Thursday, May 23, 2013

Acts 27 test, 8: A delegation of NT-era ghosts (Peter, James, Paul and John, with Pilate and headless John the Baptist -- now great friends -- tagging along) pops by for a visit and chat on a civilisation determined to forget the gospel and its message of repentance, redemption, renewal, blessing and reformation . . . part 1

It seems that the ghosts of four of the C1 apostles decided to come by as a delegation, exerting apostolic privilege to jump the queue.  Plato and Socrates sent word to say, in light of events overnight, they think that is proper.

Headless John the Baptist and his good friend Pontius Pilate -- in light of these same events, decided to accompany the apostles.

The apostles graciously asked Pilate and his good friend to start the ball rolling, in light of the horrific events in London overnight.

Pilate said, I can't believe that sad young man on the streets of London, with his hands red with blood, trying to justify himself in murder. Murder by beheading an innocent man in order to make a political point. 

He held up his hands. 

Red hands.

Haven't they learned that for two thousand years I have not been able to wash off this blood on my hands?

Anyway, John here has something to say . . . oops, let me fetch that head. John, you know I keep telling you not to nod when we get the head to sit on your neck, nice and proper like. 

Okay, just tuck it under your arm. 


(I have to confess, it was a bit disconcerting to see John tucking his head under his arm, and the head then speaking. But, I kind of got used to it.)

John the Baptist said that it is important for voices in the wilderness to speak out on what is true and right, even if only a tiny handful bother to listen and heed.

He pointed out, strictly speaking, it was only ever a tiny minority of Israel who actually came by the Jordan to be baptised, and that it was in fact obviously somewhat dangerous to get the attention of the powerful like Herod by rebuking their sins.  Never mind, how Herod loved to sermon taste when the mood hit him.

But, it was important to sound the trumpet of alarm; not least for the sake of their own duty as watchmen on the walls.

He then said to the apostle -- a distant cousin -- who shared the same name, John, what was it you wrote in John 3, can you quote it for me, you have such a  nice turn of phrase.

The apostle John nodded, and said, in a beautiful, crystal clear voice:
 John 3:13 [Jesus said:] " . . . No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven – the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

 16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. 18 The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 

19 Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. 

21 But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God. [NET]
John nodded, right there under his arm.

Indeed, he then said that Herod, his stolen wife and Salome the princess turned "wutliss" dancing girl were too ashamed to come, but sent word that it was not worth it to persecute and scheme against someone speaking out the truth and calling to repentance based on a calling from God. 

Salome says she has never ever got over being responsible for putting me in this condition, and that she is eternally sorry, please don't do something like that again. 

The Herods did say that Jesus was probably right that if someone refuses to hear the prophets of the Scriptures he will likely not bother to listen to someone from the dead, but once in a while the powers that be do allow a delegation to come visit those still on earth and warn.

The Herod family also said to tell today's politicians that the dirty and bloody power games were not worth it in the end. Never mind the fat bank accounts, which you have to leave behind anyway.

John the Baptist then looked at Pilate and said, Pontius, didn't you tell me on the way over, that you needed to say a few things, too?

Pilate cleared his throat, and looked down a bit.

Then, he began to speak.

He hesitated.

He shook his head, visibly struggling.

He looked  at his still bloody hands.

He visibly pulled himself together.

Y'know, I should have listened to my wife, when she said, have nothing to do with that good and innocent man, I have been deeply troubled by a dream about him.

It's been, what . . . as near two thousand years as makes no difference and I STILL cannot wash out the blood on these hands.

What's the point, if you sacrifice your integrity to gain power or money and preserve yourself and your privileges? 

All you do is you hollow out your own soul, and end up a shipwreck.

Like, like, . . . like . . . me.

Solomon was right, little with integrity is far better than much with an empty, gnawing hollowness of guilt and wrong inside. 

Or, blood on the hands that will never wash away, looks like.

Anyway, please, don't forget what the Apostle John, here, wrote about my interview with Jesus [that wife of mine -- she told her friend, Chuza's wife . . . but I guess that is really for the best in the end, at least others might not make the mistake I made that day of my Eternal Test]. 

Hey, John, can you quote it for us, your voice is so beautiful, like a crystal bell, y'know the part that is on that AD 125 Rylands papyrus fragment they found in Egypt:
John 18: 36 Jesus replied [to Pilate], “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 

37 Then Pilate said, “So you are a king!” Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world – to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 

38 Pilate asked, “What is truth?”

When he had said this he went back outside to the Jewish leaders and announced, “I find no basis for an accusation against him . . . " [NET]
Pilate visibly shook himself, then said: y'know, how many times I wish I could re-live that moment and simply say, I release him as a free man. Let's have the courage to listen to his words of truth.

He then looked me straight in the eye: do me a favour.

 TELL them for me. 

It's just not worth it. 

Do the right thing, do your duty to justice, truth and fairness with courage.

In the end, if you hold civil authority, you are God's servant to do good, and you only hold the sword as an agent of justice to protect the innocent. 

Don't ever abuse the power of the sword.

Listen to that voice out in the wilderness that is not tickling itching ears with what they want to hear.

That, in the end, is the voice you most need to hear and heed.

John, my friend, here was right.

At least, I can help him keep that head of his under control. 

That's somewhat. Not a lot, but somewhat.

Then, he looked at John and said, but we are kind of just the opening bat, taking the shine off the ball.

Wonderful game that, y'know, Cricket. 

We all love to watch it.

Even with the Windies down for so long, and even with the IPL.

Wish we'd invented it in my day. Teaches genuine fair play and sportsmanship like no other game I know.

And, I guess that's my real message: fair play.

Anyhow, I guess we have said our piece, it's time for the big guns, the apostles, to speak.

And, the shine duly taken off the ball, it is time for the heavy hitter batsmen to rack up some serious runs.

DV, on the morrow. 

The delegation of apostles told me they have a few things to say that we need to hear and heed in this time. END