Posts Tagged ‘disciples’

Jesus walks down to the lake after the disciples and 15 others lunch on a hot dog and a bag of sour cream and chives chips. Jesus reaches the shore and sees Judas sitting with his feet in the water. The other disciples are dunking and splashing each other. Jesus sits a little further up the bank and watches until John notices him.

John: Hey, Jesus!

Judas turns around and everyone stops and looks at Jesus.

Jesus (pointing at Peter) : For Pete’s sake, guys. You aren’t supposed to swim within 30 minutes after lunch.

Judas: Told you so.

Peter: (raises an eyebrow at Judas, smiles at Jesus): We’re practicing baptizing.

Jesus: Hmm. So how does it work?

Peter: Well, you get your hands wet and then make the sign of a cross on their foreheads.

A few near Peter nod.

John: No, you lean ’em back and then dunk ’em totally under water.

Andrew and a few others near John nod.

Judas: Doesn’t matter as long as you get water on ’em.

Everyone looks at him quizzically.

Jesus: What’d’ya think baptism means?

John: Like you told Nicodemus — it’s a new birth — a water birth. The old person goes into the water and a new one comes out. I guess it’s symbolic.

Peter: No, it’s not just symbolic. Baptism imparts real grace to people. You almost glowed when you were baptized. It’s God’s way of giving grace, which opens the way to eternal peace and redemption…I think.

Simon the Zealot: If you don’t get baptized, you can’t join a church can you?

Judas: It doesn’t really mean anything. At best it’s symbolic. It’s just plain water, isn’t it?

Everyone rolls their eyes. Peter splashes Judas.

Jesus: Hmm. You guys are all over the place on this. Andrew, what did the Baptizer tell you?

Andrew: Baptism was supposed to signify repentance and turning from sin.

Jesus: That’s good.

John: Yeah, the Baptizer said it signified turning from sin. After all, he baptized you, what’d it do for you?

Jesus (smiling): It pleased the Father. It was a special moment between the Father and me.

Judas: See, it doesn’t mean anything.

Everyone looks askance at Judas.

Jesus: Sorta right, Moneybags. What if I told you baptism means what you think it means? What if what you believe is what you get? Frankly, guys, it you believe it means nothing, your baptism means nothing. If you believe it’s part of the saving grace of the Father, it is. If you see nothing miraculous about it, nothing is. If you believe you’ve received a miracle, you have. Personally, I like baptisms.

John: So, what does it really mean?

Jesus (wading out): It means, if you like me, do it. Who wants to practice on me?

Tr8: Be baptized in faith, believing. Believe big in case it’s bigger than you think. God exceeds whatever we think.

Jesus was a rock star in Capernaum and the north end of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus began rounding up disciples in the area of Capernaum, on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. He eventually sent out 82 disciples. Jews traditionally recognized 12 tribes and 70 gentile nations (dispersed after the fall of Babel). Over the space of three years Jesus gathered a group of 12 to preach first to the Jews–“God’s Chosen”–and 70 other disciples to preach to “the nations.”

His Capernaum “gathering” numbered at least 120–many of these would follow him to Jerusalem then spread his resurrection story around the world. If each of the 82 disciples had families, the total “Gathering” may have been as many as 500 or more. In Jesus’ day Capernaum had 1500-2000 residents. Thus, Jesus followers may have made up as much as 30% of the local population. Jesus drew (and fed) crowds of  5000, plus their families.

Jesus was full of grace and truth. He modeled faithfulness to the truth and graciousness toward sinners.

Jesus was not a quiet, soft-spoken small group leader with a handful of men. He was a regional hero–a rock star–THE Messiah! Jesus was to Capernaum what the Beatles were to Liverpool–only more so.

Generally speaking, Jesus concentrated on Jews during his ministry and chose 12 men from the Capernaum-Bethsaida region on the Sea of Galilee. A significant number were fishermen and the rest ran the gamut from Roman tax collector to militant Jewish radicals. Despite their professional diversity, they were apparently literate. Jesus and his crew turned the region upside-down preaching a new “Kingdom,” raising the dead, healing the afflicted and feeding the poor.

