The TL:DR Bible: John 1-2


Chapter 1:

From the beginning, the Word existed. It was with God. It was the very expression of God. The Word created all things and brings enlightenment to those in darkness.

John the Baptist was a witness of the Word, but not the Word.

He came to His Chosen People, but they rejected Him, but anyone who receives Him receives the right to be called a  child of God. These were born of God, not merely flesh and blood.

The Word became a man and lived with us. So John testified of Him that He was the greater because He existed before John.

The Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came with Jesus the Christ. If you have seem Him, you have seen God.

John was Baptizing (hence his name) in the Jordan when some religious leaders came to ask him who he was.

“I’m the forerunner, not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet Moses promised you. I baptize with water, but One is coming whose shoe I am not worthy to untie.”

The next day, John sees Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This is the Greater One! I have seen the Spirit of God descend upon him and stay with Him as God promised.”

The following day, John is with two of his disciples and he sees Jesus again.

“Behold the Lamb of God!”

The disciples follow Jesus.

Jesus: What’s up, guys?

Disciples: Where do you live?”

Jesus: Follow me and find out.

So they do and they hang with him for a few hours and one of them, Andrew, goes and finds his brother Simon saying, “We’ve found the Messiah.” So Simon comes and meets Jesus and Jesus says, “Hey, Simon, you’re going to be called Peter.”

So to summarize what’s different between John and the Synoptic gospels, instead of calling them from a boat, Andrew meets Jesus and then brings Peter to Him, Jesus names him Peter before Peter answers the “Who do you think I am?” question, and the disciples know that Jesus is the Messiah.

The following day, Jesus calls Philip and Philip follows him. He goes and finds Nathanael and says, “We’ve found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth!”

Nate says, “Nazareth is a garbage town, nothing good can come from it.”

But Nate goes and meets Jesus and Jesus is like, “Hey, there’s a Jew in whom no deceit is found. Dude seriously just speaks his mind.”

Nate: Do you know me?

Jesus: I knew you before Philip called you when you sitting under a fig tree… Not a fan of figs, by the way.”

Nate: Teacher! You are the Son of God! The King of Israel!

Jesus: Seriously? Wow… that was easy. Follow me and you will see greater things than this.

 

Chapter 2:

Jesus and the disciples head to a wedding in the town of Cana. But the wine runs out. This would be embarrassing for the bride and groom, so Mary, Jesus’ mom, goes to Jesus and says, “Son, they ran out of wine.”

Jesus: Why is that my problem, woman? My hour hasn’t come yet.

But Mary knows her son, I guess, so she tells the wait staff, “Do whatever Jesus says.”

Jesus says, “Take those six 20 gallon jars and go fill them with water.” So they did. Then Jesus said, “Take a glass of the water and give it to your boss.”

The boss drinks the water that was now wine and calls the groom over.

“Dude, why did you save the good wine for last? Most people serve the good stuff first, then when the guests are liquored up, serve the 2 buck Chuck.”

Then Jesus heads up to Jerusalem now instead of at the end of his life and cleanses the Temple now instead of during Passion Week. The Roman soldiers still don’t arrest him for starting a small riot.

And the priests are like, “Oh… well, so, uh… what authority do you have to do this and what sign will you show to prove it?”

Jesus: Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days.

Priests: It took 46 years to build the temple and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?

Jesus: I mean the temple of my body.

Priest: Oh, okay. (Grabs sword and stabs Jesus through the heart.) Alright, you heard him. Everyone go home and come back in three days.

Alright, that last part didn’t happen. Instead, Jesus leaves and does a bunch of miracles in Jerusalem to convince people he’s the Messiah, but Jesus refused to hang out with them for very long because seriously, he’s already been betrayed three times now and isn’t very trusting of people anymore.

 

The TL:DR Bible: Luke 23-24


Chapter 23:

Jesus is condemned by the Jewish authorities, so they march him over to Pilate for a trial.

“What’s his crime?”

“He said not to pay our taxes and claims to be the Messiah, a king.”

Pilate: Jesus, are you the king of the Jews?

