So, I thought that went pretty well . . .
A brief one act play for Lent.
Setting: A panel of religious leaders [Nate, Bart, Nick, Jake and Joseph] are sitting around a board room table. There is one empty chair. They’re all dressed in nice suits. Jesus and Peter enter, dressed like labourers.
Jesus and Peter enter. Nate stands up [but doesn’t go over to shake their hands], gestures for them to come in.
Let me introduce you to the panel: This is the Rev. Bart McIsaac, the Rev. Dr. Nicolas Fitzpatrick, the Rev. Joseph McKay and Mr. Jake Jacobson, our lay delegate. We’ve been appointed by the council to have a bit of a conversation with you. We’ve invited you here really to let you know how much we care about you son, as, of course, we care for all our people. We want to make sure you don’t burn out, son, with all that energy of yours. [chuckles]
Bart: Thanks so much for your support to our community, we have great admiration for your dedication. Of course we know of your so-called miracles, but now we’ve received reports that you’ve been telling people that you forgive their sins. I am sure you are well aware of our due process for forgiving sins, we can’t have every self-appointed rabbi running around nilly willy telling people their forgiven now can we? So, we wanted to clarify the situation, have you been telling people that your forgive their sins?
Jesus: Why are you cultivating evil in your hearts? Do you think it’s easier to tell somebody their sins are forgiven or say to them ‘Get up and walk?’
Nate: No need to assume a tone like that, son. I am sure you are aware that we have have been duly appointed and carry with us true ecclesiastical authority over all these matters.
Jesus: True authority? You want authority? You want truth? Here’s some authoritative truth for you, God can turn stones into ecclesiastical authorities.
Nick: Now don’t get defensive son, this conversation will go much better if you show us due respect, a cooperative attitude will go far. You need to understand we really appreciate your efforts here, you’ve done a lot of good in the community. And we’re quite open to the idea of miracles. Why in fact we’d love to see one right now, why don’t you just do a little miracle here. Brother Bart over there has got a bad case of gout, don’t you, Bart?
Bart snickers and nods and takes off his shoe.
Nick: Go on, Jesus, go over and heal his toe.
Jesus' eyes flash at him.
Joseph: It's a simple task, do it and we’ll take that as a miracle, a sign a sign from God that you’re doing his work.
Jesus: It’s a slimy lot that seeks a miracle to prove a point. For you no miracle, no sign, except maybe "the sign of Jonah". . .
Jake [aside, to Joseph]: What’s he talking about? What’s "the sign of Jonah?
Nate: We’re not here trying to have a confrontation Jesus, we care about your, and we care about the people, we’re not trying to stop you, son, we just want to make sure that you are accountable, that you are following proper processes. Maybe you can explain to us, for example, why the people in your group don’t engage in the proper rituals for washing before they eat.
Jesus: Who are you to criticize them on this? Listen. It’s not complicated. It is not what goes into someone’s mouth that makes someone unclean, it’s what comes out of their mouths that makes them unclean.
[Josh stifles a laugh]
Nate: Let’s come back to the matter at hand, these so called miracles, son, if you really can do them, let’s see you do one right now. Again Bart’s got his toe all ready for you.
Bart wiggles his toe again.
Joseph: Come on, son. Show us a sign from heaven and then we’ll be satisfied.
Jesus: You want a sign, do you? When the sky is red at night, you say, it’ll be nice tomorrow. And when the sky is red in the morning, you say, it’s gonna storm. So you can accurately read signs in the sky but you can’t read the signs of the times. No miracle. No signs for you. Except the sign of Jonah.
Josh [to Joe]: Ask him about what means by the sign of Jonah.
Nate: Why it's Jesus, son of . . . [coughs] umm, anyway Jesus, good to see you, son. Come and have a seat. I see you’ve brought a support person. Good. That’s always an option of course, for those who feel they need extra support. What’s your name, son?
Peter: Rock. And I'm not your son.
Nate glares at him. Jesus smiles gently, looks at Peter, gives a slight nod no.
Nate: I’m not sure if Jesus explained our process to you, Mr. uhm, Rock, you can be a silent support to Jesus, but you’re not allowed to speak. Understand.
