Thursday, August 08, 2013
The Parable of the Lost Sheep, ala Melvin
Now Jesus did, on many occasions, eat with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other unsavory characters. So the Pharisees and scribes muttered to themselves, "Isn't it truly said, 'A leopard is known by his stripes, and a man by his actions'?"*
And Jesus defended himself, saying, "Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep."
And James said to him, "But we're fishermen! What would we do with sheep?"
And Andrew said, likewise, "Can you imagine taking them out on the boat? They'd probably get tangled up in the nets!"
"Yeah," said John. "And they'd probably get seasick! We'd be cleaning sheep spew out of the boats for weeks!"
But Matthew said, "Not ALL of us are fishermen, you know."
"I know," said Peter, "But did you ever hear Jesus say, Follow me and I'll make you TAXERS of men? I don't think so. And he SURELY never said, I will make you SHEEPERS of men!" And they all laughed. "I can just imagine that!" he continued, "Hey Pete, feed my sheep!"
Then Philip, who'd only been half listening, spoke up. "Wait a minute guys. Lord, did you say 'a hundred sheep' or 'a hungry sheep'?"
"I really wasn't talking to you this time, fellas," Jesus said, though by this time the Pharisees and scribes had lost interest and were discussing among themselves whether it was a sin to shove a Gentile's ox into a ditch on the Sabbath, if simply going around him meant you had to brush up against a Samaritan who was helping a wounded traveler." Jesus cleared his throat loudly and tried again.
"I SAID, Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep, and you lost one. Wouldn't you leave the rest in the field and go look for the one that was lost?"
"I doubt it," said Thomas. "Aren't you leaving them all at the mercy of the wolves, then?"
And Peter was saying, "No, Philip. He clearly said a 'hundred' sheep, so I don't think starvation is the issue here."
"AND," Jesus said, a bit louder this time, "when you find it, won't you carry it home and throw a party with your friends --"
"Well, I see your point," said Judah the Scribe to his neighbor, "but what if it's YOUR ox in the ditch, and the Samaritan wants to help you pull it out? If it gets you to Sabbath service on time, which laws would you be breaking?"
"Ahem. You'd throw a party, saying, 'Rejoice with me! I've found my lost sheep!' Wouldn't you? Well that's how God is! He's happier about finding the lost than about the ones who haven't wandered off. And the tax collectors and prostitutes are --"
"Well," said Little James to Thaddeus, "that may be true, but we don't feed the fish. We just catch 'em."
And Jesus cried out above the murmur, "I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD! I CARE ABOUT THE SHEEP THAT WANDER OFF! MUCH LIKE YOU ALL ARE WANDERING OFF TODAY!"
Then Simon said to him, "Speaking of sheep, you say you're the shepherd, but Dunking John said you were the Lamb of God. Which is it? Or do you shepherd yourself?"
And Jesus departed to a desolate place to have a little lie-down.
*Proverb #18 of "The 97 Proverbs of Deliriana the Prophetess"
Teachers are getting ready to go back to school, knowing that it's likely going to be a battle for students' wandering minds. Preachers like me contend with the same thing weekly, especially on nice sunny days! Perhaps the sort of thing that Melvin's "Gospel" describes really happened, even to Jesus. It would certainly help explain why his disciples failed to grasp even his plainest teachings sometimes.