Jesus: Yes.

Pilate: Not guilty.

Priests: He is stirring up the people for rebellion from Galilee to Judea.

Pilate: Huh. Galilee? That would make him Herod’s problem, not mine.

They lead Jesus to Herod.

Herod: Come on, show me a trick.

Jesus: …

Herod: Okay, beat him up a bit and send him back to Pilate, my new bestie.

Pilate: Seems like a weird thing to bond over, but alright. Okay, priests, I’ve examined him, Herod has examined him, we find him not guilty… even though he sort of admitted he was the king of the Jews. But hey, let’s not let the Roman authorities think we blame them for the death of Jesus. So I’m going to have him beaten up a bit more and then release him.

Priests: Yeah, no. We want the other guy. The one actually guilty of insurrection and murder.

Pilate: Huh. Well, I guess I have no choice. Oh wait. I have all the choices. But sure, take Barabbas and crucify Jesus.

They grab Simon the Cyrene to carry the cross, and the women following Jesus cry and weep at his fate.

Jesus: Yeah, save your tears for Jerusalem. It’s getting destroyed.

So they nail Jesus to the cross and hoist it up in the middle between two thieves.

Jesus: Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.

Everyone mocks him and tells him to get off the cross if he’s really the Messiah. One of the thieves mocks him to, but the other one tells him to shut up and asks Jesus to remember him when He receives His kingdom.

Jesus: You will be with me in Paradise today.

Darkness falls over the land, the temple veil is torn in two, and Jesus cries out in a loud voice and releases his spirit. The centurion is convinced that Jesus was innocent. The crowd realizes what’s happened and start to mourn and return to the city. The women who followed him stay and keep watch. Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for Jesus body and receives it. He does a quick preparation on the body for burial and puts it in a tomb.

“Luke” makes mention to assure us that the women saw the tomb where Jesus was laid, probably to counter the argument that they showed up to the wrong tomb and found it empty.

And everyone goes home and crashes on Saturday.

 

Chapter 24:

The women return to the tomb and find it empty. Two men appear this time instead of one and tell the women that Jesus rose from the dead. There’s no mention of going to Galilee to see him again. And this time, the women go back to the disciples and report the incident, instead of keeping silent as they did in Mark. The disciples don’t believe them, but Peter goes to the tomb and finds it empty.

Now we have a story about two men going to the village Emmaus and Jesus shows up and travels with them, but they don’t recognize him. They relate everything that happened in the last two chapters, and Jesus says, “You of little faith, the Old Testament totally says that the Messiah would have to die.” Then Jesus gives them a bible study on the topic that isn’t related, but probably should have been.

They ask Jesus to spend the night, and he eventually agrees, but as they sit down to eat, he breaks the bread and they recognize Jesus and he vanishes.

They return to Jerusalem, find the disciples, and tell their story. Apparently, during this time, Jesus also appeared to Peter.

It’s interesting how we’ve moved from a simple empty tomb in Mark to a brief appearance in Matthew to extended appearance narratives in Luke. John, the last gospel chronologically written, will have even more appearances of Jesus tacked on both in Judea and in Galilee.

Jesus appears to the disciples again and says, “Hey, I’m flesh and blood.”

“You’re a ghost!”

“Do you have any food?”

So they give fish and he eats it and they’re convinced he’s not a ghost.

Jesus: Yeah, all this was supposed to happen. Let me share the bible study I did earlier with you, but we’re totally not going to write it down. Then Jesus opens their minds so they understand the Old Testament, which… he probably could have saved himself and them a lot of trouble if he did that earlier.

This time, instead of telling them to go to Galilee to see him, Jesus tells them to stay in Jerusalem until they receive power from God.

And then Jesus ascends into heaven and they go back to Jerusalem happy and praising God.

The TL:DR Bible: Luke 21-22


Chapter 21:

Here’s the story of the poor widow giving every cent she had to the Temple. Jesus says she has given more than everyone else. Do we really want to be encouraging poor widows to send their Social Security checks to churches?

