Hi, Romans, this is Paul.
Grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ.
I thank God for you all, because I’ve heard of how great your church and your faith are. I often pray that I can come visit you guys, so we can hang and encourage each other. Also, I’m hoping to convert a few more Romans like I convert in every other town I visit. So I’m eager to come and speak about Jesus in Rome, because I’m not ashamed of the message because it means salvation to those who believe it, both Jews and Greeks. God’s righteousness is revealed by faith.
But God’s wrath is revealed against all men. God is ticked off because if you look at nature, you should be able to see God. So everyone knows God exists, but they reject him and start worshipping idols instead.
So God made them all gay. Yep. You’re not gay because of genes or hormones or whatever. You’re gay because you decided to worship idols.
But, you protest, I started feeling attraction to the same sex at a young age.
Yeah, and Paul says you felt that because you were a degenerate idol worshipper. It’s SCIENCE!
And because Humanity didn’t send God a “I see you there!” card, God gave us over to all sorts of evil stuff and we all deserve to die, even if we’re not personally evil or gay but are okay with gay people living their lives in peace.
Therefore, all of you religious types who hate those people are without excuse too because you do the same stuff. You’re just hypocrites. But God sees your heart and His kindness leads you to repentance. Because in His kindness, he’s going to repay everyone according to their deeds, and punish every misconduct you’ve ever created.
(Paul and I have a different idea of kindness, it seems.)
There is no partiality with God. But God will judge people without the law by their consciences and those with the law by the law. (I guess we better stop wearing mixed fibers and eating bacon.)
So if you’re a Jew, do you keep all of the Law? When you break the Law, you dishonor God. Circumcision is of value if you keep the Law, but if you don’t, you’re worse than an uncircumcised Gentile who keeps the Law. He will judge you. Because God judges the heart, not religious ritual.
What about Moses? God was going to kill him for not circumcising his son, even though he was obeying God and heading back to Egypt?
Shh… that part of the bible is weird. We don’t talk about it.
Paul has been taken out of prison and the elders and priests are assembled to listen to Paul and try to explain the charges against him to the Roman commander.
Paul: I’ve lived in good conscience under the Law to this day.
The high priest orders someone to punch him in the face. Paul curses him as a whitewashed wall and accuses him of breaking the Law. The people are shocked he would speak to the high priest like that and Paul says, “Yeah, I wasn’t aware the high priest goes around ordering people to be hit in the face.”
He has a point.
Paul knows how to work the system. He realizes that half the guys there are Sadducees who don’t believe in the resurrection and half are Pharisees who do, so he shouts, “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee and I’m on trial for believing in the resurrection.”
So the crowd gets to infighting now with the Pharisees standing by their tribesman and the two sides yell at each other. So the Commander has Paul removed before the two sides go even more bananas. Paul has a dream that night that Jesus tells him he must go to Rome and preach there.
The next day, some Jews take an oath not to eat or drink until they kill Paul, but Paul’s nephew gets wind of the plot and tells Paul, who has him relay the message to the Commander. The Commander orders 200 soldiers, 200 spearmen, and 70 riders to escort Paul over to the governor Felix. The Commander writes the governor a letter:
I found the Jews trying to kill this guy, a Roman citizen, and the best I can make of it is that it’s some stupid religious differences motivating it. But they’re still trying to kill him, so I’m sending the matter up to you.
– Claudius Lysias
Felix receives Paul and has a room in the governor’s residence made available for him until the Jews come up and make their accusations.
So the high priest comes up with a lawyer and some elders and says, “This guy is disturbing our peace and he has different religious beliefs than we do, and he was trying to desecrate the Temple. We were going to take care of it, but your darned Roman soldiers stopped us.”
Paul: Yeah, I went to worship in Jerusalem. I did not cause a disturbance, they did. I wasn’t even talking with anyone. They can’t prove a damn thing. But I do freely admit to being a Christian and I think the Old Testament proves my point of view.”