Leaders

  • Andrew and Simon of Jona: Fishermen brothers from Capernaum. Andrew was one of John the Baptist’s first disciples. He followed Jesus after his baptism and then brought Simon, his older brother, to Jesus. Jesus renamed Simon “Rock.”
  • John and James of Zebedee: Also fishermen from Capernaum. Jesus gave them the name “sons of thunder.” They anticipated leadership roles in Jesus future kingdom, but Jesus told them to go to the end of the line to lead.
  • Judas Iscariot: Probably a militant Jewish fundamentalist. Jesus put him in charge of the group’s money.
  • Levi: A tax collector, probably from Capernaum. Jesus renamed him “Matthew,” meaning “gift from God.” He wrote the first Gospel narrative.
  • Jude (Thaddaeus) of James: Not much is known about Jude, but he may have written the epistle bearing his name.

Also…

  • Philip: From Bethsaida, near Capernaum; probably with a Greek background.
  • Nathaniel Bartholomew: A “guileless” man.
  • Thomas: A skeptical twin.
  • James of Alphaeus: Not to be confused with James Jonas or James, the brother of Jesus.
  • Simon Zealot: Perhaps a radical Jew.

Odds are these men were aware of each other before Jesus drew them together. As they gathered around Jesus, they brought their parents, wives, children and relatives into Jesus’ “kingdom.” Eventually, they moved as a small army, led by “The Messiah,” toward Jerusalem. There, they were welcomed as liberators. Jesus challenged Herod’s handpicked Temple leaders and their lackeys as Rome watched carefully.

The Temple leaders were not amused. They retaliated.

Much to the surprise and confusion of his followers, Jesus (“The Messiah”) surrendered voluntarily. He was put through a mock trial and executed. The disciples were shocked and went into hiding–fearing Jewish and Roman retribution. As they hid, Jesus appeared to some of their women, then to the disciples, and then, to others. They were shocked again.

The Messiah was indestructible. He lived. His kingdom reigned and his “good news” was preached.

The disciples became apostles.

They proclaimed, “Jesus, the Messiah whom you killed, is alive and he says: Repent and love one another.”

__

Tr8: Life as a disciple is studying and obeying Jesus. Life as an apostle is becoming Jesus to those around you.

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.

 

 

Jesus, James, John, Andrew and Peter are going to Jericho to help move a piano. Peter’s driving a borrowed pickup and the rest of the guys are riding in the back with Jesus’ dog, Bumper.

John: Did anyone see the news?

Andrew: Yeah, ‘talkin’ bout Todd Akin’s brain fart? (darts a look at Jesus) uhh, sorry, I mean, misspoken press statement?

John: Yeah. He said something about a ‘legitimate rape’ and punishing rapists, not babies.

James: What a nimrod! Legitimate rape? Is he crazy? There’s no such thing as a ‘legitimate’ rape.

Andrew (shaking his head): Yeah, rape is most heinous.

John (tapping Jesus’ knee): Jesus, what do you do with that?

Jesus (looking up with toothpick in his mouth): About rape or about Akin?

James: Rape. The Scripture says we should kill rapists.

The group nods.

Jesus (taking the toothpick out of his mouth):  I tell you, if any one sleeps with another and fantasizes about someone else, he or she commits rape twice. Once with whom he or she is lying with, or to, and the other, with whom he or she is fantasizing.

James (eye opened wide): Whoa! That’s a bit harsh!

Jesus: Whenever one has non-consensual sex, it’s rape. Sex is supposed to be part of marriage — a product of a loyal and exclusive promise. Everything goes bad when sex is an object in and of itself. Sex without love is using someone — it’s rape — real or imagined.

John: But Jesus, people fantasize all the time, don’t they?

Jesus (looking into John’s eyes): It’s what’s in your heart and head. Do you want your spouse to play like she’s loving you while thinking of someone else? Do you not want the joining of hearts as well?

The guys sit silently as the pickup turns up the hill.

Andrew (shaking his head): Well, it’s much more hopeless than I thought. Yet, that’s the kind of love I dream of.

Jesus (massaging his right palm with his left index finger): I’m describing the ideal. Your hearts and minds acknowledge this is your highest hope — a perfect relationship. In this life, reality falls short of perfect — we rarely grasp God’s ideal. Yet, we don’t give up. If you think this way, it will make you a better spouse, friend and partner. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is when you acknowledge the ideal.

Andrew (shaking his head): Wow! Jesus! You blow my mind every time you speak! Peter won’t believe this!

