Sure. How ’bout you ‘Pillars of the Church?’

James: So, what’s going to happen with these guys?

Jesus: We’ll meet and send ’em out tomorrow. They’ll start spreading the Gospel and will come back and report to us. After my resurrection they’ll go back out with the rest of the story. It’ll transform the world.

The next guy steps up.

Morgan: I’m here about the disciple job. I helped you paint Widow Patel’s house last month.

Jesus: Oh, yeah! Hey, Morgan! Thomas! Thomas!

Thomas (bringing a fist of mugs): Yeah?

Jesus: Meet Morgan. He’s going to do lead work in India for you.

Thomas (questioningly, puts the mugs down and shakes Morgan’s hand): Uh. Hey, Morgan. What?

Jesus (smiling): Don’t worry, it’ll make sense later. You guys are going to be great friends.

John: So, what about us, Lord? Will we all have lead guys?

Jesus: You twelve will work on the Tribes of Israel first  — twelve, get it? — but later you’ll join these guys in the field. And yes, these guys will prepare the way for you. God has big plans for all of you.

 

Tr8: God has big plans for you, too. Release and go as he leads.

 

 

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Peter and Paul (with his Roman guard, Hector) are sitting near what will eventually be the Vatican. They are watching practice chariot racers tearing around a long oval.

Paul (pointing): Number 6, Claudius and Gustovo are pinheads. They were way too loose on the turn.

Hector (nodding): Yep. They’ll lose the inside.

Peter: Losers don’t fare well here in Rome…. Changing the subject; Paul, I was reading your letter to the local church. At the top of page eight you said, ‘There’s no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.’ What’d’ja mean?

Paul (rolling his eyes, looking at Peter): Julius Cricket, Peter! You were with him! There was no condemnation in Christ.

Peter: Well, now that you mention it, that’s true enough. His grasp of the truth would make us a little nervous, but he never condemned us. Worst I remember is when he called me ‘Satan’ and told me to step away. I thought he was going to hit me. I felt pretty bad about that, but he hugged me afterwards.

Paul: It’s important that everyone get straight what it means to be ‘in Christ.’  Remember the Jerusalem Council? You guys were on the money.

Peter: I remember. It was important that we not set up a bunch of junk for the Gentiles in Antioch to trip over on their way to Christ.

Paul: Right. In Christ we are not condemning and because we love him, and act like him, we don’t dish out condemnation.

Peter: But, Paul, admit you can be annoying with your ‘I used to be a murdering, Christ-hating, pharisee thing.’

Paul: I can’t help it if I have a compelling story. I used to HATE Christ. I was in for KILLING people in Christ. I was all about making little Christian widows and orphans. So, if Christ can accept ME, who’s left out in the cold?

Peter: You were a piece of work for sure. I can barely fit my head around it all. Even today.

Hector (to Paul): You hunted Christians down and killed them? I’ve done that, too, out east of the city. Hmmm. Go figure. God will accept me?

Peter (to Hector): You can’t imagine this guy as a youngster. He was soooo full of himself and soooo sure he knew everything. He acted like God. God, he was really scary. Sure, God accepts you right now and you don’t even have to quit your job.

Hector: I don’t believe it.

Peter: Paul, here, is a ‘Miracle Man.’ He’s on a 180 degree course. In the early days he’d as soon a killed me as looked at me. If God can work him out, you’ll be easy, at least if you want to be in him.

Hector: So, is that why you’re best buds, now? Christ? Even though you wanted to kill him?

Paul: Well, yeah, mostly. Right, Peter?

Peter: Hector, I wish you could have been with Christ when he was alive on earth. You’d have loved him. Paul’s the best demonstration that Christ’s still at it.

Hector (scratching his chin thoughtfully): So, what happened?

Paul: I met Christ. Literally. AFTER he was crucified. When I realized it was him, for real, I fell down because it hit me that I had been fighting against God all along. I thought I loved him. I was absolutely shattered. He said. ‘Saul, there’s no condemnation here, in me.’

