Jesus simply couldn’t keep a crowd. They loved watching Him cast out demons, heal the lame, raise the dead, and spontaneously generate food, but they seemed to leave whenever He started talking. This was the pattern of His ministry; crowds would come by the hundreds, then they’d leave by the thousands. After three years of this up and down ministry, Jesus became frustrated. Naturally, He decided to follow the advice of ministry leaders from 2,000 years later and ask for an evaluation from the people. After all, His success is judged by how His ministry affected them, right?
Letters were sent to all the surrounding towns and villages, and eager eyes were set towards Jerusalem. Jesus set the evaluation for the day before the feast of unleavened bread so that people wouldn’t have to make ANOTHER trip to Jerusalem. Jesus was all about convenience.
The big day finally arrived, and Jesus stood up before quite a diverse crowd: rich and poor, pharisees and tax-collectors, men and women. He didn’t come unprepared, because He knew that chaos could break loose if He simply asked for random feedback. And Jesus always had His days and events well planned out anyway, right? So this wasn’t too far out of the norm.
“Okay, let’s talk about my teaching. I’m going to ask for feedback in categories so that we can stay organized. It’s extremely important to me that you all very clearly understand everything that I teach. The last thing that I’d want to do is leave anybody confused. So first, how would you say that my teaching was in terms of clarity?”
The line for the microphone was immediately full, and weaving through the rows of nicely cushioned chairs. The first man to speak was a fairly anxious fellow. He was a good guy named Tim (it was a more common name than you would think), with His wife and three well-behaved, yamaka-wearing sons by his side. He sheepishly stepped up to the microphone.
“Jesus, some… sometimes I just, I feel like you specifically tell us really confusing stories, just so that we won’t get them.”
Jesus was appalled. The first thing He was taught in Seminary was to make very clear applications with every teaching. Tim must have just not been listening very closely.
“Do you have any examples?”
Jesus replied, confident that the nervous man had nothing to back up his accusation.
“Oh, ya… I, I traveled for three days from Jerusalem t-, to hear you teach in Capernaum. There were thousands of us gathered around, just to listen. You just talked about this farmer who was throwing seed around and You had a little bit to say about what kinda soil the seed landed on. Then you just said, “if you get it, you get it” and you left.”
Jesus remembered the occasion, but He knew that Tim was mistaken.
“No, good sir, I very distinctly remember explaining that story immediately after I–“
Peter tapped Jesus’s shoulder and pulled Him back from the Mic.
“Ummm… that explanation part was just with us… You didn’t actually explain that parable to them at all really…”
Jesus’s face turned red. He’d never been so embarrassed in His life. How could He have left so many people in the dark? Alas!
“I apologize. That was a one-time incident; I assure you it shan’t happen again.”
Tim almost withdrew from the microphone, but then a surge of confidence came over him.
“What about the one with the ten virgins?”
“Or the shrewd manager?”
“That one was obvious! Wasn’t that one obvious?”
Jesus gestured to the crowd, only to see wide eyes, confused noses (because noses are really the source of the facial expression marking confusion), and a few shaking heads.
“Okay, okay, I’ll work on applying my stories… is there any other feedback on the clarity of my teaching?”
The next man to approach the microphone was a concerned synagogue leader of a nearby town named Appollonicci (or Nic, for short). Nic brought persuasive arguments that Jesus’s teaching lacked systematic consistency, and therefore left the real application unclear.
“You told us that we all had to give everything away in order to follow you, made some weird statement about salt, and then just left. You didn’t explain yourself at all. Do you realize how dangerous that is? What if some rash individual out there actually just gave everything away!? Do you realize how much damage that could have done? And even assuming that nobody actually did that, how many people did you lose who would’ve followed God!? They were ready until you called them to do something crazy like that. If you had simply explained to them that not everyone is called to give away all of their possessions, I’m sure they would have happily stayed and followed you and watched healings and ate free bread! But now they won’t even attend MY synagogue! Better yet, they’ve all stopped paying tithes! As soon as they got the idea that God wanted all of their money and not just 10%, they gave up entirely.
Jesus wanted to step back and pray, but that wasn’t practical with a crowd in front of Him. He had to press on so that they wouldn’t become impatient.
“I’m sure nobody actually took me seriously on that… I mean… who’s just going to give everything away? And EVERYONE knows that God doesn’t call everybody to give their stuff away… You’ve got to exaggerate things to get a reaction sometimes, you know?”
A rich young ruler in the crowd scowled. Jesus continued.
“I want you all to know that God is just overjoyed when you generously decide to give that 10%. I mean, what a sacrifice! That YOU would give up YOUR money for God. That’s amazing. Maybe I said some rash things in the past, but surely you know that they weren’t directed at you”
Jesus gestured to the crowd
“They were all directed to someone else”
Jesus, again, gestured to the crowd.
A young blonde (there was only one; it was a DNA mutation) stood up and let out a yell with a sigh of relief.
“Oh! Like when you told us to die to ourselves!? You didn’t mean everyone, it was just for those people who are bad, right?”
Jesus semi-confidently nodded as the blonde continued.
“So all of us, who clearly aren’t consumed by our possessions, don’t actually need to give them up? We should just kind of try to be nice with them and give 10%?”
Jesus, noticing that the crowd was suddenly responding to Him with a little bit more excitement, nodded slightly more confidently. The crowd really loosened up in response to this. Jesus could make out scattered comments.
“I think I’ll go back to the synagogue this saturday”
“Jesus is chill!”
“I love God and my stuff!”
Overjoyed by the crowds excitement to follow God, Jesus chimed in
“salt is good, and the more salt you have, the better! Let’s fill the synagogue this saturday!”
Everyone was laughing and smiling. It was very much like the end of a 90’s sitcom. The largest group-hug ever ensued, and there was much rejoicing. At this point Jesus didn’t even find it necessary to address the other categories. (By the way, those categories were: His organization, how well-prepared He was for His teaching, how He treated Canaanite women who just wanted their daughters to be healed, how well thought out, and theologically accurate, His responses were to questions like, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” or “Will only a few enter into the Kingdom of God?”, How appropriate it was to hang out with sinners all the time, and He wanted to discuss whether or not people thought that He “overspiritualized” His answers sometimes… because He certainly didn’t want to do that, and He wondered if He hadn’t overdone it with all His talk of living water and skipping lunch because His food is to do the Father’s will, and His family being those who hear God’s word and do it…)
But instead of barge into those areas, Jesus found the crowds to be quite satisfied and eager to follow Him, so He settled down, started a synagogue, bought a home (because He figured He probably wasn’t called to be homeless), and lived a long, successful life as a local pastor. And occasionally a traveling preacher… when He felt adventurous.