Article 6 Stealing Image



By Rev. Ronald Stelzer

Caiaphas Continues the Impeachment

CAIAPHAS: Here we are again with yet another article of impeachment. I know this due process has taken a lot of time – ever since Jesus was in augurated by John the Baptizer 3 years ago. But his election was illegitimate, and he is an imposter messiah. We needed to give our investigators and prosecutors all the time they need to do their jobs. But we should be able to bring this to a close by next week.

The Article of Stealing
Now for the next article of impeachment. We will bring substantial, overwhelming and, I am sure, convincing evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is guilty of stealing.

We are all well aware of the Commandment our God gave to Moses on Sinai, “Thou shalt not steal,” and its explanation: “We should fear and love God so that we may not take our neighbor’s money or property, but help him to improve and protect his property and business.

Now we show how this fellow Jesus of Nazareth, and by the way, let us not forget, he comes Nazareth. Has anything good come from Nazareth? But I digress. We proceed with demonstrating how this fellow is guilty of destruction and confiscation of private property, as well as financial wastefulness and misuse of funds.

The Whistleblower Appears
To make the case we have the whistleblower – an insider who has been observing Jesus closely now for three years, and he has first-hand knowledge of how the funds of Jesus’ personal life and business have been accumulated and spent. We welcome the whistleblower, but to protect him from Jesus’ revenge and retribution, we conceal his identity. His name is being withheld to protect the innocent.

Judas Speaks
Thank you, Caiaphas, and honorable jurists. I am happy to finally come out of the closet, so to speak, and air my grievances and make my case. In short, I do not think this Jesus has nay respect for others’ private property or appreciation for the value of money.

I was once with him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Garasenes. The region was terrorized by a raving lunatic, obviously demonically possessed, roaming the fields, living in caves, causing public disturbances. Nobody could control him. Expect Jesus. Somehow, by the power of god or devil, Jesus delivered this demonic from his demons. I am ok with that. But then he sent the demons into someone’s nearby herd of pigs, and the pigs raced headlong into the Sea of Galilee and drowned. That is obviously the destruction of some hardworking farmer’s hard-earned property and business. The whole town must have been intimidated by Jesus because they did not lay a hand on him. They just begged him to leave their territory and not come back. Hopefully, the farmer was compensated for his loss, suffered through no fault of his own, but he was not reimbursed by Jesus- that I can tell you!

Jesus is Accused of Stealing
This past week he has incriminated himself again and again. To show you how entitled he think he is, when we were approaching Jerusalem, instead of walking in like the rest of us, he insisted on riding in like some king or something. Instead of getting his mount from Moishe’s Rent-A-Donkey, he told a couple of us to go into the city and take the first donkey we saw – oh yes, and it couldn’t be a used donkey; it had to be a brand new, on which no one had ever ridden. Only the best is good enough for him, even if it is stolen property. Then he tells us. “If anyone say to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” No permission requested, no please or thank you, no manners. And, of course, no down-payment, no collateral, no signed contract, not even showing his rider’s license. He thinks everything is his to take and use as he wishes, because in his mind, he is “Lord” with a capital “L”.

Jesus Calls the Temple “His House”
Then, to show you his instability of temperament, he lost his mind when we were entering the temple courtyard. For no reason he just started violently overturning the tables of the moneychangers and sellers, scattering people’s goods, and not permitting business to proceed. He attempted to justify his behavior by quoting Scripture, saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Really?! His house?! It’s God’s house! And “all nations” he says?! The temple and our God are for us, the Jews, not all nations. The sad part is our leaders just let him get away with it, because he is so popular with the people. Obviously, he is getting dangerous.

Jesus Accused of Hit and Run
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you: On the way to the temple he had another meltdown. He was hungry so he went to a fig tree to pick a fig to eat. I guess it did not occur to him that this fig tree belonged to someone, and maybe he should ask permission. He looked for the fruit and found none. So, he cursed it! It is not even fig season, for God’s sake. The next day we noticed the fig tree had withered from the roots up. Jesus did not care. He showed no remorse, gave no apology – he has no conscience – and made no attempt to find and reimburse the owner. Hit and run!

It’s Always About Him
Then we were in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper – he used to be a leaper. We were all invited to dinner. A woman came busting in with an alabaster jar of perfume – VERY expensive – worth about a year’s wages – and she breaks the jar and pours the perfume on his head. Several us were appalled at the waste. He should have told her to sell the perfume and give the money to the poor or to some other worthy cause. Our account could have used it. We started to scold her, but Jesus interrupted. He said. “Leave her alone. She has done a noble thing. You always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me.” It’s always about him. Who does he thing he is anyway? God? Then he says, “Truly, I tell you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” Huh?! Whatever this “gospel” is, do not count on it.

That was the last straw. After that I decided that Jesus would never reach his potential. I gave up on him. It’s too bad. He has a lot of talent, but he does not know how to use it. I once saw him feed 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. But, as usual, he did not follow through. We could have fed everybody every day – and if he sold meals at a discount, we could have had quite a profitable business – could have been billionaires – all of us – instead of depending on people’s offerings. Wasted talent. Sad.