The disciples comment on how awesome the Temple looks, Jesus says it’s going to be destroyed. Then goes on to list a bunch of things related to the Temple’s destruction like:

  • Don’t trust other guys who claim to be the Messiah.
  • Wars will happen.
  • Earthquakes
  • Diseases and famine.

The Jews are going to persecute the church. The disciples will have a chance to share their faith in front of various Roman officials. And everyone’s going to hate them because Jesus. Which may have applied in 1st century Rome, but now most folks hate them because of their political involvement and hypocrisy.

When you see the Romans surrounding Jerusalem, then you guys will know that it’s end is near… well… yeah… kinda obvious at that point.

Everything will be miserable for the people trapped in Jerusalem, which… it was. And then all sorts of supernatural signs will happen and Jesus will show up to wrap everything up.

This generation will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled. So, if Jesus was right, somewhere out there is a 2,100 year old immortal Jew who was one of his disciples.

Then they leave Jerusalem and Jesus sleeps on the Mount of Olives.

 

Chapter 22:

Judas gets possessed by the devil in his version of the story and sells out Jesus… which… brings up all sorts of theological issues about Judas’ guilt in Jesus’ betrayal. If the literal devil crawls into your skin and makes you do something, how can you be responsible for doing that?

Jesus arranges to crash at someone’s home to eat the Passover meal.

Jesus eats the meal with his disciples and has the First Communion.

The disciples start wondering what the pecking order is among them and Jesus says, “People in the world lord their power over others, but it is not this way with you.”

Clearly Jesus hasn’t been to a church council meeting lately.

“The leader among you must serve the rest, as I have served you. You have stuck with me for all these years, and you will sit with me in Dad’s kingdom judging the tribes of Israel.”

“Also, Peter, you’re going to deny me three times.”

“Did you ever lack when I sent you out with no money?”

“No, Lord.”

“Now everyone take money with them on their journey. And if you don’t have a sword tonight, buy a sword, so the prophesy can be fulfilled that I was numbered with the transgressors.”

“We’ve got two swords!”

“Enough,” Jesus said.

“Should we get some AR-15’s a bazooka too?”

“Sigh…. #missingthepoint,” Jesus said.

So they go out to the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus prays again asking God not to kill him but to find another way because He’s God and He can do anything… but He won’t do that. Yes, I will work a Meatloaf reference into the Passion narrative.

Judas betrays Jesus. Peter hacks off the ear of the high priest’s slave and Jesus rebukes him and heals the slave’s ear. Jesus is arrested again. Everyone flees again. Somehow we still get a narrative even though no one was there… again.

Peter denies Jesus again.

Jesus gets beaten again.

Everyone says, “Are you the Messiah?” to Jesus again. Jesus answers, “Yep and I will come in glory with the power of God.”

And then they say, “Well, that’s enough for us. Let’s kill the dude.”

The TL:DR Bible: Luke 19-20


Chapter 19:

Zaccheus was a little person, so you know, officially he was already on God’s naughty list (Leviticus 20:18-20.) And he was a tax collector, so he was considered a traitor and unclean because he hung out with Gentiles.

But Zach wants to see Jesus, so he climbs up a tree, which given that I think they wore togas and robes back then instead of pants probably meant folks could see up Zach’s kilt. But he was committed to seeing Jesus, so he flashed the goods, saw Jesus walking and Jesus said, “Dude, come down. No one wants to see that… ah, I’m kidding. Come on down, I’m going to be staying at your place tonight.”

The people grumble because that’s what they do, but Zach says, “Jesus, I’m going to give half of my goods to the poor and if I have defrauded anyone, I will repay them four times the amount.”

Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this home. I’ve come to seek and save that which is lost.”

Someone really needs to tell Jesus he’s doing it wrong and they can’t earn their salvation through good works, but they need to say the sinner’s prayer.

Jesus: There was a noble who was to receive a kingdom, and he appointed ten slaves in charge of a thousand bucks each and told them to take care of his business until he returned. When he left, some of his subjects sent a delegation behind him to let Caesar know that they did not want this man ruling over them.

