The Pastor’s Pen – April 14, 2019

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At least for today…

maybe again someday…

Palm Sunday 2019

All: (Loud cheering)

Reporter:  Hello everyone, this is I.B. Long of Station WRME -TV coming to you live from beautiful, sunny Jericho.  We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming this afternoon to bring you a late breaking story.  Full coverage of the Daily Gladiator will resume immediately after the completion of this broadcast and will be shown in its entirety.

It is a lovely spring day out here on the outskirts of Jerusalem on the Jericho Road.  We have come here to cover what appears to be some sort of a parade or procession being held in honor of a part-time Jewish carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth.  This would seem to be no ordinary, garden variety carpenter however, as he has stirred up strong emotions across this whole region in the last several years and apparently has now decided to bring his confrontational style and message out of the countryside and directly into Jerusalem.  There is a huge crowd beginning to gather all along the roadside to watch the spectacle, and as far as I can see, all are very excited to be here.

This fellow named Jesus is not new to us here at WRME-TV, as he has been in the news numerous times for his radical leftist views and his direct and often pointed challenges to the priestly hierarchy of the Jewish Temple.  And word has been filtering out as far away as Rome that he has been making references claiming to be a ‘King’ of some sort…something unusual indeed, as those types of claims usually land people on the wrong side of the Imperial Guard.

We will be bringing you the parade live and without commercial interruptions once it begins.  While we wait, we hope to interview several local people in hopes of getting a better idea of what today’s event is really all about…however, we need to pause for just a minute for local station identification.

Commercial announcer:  Today’s program is being brought to you by ‘King Caesar’s Food and Drug Emporiums’.  Get all of your household needs met at the Roman Empire’s largest and most complete supermarket chains…where ‘your pleasure…is our desire’.  Fresh harvested from the fields of our loyal Hebrew slave farmers we bring you all they have to offer, fresh, good, and taken from their farms every day.  So…shop where the Emperor’s slaves’ shop…at King Caesar’s Food and Drug Emporiums. This is TV Station WRME…where it’s all about me…your place for all the things the Emperor wants you to hear!  And now back to our coverage of today’s really big show…back to you I.B….

ALL: (Loud cheers)

Reporter:  Thanks, and hello again everyone, this is I.B. Long reporting to you live from just outside of Jerusalem where a huge crowd has gathered in advance of an impromptu parade being held to honor a Jewish carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth.

Excuse me sir, could I have a minute of your time?  I have been watching you closely and you in particular seem to be very interested in today’s goings on.  You almost look like a bodyguard or an enforcer of some sort.  Tell me what is your name?

Judas: My name is Judas…

Reporter:  Just…Judas? Don’t you have a last name?

Judas: Not that I wish to share with you.  Sorry, I do not mean to be rude to you, but in this day and age you can never be too careful.  Jesus is one who stirs up a lot of emotions, and I for one happen to believe very strongly in him.  If all goes well, and as planned and expected today, I am sure you will see great things.  After that, then you won’t have to ask me my name, because absolutely everyone will know it.

Reporter:  Really!  Why is that?  Are you one of Jesus’ followers?  Are you one of those who have been with him, one who has been close to him?  Do you know what this man is really all about?  Perhaps if you would, could you give our viewers some insight as to why today’s event seems to be such a big deal…why it has attracted such a huge crowd?

Judas:  I’m afraid that unless you are Jewish you probably won’t understand, but I will try.  As you may know our people…

Reporter: (interrupting) Aha!  So, you are a Jew then…no wonder you would not give me your last name…are you afraid of something?

Judas:  I will ignore your seeming ignorance…for now…but suffice it to say that in the next few days the hopes and dreams of an entire nation will be fulfilled.  The promises of ages past will come to be!

Reporter:  What has Emperor Caesar to do with all this?

Judas:  I am not talking about the Roman Empire…I am referring to the Jewish people.  This man Jesus has shown himself to be the long-awaited and promised Messiah for Israel…the real King who is to come and to deliver all of Israel from Roman oppression, bringing in a new age of Hebrew freedom, power, and control over their own destiny.