Felix knew of Christianity, said, “Yeah, I’ll make a decision when I hear from Lysias, the Commander.”
So Paul is under house arrest for two years, and Felix hoped for a bribe to release him, but otherwise kept him imprisoned as curiosity and a favor to the priests. After two years, a new governor takes Felix’s place.
The new governor Festus goes through the same thing with Paul and the priests again. The Priests request a change of venue to Jerusalem, but Paul refuses and appeals his case to Caesar as was his right. Festus says, “Well that settles that. The case goes to Caesar now.”
Festus entertains Herod Agrippa and his wife and mentions Paul’s case to them. Agrippa is curious to hear the case, so Paul is brought before them all the next day.
Festus addresses the gathered crowd saying, “Look, I’m supposed to send him up to Caesar, but I’ve got no idea what charges I should write that he’s accused of, so maybe you guys can help me.”
Paul says, “Hey, I’m glad I can make a case to you, King Agrippa, since you’re familiar with the Law and the Prophets. So I believe God raised Jesus from the dead and that’s why I’m on trial. I used to persecute Christians, but then I had a vision of Jesus and converted and I’ve been faithfully executing his commission ever since. You know the Old Testament, King Agrippa, do you believe in the prophets concerning the Christ who was to suffer and die and be resurrected?”
Festus: You’re crazy, Paul. You finally snapped.
Agrippa: Dude, you almost persuade me that you’re right.
Paul: I wish all the world would be persuaded.
Agrippa: Yeah, he’s innocent. If he hadn’t appealed to Caesar, I’d say let him go.
They start the journey to Italy. After many stops, they finally reach a harbor called Fair Havens. But the town wasn’t fun, didn’t have many bars, and generally wasn’t liked by the Roman soldiers, so they wanted to head to a different port. But winter was coming.
Paul warns them that sailing in these waters at this time of year would probably mean death, but Fair Havens was a really boring town, so the Roman centurion ordered them to try.
But they hit a storm along the way and have to anchor the boat. The storm thrashes the boat around for three days as they’re tossing over stuff to make it lighter. Then Paul stands up and says, “You should have listened to me.”
“Thanks, Captain Obvious.”
“But it’s cool. The Lord tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re ****ed. Ha… I’m just kidding. You’re all going to live too.”
They start to sail the boat towards what they think is land, so they can run it aground, and some of the sailors think about trying to escape, but Paul tells the Centurion, “We need those guys or we’re going to die.”
So the Centurion has the small boats cut down and thrown into the sea.
After 14 days of fasting, Paul encourages them to eat. They do. When the boat is finally run aground, the soldiers want to kill the prisoners so none of them escape, but the Centurion stops them for Paul’s sake. He orders everyone to jump overboard and swim or grab onto debris and float to shore on the waves.
Everyone arrives safely on Malta and the Maltese welcome them with a fire. Paul gathers firewood and throws it on the fire, but a snake jumps out and bites him on the arm. Paul shakes the thing off into the fire, but everyone knows he’s going to die. They think it’s karmic justice. But Paul is fine, so they start to think he’s a god.
The governor welcomes them and Paul heals his father of an illness, so everyone starts bringing the sick to Paul and he heals them and the Maltese treat them very generously as a result. They stay there three months before they sail.
They eventually put in at Puteoli and travel up to Rome. Along the way, Christians come out to meet and speak with Paul and he’s encouraged by them.
At Rome, the centurion permits Paul to stay in a home of his own under guard and Paul sends out word to the local Jewish leaders.
“Hey, guys, I’m innocent. I don’t intend to bring charges against Israel or the Jews to Caesar, I was just forced into this by the priests in Jerusalem.”
“Look, Paul, we don’t know anything about it, but maybe you could explain this whole Jesus thing to us, because we have heard word of these Christians, but it’s always bad things we hear.”
So Paul explains to them using the Old Testament why he thinks Jesus was the Messiah. Some are converted, some aren’t and they leave having a disagreement over the topic.
