Gospel Play: Who is Jesus?
June 12, 2022
If I were writing a gospel about Callum, it would take place now, in Massachusetts. I would tell everyone about his expedition to Kenya where he met a baby cheetah. He would tell his disciples to go away so he could contemplate life. But he would also tell them to go and fix climate change.
If I were writing a gospel about Ari, I’d make sure to include stories about all of his friends, especially when they went to see the new Doctor Strange movie and had the whole theater to themselves. I’d say that when Ari fed the apostles, he fed them Bahn Mi, Sushi, Stroopwaffle, and BitterBallen.
The Gospel of Millie would happen in the far away land of Vermont! Her artwork would change the world, and she would feed five thousand people with ramen.
The Gospel of Nick would be full of music and would feature a concert by his band, the Electric Skulls. Communion would be pizza, and everyone would play soccer.
If I were writing a gospel about Leo, everyone would know all about the computer he built, and all about his friends! He would tell his apostles to carve his face into the moon.
[Students walk to the table, put on fedoras marking gospel writers]
When Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote gospels about Jesus, they included stories that they wanted us to remember, stories they believed would tell us something important about who Jesus is.
When Matthew wrote his gospel about Jesus, he told stories about Jesus’s Jewish background and identity. He often used passages from the Old Testament to describe Jesus and his ministry. Showing Jesus’s closeness to Judaism was really important to Matthew. He also wanted people to know that Jesus was a king.
(Matthew/Ari waves to the congregation)
When Luke told stories about Jesus, he made sure to show how Jesus welcomed all people—even children, even women, even tax collectors and sinners.
(Luke/Leo waves to the congregation)
When Mark wrote his gospel about Jesus, he thought it was important to include stories about how Jesus challenged the status quo. He even went into the Temple and flipped over the tables of the moneychangers! That made people mad.
[Players look at each other and nod in agreement. Ad lib: “Yeah that was not cool!”]
John thought it was important to show that Jesus was the Word of God. John uses lots of symbols to describe Jesus—bread, water, light, life, word, shepherd, doorway.
(John/Nick waves to the congregation)
Of course, the gospels don’t always agree on what stories about Jesus are most important…
They sure don’t. Look, they’re getting into it again!
(Matthew and Luke step forward)
The angel of the Lord appeared to Mary!
Wait a minute! The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, in a dream!
Jesus was born in a barn, a lowly stable.
A barn? You talkin’ cows and chickens? Jesus descended straight from King David!
Shepherds came to visit him when he was a baby!
Shepherds? It was KINGS from the east!
Break it up! Break it up!
(Callum executes a costume change and puts on a fedora to become Mark)
Who cares where he was born? Jesus came to tell us that the kingdom of heaven was very near!
Oh! It’s Mark!
Gentlemen, gentlemen. There is no need to squabble over details. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Gospel Writers (ad lib)
What’s he talking about??
You lost me at “Gentlemen, Gentlemen.”
Matthew/Ari [to the congregation]
John likes to get a little philosophical.
(Callum hands the ‘Mark’ fedora to Millie)
Yeah, he loves to show off that Greek education!
Thanks, other Mark!
But his gospel is very beautiful, you must admit.
ALL (ad lib)
Transcendent. Way ahead of his time.
And he does know stories about Jesus that none of us knew.
[Murmur of agreement.]
Sometimes, though, the gospel writers agree with each other.
Gospel Writers [looking at each other in surprise]
Yes, sometimes you all tell the same story almost exactly the same way.
Gospel Writers [ad lib]
We do? No way!
Yes! Remember the story of when Jesus fed five thousand people with only five loaves and two fishes?
Remember how everyone ate until they were satisfied? Remember how the disciples collected 12 baskets of leftovers?
Yes, that’s right. There were five thousand people.
And only five loaves and two fish.
But when everyone had eaten their fill, there were 12 baskets left over.
Oh yeah, I guess I tell that one too! Jesus told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments so that nothing may be lost!”
That’s what the gospel writers did, too. They gathered up the fragments of Jesus’s life and ministry, so that nothing would be lost.
And they passed their baskets of stories down to us. We share them so that we can remember who Jesus is.
I remember how he had kindness as infinite and endless as homework.
I remember how he healed people, almost like magic.
I remember his amazing fish duplication skills, and how he always fed the poor.
I remember the bread and the cup!
As Saint Nick…. I remember Christmas!
Callum/Narrator (to the congregation)
How do you remember Jesus?
Who is he to you?
If you want to remember, it’s all in the gospels!