god with us“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways” (Hebrews 1:1).

Adam & Eve: You’re kickin’ us out of the garden?!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Noah: A flood?! Are you kidding?

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Abraham: A nation?! I don’t even have a son!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Issac: Ah! My son, great meal! Come and be blessed (hmm, seems a bit like Jacob).

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Jacob: I hope this fools Dad long enough to get his blessing.

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Joseph: I’m a slave, falsely accused and in prison!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Moses: These people are driving me crazy!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Joshua: Canaan! Ready or not, here we come!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

David: My son has taken over my kingdom!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Solomon: Man, raising teenagers is gonna kill me!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Elijah: These people will never listen!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Elisha: These people never listen!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Jonah: Nineveh?! I’m not listening.

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Isaiah: Here am I, send me!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Jeremiah: Ticks me off! These people won’t listen!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Ezekiel: God? I don’t think they’re listening.

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Mary & Joseph: A baby?! But how…

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help. You shall call his name ‘Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God with us.’

John the Baptist: I don’t think the ‘temple dudes’ are listening.

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

“But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:2).

Peter: Where are you going? Can’t we go?

Jesus: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Disciples: You’re leaving?! Now what?

Jesus: Don’t worry, I’m leaving my Spirit (the ‘Helper’) with you always to help.

James & Peter: How shall we shepherd these sheep?

Holy Spirit: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Paul: Uh oh, I think I’m about to get stoned…

Holy Spirit: Don’t worry, I am with you aways, to help.

You: [Insert your crisis, here.]

Holy Spirit: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

——-

Tr8: Right now, God is with you to help. Lean into Him.

churchJesus and his disciples are standing in the middle of the Women’s Courtyard of Herod’s Temple. Jesus stands looking toward the Holy of Holies and gestures to some passing Levites.

Jesus: Destroy this temple and I’ll raise it in three days!

Levites (surprised): Look at this, he’s got a demon! He’s cursing the temple! He is so going to hell.

Disciples: Wha?

Jesus: This is just a pile of rocks. The day is coming when a holy mountain here, in Samaria or in Sinai won’t mean a thing. I am the cornerstone of the temple.

Levites (indignantly): Somebody get the guards and a couple of Pharisees. ‘Mr. Messiah’ doesn’t appreciate the Scripture or the temple.

A pharisee arrives.

Pharisee: Let’s stone him!

Levites: Yeah! A stoning!

Scribes and sadducees gather.

Scribes: We can get him for blasphemy and swearing…yeah, he’ll stone real good.

Peter (trying to calm folks down): Here! Here! Let’s not go overboard…he’s speaking in mysteries. You’ve heard his parables! We hear this all the time.

Crowd (mumbling): Isn’t this Jesus, the rabbi from Galilee who heals everyone?

Levites: Doesn’t matter who he is. He’s got a demon and is talking about destroying the temple.

Jesus (holding up his hands): If you can hear, listen! Within a generation THIS temple (motioning toward the courts) will be destroyed. But THIS temple (pointing to himself) will rise again in three days.

Disciples: Um, Jesus, maybe take a minute and explain your parable…or, we could slip out about now…

Jesus (pauses, then heads for the Beautiful Gate): Let’s go back to Bethany–the ladies have dinner waiting.

Disciples (hustling Jesus on): Yes! Dinner time! (To the crowd) Sorry for the inconvenience, we’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll tell you what he’s saying.

Levites: Well, what about stoning the demon?

Scribes: He got away…maybe we get him tomorrow.

Jesus and the disciples head toward Bethany. They take a short break for a drink at Siloam Fountain.

Peter: Jesus, what were you talking about back there?

Jesus: God’s temple is not a place, it’s me and you–all you guys. Your bodies are God’s temple. Everywhere you go is a holy place.

John: We are God’s temple? I thought the Holy of Holies was God’s footstool and his glory is behind the veil with Moses’ ark.