Jesus (smiling, patting Andrew on the back): Thanks, Rew. Poor Congressman Akin would rather be moving our piano than dancing with network news wonks. We should remember him in our prayers.

Tr8: Never quit disciplining the mind — don’t be content with rape in any of its forms. Commit yourself wholly to your mate for life. Everyone wants an ideal spouse. If you are not married, your commitment to your spouse began at birth.

Messed up? See this.

Jesus and his disciples are sitting at picnic tables at Sonic Drive-in. They’re drinking slushies and eating tator-tots. It’s hot.

Jude: Why do they call this place a ‘drive-in’ — makes no sense.

Jacob (their waiter on roller skates): It’s a new thing in Rome. People drive up in their chariots or carts and we serve them in their vehicle.

James: What about on horseback?

Jacob: Yeah, we do horsebackers, too, but it’s easier if they get down.

John (popping a tot in his mouth): Yer tots are awesome.

Jacob: Thanks.

Jesus: We had a good session this morning about the Law.

Nathaniel: You said the Law is perfect and therefore it can’t work. So, the Scriptures are wrong?

Jesus (after a long sip of his slushie): No. The Law describes an IDEAL life. REAL life is ALWAYS a day late and a dollar short. We shoot for the ideal, but we live in reality. That’s why we keep having to talk about the tension between grace and truth. The truth is ideal and reality needs grace. I’m grace.

John: I guess that explains it. Everyone in the Bible is a screw-up — Adam and Eve raise homicidal sons, Abraham’s a liar, Jacob’s a cheat, Joseph is sold by his brothers, Moses drops the ball, King David, a ‘man after God’s heart’ — raises spiritual idiots! Absalom and Solomon didn’t learn from their father. Hosea marries a prostitute, Jonah wants fire to rain from heaven…well, I get that, sorta. Remember Samaria? (Sons of Thunder burn a chicken coop) You call that good religion? The Law screws everything up.

Peter: Yeah, we trust you with ourselves, but what about out kids? We teach them the Law. Mine are grown and married, but I’d do anything to secure their future. David felt the same way about his boys, even though you couldn’t tell it by them.

Jesus (holding up his hands): You can trust your children to God. He’ll honor you and them. Teach them that grace is better than the Law.

Peter: You can do what you want with me as long as my kids are okay.

Jesus: Ah, a father’s love! Peter, can you love better than God? You trust me? Trust also in him who sent me. The love you have for your kids, that Adam and Eve had for Cain, that David had for his kids, well, God has more love than that, for you.

Peter nods and everyone is thoughtful.

Jesus: Here’s the deal, guys. WE are going to reveal how a real family works. Everyone sees the Law and gets a glimpse of the ideal life, but few see how love and grace make the ideal, real.

Bartholomew (scratching his chin): Hmmm. The ideal, real? I thought that was impossible. The mountain sermon made it sound like thinking was a sin.

Andrew (taking his tator-tots to Judas): No, I get it. See, I know Judas loves the tots. So, because I love him, it makes me happy for him to have my tots. Ta-da! Tot up, dude!

Jesus (taken aback): Andrew! Shut. Up.

Silence.

Jesus (breaking into a smile): Bravo! The law is everyone who pays gets his own tots, but in love there’s enough tots for everyone!

Peter (throws an arm around his brother and hands him tots): Guys, we’re gonna live for others. Jesus will show us how.

Jesus: It’s hard. It will cost us everything to out love the failure of the Law. The people who love the Law will see us as heretics. While we know the ideal of the Law, we live graciously in the reality of its complete and utter failure to deliver anyone to God. God is love!

All the tater tots go to the middle of the table.

Jesus:  Who believes I can bless these into a million tots?

Peter: I do, but you won’t.

Jesus (raised eyebrows): Why won’t I?

Peter: Cause nobody needs anymore tots.

Thomas: Would you multiply tots for me, Jesus?

Jesus: Why, Thomas? Do you need more?

Thomas: Well, no, but I bet Jacob and his dad would love a bottomless tot frier.

Jesus: It’s good that Jacob and his dad supply tots for others, like us. You guys ready to stroll?

Disciples: Whoo-yah!

Jesus (aside to Judas): You’ll get the tip?

Tr8: Make the ideal, real. Give it all to those you love. Love everyone. THAT is good religion.