The church plant

Many stories have been shared about Jesus’ time among his disciples. In John’s book he mentioned that many were never recorded. The following was not recorded and almost certainly never happened.

Jesus invited the disciples to his house for a meal. It was the weekend and he said that it was important we ‘did life’ together. Andrew pointed out we ‘did life’ quite a lot already but Jesus said that wasn’t authentic enough. He said, “we must do more life”. I didn’t really get what that meant, but then it wasn’t unusual for Jesus to say random things.

So, on the Sunday night we all piled in to Jesus’ living room. Peter said he’d be along later because he had to get the kids to bed. But everyone else was there apart from Judas who was watching the end of the football.

‘Jesus had made his speciality, spaghetti bolognese. ‘Speciality’ might be stretching it a little, the sauce was from a jar and the pasta was soggy. I always thought it strange that a man who could create bread and fish from thin air, couldn’t cook pasta.

After dinner Jesus spoke. “So guys, I’ve got this new idea and I wondered if you’d be interested?” We all leaned in a little. “I’m in” said Peter, and scanned the room expecting others to follow. “You’ll need to give us a little more than that Lord” I replied. “Always a cynic Thomas, but I’m glad you asked” said Jesus smiling at me.

“As you know, we’ve all become fed up with the synagogue. It’s getting harder to persuade some of you to get out of bed on Sabbath mornings. So I’ve been doing a little research and some people online are suggesting that we start our own service. It wouldn’t have to be on the Sabbath; we could have it any day we like. And we wouldn’t have to sing Psalms.” We all looked round nodding in agreement. “They call it a Fresh Expression! It’s a bit like synagogue plant, but you don’t have to talk about God or sing, in fact it’s kind of frowned upon, at least, in the first few months.”

“Brilliant!” shouted Andrew. Although John looked a little sad that there might not be music. He’d been practicing guitar loads since becoming the praise band leader at the Capernaum synagogue. “When do we start?” said Peter. “Well most people do a community audit and work out the needs of local people. I don’t know if you’ve noticed there are a lot of sick and hungry people around. Not to mention the leppers. But personally I think we should focus on Millennials like us.”

“And we could apply to the Temple for funding. They’re offering funding for work with 20-40’s and there’s also separate Sanhedrin funding for rural areas like Galilee.

“So Lord, where do we start?” Asked one of the twelve.

“Well, we probably need to do a course.”

“What kind of course Jesus?”

“I was thinking about the miracles course at Galilee Bible Synagogue. It seems a good mix of practical and spiritual. And you can study part-time. That’s important because it said online that we need to be bi-vocational church planters. We can’t expect other people to fund us, and getting jobs will help us stay grounded.”

“Aw, but you said we had to leave the fishing”, said Andrew. “We’ve already sold the boat!”

Keller’s dichotomy?

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves,

“What is he saying? This is blasphemy”

They murmured together. “How dare he!”

“Jesus should have healed the man”.

“If he could move, then he could work and then he could escape poverty.”

“He’s ignoring structural sin, and denying the Kingdom’s concern with this man’s exclusion from employment.”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them,

“Gosh, you’re right. I didn’t mean to suggest that the forgiveness of sins is more important. Or, that one day this man might die and find himself excluded from an actual eternal reality.”

He turned to the man on the mat,

“Can we pretend that never happened? I should have said, get up and walk!”

The man looked dazed. He stood up, and seemed momentarily pleased. But then he hesitated looking concerned.

“Lord, thanks for letting me walk. But am I forgiven or not? I mean, I don’t want to find myself one day outside the Kingdom.”

“Oh don’t worry about abstract things like that” replied Jesus. “Just go and enjoy your new mobility. You need to focus on the here and now!”

For the real text see: Mark 2

The Bus from Emmaus

Many people will know the story of the road to Emmaus, where the risen Jesus surprised some woebegone followers. But few know the story of Jesus’ return to Jerusalem*

After breaking bread, Jesus vanished. Cleopas and his friend quickly washed the dishes and set off to tell the others what had happened.