Peter: Yeah, sounds exactly like Jesus when I was with him. He had a way of doing that. He changed Paul’s name and showed him his love and grace.

Paul (to Hector): So, see, Hector? We, Peter and I, have no condemnation for you because we love you like Christ.

Hector: I’ve always thought you were the weirdest rebel convict I’ve ever met. I believe you’d do anything for me if I asked.

Peter: We both would. We’re here for you Hector.

Paul: Whenever you feel really worn down by life, remember, there’s no condemnation here.

Hector (pointing): Looks like Claudius and Gustovo lost the race. They’re probably going to wake up in Syria or someplace.

Paul: Let’s go buy them a drink.

Tr8: In Christ’s love there is no condemnation. We are free.

Paul and Silas are rushing down to the market to set up their booth at the Agora in Athens. There’s to be an open air Faith Fair near the fountains.

Paul (running): Hurry up! We gotta get our table down next to the Jews!

Silas (puffing along carrying a card table): There’s tons of spaces. I’d like to get next to the girls from the Temple of Diana.

Paul: That’s the last place you wanna be to attract new converts.

Silas (crashing into two Mormons in black pants and white shirts): Oops! Sorry, uhh, Brother Josh…Paul, I forgot the name tags again.

Paul (racing into the market, he dives to the ground to the right of the Jewish table just ahead of the Scientologists): Saved!  We were here first!

Zorbit the Scientologist: That’s not fair! No saving places! We usually get this place in front of the altar to the Unknown God.

Paul (raising his hand): And how would you like to be blind for the day? Scram!

Silas (unfolding the card table): Okay, here we are. What’s the big deal with being next to the Jews?

Paul (grinning): You’ll see. Plus, I’ve been working on an Unknown God message. And the Jews? They’re a bunch of stoners and clean-freaks.

Silas opens the box Paul was carrying. Takes out a table skirt that is purple and white. Has a big fish embroidered on the front and says, ‘Come join the Way!’ in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Paul puts out a bowl of lifesavers and arranges some tracts, stacks some invitations to this evening’s meeting and puts free #2 ‘One Way Jesus’ pencils in ‘The Way’ plastic cups.

Paul: Did you bring the PowerPoint?

Silas: Yeah, bottom of the box. Here’s the stand for the slides.

Paul: Ahh. Let’s see…dang it, Silas. This is the Roman Road presentation. I asked for the Steps To Peace With God! Are you sure you have what it takes to be a missionary? Are you? I remember John Mark. Are you a screw-up like he was a screw-up? You know it can happen to you, too, you know. Don’t think I won’t…

Silas (interrupting): Paul, love one another.

Paul (stops short): snagraple…don’t pull that one on me. ‘Love one another,’ why I oughta…

Silas (smiling, waving his hand in front of Paul’s eyes): Paul. Yo, here, Paul. You don’t need a PowerPoint. Your testimony kills and you have your Unknown God thing as a backup.

Paul (settling down): Well, yeah, the wrecks, stonings, scourging and such…

Silas (shading his eyes, looking east): Looks like a great morning. Oh, there’s a couple of guys at the Jewish table.

Paul (scooting Silas toward the Jewish table, whispering): Listen…

Jewish guy with a big beard: Yes, we ARE the CHOSEN. THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM. People of the Promise. We have a few rules and some living guidelines. And did I say we like things clean? My word, wash is our middle name! We’ll help you wash, wash, wash until your skin puckers. Ahh! To be clean!  Just keep the rules and obey.

Buck, a butcher from across the portico (pointing at the small print on the brochure): What’s the small print say?

Jewish guy (waving his hands): Oh, that? Nothing. No big deal. Wanna sign a commitment card?

Roy, another butcher: Hang on a second. Says here…membership surgery…with a razor or knife cut the…  What the heck?!