Peter mouths yes.
Nate: Josh, get a chair for Mr. Rock so he can sit down with us.
Josh stands, pulls up a chair. Jesus and Peter sit down.
Nate; Jesus, you remember me, I’m sure. My name is Rev. Nate Levison. I was the assistant pastor when you were just a little tyke in Sunday School. I remember you very well. You were quite inquisitve. . . you sure asked a lot of illiterate questions for a child a with illiterate parents like you had. You’ve done well for yourself son. Made quite a name for yourself. Drawing good crowds. And now we hear you're a bit of healer too, eh? You're a busy lad these days.
Nate: Well then if you can’t perform any miracles, we'll take that off the list. Maybe we should just review your teaching a bit, make sure it conforms to our understanding of faith.
Joseph: Perhaps we’ll start with your theological views on the sensitive issue of paying taxes. Should we pay taxes to the government?
Jesus; Hand me a looney.
Josh tosses him a looney. He holds it up for them to see.
Jesus. Whose face is that?
Josh: The queen’s.
Jesus: Then give the queen what’s belongs to her. And give to God what belongs to him.
Bart: Son, I'll be straight with you. We’ve had complaints that your teaching unfairly makes divorced people feel uncomfortable. As a divorced pastor myself I can tell you it’s not an easy road, and it sure doesn’t help when some unmarried know-it-all starts passing judgment on us. We've worked hard to create an open attitude toward divorce here. So. What do you think? Is it okay for people to divorce or not?
Jesus: Haven’t you read the Scriptures? They say the Creator made them male and female, and that the two shall become one. What God has put together, no one should tear apart. Here’s a question for you. A man had two sons, he asked them both to do some work in the vineyard. One said, ‘Sure Dad, I love you, you can always count on me’ but then he didn’t go. The second said, ‘I have a million things to do today, I can’t possibly work for you today’ but then he got to thinking about it and felt bad for lipping off, and so he quietly snuck off and worked in the vineyard. Which of them did what the father asked?
Committee members look at each other, a bit bewildered. . .
Josh: The second
Jesus: Right. [looks straight at Nate] And that’s why drug dealers and hookers are going to enter God’s kingdom before you do.
Nate: Now look here Jesus I’ve nearly had enough of your wise cracks, your insubordination. We believe in accountability, to whom are you accountable? Who gave you this authority?
Jesus: I’ll answer you as soon as you answer me this, John’s baptism, was it from heaven or did he make it up?
The group look at each other, flustered, and they huddle whispering
Nate: If we say from heaven
Bart: he’ll say, then why didn’t you believe him,
Nate: And if we say he made it up,
Joseph: some of our big givers are going to be upset because they believed in him.
Awkward pause. Some committee members look down..
Josh: Uhhm, well, we can’t tell you for sure.
Jesus: Well then I for sure can’t tell you where my authority comes from. You say you like truth, here's truth for you: God’s kingdom is going to be taken away from you and given to people who are going to do some good with it. Damn you people. You block the entrance to real life, and not only do you not enter, you try to keep everyone else out too. Damn your hypocrisy. You search all over for someone to convert to your way of thinking and make them twice as fit for hell as you are. Damn you for claiming to be guides when you are blind yourselves. Damn you for pretending to be righteous, following every little rule, and ignoring the stuff that matters: justice and mercy and compassion. You gag on mosquitoes and swallow moose. Bloody hypocrites. You clean the outside of the cup and but inside its full of greed and self importance. You fools, clean the inside and then the outside will be clean too. You are no better than whitewashed tombs, scrubbed clean on the outside but inside you are full of maggots and worms. You’re snakes. You’re vermin. Go to hell.
Nate: That’s quite enough. More than enough. We will tolerate your verbal abuse no longer. This hearing is adjourned. But mark my words, Jesus, this is not the end of it. It’s just the beginning.
Committee members grab their files and leave. Josh is the only one who pauses and looks back. Jesus and Peter sit for a minute. Then Jesus hits Peter on the back and nods to go. And as they walk Jesus puts his arm around Peter’s shoulders.
Jesus: So. . . I thought that went pretty well, what did you think?
Jesus hits him on the back again, and they exit laughing.