John the BaptistJohn the Baptist and Benny (his last loyal disciple) sit talking through prison bars.
Benny: Brought you some honey and locusts. And a thermos of coffee from my mom.
John (head down): Thanks. Hey to your mama.
Benny: Man you look really depressed. Sorry.
John: Tell me again what Jesus said.
Benny: Well, I asked just like you said: “Are you the one or shall we look for another?”
John: And…
Benny: He looked really sad–maybe even a tear–and said, “Tell Cousin John everything you’ve seen–blind see, sick healed, dead raised, demons running, people comforted–tell him to remember Isaiah 61.”
John (smiling slightly): Ah, break out the faith…
Benny (reaching through the bars to touch John’s robe): Then he said you were the greatest man to ever be born of a woman. John, he loves you. I know he does. It was clear as day.
John (hopefully): Did he say he’d try to come visit? Man, I been praying day and night to see him again.
Benny (dropping his head): Uhh, no. Said he was moving to Capernaum. Further north. Near the beach…
John: Well, maybe John and Andrew could visit? They were good guys while they were with us. I could use some encouragement here.
Benny (shaking his head): No, they’re staying with Jesus and going to Capernaum, too.
John: Oh.
Benny (quietly): John, nobody’s coming. It’s just me.
John (looking into Benny’s eyes): Thanks, Ben. Means a lot.
Benny: It’s nothing. No trouble coming in tonight. There’s some kind of huge banquet going on in the palace. I heard Herod promised up to half his kingdom to his step-daughter for dancing.
John: I’m glad you are here. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been totally forgotten. I pray, sing and meditate and review Scripture and stuff, but seems pointless. Even so, I continue.
Benny: Sure. Things are bound to look up pretty soon.
John: Maybe. I’m God’s man, good or bad. He sent me to make a pathway in the wilderness and to declare it’s time. I wavered for a bit, but of course Jesus is THE Messiah, the Chosen One.
Quietness.
John: I can feel his spirit with us now. And, yeah, Jesus is here. How could I doubt?
Ben and John look up as keys rattle in the dungeon door. Two guards enter. One carries a sword, the other a dinner platter.

Tr8: Persevere in trials. We are loved and cared for in adversity. God’s plan isn’t always easy or painless, but it can be full of faith, hope, love, peace and joy regardless of the circumstances.

References: Matthew 11:11 and “In the Meantime” by Andy Stanley.

frappuccinoJesus is sitting with some disciples, followers and Murphy (the non-disciple) at the Starbucks in Capernaum.

Jesus: Hey, guys, I want to show you something. Take your coffee, a bit of milk, sugar, add a spoon of cocoa, touch of cinnamon, some shaved ice, shake it, top with some whipped cream…voila! Mocha frappuccino! (Jesus passes the drink around.)

Phillip (sips): Whoa! This is great! A miracle!

James (sips): Interesting. Good, but I’ll stick with Italian roast.

Thomas (sips): Yeah, it’s good, but could WE make one of these?

Jesus: Mastering coffees like this takes patience, time and a personal commitment, but you could do it.

Joan (Starbucks barista, sips): Mmmm. Could I use your recipe?

Jesus (smiles): Consider it yours.

John (to Joan): Could you whip one up for me?

Murphy: Me, too. And add a bit of hazelnut.

Joan (getting busy): Coming right up–just a second, let me get the chariot in drive-thru.

A few minutes pass and the guys sip their drinks.

Peter: Seems a bit much for a “coffee.” Kinda whimpy–is it really coffee?

Jesus: Coffee is what it is–some like it straight and strong, some like it cold and smooth. It’s still coffee. If you get the coffee part straight, you can mess around with it. No one likes coffee snobs–a bit rude and clueless if you ask me. Why get upset with people for liking what you like?

Peter: I guess so. But what about all the non-coffee junk in it?

Jesus: What do you think?

Murphy: It’s not coffee when it doesn’t have coffee in it.

Peter: But won’t it get confusing when people go for coffee? Think of the menu Joan’ll have if you start adding this and that.

Jesus: I like the idea of everyone agreeing on the main thing, then personalizing it and sharing with others. Who says everyone has to be exactly the same? I like unity, not uniformity.

Joan (smiling): I love giving customers exactly what they want. I want them to enjoy it.

James: Makes sense to me–like relationships. You relate to everyone, but no two the same way. Jesus, YOU are SO personal and different to each of us, yet completely grace and truth. Thanks for that.

Jesus: My pleasure, James. I’m the coffee, you’re the flavors. Make it good for everyone. My joy is seeing how each of you make the coffee that much more interesting.

Peter: I still like it strong, black and hot.