All:  (Shouts of “Halleluiah! Son of David! Hail to the King!”) 

Reporter:  Did you hear that…it sounds as if Caesar himself has come out to the parade…

Judas:  What ever makes you think that?

Reporter:  Er…well…they are shouting, “Hail to the King”, and as you well know, we have no King but Caesar.  In fact, to claim otherwise is a risk no one wants to take.

Judas:  Not until today that is…you see, this Jesus has the very power of Almighty God on his side, as attested to by the numerous miracles he has performed over the past three years.  Many people were hesitant to believe he was the promised one at first, but he has shown that he has the power and the backing to bring about a whole new political order. And I my friend, along with the rest of my companions will be there right beside him…ready and willing to win the day for Jerusalem, and for all of Israel.

All: (Loud cheers)

Reporter:  You mean…this man is actually a revolutionary?  I had no idea.  In previous stories we have covered, he has always seemed so passive and quiet.  Are you really telling me that all along he was secretly planning and plotting to overthrow the Emperor!

Judas:  Yes he has been, and today is the day…the first day of a whole new way of doing business around here.  Get ready my friend…I tell you; Jesus is on the march…and don’t forget who it was who first told you so.  Sorry I gotta go, I hear the parade getting closer and I need to be by his side in case there is any trouble.

Reporter:  Well thanks for the scoop Judas…(To the audience) Folks, it looks as though this is no ordinary day…and no ordinary man…there is talk of revolution in the air.  Don’t worry though, we are committed to stay with you for full coverage of all the events of the day as they unfold.  We are committed to keeping you informed as to just what is going on out here on the Jericho Road.

All:  (Shouts of “Halleluiah! Son of David! Hail to the King!”) 

Miriam: (To the reporter):  Excuse me sir, I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with that man Judas and I have to tell you that what he is saying is probably the truth.

Reporter:  Hello, what is your name and how is it that you came to know this man named Jesus?

Miriam:  My name is Miriam…I am from a region just a bit north of here in Samaria and I met Jesus a short while back at Jacob’s Well.

Reporter:  Are you a Samaritan then?  How is it that this man, who is reportedly a Jew spoke with you, a Samaritan woman?

Miriam:  I asked him the same question myself and the words and the way he answered me took me back, and made me realize I was meeting someone different…someone very special.

Reporter:  How do you mean special?

Miriam:  I don’t know…he is just…different.  I met him when I was drawing water and knew immediately that he was a Prophet.  He told me everything about my past life and I became a believer almost instantly.

Reporter:  Almost instantly?

Miriam:  Well when I asked him why he was asking me for a drink…he told me that he was the source of ‘living water’.  That got us into the topic of worship and when I asked him what his opinion was as to proper places and types of worship, he turned the question completely on its head.

Reporter:  How so?

Miriam:  Well…we Samaritans have always had an opinion ourselves as to where and when to worship God.  The mainstream of the Jewish faith however feels that our way, and our place is wrong.  When I asked Jesus, he said that the proper way to worship had nothing to do with place or style…He said that in the future, all people would worship, as he said, “In spirit and in truth”, and not in a particular place or in a particular way!

Reporter:  Wow, that is different…it sounds just a bit irreverent though don’t you think?  Aren’t you Jewish people all about the Temple, and high ritual, and formality?  How can such seemingly informal worship possibly be ‘reverent’?

Miriam:  I must admit, I was sort of confused at first too, but after I got to know him better, I saw that what he said made sense.  I realized that there really is no necessary link between strict formality and reverence.  For true reverence for God is something that comes from the heart, not something that depends on a place or a particular style, or even a particular behavior.  I am more and more convinced, after coming to know Jesus, that real worship is something you live…it is an attitude, a way of offering yourself…all of yourself, in ways of caring and service that is honoring to God.  Real and true worship is something you do with your whole body…as you offer yourself in service to others.  Jesus has made it clear to me that God is interested in the content of our hearts and not in the rigidity and properness of the liturgical posturing we often like to think of as ‘worship’.

