The following is meant for good humor, and is based off the famous “Just watch me” exchange between Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau and CBC reporters during the October Crisis (source). I mostly wrote this for the pleasure of one of my Canadian readers (you know who you are!).
[Jesus walks about the Temple floor, followed by many sick, crippled, poor, prostitutes, tax collectors and more; a bull whip rests under his arm. A group of Pharisees and Sadducees come out from the main building of the Temple and approach Christ]
Pharisee: There’s a lot of sick and sinners walking around here…
Jesus: Yes there are.
Jesus: Are they bothering you? What’s your worry?
Pharisee: I’m not worried! Well, we might be worried about what you intend to do with the Temple…
Jesus: Why? Have I done anything to you?
Pharisee: Not me, but you did something to a friend of mine. You chased him out with that whip!
Jesus: Oh? What was your friend doing?
Pharisee: Well…he was trying to sell goods on the Temple floor…
Pharisee: Is that against our scriptures?
Jesus: “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you’re making it a “den of thieves.”
Pharisee: But doesn’t it worry you that you think you have to resort to that kind of thing? By what authority? To chase some out and let others in?
Jesus: I don’t think it’s even a question of authority, and I think it’s fully natural that a person in dire need of repentance and forgiveness should seek after God. What would you do if you found yourself in such a situation, needing every help from God you could possibly need? Is your position that you just keep sinning?
Pharisee: No, my position is the opposite…
Jesus: What’s your position?
Pharisee: My position is that you don’t sin at all!
Jesus: I see that – but you don’t protect yourself against the sin inside you.
Pharisee: But how do you offer just anybody on the street the potential for forgiveness without creating a much bigger code of ethics and much wider spiritual practice?
Jesus: So what do you suggest? That I forgive nobody?
Pharisee: Well…you can’t just forgive all sins!
Jesus: But you’re suggesting that we shouldn’t forgive any.
Pharisee: Uh…that’s right.
Jesus: That’s your position?
Jesus: All right, so King David lamenting about his sin against God regarding Uriah the Hittite, in the fifty-first psalm. If you were God, you wouldn’t have forgiven him?
Pharisee: That’s second-guessing…
Jesus: I’m asking you to first-guess now.
Pharisee: Probably not, unless I knew his heart.
Jesus: You don’t think God knew the heart of David? It was God who gave David that repentant heart to begin with.
Sadducee: Could I interject here? The other day, you gave a parable about a vineyard owner and wicked vine-growers who killed his messengers and son, and you seemed to be pretty harsh on the vine-growers themselves. Could you elaborate on that parable?
Jesus: It means precisely what it means: “the stone which the builders rejected, this has become the chief cornerstone.” You didn’t think the vine-growers were wicked?
Sadducee: But don’t you think you could have used less inflammatory language? I mean you compared us to wicked vine-growers.
Jesus: First off, I didn’t say “You are the wicked vine-growers,” I merely told a parable. You yourselves replied that when the landowner comes back, he’ll bring those wretches to a wretched end and rent the vineyard to other vine-growers. You and I both agreed they were wicked, and they’ll be in their eternal jail when the time for harvest comes.
Pharisee: But the way you galumph about the Temple with your whip, the people will think you’re at war with us. What validity will they think we have?
Jesus: Nonsense, I don’t have a personal vendetta, I’m merely here to do my Father’s will. But when the time comes, the angels will have their job of shifting the tares from the wheat, and they’ll be able to distinguish between the two.
Pharisee: But you’ve said before that the healings, the preaching to the poor, that all this is a sign the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Jesus: Sure. That’s what you’re complaining about, isn’t it?
Pharisee: But surely that decision is God’s, not yours.
Jesus: But I’ve asked for your position, and you’ve given it: not to heal anyone, and that the Son of Man shouldn’t exercise any authority over sin or sickness. That seems to be your position.
Pharisee: But surely our role is to make sure that God’s people follow the Law.
Jesus: Yes, but you personally don’t have the power forgive or punish sins, nor have you exercised any mercy towards the sinner.
Pharisee: I, uh…I explained my position badly, I think. What you’re talking about is loyalty to God, and to me, that’s a strict adherence to the Law of God, and what you don’t have in such a situation is a Galilean carpenter running around forgiving sins.
Jesus: That isn’t your choice, however. I think it’s far more important to forgive those who are seeking a repentance of that evil which is within them, and to give them strength against whitewashed tombs that are seeking to set up a mirror tradition alongside God’s tradition to keep truly repentant followers of God out of the Temple. Now you may disagree with that, but again, I have to wonder if you would have willingly allowed David to repent of his sins – and he was forgiven, because God desires “mercy and not sacrifice.” I don’t see how, even with your tradition and legalism, you can deny that.
Pharisee: But I go back to what I said before, about how you’re just letting all these sinners into the Temple.
Jesus: I know full well there are a lot of hypocrites and heartless sons of perdition who don’t like seeing the sick, the poor, or the sinners in their midst and want to complain and be self-righteous. All I can say is go on and complain. Go on and be self-righteous. But it’s more important for me to fulfill the Law and the Prophets than worry about the wants of those who seek to please men rather than God.
Pharisee: The Law and the Prophets? Just how far will you go with that? How much do you think you can really fulfill?
Jesus: Well, just watch me.