Phillip: I like it flavored, creamy and cold.

Murphy: I like it with Bailey’s Irish Creme!

Jesus (smiling): I’m glad you don’t fight about coffee.

Tr8: Faiths and pilgrimages come in all flavors, just be sure the key ingredient is genuine Jesus – love, grace and truth blended into joy.

#tr8s #jesusfrappuccino

heavenIt’s 72 A.D. and Murphy, the non-disciple, sits with his family at the funeral of his son, Micky. They are near Capernaum, where Mick was killed in a construction accident. Murphy is getting on in years. While sitting with his wife, Murphy is approached by a neighbor, Sem, a Kurdish buddhist.

Sem (respectfully):May Mick be one with the universe.

Murphy: Hogwash.

Sem (surprised): What?!

Murphy: Hogwash. Mick is with Jesus right now in heaven.

Sem: That’s right, y’all are members of The Way.

Murphy: Quite right. I actually followed Jesus and spoke with him AFTER he didn’t die at the hands of the chief priests and Romans. Mick was a kid back then.

Sem: So, you believe in heaven? Where is it and what’s it like?

Murphy: Can’t say as I really know, but Jesus said there was such a place. When a guy who works signs and wonders rises from the dead says something, you can take it to the bank.

Sem: Does the Torah or any of your holy books teach about heaven?

Murphy: Can’t say for sure. I don’t really know the Scriptures like I should. But, if Jesus says it, I believe it. In fact, that’s why I believe the Jewish laws and prophets–Jesus did and that’s good enough for me.

Sem: I see. So, it’s all a matter of faith for you.

Murphy: Yep. Jesus said, “Life will be hard, but I go to prepare a place for you, that where I go you may be also.” I saw him live. I saw him die. I saw him alive again. AND, I saw him ascend into the sky.

Sem: Seriously?

Murphy: You can look it up. Dr. Luke wrote it all down for his friend Theophilus who lives in Alexandria, or maybe Antioch, by a library. There’s a copy of his letters down at our gathering place on the corner of Mud and Fish streets near my other son’s pub.

Sem: You believe Mick is with Jesus now?

Murphy: Yes, I do. Mick believed in the one who has risen. He repented of his sin, was baptized in the sea by Matthew the tax collector. Mick kept Jesus’ truth in his heart and acted graciously toward others.

Sem: That’s good.

Murphy: Yep. We’re parted for now, but we’ll meet up again. You wanna come along?

Tr8: Belief in Jesus settles our doubts about the hereafter. We may not know the answers, but we know the one who does.

PantheonPaul is under house arrest and is having coffee with his Roman guard, Rufus.

Paul (eyes closed; thoughtfully): This medium roast, breakfast blend is just about perfect.

Rufus (eyes closed; nodding): Yeah, nice and smooth. Arabica beans from Alexandria, if I’m not mistaken.

Paul (opening his eyes): The roast is what makes the difference, simple but crucial.

Rufus (smelling the coffee): Agreed.

Paul: So, have you thought about what we discussed?

Rufus: Sure. Jesus is God, but it’s hard to see through all the junk. Sometimes I don’t see the difference between the Roman church and the Roman Pantheon–I can imagine Christians building a huge temple here, too.

Paul: That’s all noise and nonsense. It’s really simple. Forget all the other stuff unless it draws you into a better relationship with God. The junk can be good or bad depending on the circumstances.

Rufus: Simple? Seems like your faith is nothing but trouble. After all, you are under arrest, right?

Paul: Point well taken. But, do I look worried?

Rufus (laughing): NEVER! You are as cool a customer as I’ve ever guarded. Yet, odds are, you’ll be crucified and I’ll have to hold you down.

Paul: Yeah, I know. I’m not the least worried.

Rufus (questioningly): Why?

Paul (smiling): Happens I know a guy who was crucified–epic fail in Judea–he COULDN’T be killed! He didn’t die and I won’t either.

Rufus (tapping Paul’s chest): Well, apparently Jesus is God–you aren’t.

Paul: Au contraire mon Rufus. I am he, he is me, we is he and we are one.

Rufus: Explain.

Paul: OK. One God, whom we met in Jesus; One Faith, no death in him; One Baptism, repentance and change; and One Way, living abundantly in grace and truth. Faith, hope and love–the greatest is love. No death.

Rufus: That’s it?

Paul: Totally–in fact, I need to send that to the Ephesians. Got a letter–John and Jesus’ mother, Mary will be moving to Ephesus to help in the church we started there.

Rufus: What about the churches, temples, rituals, ceremonies, Hebrew Histories, apostolic letters and stuff?

Paul: Just expressions. Not the main thing.