Paul continues to live in Rome for two years entertaining anyone who would come to his rented home and telling them of Jesus.
Paul later dies in Rome sometime during the reign of Caesar Nero and traditionally it is claimed that he was beheaded for the faith.
Paul and company go to Thessalonica. They enter the local Synagogue for three weeks trying to persuade the Jews there that Jesus was the Messiah and he had to suffer and die and rise from the dead. Only some of the Jews are convinced though. The rest start a riot, arrest some Christians, and bring them before the city officials who have the Christians post bond to pacify the crowd.
Paul and company travel to Berea and meet with greater success. The local Jews mostly agree with Paul’s interpretation of the Old Testament and sign up to be Christians, but those other darned Jews from Thessalonica show up and start another riot and drive Paul out of the city. He flees to Athens while Silas and Timothy stay behind for a few days.
Waiting around for them in Athens, Paul decides to give a sermon.
“Hey, guys, I notice you’re all very religious. I saw you even made an altar to an unknown god. I’m here to tell you about him. He’s the God who made heaven and earth and doesn’t live in temples because he needs nothing. He created all of us in the hope that we would seek him out and find him because he is always close to us. We exist in him. We are his children.
“Being children, we should not think that God is made of gold or silver. God has overlooked our ignorance, but now calls on us all to repent, as he is appointed a man he raised from the dead to be the judge of the world.”
Some believed, others didn’t, and others wanted Paul to come back the next day and talk more. But Paul leaves Athens.
He goes to Corinth and stays with Aquila and Priscilla and spends his days making tents. On Saturday, he goes to the local synagogue and tries to persuade the Jews there about Jesus.
When Silas and Timothy join him, Paul spends all his time trying to talk the Jews into being Christians, but they offend him, so he tells them he’s taking his ball and going to go play with the Gentiles.
“No. Stop. Come back,” they replied. #sarcasm
So he persuades some more people and spends a year and a half in Corinth before those darned Jews just up and riot again. They arrest Paul and bring him to the city officials. “He’s worshipping God wrong!”
Gallo, the city official, said, “What makes you think I give a crap about your religious differences? Settle it yourself.”
He kicks them out of court, and they take it out on the leader of their synagogue who had converted. Paul leaves Corinth and goes to Syria, gets a haircut, then heads to Ephesus, then travels back to Antioch.
Paul doesn’t seem able to stay long in one place, though, so he leaves Antioch and goes to the Galatian region.
Meanwhile, someone named Apollos appears. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and Priscilla and Aquila convert him to Christianity and he goes out and spends his days as a missionary.
Paul meets and converts more disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus. The Jews there aren’t into the whole Jesus thing either, so Paul bases his new church in the school of (Darth) Tyrannus.
Paul heals the sick and inspires televangelists to sell prayer clothes 2,000 years later. Some local exorcists try to cast out a demon using Paul’s name.
“We command you to leave this man by the power of Jesus whom Paul preaches!”
“I know those guys, but who are you?” it replied before leaping on them, tearing off their clothes and beating the snot out of them.
So the church continued to grow and the local magicians burned their copies of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Paul makes plans to go to Jerusalem and then Rome.
But there were problems in Ephesus. The local silverworkers union is upset that work is falling off.
Demetrius: “Hey, guys, these Christians aren’t buying our idols anymore. This Paul guy is really cramping our style. What are we going to do about it?”
“We could make silver cross necklaces and sell them to the Christians.”
“Oh! And some WWJD bracelets!”
“Precious Moments figurines!”
Demetrius: “Okay, guys, we could do that, but what about our giant temple to Artemis? What’s going to happen to that if everyone becomes a Christian?”
“Well, if the Huns, Vandals, or Germans don’t burn it down, I imagine the UN would classify it as a world heritage site.”
Demetrius: “Okay, you know what? Let’s just riot.”