Jesus also wanted to head back to Jerusalem. But it had been a long day, and rather than walking back, he decided to take the bus.

Calling it a bus is an exaggeration. It was more a cart pulled by donkeys.

Jesus climbed on board, and sat on the bench next to a young woman. She grumpily shifted along, lifting her bag onto her lap. And proceeded to ignore him as the cart jolted on.

But later in the journey he caught her glancing at him. “Sorry,” she said, “but has anyone told you, you look like that prophet from Galilee. You know, the one they just crucified.”

Jesus smiled; “really” he replied.

“What a shame that was”, she said. “He was clearly a little crazy, but it was still a shame.”

Jesus was still smiling.

She went on “I don’t believe in religion myself.”

“Are you some kind of evangelical?” said Jesus. “What do you have against smells and bells?”

“Oh no”, she replied, looking a little disgusted. “I’m not ‘evangelical’. I’m just not into organised religion. I don’t need some priest or religious council telling me what to do.”

“I’m not religious, I’m more…”

“Spiritual?” said Jesus.

“Spiritual”, exactly, she said. “I’m spiritual. I don’t need organised, intolerant religion. I don’t need ancient, irrational traditions to help me live my life. I prefer to do my own thing.”

“So, I practice yoga, and I’m into new age.”

“Interesting” said Jesus.

“Ah, this is my stop.”

*This story of course is entirely fictional, but for the story of Emmaus see: Luke 24

Two men went to pray

Jesus once told a story something like this…

Two men went to pray.

The first walked to the front of church and glanced back at the other man, saying to God, “thank you that I am not like other people – charismatics, those who do ‘alpha’, or ordain women. I go to two services on Sundays, and attend the prayer meeting. I only listen to expository preaching and of no less than forty minutes duration.”

The second man stood at the back. He did not raise his head, but awkwardly looked at his feet. “God have mercy on me a sinner” he said.

 

For the real story: Luke 18.10-14

No self-righteousness

“If anyone thinks they have reason to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: raised in a bible believing church, theologically sound, a Christian of Christians; in regard to preaching the Gospel, an evangelical; as for zeal, morning and evening services, as for righteousness, I only read the ESV”

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider worthless for the sake of Christ.”*

 

 

 

 

*for the real text read Philippians 3.4-7

Jesus and the broken ceiling 

One day Jesus was teaching and healing people. Huge crowds had gathered from all over Galilee. And the Pharisees and teachers of the law were watching closely.
There were so many people surrounding Jesus that the house he was visiting was full. The crowd was crammed into every available space. Most couldn’t even get into the same room as Jesus, and they were pushing and shoving to get within earshot of what he was saying.

Four friends came round the corner to the front door of the house. Each held the corner of a large mat on which a fifth friend lay. He had been paralysed since falling off a ladder. His friends had tried everything to help, but no cure had been found. When they heard that Jesus was doing they figured it was worth a try.

As they reached the door, it was clear that they would never get in to the building that way. But all was not lost; there were stairs leading to the roof.

They hauled their friend to the top of the stairs and arrived at the roof garden. Moving the raised beds and barbecue aside, they began to remove roof tiles. They scraped and removed earth and eventually saw into the room where Jesus stood.

As the ceiling began to crumble and dust fell onto the floor, the crowd looked up to see four men lowering a large mat.
“Oi!” shouted James. “No no no no no! You can’t just drop in like that. This meeting began twenty minutes ago. It’s a little rude to turn up now. Anyway the prayer ministry is later, we’re listening to the sermon right now.”

“Also, you’re not allowed on the roof. Didn’t you see the notice? And has anyone done a risk assessment?”

The men slowly hauled their friend back up. And even more slowly began the long walk home.

 

For the real story see: Mark 2:1-12