When the noble returned, he gathered together his slaves and had them go over their finances with him.

The first one said, “I took your thousand and made ten thousand more.”

“Awesome. You’ll be in charge of ten cities.”

The second one said, “I took your thousand and made five thousand more.”

“Great. You’re in charge of five cities.”

“Master, here’s your thousand back. I was afraid you’d be pissed and have me tortured if I lost any of it.”

“Well, you’re pretty worthless. Take this guy’s thousand and give it to the slave who made 10 grand. For the one who has will receive more and the one who does not have will have anything he owns taken away. Now… bring me those citizens who complained to Caesar and have them killed in front of me.”

Sort of hard to interpret around this as it seems to be saying that God is a tyrant who expects excellence and complete obedience or else.

Jesus enters Jerusalem again. He only rides one animal this time as well, but Luke chooses the colt instead of the donkey.

The disciples all shout, “Hey, everyone here’s the Messiah who will be king!”

The Pharisees say, “Uh, Jesus, you want to silence those jerks before the Romans start butchering us again?”

Jesus says, “If they don’t say it, then the rocks will start saying it.”

Jesus cries over Jerusalem and “Luke” writes about the destruction of Jerusalem and says that it happened because the Jews didn’t realize that Jesus was the Messiah.

Jesus cleanses the temple again and gets into arguments with the priests again and the Roman soldiers just stand by watching it happen again.

“Hey,” the soldier said, “I was on me break, alright?”

 

Luke 20:

Jesus has his authority questioned again, he asks them if John the Baptist was sent from God or was just a man, they don’t answer, so Jesus refuses to answer their question. Which just kind of seems really passive-aggressive.

“Come on, Jesus.”

“No, not until you answer my question.”

“We asked you first!”

“I asked you second!”

Jesus tells the story of the vineyard that was rented out to some farmers and how they tried to get out of paying their rent by abusing and killing the people sent to collect it, including the landlord’s son, so the landlord is coming to kill them all and turn the vineyard over to new renters, aka the Church and the Gentiles.

Sigh…

Pay your damn taxes, said Jesus. They aren’t theft.

Jesus says there’s a resurrection, but no marriage in heaven, so we get to date around.

Jesus tries to get the scribes and priests to understand that the Messiah will be greater in power and authority than his ancestor David.

And then Jesus calls the scribes hypocrites who love the trappings of religion and will be damned more harshly than the pagans.

The TL:DR Bible: Luke 17-18


Chapter 17:

Temptations will come, but the one who helps someone fall will receive a really bad punishment.

Forgive your brother who sins against you no matter how many times he sins against you. Now, I’d probably have added that forgiveness does not always include a restoration of trust. You shouldn’t have to leave yourself vulnerable to someone’s abuse. And if they’re not willing to listen to your terms on how to restore the relationship, then they aren’t genuinely seeking forgiveness.

The disciples ask for more faith. Jesus says if they even had a little faith, they could tell trees to move and go kill themselves in the ocean.

You and I are a filthy unworthy slave of the Lord’s who should do what we’re told and shut up about it.

Jesus heals ten lepers, but only one comes back to thank him. The one who does is a Samaritan.

Jesus gives a speech about the coming end times which was expected within the lifetime of the disciples.

Jesus: The kingdom is within your midst. You guys will long to see one of the days when I was here, but you won’t. Don’t listen to other individual teachers claiming they know where the kingdom is. I’m totally coming like lightning, but first I have to suffer and die.

Things are going to appear totally normal. Almost like nothing is going to happen, but then something will totally happen and the kingdom will appear and all those people who refused to believe you and mocked you and persecuted you will totally die horribly.

When the day comes and the Romans appear heading towards Jerusalem, get the hell out of Dodge. One will be taken, the other will be left. You want to be the one left. The vultures will eat those who are taken.

 

Chapter 18:

When you pray, just bug the crap out of God. Eventually, he’ll get tired of your begging and give you what you want (or you’ll get discouraged and give up.)