Jesus: Yes. You won’t understand the three day thing until later, but remember: No more temples. We are done with holy places, holy guys, holy rituals and stuff. You are to do two things: Love God and love others as I have loved you. From now on, all you need to be doing is loving. When you take care of the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and imprisoned you are taking care of me.

Peter: What about holy places?

Jesus: You are a holy place and you have the Keys to heaven and hell. The temple model is over and done. The model temple is you loving those around you.

______

Tr8: Things have changed. In Jesus, you are okay, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about those around you.

Temple Model – The Old Way

  • holy places
  • holy texts
  • holy guys
  • holy rituals
  • supporting holy people

Model TempleThe Way

  • You loving others as Christ loved.

References: John 2:19, John 15:12, Matthew 25:27, 1 Cor. 13, Galatians 5:6 (b)

A MUST SEE series: www.brandnewseries.org

 

pick_one

Murphy, the non-disciple, and his wife, Harpreet, have just settled in for the night–kids are in bed and sleeping. Ten feet away.

Harpreet (whispering): You’ve been talking a lot of Jesus who was executed recently.

Murhpy (whispering): Yeah, he’s back. Amazing. I think he’s God… (pause) I talked with him in Jerusalem last week. ‘Said, his way was THE WAY to live and know God.

Harpreet (louder, Murph puts a finger to her lips): God! (quieter) Sounds like India. We have gods by the bundle at home in Cambay. Which god do you think Jesus is?

Murph: Not a god–the god. How many of your family’s gods have risen from the dead and talked with you lately? Have you seen Buddha at the well this week? Jesus is the real deal.

Harpreet:  Hmm. Don’t all religions have the same end–nirvana, heaven, hope and peace with major helpings of health and prosperity? In India, we have–Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Krishna, Rama, Hanuman, and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga, Kali and Saraswati–and that’s just getting started. We also have Buddha, who teaches noble truths and an eightfold path.

Murph: Yeah, Buddha had some good things to say about self-denial, but apart from a work-around on suffering, he left you with a wheel-of-life or oblivion. While some of his followers say he passed on nirvana to get people off the wheel–he didn’t do a Pentecost with wind and languages, right?  The other gods haven’t much to offer either.

Harpreet: Well, Jesus was different.

Murph: Jesus was, or is, different because he lived/lives as you’d imagine God would live if he were a human. He was awesomely god 24/7. You met him. I’ve been with his disciples for years.

Harpreet: Yes, such a caring man! He was the nicest person you ever brought into this house. The kids loved him.

Murph: See, you get it–you know him. For those who don’t, he not only lived truth and grace perfectly–he rose from the dead! He was too much for a grave to hold. He couldn’t not live–the Jews and the Romans couldn’t put him down. They got rid of him and he came back! Everybody in Jerusalem and Judea know this story. And it’s spreading. How embarrassing for the Temple dudes.

Harpreet: Well, that does put him in a class above all the other gods and religious leaders I’ve ever heard of. So, he can’t not live?

Murph: Yep. He can’t be stopped. Not only that, he told me that if I abided in him, I’d also be unstoppable. I believe him! No grave for me–I’ve hitched my cart to him and trust his word. Ultimately, I’ll be with him, wherever he is.

Harpreet: What about me? I, too, have met him. And after what you’ve said, I believe he’s God, too.

Murph: You repent and–his words, not mine–“Love God with all you have and love your neighbors as yourself.” Most of his group were baptized, some maybe twice, when they repented and put faith in God for forgiveness. John the Baptist baptized me before he was taken to prison and executed.

Harpreet: Well, I certainly repent of my sins and I know God’s forgiven me. Who’ll baptize me?

Murph: We’ll ask the disciples who should do it, but they’ll have trouble with you, not being a Jew and all. Barnabas might help us out. Right now it’s kind of a Jewish thing. Even so, they’ve heard all the different languages when the Holy Spirit descended. That ought to be a clue. They also saw how Jesus loved me even though I’m not a Jew or a disciple. Jesus told me to wait ’cause Peter was going to have a dream and us non-disicples were going to be allowed to join The Way.