So they riot, and drag some Christians to the local arena and everyone chants “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” for two hours before the town clerk addresses the crowd and says, “Yeah, Artemis is great and everyone knows it, but these Christians aren’t Temple robbers or blasphemers against her, so what the hell, guys? If the silversmith union has a case, the courts are open every day. But the Romans are not big fans of riots, so everyone go the hell home.”
And they did.
So we get our second recorded case of church infighting. I know, impossible, right? But some Jewish Christians came over to the Gentile Christians and said, “You guys need to chop off part of your dick and keep the law if you want to be saved.”
Paul and Barnabas replied, “No, you don’t.”
So the thing became such a mess that the apostles and elders had to call a meeting. After yelling at each other in love for a while, Peter stands up and says, “Guys, remember the whole story I told in Acts 10 and 11? God gave the Gentiles the Holy Spirit even though they had intact dicks, so why are we trying to turn them Jewish?”
Paul and Barnabas talk about their ministry with the Gentiles, and James (the brother of Jesus) stands up and says, “Peter makes good sense, also here’s some scripture, and let’s only say that Gentiles need to stay away from pagan cult practices like eating or drinking blood, eating stuff offered to idols, and screwing around with temple prostitutes.”
So everyone’s like, “Okay, sounds cool.”
Then they draft a letter and send it to Antioch with Paul, Barnabas, Silas and some others saying, “Hey, guys, we’ve decided you’re all good. Just try to stay away from eating or drinking blood or food offered to idols, and try not to screw around especially with those temple prostitutes. Do this and it’s all good.”
Then Paul said, “Hey Barnabas, road trip!”
“Cool. Let’s take John Mark too.”
“No way, dude ditched us last time.”
“You know what? Fine. I’ll go on a road trip with Silas, you jerk.”
“See you in hell… I mean, heaven… I’ll see you in heaven, jerk. Come on, Mark.”
So the two part ways, and Paul travels around as a wandering rabbi.
“Hey, Timothy,” Paul said. “I’d like you to come with us.”
“You just have to cut off part of your wiener.”
“Bogus. What about chapter 15? What about chapter 15?”
“That was only for Gentiles apparently. You’re half-Jewish. Cut off your wiener bits.”
“What if I just cut off half of it?”
So Timothy joins up. So they travel some more and run into some hardships that prevent them from going various places which they chalk up to the Holy Spirit saying no. Then Paul has a dream about a tall dark Macedonian man who says, “Come over here and help us.” Probably shirtless and oiled up.
But Paul heads over to Macedonia to Philippi and converts a woman named Lydia who gets baptized and invites Paul to stay with her, and basically opens her home to become the local house church.
As they stay in Philippi, a slave woman and fortune teller follows them around saying, “Hey, guys, these are men sent from God telling you the way of salvation.”
For some reason, this annoys Paul, and he gets fed up and performs an exorcism. Her owners are not too happy about this and have Paul and Silas arrested.
“These guys are Jews and they’re teaching us a weird new religion!”
So they have Paul and Silas stripped and caned. Then they throw them into prison. At midnight, Paul and Silas are singing hymns and an earthquake strikes and all the doors open and the prisoners’ chains fall off. The jailer wakes up and thinks his prisoners have escaped, so he prepares to commit suicide, but Paul stops him. “Hey, dude, we’re all still here.”
“Okay, how do I get saved?”
“Believe in Jesus.”
So they all get baptized. The jailer cleans up their wounds and feeds them. The next day, he gets an order from the officials saying, “Go ahead and let those two guys go.”
But Paul says, “Yeah… no. We’re Roman citizens and they beat us in public without a trial and threw us into prison. If they want us gone, they need to come down here and ask themselves.”
When the officials hear this, they’re afraid. Roman citizens had the right to a trial and they just violated the right of Paul and Silas, so they come down and beg the two of them to leave. Paul is going to make them squirm a bit. But eventually he relents and Paul and Silas go to Lydia’s house, chat with the church for a bit, and then head out of town.
The elders at Antioch get a message from the Holy Spirit.