Reporter:  Whew!  You really have taken after this man…your faith expression seems so free and uncluttered…if you don’t mind the expression, you really seem to believe that folks can ‘let down their hair’ with this fellow and still be somehow pleasing to God…

Miriam:  Yes…I suppose that is true.  But all I know, is that now I have hope again…and if you knew me before I met Jesus you would know that, that in itself is a most amazing miracle!

Reporter: Well thanks again Miriam…I see King Herod’s Viceroy coming down the street and I would like to get his opinion on Jesus, please excuse me.

Miriam:  Surely…I must be going too; I don’t want to miss Jesus when he comes by.

All:  (Shouts of “Halleluiah! Son of David! Hail to the King!”) 

 (Then, as the Reporter prepares to interview KHV there is a loud BOO! from the crowd)

All: Boo! Go Away!

Reporter:  Excuse me Sir, I couldn’t help but notice that you are not the most popular one here today.  What is it that has the crowd up in arms against you?  Are you not also a Jew?  And are you not the representative of the Jewish leader Herod?

KHV: Actually, Herod is the King of these people…even if it is king with a small “k”.  For you see we true Jews know our place within the Kingdom of Caesar. We may not always care for the royal treatment from Rome but we know we are to “Do as the Romans do” so to speak.  As for this riffraff crowd here today, they are of no concern to me.

Reporter:  Really?  Are not you Jews ‘one people’?  How can you say that this day is not a special day?  From what I have heard so far, this man is quite the interesting fellow.  If you really do not support him or them, then why are you here?  What do you make of all the excitement…of all the goings on out here?

KHV:  Honestly, I think you are making entirely too much of all this rabble.  This man, this Jesus fellow, has been a troublemaker for years and I can’t believe the size of the turnout he has for today.  He has caused such a stir.  He is so totally irreverent and so totally disrespectful of all established authority…including Rome’s.  Believe you me, he is on a number of people’s ‘short lists’ to get into big trouble…and soon!

Reporter:  Really?  Do you mean to say that he is not at all a part of the Jewish faith establishment?  Is the Temple dead set against him?  And if so, why is the crowd seeming to claim that he is the new King?

KHV:  Obviously you are woefully misinformed…but then again, when it comes to your understanding of the Jewish faith you Romans always are.  My boss, His Highness KING HEROD, is the only king we Jews have, and need…except of course for the Emperor.  King Herod is in control of this whole region and is charged with keeping order and peace among all the Jews.  So, when a trouble-maker like this Jesus comes along, we have to take quick and decisive action to stop him from going too far…which by the way, he already has!

Reporter:  Ok, ok I understand that, but what has Jesus done specifically that has you tied up in such a knot?

KHV:  He has been a constant threat to the order and routine of our faith…he is always breaking our laws and saying that the bedrock beliefs and traditions on which our faith was founded are illegitimate and out of touch with what God really wants.  And he has been extremely and personally insulting to almost everyone in any position of authority…totally disrespecting them.  And worse yet, he seems to have a thing for the dregs of decent society…trying to give these misfits and bums you see here hope for something they can never attain.  Why just look at them…they are cutting down branches and laying them in the road as though he already was a conquering King!  And there…they are even spreading out their old tattered and raggedy cloaks and coats for him to walk on.  What a joke…these people could no more discern a real King than could a blind man!

Reporter:  But isn’t that what they always do when a new King is coming into the city…and don’t they sing and shout just like these people are doing?

KHV:  Yes they do…but I hear this man is riding on a donkey, not a war horse like Caesar’s…a donkey is a symbol of peace…not a sign of power like a horse would be…this is no King, this is just a foolish and misguided pretender.

Reporter:  I see, but what specifically do you have against this man?  It appears as though there is a tremendous gathering here today…all of these people can’t be wrong can they?  Surely there must be something redeeming and special about this man…

KHV:  There may be a large crowd but look who they are…they are the riffraff of society…they are neither Romans nor proper Jews.  Why there are tax collectors, liars, cheats, gluttons, drunkards…in fact there are even a few prostitutes in that crowd…or…or at least so I am told.  How do they represent a loyal following of anything?  They are just useless trash…costing all of us money to take care of them.  I’m sure many of them don’t even have proper documentation…in fact they might not have any!  Who would want to be a King for people such as these? This is all just political posturing that is all…we Jews will take care of this matter later on this week and you will see…this so-called ‘gathering’ of his followers will go away…back into the holes they crawled out of!