That’s when I went to the chief priests. I had enough of him. At least I made 30 pieces of silver off him.

NICODEMUS: I request to permission to speak.
CAIAPHAS: For the record, identify yourself.

Nicodemus Takes the Stand
NICODEMUS: I am Nicodemus. I am a member of the Jewish ruling class, a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedrin. And I must admit. I have had enough too. I have had enough of worrying about my popularity and reputation among my peers, about being politically correct, and about what they will say about me in the Jerusalem times. I have had enough of participating in all the secret meetings about how to get rid of Jesus - and of course how to make it all look legal and necessary. I have heard more than enough of lies and slanders baseless accusations and malicious leaks - always with the same goal: to turn the tide of opinion against him and get him impeached.
Nicodemus Gives Up Everything

I have had enough of my own cowardice. It is high time for me to come out of my shame. So here is my confession: “I BELIEVE IN JESUS, I BELIEVE HE IS THE SON OF GOD.” There, I said it. I know this means that I will no doubt be thrown out of the synagogue, expelled from the Sanhedrin, lose everything I have worked to attain climbing the ladder in Jewish high society inside the Jerusalem Beltway. I am ready to lose my job, my position, my security, my friends - such as they are. So be it. Today I come out of the shadows into the light. And I feel relieved. Free at last.

Jesus is Like No Other
Now back to my story. I have been a secret admirer of Jesus for some time. Once I came to Jesus at night when he was alone. I did not want anyone, especially my colleagues, to see me with him. I began speaking to him in a respectful and friendly manner, but he stopped me in my tracks. He had no interest in my compliments and social pleasantries, nor was he impressed with my credentials, nor did he show any appreciation for my approval and support. He said, “You must be born again.” He said that I, a fine, upstanding, highly respected card-carrying member of the Jewish elite - he told me I had to believe in him to have everlasting life. I admit I was a bit taken aback. But I was strangely attracted by his straight-forward, no nonsense, plain-spoken matter of fact, tell it like it is, get to the point, confident, self-assured honesty. He spoke with such authority, not with the tedious speculations and legalistic sophistry of the ostensibly erudite. And I had to confess: No one could do the things I had seen him do, and not be from God.

They Cannot Conform Him
I know Jesus is a very divisive public figure. His base love him, I mean the ones you call smelly deplorables; while most of our type - people of position, prestige, and power - cannot stand him. We have tried to corral him, contain him, control him, conform him. But to no avail. He is not one of us, and he never will be. He cannot be tamed, broken, or bent. He will never fit in.

So, we have tried to silence him. Remember when we sent officers to arrest him? They came back empty-handed. So, we asked them, Where is he? All they could say was “No one ever spoke like this man.” We castigated with scorn those we sent on this mission. “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Beltway elite believed in him?” Only the unlearned, unwashed Galileans who cling to their field ploughs, fishing nets and prayer books.

Nicodemus Demands as Answer
That is when I finally dared to speak up. I simply asked, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” You jump down my throat, saying, “Are you also a Galilean? Everyone knows no prophet comes from Galilee.”

Instead of just calling me names, give me an answer to my challenge. We accused Jesus of stealing, yet he has no possessions, no donkey to ride, no house to live in, no bank account, just the robe on his back. How has he enriched himself at anyone's expense? If he is a thief, where are the stolen goods? We said we had irrefutable evidence. Where is it? After all our investigators and instigations, we have come up with nothing. And if we sued him, what could we get from him? What would we gain? He has nothing. He has given everything to help others.

What If?
Jesus says he's Lord. Have we ever considered the possibilities that maybe he is? He has healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, controlled the forces of nature, and taught the most sublime truths and way of life with such clear eloquence. What if he is Isaiah's prophesized “Emmanuel,” God with us. What if he is the son of God born of a virgin mother - not the illegitimate child we assume him to be. What if this Nazarene was actually born in Bethlehem, as has been rumored and was required by Micah’s prophecy? What if we are opposing the very Messiah God has sent us to be our Savior? What if he is Lord? King David said, “The earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” If he is Lord, he owns it all. Indeed, he made it all. If it's all his, how can he be guilty of stealing it?

CAIAPHAS: Your time is up Nicodemus. And frankly what you say is quite absurd. We convene again after the Sabbath to hear another article of impeachment. The court is adjourned.

The Impeachment Continues
Read Article 7: Lying

About the Author
Pastor: Rev. Ronald Stelzer is a 3rd generation minister in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and 2nd generation teacher and coach in Lutheran schools.

He was raised in a six-child family in Kansas and Indiana, graduated from St. Paul's Lutheran School and Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne, Davidson College in North Carolina and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and Fort Wayne.

He and wife Margaret of 35 years have six grown children and six grandchildren. He has served two years in sports ministry with Athletes in Action, a year in youth missions with Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ, four years as chaplain/teacher/coach at his high school alma mater, and 35 years as pastor of Our Savior, where he helped found and lead Our Savior New American School 28 years ago.

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