Jesus: Two men went to pray. The Pharisee was proud and boastful and the sinner was humble and penitent. God listened to the sinner’s prayer, but did not hear the prayer of the Pharisee.

People bring their children to Jesus to bless, the disciples try to stop them, but Jesus tells them to let the kids in.

The rich young ruler drops by again and leaves again after being told to sell all he has and give it to the poor. Christians are like, “Now, that obviously doesn’t apply as a universal rule… because I’ve got some really nice stuff.”

And Jesus heals a blind man as he’s entering Jericho instead of as he’s leaving Jericho.

 

 

The TL:DR Bible: Luke 15-16


Chapter 15:

So Jesus is hanging out with a bunch of sinners.

Why are Christians so against doing that with people they think are icky again?

But the Pharisees start bitching about it. “Come on, Jesus, first you’re saying tax collectors and whores are okay, next you’ll be telling us LGTBQ folks aren’t an abomination. Then who would we yell about on our radio shows every week?”

Jesus: Okay, assuming these people are ‘icky’, which one of you wouldn’t leave his 99 sheep in a pen to go search out a lost one? And then celebrate when he found it?

Or which woman if she had ten $100 bills and lost one, wouldn’t look for it? And be extremely happy when she found it?

A man had two sons. The youngest said to his dad, “I wish you were dead. Give me the inheritance money you owe me now.”

So the dad did so, and the son left home and travelled around the world throwing expensive parties with blackjack and hookers until he was broke. Then he had to take a menial job as a pig herder and he got so hungry he wanted to eat the slop he was feeding the pigs.

Then he thought, Dad’s slaves have plenty of food to eat. I’m going to go home and tell dad I fucked up and I’m not worthy to be a son, and beg him to take me on as a slave.

So he got up and started home, and his dad was sitting on the porch watching the road. And as soon as he saw him, the father ran to him, embraced him, and kissed his son on the cheeks and forehead repeatedly.

“Dad, I’m sorry. I’m not worthy to be called your son. Make me one of your slaves.”

“Be quiet, Son. Slaves? Bring my son the best robe and dress him. Put sandals on his feet, and prepare a great feast. For my son was dead, but is now alive!”

So they throw a party, and the elder boy comes home from working in the fields and hears the noise of the party and he finds out his brother came home and dad is throwing a great feast for him. The elder son is enraged and refuses to go into the party.

The father comes out, “Son, come on in. Celebrate with us.”

“Dad, I’ve worked for you for years. I’ve done everything you asked me to do, and you’ve never let me throw an awesome party. But as soon as this son of yours comes back from wasting your money with whores, you throw him a party.”

“Son, all I have is yours, but it was right to celebrate. Your brother was dead, but has come back to us.”

And so we’re left with the image of a “good” son standing outside an unlocked door refusing to enter into joy because his dad let those “other” people in. If there is a heaven, I wonder how many “good” Christian people will feel that way once they find out that God lets those “other” people in too.

 

Chapter 16:

Jesus: There was a business manager whose his client heard he was being wasteful with the client’s money. So the client calls him in and tells him to turn over his books because he’s going to be fired. The business manager realizes that he doesn’t have a lot of other options, so he contacts his master’s debtors and lets them settle accounts for pennies on the dollars. The business manager does this so they’ll be in debt to him, so he can live off of their hospitality until he finds another job.

When the client heard about it, he praised the crooked manager’s cunning. So you likewise be cunning and use money to make friends so when you’re in need, you’ll have people you can call on to help.

If you’re faithful in little things, you will be faithful with great things. If you have not used your wealth wisely, who will entrust more money to you? You cannot serve God and money.

The Pharisees are mocking him amongst themselves, so Jesus calls them hypocrites and for some reason, brings up divorce, agreeing with “Mark” that any remarriage after divorce is adultery. So… uh… wonder why you don’t hear that much coming out of the Evangelical church…

Jesus: There was a rich man who wore the finest clothes. Like the best clothes. Super clothes. He had a big house. Just giant. You might consider it a tower of sorts. A very fine tower. With gold everywhere. He ate the best taco bowls and very fine steak cooked well done with ketchup. Very classy guy.