Reporter:  Well I must say you do have quite the opinion!  So then, are you saying you are going to arrest this man Jesus?

KHV:  Off the record, we plan to take him out as soon as we get the chance…the scheme is already in place…the next time we get him alone…you watch…his ‘15 minutes of fame’ are fast drawing to a close…just wait and see…

Reporter:  Okay then!  Thanks for your time…give my regards to Herod when you see him…Hail Caesar!

KHV: Hail Caesar!

Reporter:  For all of you viewers at home…we here at WRME TV are bringing you this event live from just outside Jerusalem.  The day has been filled with energy…both positive, and obviously negative, as this man named Jesus is now drawing nearer to the city.  We have heard from several people, with quite differing points of view…perhaps we can get a chance to talk to that Roman soldier over there…it appears as though he is a member of Caesar’s Imperial Guard…excuse me sir…

All: BOO!

IP: Yes, what is it?

Reporter:  Well I just wanted to get your opinion of all that is going on here…

IP:  Quite frankly…it’s not a good day…especially for Herod and his underlings!  If he can’t keep his own people in line then I most surely will.  We do not like these sorts of protests and demonstrations…what is the matter with these people? Don’t they realize they are living in the most wealthy and powerful country in the whole world?  How can they possibly complain?  They serve a very important function…and besides they are slaves, how can they even think they deserve more than we already let them keep? There are those that have plenty…the true Roman citizens…and all the rest who are responsible to provide for them and keep the Emperor’s coffers full, and the populace happy.  Some have to work, and some get to enjoy the fruits of the slave’s labor.  That’s the way it is…it is a beautiful system…a place for everyone…and everyone in their place…simple, efficient…and very effective!

Reporter:  But what about this man Jesus’ challenges to Caesar?  Don’t you need to get involved with those situations?

IP:  Only if Herod doesn’t…although there have been reports that we may need to intervene in this ‘Jesus affair’ soon.  It seems that Herod may be unable to control it.  And if that is the case, then I assure you, it will not be pretty…trust me!

Reporter:  I will take your word for it…thanks for your time…

IP:  No problem…by the way, what is your name?

Reporter:  Ummm…Frank…Frank Lee Scared.

IP: Well Frank, take my advice…watch your step…you can get dirty when you play around in the mud…if you know what I mean…

Reporter:  Yes sir…thank you sir…have a nice day sir.  Whew! He is intense!  Hello there, can I ask you a question?  Oh, I’m sorry; I forgot to ask you…what is your name…for our viewers at home of course…

Matthew:  My name is Matthew

All: APPLAUSE

Reporter:  Are you a follower of this Jesus fellow?

Matthew:  In fact, I am…I love him…he is all we have ever hoped for…he is going to be crowned the King…and soon! 

Reporter:  How did you meet him?  What makes him so special; to you?

Matthew:  Well I used to be a tax collector…

Reporter:  Oh, I see…I have heard about people like you.

Matthew:  Yes, it is true…I was involved in some things I am now quite ashamed of.

Reporter:  Go on…

Matthew:  Well Jesus saw me one day and simply said to me, “Come”, and so I got up, I left my old life behind me and embarked on a most amazing journey.  Jesus is so incredible…so caring, so non-judgmental of almost everyone. Although he can be pretty tough on the religious establishment types, he has reached out and helped so many like myself…folks who formerly had no hope…who did not fit in at all…

Reporter:  I have heard that he is very tough on established practices…that he is critical of the way the mainstream faith conducts its religious affairs…

Matthew:  That is an understatement to be sure!  Jesus came for the rest of us…for those of us without hope…and he has exposed so much that is selfish and self-serving about established religion …in fact when he called me, he was criticized bitterly for doing so by those who thought I was not one he should be talking to.

Reporter:  And what did he say?