Jewish guy (hands outspread): It’s not too painful. Heals in two weeks. I had it done as a baby! You guys don’t look like pansies to me. Surely you want to please God!

Paul (winking at Silas): Gentlemen! We have all the Jews have to offer AND MORE! See their Bible? We have it AND MORE! See their prophets? We have them AND MORE! See their God? We have Him AND MORE! On top of that, we forgive you. And no surgery.

Roy: You don’t know what we did.

Paul: Forgiven. And no surgery.

Buck: You’re not listening. We ain’t confessed to nothing.

Paul: Doesn’t matter. You are forgiven. Jesus Christ died for your sins and loves you so much he’s forgiven you ahead of time. All you have to do is repent and be like him. And no surgery.

Buck: No surgery?

Silas: Absolutely none.

Roy: No small print?

Paul (handing them an event invitation): Nope. Come as you are. I’ll be up by the Tower of the Winds tonight talking ’bout tent construction techniques in the middle east and ‘who is the Unknown God?’ Silas has a bluegrass band and will take requests. There’ll be refreshments. Join us? No surgery.

Roy and Buck: Well, that sounds right fine. We’re staying in a place just below the Acropolis to the east. We’ll drop down and see you. We made tents for the scouts in Mykonos some years back when we were tanners.

Paul: Great! There’ll be guys in the streets directly traffic and helping with parking. There’ll also be greeters in tan togas to welcome you and help you find a seat.

Tr8: Come as you are.

Jesus is praying on the roof of Peter’s house in Capernaum. The rest of the disciples are downstairs playing Uno and hanging out.

Thomas: Hey, anybody know where the leftover spaghetti ended up?

Peter: Tupperware container in the frig, next to the Cheeze Wiz.

Thomas: Nope.

Peter: Maybe Jesus took it to the roof.

Thomas heads up to the roof.

Jesus (looking up): Hey, Thom-bo. Sorry about the spaghetti. There’s a little left.

Thomas: Nah, that’s okay. What’s up?

Jesus: Praying and talking with some friends.

Thomas: Talking with friends? How’s that work? Nobody’s here.

Jesus (grinning): I’ll show you. It’ll blow your mind, but we’ll give it a go.

Thomas: Okay.

Jesus: Here’s how it’ll work: I’m going to kind of pull open the curtain to the other side of the house.

Thomas (quizzically): The other side of the house?

Jesus: You are going to see what you can’t see but it’s still there.

Thomas: Okay, open the curtain, wherever it is.

Jesus (looking toward the left): Michael. Job. Come on out.

The archangel, Michael, and Job appear.

Thomas (amazed): Whoa!

Jesus (left arm extended): Thomas, meet the archangel Michael and Job of the Old Testament.

Thomas: Can I touch them?

Job walks over and shakes hands with Thomas. Michael reaches out to shake hands, but pulls his away just as Thomas reaches.

Jesus (smiling): Michael, quit horsing around.

Micheal grins, does a fist bump and explosion. Thomas is clueless. Michael throws his arm around Thomas’ shoulder and gives him a hug.

Michael: I know your guardian angel, Buzz. He’s on break while I’m here.

Thomas (eyebrow raised): Buzz?

Michael (nodding): Yep, first rate. First rate he is.

Jesus (clearing his throat): Uhm. Job was talking to me about suffering. He’s a rock of faithfulness.

Michael: One of these days I’m gonna kick Lucifer’s butt.

Jesus (holding up his hand): Chill, Mike. I’m going to take care of it. Job and I were discussing winning when losing.

Job: In Christ, we even win when we lose. You never know how much you love someone until you have truly suffered for them.

Jesus: Some insights only come through suffering. Job’s wisdom is tremendous because of his experiences.

Job: The Father redeems everything. Every time. Hey, Michael. Tee-time. You coming?

Michael (nodding to Jesus): Yeah, I’m coming. Noah said David can’t make it, but Caleb can.

They disappear. Thomas stands staring.

