Monday, April 16, 2012

What A Friend We Have In Jesus...

Profile pic for Jesus Benyosef
There’s a guy on Facebook that has made a page for “Jesus Benyosef.” And I say “guy,” but I don’t really know who it is - it could be a gal... or a group of people of either gender... Of course “Benyosef” means “son of Joseph.” The profile reveals the following abut JB: Owner-Operator at Joseph & Son Construction Co. / Went to Nazareth High School / Lives in Nazareth, Israel. So... of course I had to send him a friend request. I mean, we’re already friends, right?

He has Facebook friends like Andrew and Simon Barjonas, John and James MacZebedee, and Philip Bethsaid and Mary, Martha and Lazarus Bethan. And the all through Holy Week they posted about their trip to Jerusalem, and how Jesus got really mad about the huge clearance sale they were having in the Temple... (Boy, was Caiaphas Benannas spitting mad!) And on Saturday, he posted the following: “[Jesus Benyosef] is having a pretty crappy weekend so far.” But... not to worry: on Sunday, he posted this: “[Jesus Benyosef] is feeling better today.” I’ll bet he was!

Simon Barjonas
Other times Jesus B. does stuff like engage in metaphysical discussions with Nicodemus Ben Isaac, check in at different spots in Israel and give thoughts on being baptized by his cousin (and Facebook friend) John TheBaptist Benzachar. 

Lately, Jesus has invited everyone to go on a journey with him, engendering a discussion thread with 60 comments. Turns out EVERYBODY wants to go! Including me. He, of course, is providing loaves and fishes for all for the journey. He also envisions gathering round the campfire at night singing, with camaraderie to spare.

Philip Bethsaid
Now, I know it’s not really Jesus, and I don’t know if it’s sacrilegious... but I find it completely charming. It sort of fleshes the whole thing out for me. Seeing these guys as actual (virtual) guys, commenting on events as they “happen,” bantering with each other (someone complaining about how bad Lazarus smells, for example)... 

It just feels so... immediate. I mean, I know the disciples were real guys, but it’s been so long since they walked the earth in their skin... the Bible is a reeeeeaally old book... When I read it, though, the concepts resonate with me. Of course they also mystify me. But even knowing the truth of it all, it seems so... conceptual. These guys, whoever they are, are sort of... bringing it home for me – someone who sits staring at a computer screen a lot of the time. 

Party at Mary and Martha Bethsaid's!
I guess it’s pretty funny to say that someone just posting things on Facebook is making it real for me... I think a big part of it is that they have put profile photos up that look like actual dudes that you might know. Jesus is especially handsome! The disciples are all handsome Semitic-looking guys, as they might have been. I mean, we know they were Semitic... we don’t know how good-looking they were! Mary Bethan posted a photo of guys sitting around her living room drinking beer and eating chips... one of their famous parties (Luke 10)?

Just like the people who made Godspell, the Cotton Patch Gospel and Jesus Christ Superstar, whoever is doing this is speaking the language of the day. Of course, these other pieces seem dated now, as I'm guessing this may also someday.  But right now, for people who are stuck behind a desk, staring at a computer, communicating with friends via the internet, this is a sweet taste of the good news. 

Godspell... groovy!
As we know, the internet – social networking, in particular – has done astounding things... even fomenting revolution in some places. It has always been amazing to me that the Christian movement was able to expand as it did without modern means of communication. I’m guessing horseback was the fastest any message could get from one place to another. Or maybe by sea? But it was GOOD news... and it spread from one man, to a few close friends, to crowds who may just have wanted to be fed and healed... or maybe they wanted a revolution. Then after Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection, the message proceeded to move throughout “Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1)

Jesus Christ... Superstar!
Of course the disciples didn’t get that Kingdom had been restored at first. No, what they saw was their God hanging limply on a cross with his blood and water pouring out of His side. Of course when He refused to stay in the tomb, they must have thought, “NOW we’re cooking with rice!” It was during this time that one of the disciples asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Of course, He did... but not as anyone expected... and part of it is still to come!

Is this little piece of ongoing internet performance art going to revolutionize anything? Like many things – Christian movies, books, music... it may be just “preaching to the choir,” as they say. And, as a card-carrying member of said “choir,” I find it a spicy whiff of Jesus and his friends, the life they must have lived, and what He continues to call us to. And as far as the rest – well you’ve heard that saying, “The Lord moves in mysterious ways”? Again and again, I have found this to be true. What I mean is, you never know who might stumble across it. And while it may not revolutionize the world, it may start an uprising in someone’s heart. 

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