Matthew:  He answered all their criticisms by saying that they were hypocrites…that he came not for the ‘upper crust’ like they were, but for the lost and the lonely…the puzzled and the confused.  He said, “I’m after love that lasts…not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings. You broke the covenant”, he said, “Just like Adam, you broke faith with me.”

Reporter: Well that is certainly a mouthful!  He really does have a way with words!

Matthew:  Yes he does…a way with words as well as deeds…why he has the very power of God resting on him…you should have seen all of his miracles…and the healings he has performed.

Reporter:  Yes, we have heard rumors about those sorts of things…but unfortunately, we have not been able to scientifically verify that any of the miracle claims are actually true…and as you know…truth in reporting is so critical to a news organization.

Matthew:  So I have heard…you should get to know him though.  Here he comes now…I need to go…sorry…nice talking with you.

Reporter:  Yes…surely…good to talk with you too Matthew.

Reporter:  Excuse me miss…do you have a moment?

Mary:  Yes, I suppose…(Suspiciously) Why, what is it you want?

Reporter:  Well I have been talking to many people today and have gotten a whole host of mixed reactions to this Jesus fellow and I was wondering if you could share your experiences with our viewing audience as well.  So far, I have heard amazing things from some, as well as harsh criticism from others.  He has gotten a number of pretty important people really stirred up…stirred up to such an extent, I wonder if he might perhaps be in some sort of danger.  Others however, seem to be so sure he is coming into Jerusalem as some sort of conquering King…ready to throw off both Roman power and the Jewish King Herod and somehow usher in a whole new kingdom…I just don’t see how…(trailing off as the shouts of acclamation recur in the distance)

All: (Loud cheering)

Mary:  Well sir…you have said quite a lot… And in many ways you speak the truth…in fact, Jesus happens to be a very close personal friend of mine and of my family.  He brought my brother Lazarus back from death after three days in the tomb …

Reporter:  Excuse me…did you say, ‘back from death?’

Mary:  Yes…he had already passed when Jesus got there, and somehow, he miraculously brought him back to life.  But that is only one of the reasons why we love him so much…he is also an incredible teacher and has opened the sacred Scriptures up to us in ways that are at times almost too real…

Reporter:  How do you mean, “too real?”

Mary:  Well…I am not really comfortable talking about it…its kind of a long story.

Reporter:  Come on Mary, I have heard two versions today…either Jesus is the long-awaited King and Messiah of the Jewish people…or he is not, in which case he is instead a dangerous troublemaker who seems bent on turning established religion and practice completely on its head…which side are you on?

Mary:  Well…kind of both I guess…

Reporter:  How is that possible?  How can this man be a conquering King and a troublemaker?  Better yet…how can he be a King…and not a King at the same time?

Mary:  It is not how it seems…you see our story as Jews is a long and complicated one, and the Messiah we are waiting for truly is not what many of the people think he is…

Reporter: Go on…

Mary:  Well, Jesus has a much bigger thing in mind then just overthrowing Rome…or our old ways of thinking.  He is actually looking to save all of humanity from wrong ideas, from selfishness, and from hurting each other.  And he is going about it in a very different way…in a way no one ever suspected he would…

All:  (Shouts of “Halleluiah! Son of David! Hail to the King!”)

Reporter:  So…in spite of your hesitation and your vague answers, you feel that perhaps Jesus really is the one you have been waiting for?

Mary:  More than you could ever know…more than you could ever know…

Reporter:  Well, thank you Mary.  (To the audience at home) Well folks, for now this is all we are able to share with you…this crowd is getting a bit out of hand.  From all of us at WRME-TV, this is I.B. Long…wishing you a good rest of your day.  At least for today, this man Jesus seems to be on top of his game. Not sure what game that is…but we will try to keep abreast of this story as it continues to unfold…for now…be good…and Hail Caesar!  Or should I say, Hail Jesus!  At least for today!  Let’s see what tomorrow brings…

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

All:  (Shouts of “Halleluiah! Son of David! Hail to the King!”)

All: Amen

Image by Lynn Greyling from Pixabay

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