Sharpie, Rolf, Possum, Muds, and Nicky want to hear the rest of the story of Jesus in Jerusalem, the way Dan’s Unitarian mother used to tell it.
As usual, full script below the fold.
Possum: I can’t believe that Dan made us wait a whole week to hear what happened to Jesus and his followers when they went into Jerusalem.
Rolf: Well, it kind of makes sense. Because it’s really the Easter story, and today is Easter.
Sharpie: On the other hand, my Christian friends say that the way we Unitarian Universalists tell the Easter story isn’t the right way.
Nicky: Let’s just hear the rest of the story, the way Dan’s Unitarian mother used to tell it.
Dan: On his first day in Jerusalem, Jesus did little more than look around in the great Temple of Jerusalem, the Temple that was the holiest place for Jesus and for all other Jews. Jesus couldn’t help but see that around the edges of the Temple there were people selling everything from goats to pigeons…
[Rolf, Sharpie, Nicky, Muds, Possum make pigeon and goat noises]
Dan: …and other people who would change money for you, for a fee. There were people coming and going, taking shortcuts by going through the Temple, carrying equipment and things to sell.
The next day, Jesus returned to the Temple. He walked in, chased out the people selling things, and upset the tables of the money-changers. A crowd gathered around to see what this strange traveling rabbi was up to. Jesus turned to them and he quoted from the Hebrew scriptures, the book of Isaiah where God says, “My Temple shall be known as a place of prayer for all nations.” Jesus said it was time that the Temple went back to being a place of prayer. How could you pray when there were people walking through the Temple? How could you pray peacefully when the Temple was as busy as a marketplace?
Rolf: How could you pray with all those pigeons?
[Sharpie, Nicky, Muds, Possum make pigeon and goat noises]
Dan: The followers of Jesus, and many other people, thought Jesus did the right thing when he chased the pigeon-dealers, the money-lenders, and the other salespeople out of the Temple. But it annoyed the powerful people who ran the Temple. Jesus made them look bad. They didn’t like that.
Rolf: Uh oh, here comes trouble!
Dan: In the next few days, Jesus talked to people all through Jerusalem. He got into heated discussions with some of Jerusalem’s religious leaders, and he was so good at arguing, that he made those powerful people look bad. They did not like that.
The Romans who governed Jerusalem became concerned about Jesus. They realized that when Jesus rode into the city, he was welcomed by a crowd of people who treated him as if he were one of the old Jewish kings who used to rule over the land of Judea. The Romans wondered if Jesus planning some kind of secret religious rebellion. How many followers did he have? they wondered. What was he really up to?
Jesus continued talking and preaching until Thursday evening, when Passover began. Since Jesus and his disciples were all observant Jews, after sundown on Thursday they celebrated a Seder. They had the four cups of wine, the matzoh, the bitter herbs, all the standard things that you have at a Seder.
After the Seder, even though it was after dark, Jesus and his followers went to a garden to sit for a while. All his followers fell asleep, but Jesus himself was restless and he stayed awake. He had a feeling that the Romans were going to try to arrest him that very evening. He thought about everything he had taught and preached, and he was glad that he told the truth. But he knew that the Romans didn’t like the truth that he told, so he was pretty sure they would arrest him to stop him from talking and preaching any more.
And in fact, he was arrested just a few hours after the Seder. He was put on trial that night, and executed the next day. The Romans put him to death using a common but very unpleasant type of execution known as crucifixion. He died on Friday at sundown.
Rolf: I don’t like this part of the story.
Dan: Because the Jewish Sabbath started right at sundown, and the Jewish law of the time did not allow you to bury anyone on the Sabbath day, Jesus’ friends couldn’t bury him right away. There were no funeral homes back in those days, so Jesus’ friends put his body in a tomb, a sort of cave cut into the side of a hill, where the body would be safe until after the Sabbath was over.
First thing Sunday morning, some of Jesus’s friends went to the tomb to get the body ready for burial. But to their great surprise, the body was gone, and there was a man sitting in the tomb who talked to them about Jesus.
Possum: So — where did Jesus’s body go? Who was the guy sitting there?
Dan: We Unitarian Universalists wonder if perhaps some of Jesus’s other friends had already come along and buried the body. After Jesus’s trial, his friends must have been disorganized and confused. They all were upset Jesus was dead, but they also worried that one or more of them might be arrested by the Romans. So perhaps a few of Jesus’s friends buried him quickly, and in secret, and there wasn’t time to tell all of his friends.
Sharpie: That makes sense.
Possum: So why did they say Jesus rose from the dead?
Nicky: Well, probably all of his friends were sad.
Rolf: Yeah, and they missed him so much, they wanted to believe he was alive.
Sharpie: We Unitarian Universalists say that Jesus does live on, because we still remember what he taught. He taught that we should love all people as we love ourselves. And if you really do live your life that way, you’ll find you’ve made the world a better place.