Harpreet: I guess there are lots of gods and religions, but they all have different ends. Only Jesus gives me a personal relationship with God, his Father. My faith reveals truth and grace for application in my life. I never got that through faith in Hindu gods, Buddha or the sacred rocks and trees at home.

Murph (giving Harpreet a hug; she reciprocates): Our mutual faith increases our mutual love. Love you, honey. Have a good night’s sleep.

Tr8: Pick Jesus (see the Gospels).  Jesus offers unconditional love, unmerited forgiveness and comprehensive peace.

Homework: What do other religions offer? With whom do you wish to walk at the end of your journey? Moses, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Buddha, Maitreya, Caesar, Jesus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Yoda?

john baptize czarJohn the Baptist is standing in the Jordan River inviting the crowds to repent and be baptized. His baptizing is a new thing and people–lots of people–have come from Jerusalem and the countryside to see and hear what’s going on. Earlier in the week he baptized Jesus and a few of his disciples defected. One of John’s disciples, Zach, is on the bank of the river trying to get his attention.

Zach (waving): John…John. John!

John (standing with a repentant linen salesman): What?! I’m busy here!

Zach (excited): This is important. Come over here a second please. You’ll want to hear this.

John (exasperate; to the linen salesman): Brother, I baptize you because you’ve repented of…

Zach: John!

John: Zach, Shut. up.

Zach: Rabbi, it’s Jesus!

John (showing interest, the linen salesman kisses his hand and walks up the bank): What? Jesus send for me?

Zach (motioning him over; whispering): He’s baptizing.

John: What?

Zach: Jesus. He’s baptizing!

John: Really?

Zach: Yeah, just at the north end of the crowd.

John: Hmmm. That’s amazing!

Zach: He’s stealing your thing! YOU are the Baptize Czar.

John: Nonsense. I’m just preparing the way for him.

The part of the crowd near them draw closer.

John (shouting, pointing up-river): Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Man, is baptizing over there!

Pharisee on the bank: I thought you were the baptizer. You mean anyone can baptize?

John: Well, yeah. I’m just saying repent and be baptized to symbolize you’re clean.

Banker on the bank: Who is Jesus? Why is he baptizing?

John: He’s the Lamb of God who came to take away all our sins. I’m just dipping symbolically, but he can really forgive sins.

Pharisee: You’re crazy. Only God can forgive sin.

John: You’ll see. He’s amazing. I should know, he’s my cousin. I’ve seen him turn water into wine!

Pharisee: Heretic!

Banker: Yeah, heretic! Get some rocks!

Crowd backs up. John splashes water at the pharisee and banker.

John: Zach. Let’s go see Jesus.

They walk north.

Zach: We need to ask Jesus to stop, or go someplace else.

John: Nope. He must increase and I must decrease. I’m here to point to him. If he’s baptizing, I’m out of business.

Zach: You got here first. That’s not fair.

John: You need to go follow Jesus for a while.

Zach: What?

John: Go, follow Jesus.

Zach: You don’t want me to follow you anymore?

John: No, go follow him. He’s the Messiah.

Zach: The Messiah?

John: Yes. If you love me, follow him.

Zach: Is that where Andrew and John went?

John: Yep. I finished. Every bit of fame I have, is pointed at him.

Zach: Still doesn’t seem fair.

John: Life’s not fair. I must decrease; he must increase.

Zach: Are you sure? I can stick around. If he’s the Messiah, he probably has  disciples come out his ears.

John: Thanks, but no, go follow him.

Zach (backing up the bank): Okay…guess I’ll go north with you, but I’m not promising to follow him.

John: Let’s go see him. Maybe he’ll let us both join up.