“This is my first line! Two more and I get my SAG card!”
When they looked quizzically at Him, He said, “Oh, right. Send out Saul and Barnabas on a missionary journey.”
And so they did. So they go to Seleucia, then Cyprus, and arrive at Salamis where they start teaching about Jesus in the local synagogue. They travel the entire island just teaching about Jesus, and meet up with the local proconsul, Sergius Paulus. Serge had a magician adviser named Bar-Jesus who opposed Paul which made Paul mad, so Paul struck him with blindness, which doesn’t seem like a particularly fair debate tactic, but it worked because Serge believed.
They travel to Perga, but John Mark leaves them. Paul gets pissy about that and carries a grudge. They go to the next town’s synagogue and when they’re invited to speak, Paul gets up and says, “Hey, guys, remember how God brought us out of slavery in Egypt, then lead us around the desert for 40 years, then ordered us to kill every man, woman, and child in Canaan? And how we had warlords for a few centuries until we wanted a king. Then we got Saul, but then David? Yeah, one of David’s descendants, Jesus is our Savior now. Jesus fulfilled all of the prophesies by dying, but God raised him up, and now we’re here to tell you the good news that if you join today, you can get forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a free set of Ginsu knives!”
So lots of them believed and they invited Paul back next Saturday to speak. But when the entire city showed up, darned those jealous Jews started to say that Paul was full of crap, so Paul got mad and said, “Screw you guys, we’re going to tell the Gentiles instead.”
So the Gentiles were happy, the Jews were pissed, and Paul and Barnabas get run out of town. But everyone was super happy in the church.
They go to Iconium and repeat this process. Some people believe, others don’t, but it’s always the Jews’ fault. Can’t imagine why Christians were anti-Semitic for 1940 years with books like this. The city is divided on the Jesus question, but when the apostles find out that there is a plot to kill them, they leave the city and move on to the next town.
At Lystra, they heal a lame man and the crowds want to worship them as Gods, but the apostles restrain them and say, “Hey, we’re trying to get you to change religions. We have pamphlets!”
But then those sneaky Jews follow them and get the crowds mad and have Paul stoned and not in the good way. But Paul survives and walks back to town.
And they go to the next town and the next town and the next town repeating the process until they finally arrive back in Antioch and report their success to the elders of the church.
Herod (traditionally Agrippa) decides to arrest Christians. According to Josephus, this Herod was a kinder ruler than his predecessors and had a zeal for Judaism and the Jews. So it would make sense that he would move against this new Christian cult as the religious leaders of the Jews considered it a heresy. “Luke’s” portrayal of him as a villain also makes sense if written from the perspective of a Christian who had seen persecution of his community.
So “Luke” says he kills James the apostle to make the Jews happy, and then arrests Peter and throws him in prison because it’s during a religious feast, so killing him would probably make the Jews less happy.
The church prays for Peter and God sends an angel to him the night before his execution to release him. The angel unchains him, tells him to get dressed and walks him out of the prison without anyone noticing. Peter thinks he’s dreaming and goes along with it.
He wakes up standing in the street at night and realizes that God organized a jail break, so he goes to the home of a local Christian woman and knocks.
“Hey, guys, let me in.”
But the slave who is in charge of the door gets so excited that she runs into the house to announce Peter without opening the door. Peter stands outside knocking.
They finally let Peter in and he relates the story of his prison break.
Back at the prison, no one knows where Peter is or how he got out, so Herod orders his guards to be executed.
“Luke” interprets Herod’s death as karmic justice. He is at a festival wearing, according to Josephus, a silver robe that reflects the early morning sunlight, so the crowd begins to chant that he is a god, not just a man. Herod does not tell them to be silent, and sees an owl as an omen for his soon to happen death. “Luke” has him struck down by God for his impiety. Josephus has him give a speech in which he tells the crowd that rather than an immortal god, he was merely a mortal man who would die as God demanded.
Barnabas and Saul return with John Mark from Jerusalem to Antioch after delivering the relief supplies.