Outside his building’s doors lived a poor, homeless beggar who would have done anything to eat the rich man’s leftovers. He was exposed to the elements. Wild animals would come by and lick his sores. But the rich man never noticed or acknowledged him.

Finally, the poor man died. He was carried by the angels to a place of comfort where Abraham (the guy who gave his wife to other men, and raped a slave girl, then left her and his kid to die in the desert, before almost killing his other kid) lived. There, the beggar had comfort, food, and water and lived in a paradise.

The rich man died too. He was taken to a place of want and hunger and thirst. Lifting up his eyes, he sees Abraham and begs the man to send the beggar to him with a single drop of water, but Abraham refuses.

“Hey, dude, in your life, you lived in a tower. You ate the best food. You wore designer clothes that felt awesome. You had your time in the sun. Now it’s Lazarus’ turn to be comforted while you live in want and need and agony.”

“Okay, can you send him back to warn my family so they don’t end up in this horrible place?”

“Ha ha ha… no. Go screw yourself. They’ve got the bible and if they don’t believe a collection of books written hundreds of years after the fact by anonymous and pseudonymous authors, they won’t believe a guy who comes back from the dead.”

The lesson being… Abraham is still kind of a dick, remember the poor, and don’t be an asshole with a lot of money, a tower, and bad hair.

The TL:DR Bible: Luke 13-14


Chapter 13:

Jesus hears a report about how Pilate killed some Galileans during their worship of Yahweh.

Jesus: Do you think they deserved that fate more than you? No. Stuff happens, but unless you repent, you will also perish. A man had a fig tree for three years and it didn’t bear fruit, so the man was going to cut it down, but the gardener begged him to give it one more year and if it didn’t bear fruit, then he could cut it down.

(This would be “Luke’s” subtle commentary on why Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. It was the fault of those faithless Jews who disagree with us about Jesus.)

Jesus was then teaching at a synagogue on a Saturday and he stops to heal a woman. The woman begins praising God, but the official at the synagogue says, “Hey, you’re not supposed to do that on the Sabbath.”

Jesus: You hypocrites. Don’t you water and feed your animals on the Sabbath? How much more then should I heal a daughter of Abraham who has suffered for 18 years?”

The Kingdom of God starts out small, but grows until it provides rest and shelter for many.

The kingdom of God starts out small, but from simple acts of kindness and love, grows until it spreads throughout the world.

As he journeys, someone asks, “Lord, is it true that only a handful of people will be saved?”

Jesus: Strive for your salvation. Don’t get left out of the kingdom where there will be great sorrow.

Pharisees: Herod is looking to kill you. You should get out of town.

Jesus: Go tell him that I’ve got work to do today, but soon I will meet my end. I have to go to Jerusalem to die because that’s where all prophets go to be martyred. Jerusalem? I want to comfort you and protect you, but you are not willing. So you will not see me until I return.

 

Chapter 14:

Jesus gets into another argument about healing on the Sabbath.

One starts to get the impression that the author is saying “Hey, don’t worry about that Jew stuff, guys. We can keep working on Saturdays and eat bacon.”

Jesus: When you go to dinner at someone’s house, don’t take the head seat at the table. Take the lowest seat and let the host move you to a higher place of honor. When you give a dinner, invite the poor, disabled, and needy. They cannot repay you, so you will receive a reward in heaven.

The kingdom of God is like a man throwing a large banquet. And he sent messengers to the guests that RSVP’ed, but they all cancelled at the last minute and gave him various excuses. So the man told his slaves to go and bring all of the poor, disabled, and needy people they could find. And when there was still room, he sent them out again to find anyone who would come.

Jesus noticed that large crowds were following him, so he stopped and told them:

If you guys don’t love me more than your own family, you’re not worthy of me. Each of you must be willing to die on a cross for my sake. So consider the cost of following me. This is totally Jesus addressing the crowd and not the author of Luke addressing the persecuted Christian community where many would be having doubts and be considering deconverting to save their lives and repair familial relationships.