Jesus (rubbing his hands together): So, what do you think?

Thomas (turning to look at Jesus): What just happened?

Jesus: You’ve seen the unseen.

Thomas: What does it mean?

Jesus: Point of information. Nothing. Peter, James and John have seen behind the curtain, too.

Thomas: And?

Jesus: Peter wanted to build tents for Moses and Elijah. Knucklehead.

Thomas: Really?

Jesus: Yeah. Go figure. Tents!

Thomas: Hmm. Sounds like Peter. Hey, Moses, Elijah! Let’s go camping!

They sit silently.

Thomas: Will I end up behind the curtain, too?

Jesus (smiling sadly): Yes, but I’ll be with you. Would you like me to invite Michael and Job to meet you, too?

Thomas (thoughtfully): Yeah. I’d like that.

Jesus: Done.

Tr8: Faith in things unseen.

Jesus is helping his brother, James, fix a wheel on his cart.

James (loosening the hub): So, what’s you favorite song?

Jesus (leaning in watching): Hmmm. I guess 10 Little Monkeys.

James (looking quizzically at Jesus): What?

Jesus (smiling): You know — the song Mom used to sing us  — 10 little monkeys, jumpin’ on the bed, one fell off and broke his head…

James (laughing): Yeah, that was a good one, but it doesn’t count. Really, what’s your favorite song?

Jesus: Of all time?

James: Hmm. Yeah, I guess. I’ll probably regret this.

Jesus (grinning): It’s a tie and you don’t know either of them. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, last movement, and ‘Lean on Me’ by Bill Withers. I can hum you a few bars of the symphony or sing a verse of the other if you want.

James (raising an eyebrow): I don’t even know what a symphony is, so sing the other one.

Jesus (singing, deep baritone): Sooome tiiiimes in our liiiiives…

James greases the axle of the cart and slides the wheel back on. Jesus continues singing and lowers the jack when James has the wheel tightened.

James (nodding thoughtfully): Nice tune. I see why you like it. Who is Bill Withers?

Jesus (scratching his head): He’s one of those guys in the future.

James: Oh. Nuff said.

Jesus (rubbing the cart wheel): Nice cart. What’ll it do on the open road?

James (excitedly): Depends on the horse. Zechariah’s would get this from zero to 25 in maybe 10-15 seconds. The springbeam in the transaxle gives it a smooth ride at high speeds.

Jesus nods and points down the road toward the lake where Andrew is helping Peter haul nets out to dry and mend.

Jesus: Faith and works. Andrew loves Peter, see?

James (looking up) What?

Jesus (thoughtfully): Andrew anticipates Peter’s needs. His actions are louder than his words. Faith and works, that’s what I want you to remind everybody of when I’m gone. You know how the pharisees spew all kinds of rules and then sneak around breakin’ them? That’s not us. It’s the spirit of the thing that’s important.

James: So, you’re saying what you do is more important than what we say?

Jesus: Or believe. If you don’t practice it, you don’t really believe it. If you say you are in me, you CAN’T hate someone. You just can’t. Period. If Andrew loves Peter he CAN’T sit around when Peter has work to be done. He just can’t.

James: Let me guess, there’s a tension.

Jesus (smiling): Yes. Truth and grace. Judge and forgive. Ideal and real. Words and actions. The rule for us is love. If you don’t do that, it doesn’t matter what you think or say, you have NO part of me. Remember: They’ll know us by our love. We’re spiritual M&Ms — Truth on the inside, grace on the outside. Love in the heart, not in the head.

James (smiling):  Spiritual M&Ms. Ok.

Jesus: I know it doesn’t make sense now, but you’ll see it immediately after I’m gone. The group will be drawn to sit around and talk about me, but I want you out in the community and the world being me. Keep reminding ’em.

James: I’ll put it in a letter.

Jesus: Yeah, you will.

Tr8: Faith = works. BE Christ. Memorize ‘Lean on Me.’

James 2:14-26