As a quick aside, I’ve heard preachers say that the poverty of Jerusalem was due to their earlier voluntary communism which isn’t supported by the text. The text relates that a famine was happening and that the church was under official sanctions by the authorities. It seems absurd to bring our own 21st century economic and political biases into a situation that does not need it. Sometimes I think we do so, so we can avoid the selfless generosity that was the example of Jesus and the early church.
Okay, no more Mr. Nice God. Old Testament God is back, Baby.
Ananias: Hey, Peter, I sold some land too. Here’s what I got from it.
Peter: Seriously? This is everything?
Ananias: Uh… sure.
Peter: I know what that land is appraised for. You’re lying to the Holy Spirit. You didn’t have to claim you gave me all the money, but since you did, now you have to die.
Ananias: Uh… what? How is that… URK!
Peter: Go bury this lying tightwad.
So a few hours later, Ananias’ wife comes into the church.
Peter: So, Sapphira… did you really sell you plot of land for this much money?
Peter: God already killed your husband for lying. Now he has to kill you too.
Sapphira: This is what they call entrapment, you know.
Peter: God cares nothing for your puny legal justifications.
Peter: Go bury this woman next to her husband.
Church: Uh… what… what other ‘sins’ is God going to kill us for?
Peter: That’s for me to know and you to find out.
But for some reason, everyone still wants to join the new religion with the homicidal God. Peter and the others are preaching every day and the priests arrest them again. This time, an angel lets them out of jail and tells them to go preach some more. So they do.
The priests order the disciples to be brought before them, but they can’t find them in jail. Someone lets them know that they’re back in the Temple preaching. So they have them arrested again and brought before them.
Priests: Hey, we told you to stop it. You’re going to get us all killed because we totally killed Jesus.
Peter: God told us to do it. Besides, you did kill Jesus, but God raised him up and He is the only path to salvation now. We are his witnesses.
Priests: Okay, let’s kill these guys too.
Gamaliel: Guys, let’s just put the kibosh on that plan, okay? You remember all the other messianic cults that rose up and got squashed pretty quickly? Let’s let this play out. If God isn’t with them, they’ll end soon enough.
Priests: Fine. Let’s just whip them.
Disciples: Hooray! Thank you, Sirs, may we have another?
A dispute breaks out in the church because the Greek Jews were being discriminated against by the local Jews in the distribution of need to their widows.
Peter: Look, we can’t spend our valuable time feeding the poor like some kind of Jesus. Let’s have other guys do it.
This was very agreeable to the apostles and they picked seven guys to handle the distribution of food to the poor. One of them was named Stephen.
This Stephen was doing miracles left and right and preaching about Jesus. And some of the local Jews debated him, but they totally lost and were all jealous because of how awesome he was. Super awesome. Like the bestest debater ever. One might almost call him a master debater.
So they lie and get Stephen arrested and brought before the priests. And everyone looks upon him and he’s so awesome he’s got a halo shining around him like an angel.
So Stephen defends himself.
“So our forefather Abraham heard the voice of God and moved to this land we’re all in now. But he had no possession of it, but God promised him the land nonetheless, even though it was already occupied and God could totally have created a new continent for us so we didn’t have to mass slaughter everyone.
Instead God promised that Abraham’s descendants would be slaves in Egypt. But then God would get angry with the Egyptians and kill them, so the Jews could come there. So Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat our twelve (actually 13) tribal namesakes.
Then the other brothers sold Joe to Egypt where he became viceroy and taxed the people for food and sold it back to them until they became slaves to Pharaoh because Joe was an asshole. But Joe was nice and forgiving of his brothers and brought them to live in Egypt as free men in Goshen.
Then the Jews got put into slavery and Pharaoh killed the baby boys, but God saved Moses and when he was forty, he wanted to go see the conditions of his people and he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew and then ran away for another forty years. Then God called him to be the leader of Israel and their deliverer. So even after two Israelis rejected him, God made him the leader. And he led them out of Egypt and around the desert for forty years. Moses promised another prophet like him would arise.