Rufus (putting down his coffee cup): Well, I believe Jesus didn’t die, for us–and I repent and want to follow The Way.

Paul: Act with grace toward others with truth in your heart. This could be a dangerous move for you. No more pillaging.

Rufus (thoughtfully): God help me.

Paul: Absolutely.

Tr8: One God, One Faith, One Baptism and One Way.

 

Holy BibleIt’s 78 and Murphy, the non-disciple, sits in front of his public house in Caesarea. He’s very old. As he sits, his son, Josh, joins him.

Josh (excitedly): Dad! Guess what? A bunch of us have made a book!

Murphy (quizzically): Made a book?

Josh: Yeah, we’ve collected all the Jewish histories, all the gospels and a bunch of letters from James and the Apostles–we call it, The Holy Bible.

Murph: Hmm. The Holy Bible. Sounds impressive.

Josh: See, we’ve put it all together and then we can tell people, “Believe the Bible and you’ll be saved.” It’ll all be in one clean package. You know, all the answers in one place. One-stop-shopping!

Murph: Believe the Bible? I believe–I knew–Jesus and was a witness. I believe in Jesus, who didn’t die, for us.

Josh (exasperated): Duh! Sure, it’s all about Jesus. We believe what you believe, we’ve just made it easier to tell his story.

Murph: I have my doubts.

Josh: Listen, Dad, you believe the Hebrew histories and prophet stories, right?

Murph: I find it hard. After all, we’re not Jews. Yet, I believe the histories and stuff on Jesus’ word. He believed ‘em and quoted them, that’s good enough for me. I don’t have to understand ‘em. I trust him.

Josh: Well, that’s splitting hairs, isn’t it? Doesn’t really matter why, just that you do.

Murph: It’s different to me. The key is he didn’t die. He lives. In me. Now. Histories don’t really concern me. They didn’t change my life.

Josh (more exasperated): Good grief! Well, you DO believe in the gospels, right?

Murph: I believe the gospels because I know the guys who wrote ‘em and saw what they saw. I’m pretty sure John is in Ephesus and I’m pretty sure Matthew is alive someplace. All but James, cleared out of Jerusalem before it fell. Jesus warned ‘em to flee and they did.

Josh: So, we agree. The gospels are important and should be believed.

Murph (shaking his head): They’re Jesus’ story. I believe what I saw and I saw what the gospels say. They are reliable.

Josh (getting angry): Why are you fighting? We agree! You always have to be right!

Murph: I know we agree, but while the truth in the stories is important, the grace and love is more important–it’s what HE lived. It’s why he didn’t die.

Josh (irritated): Okay, I’ll concede that. Just work with me on this. The book is a good idea.

Murph: With the right perspective it’s a good idea, with a legalist, it could be disastrous.

Josh: What about the letters? We included James’, John’s, Peter’s, Paul’s, that Hebrew letter and even one by Jude.

Murph: I’m not sure about Jude and I think Barnabas wrote Hebrews, but I’m not sure. Could be Apollos or maybe even Paul in his “Hebrew phase.”

Josh (emphatically): But it’s all good and reliable, right?!

Murph: Yes.

Josh: Finally! It may take a few centuries to catch on, but this book has legs. I promise. All the guys in my small group agree. Your generation seems to be the holdouts–funny how the witnesses seem to resist this project.

Murph: Truth is, some of us have discussed it. Here’s our concern: After our generation this is all going to sound like a tall tale or myth. People will surely say the gospels aren’t true because they won’t know the historical context.

Josh: What?

Murph: Jerusalem, the war, the destruction of Herod’s Temple, the mass crucifixions and genocide. They won’t know that everything changed in the 60s. WE all KNOW about the fall of Jerusalem in 70. What future generations won’t know is what happened in 70 validates the gospels and letters.

Josh: What do you mean?

Murph: I mean, if they knew about the destruction and genocide, they’d know the gospels and letters were written by eye-witnesses. Why? Because the elimination of the Hebrews as a nation would have been mentioned–Jesus prophesied it, then we saw it happen decades later after he went up. Those of us who are still around talk about it and marvel. That’s just how he was when he lived with us…

Josh (thoughtfully): Sorry, Dad. I know it’s tough, still….so, future generations will have the gaul to suggest the gospels and letters aren’t real, or are just stories?

Murph: What do you think?

Josh (thoughtfully): Hmm. That’s something to think about. But surely, if we get the Bible all together, people will believe it.

Murph: Well, I hope so. But you know what the Sanhedrin did with their “Scripture”–they crucified Jesus. He died, then he came back. I saw him myself.

Tr8: Believe in Jesus. The one who didn’t die, for you and me. He lived so we can live in his truth and by his grace and love.

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