Zach: That’d be great! You could be the Messiah’s baptizer general.

Another disciple runs up to the two men.

Ben: John! Some of Herod’s soldiers are looking for you! They’re coming down the mountain from Jericho.

John: Maybe Herod’s going to repent about his brother, Phillip’s wife.

Ben: I don’t think that’s it.

John: You guys go meet Jesus or baptize some of these people. I’ll go see what Herod wants.

Zach: Okay, I’ll baptize a while then head north to find Jesus.

John: I’m sure I’ll catch up with y’all later. Hmmm. My head feels kinda funny…

Tr8: The best you can do is decrease such that Jesus increases to those around you.

stalkerMurphy, the non-disciple, is outside his public house sitting under an awning sipping tea. Jesus walks by with James and John. Murphy flags them over.

Murph (standing and motioning): Hey, guys! Come have a seat and some iced tea.

Jesus (motioning for the others to sit): Hey, Murph. What’s happening?

Murph: You know the blog I keep on the blackboard inside? I’ve hit a roadblock. I usually like to write about you, but I have a block.

Jesus: Hmmm. What’s the problem?

Murph: Well, I’ve just finished reading I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Jeremiah…I’m not seeing you in there too much. You see, I believe you are who you say you are–you’re God. Yet, you seem pretty violent in past.

Jesus (shrugging): I get this a lot. First, the big idea the writers were trying to get across is that I’m pretty jealous. No, I really jealous. Second, those folks who wrote about me, didn’t know me like you do. Plus, those folks had no appreciation of the value of a life.

John: I’ve wondered about that, too. A lot of killing and destruction back then.

Jesus: The Children of Abraham have been loved and warned about my jealousy from the beginning. I don’t like other gods before me. I can’t explain Old Testament violence in a way you’ll understand, so you’ll have to trust me. Just believe this: It’s going to all work out in the end in spite of all the suffering–I’m going to make all things new someday. You’ll get to see it.

Murph: So, do we need to be afraid of you?

Jesus: Yes.

John: Aw, come on, we know you. You love us and we’re good in you.

Jesus: Still, it’s not good to place others or stuff in front of me. You see, YOU guys are pretty good about keeping things in their place. I let you know when I want change.

James: True. You don’t pull any punches regarding truth and your expectations.

Jesus: Here it is: I want to be first in your life. I want you to be my disciples. I want you to think of me and then apply me in your life.

Murph: For example…

Jesus: For example, I don’t like it if you put your wife before me unless you put your wife before me because that’s what I want. Murph, you aren’t one of the Twelve. You could be, but that’s not what I want and you know it. You are committed, but you are also married with a family and influence in this community. What I want for you is for you to put your wife, family and community first because I want you to. It’s a paradoxicle–by putting me first, you put them first.

John: Sure, the first-last thing.

Jesus: Yeah, sort of.

Murph: So, when I don’t filter the rest of my life through you, you get jealous.

Jesus: Yes. The road to destruction begins with your turning away from me. Life is me, death is not me. Life is full of suffering, but I can guarantee that if you don’t put me first, the suffering will not only increase, but will seem all the more cruel and pointless. I am The Way, The Truth and The Life–no one experiences God except through me.

James: I guess I already knew this was true. You’ve been teaching us this from the beginning. I don’t see your jealousy much because I love you.

John: Me, too. You ARE love. We find abundant life in you.

Jesus: But beware. I’m not kidding. Don’t be like the Pharisees or Sadducees. I’m so disappointed in their love of Torah and traditions. My spirit groans for them. Their futures do not look bright. You guys will see–within your lifetime Jerusalem will be a wasteland, the Temple will be gone and Israel will be no more. If only they would see and hear, but they are stubborn and stiffnecked.

Murph: I hope to keep you first, Rabbi.

Jesus: You do well, Murph, but remember, I’m watching you.

Tr8: Jesus is watching and he is jealous. Keep him first and love according to his will.