But our ancestors were dicks too and made a golden calf to worship, and God was pissed that you had abandoned him and worshipped other gods. And kicked us out of the land and into Babylon in the future.
But in the meantime, we had the ark and Joshua conquered the land, then David came along and was a murdering, raping dude after God’s own heart, but Solomon got to build the Temple, even though God doesn’t need a Temple because He’s big. So very big.
You guys are assholes too always being stubborn and resisting the Holy Spirit as your fathers did. They killed the prophets, they killed the ones who predicted that Jesus came, the same Jesus you killed. You have the law, but you do not keep it.”
So that doesn’t go over very well, and the entire crowd decides to chuck big heavy rocks at Stephen. Saul of Tarsus stands by and holds their coats so they don’t get blood all over them.
Stephen asks Jesus to receive his spirit and prays for the priests, then dies.
“Luke” says, “Hey, remember that first book I wrote, Theophilus, about Jesus and everything he did? That was cool.”
Jesus hangs around the disciples for forty days before he tells them not to leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes. I guess Jesus should have mentioned that in “Mark” and “John” since the disciples were supposed to go to Galilee.
Disciples: “Hey, so now is the Kingdom of Israel coming back with you as its King?”
Jesus: “Oh… uh… well… don’t worry about it. It’ll happen soon. In the meantime, go start my new religion and take it everywhere.”
Then Jesus flies up to heaven and the disciples look on.
“Is… is he coming back?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he had to go fight Metallo.”
Angels: Hey, guys, you can leave now. He’s not coming back today. But when he does come back, he’ll fly right down to Earth.
So they all go back to Jerusalem and continue to crash at the guy’s house that let them hold the Passover in his attic.
“Look, guys, I think I’ve been pretty hospitable, but seriously, Passover’s over. How long are you planning on staying here?”
“Whenever the Holy Spirit comes.”
“Anyway we can speed that up?”
Then Peter stands up and says, “Hey, guys, we need another apostle since Judas betrayed Jesus and then went out and bought a field with the 30 pieces of silver, then fell down and disemboweled himself, so they called his estate the field of blood.”
Matthew said, “Wait, I said he gave the money back, the priests bought the field as a burial site for the poor, and then Judas hanged himself.”
“Luke”: My version is better.
Peter: So we need to replace Judas because 12 tribes… 12 apostles… God likes the number 12. How should we do this?
Disciples: What if we roll dice?
Peter: Works for me.
Matthias rolls a natural 20 and gets to take a level in the Apostle class.
Pentecost comes. There’s a noise like a hurricane and then everyone in the upper room has fire appear over their heads and then starts speaking in different languages. Like actual real languages. Not made up ‘angelic’ languages. Like Greek, Persian, Egyptian languages. So seriously… stop babbling.
They all go outside and keep yelling in foreign languages about Jesus. And everyone says, “Hey, what’s with these guys? We each hear them in our own native language?”
“They’re just drunk.”
Peter said, “Guys, it’s only 9 am, we’re not drunk. We’ve received the Holy Spirit like it promised in Joel.”
“Who reads Joel? I skip from Daniel right to Matthew.”
“Joel said God will pour out his Spirit and we’ll all do supernatural stuff and then the apocalypse will happen. But whoever calls upon the Lord will be saved. So listen guys, Jesus was the Messiah. Remember all the cool stuff he did? Well, yes, he was crucified and died, but God planned the whole thing and brought him back from the dead. Now he has flown up to heaven and sits next to God and has given up the Holy Spirit. Yes, that’s right. The guy you killed is the Messiah.”
“So what do we do?”
“Nice of you to ask. Come over, be baptized and join our new religion. Then you’ll get the Holy Spirit too. Now, with every head bowed and every eye closed, if you wish to be saved from the perverse generation, go ahead and raise your hand. Yes. Yes. I see that hand…”
So 3,000 people join the new religion. And they start hanging out together and they decide to pool all of their resources together so the poor would be taken care of. They go about happy, hanging out with each other, having dinners together, and people actually kind of liked this new religion and more people kept opting to join them.
Pilate has Jesus whipped. The whip was designed to flay skin. The soldiers make a crown of thorns and put it on his head and beat him.
Pilate comes downstairs with Jesus this time. “Okay, look at him. We’ve roughed him up pretty badly. But he hasn’t done anything worthy of death.”
“Yeah, kill him anyway.”
“Look, I’m tired. This is bullshit. You guys do it.”
“He needs to die because he claims to be the son of God.”
So Pilate shuts the door. “Dude, what’s going on?”
Jesus doesn’t answer.
“You realize I hold your life in my hands, right?”
“God has given you this position. Also, the Jews are totally more responsible than the Romans for killing me and seriously, we all love Rome. Please stop killing us.”
So Pilate tries to let Jesus go, but the priests answer, “If you let him go, you’re not a good Roman because this man makes himself out to be a king opposed to Caesar.”
Pilate gives the word, brings Jesus out and the priests demand he be crucified. Pilate orders it to be done.
Jesus gets nailed up to the cross again. Pilate marks his crime as being the king of the Jews. The priests object to this, but Pilate tells them politely to piss off.
“John” says that the soldiers divide up his possessions and gamble for them.
Mary is near the cross, and Jesus says, “This disciple will take care of you.” So the disciple watched out for Jesus’ mom.
Jesus takes some vinegar wine for a drink, then says, “It is finished” and dies.
Later that day, the priests ask Pilate to break the legs of the crucified to speed things along so they wouldn’t be alive on the Sabbath. The notice Jesus is dead, so they spear him in the side to make sure. “John” assures us that he saw this and this fulfills scripture.
Joseph of Arimathea takes the body and is joined in burying Jesus this time by Nicodemus and they do some prep work on Jesus’ body and lay it in Joe’s family tomb.
Another account of Easter Sunday.
This time Mary comes alone to the tomb while it is dark and sees the stone isn’t over the opening. No soldiers are here this time. No angels are here to greet her with the good news. Mary goes back to the disciples and says the tomb is empty and the body of Jesus is gone. Peter and another disciple run to the tomb and confirm that the body is gone. Peter notices the grave clothes are still there, the facial covering neatly folded up.
So they believe that Jesus is alive. Mary, on the other hand, sticks around the tomb crying. Now she sees two angels sitting inside the tomb.
“Hey, why are you crying?”
“Because they’ve taken Jesus’ body away and I don’t know where.”
Then Jesus shows up behind her, but she doesn’t recognize him which seems odd.
Jesus: Hey, lady, why the sad face?
Mary: Do you know where Jesus’ body is?
Mary throws herself onto Jesus, “Rabbi!”
“Whoa, whoa… you don’t have to cling to me. Go back to the others and say that I’m going back to God.”
So Mary goes back and says, “I’ve seen Jesus alive and well.”
Then Jesus shows up to them that night inside a locked room and greets them. He shows off his scars and breathes the Holy Spirit onto them giving them the power to forgive sins.
Thomas wasn’t there and when he hears the news says, “Guys, people don’t rise up from the dead. I need some actual proof.”
So eight days later Jesus shows up again and says to Thomas, “Come over there. Stick your finger in the nail holes if you need to.”
But Thomas believes now.
“It’s better to believe without seeing,” says Jesus, which isn’t particularly sound advice in every situation.
Also, all of this happens in Jerusalem in contrast to the earlier gospels when they were told to go to Galilee to see Jesus.
And “John” tells us that he could have written a LOT more stuff about Jesus, but it would fill all the libraries in all the worlds, and… dude… come on, really? We’ve got three books that are basically copies of each other, and your book that is full of mystical teachings that seem to have evolved away from the original sayings of Jesus… we could have used another four or five different gospels with different stuff in them.