The Cast of the Holy Dance:
Jesus ………………….. Lead Dancer/Star/King/Messiah/Son of David/Christ
Disciples …….…….…….. Learners/Instructors
Crowd ………………..…… Participants
Audience …………………. Spectators
Religious Authority…… Chief Priests/Teachers of the Law/Pharisees/Sadducees
Act 3: I Am The Messiah (Holy Tuesday)
Backstage (John 3:1-21)
Last night after all of the cast and crew had gone home for the evening and the audience had returned to their regular routines, Nicodemus, one of the religious authorities, approached Jesus, backstage. He was trying to figure out what everything that had transpired meant. He was well educated, a teacher of the Hebrew Scriptures. There is little to no doubt that he “expected the Jewish Messiah to come and establish his kingdom in a very forceful and very visible way” (2). He couldn’t wrap his mind around all that was and had been happening.
In his conversation with Jesus, he acknowledged Him as a rabbi sent by God because of all of the signs and wonders that Jesus was able to deliver. Jesus, accepting his acknowledgment and discerning his desire to enter the Kingdom of God said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again” (Jn. 3:3).
Their conversation continued as Nicodemus had many more questions. And Jesus was delighted to be able to shine more light into the darkness of the set. Jesus spoke to him about the Truth that He had been speaking and about the unbelief and misunderstanding among he and the other religious authorities. He spoke about the Son of Man being lifted up just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness.
The punchline of the conversation was, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (Jn. 3:16-17). Jesus continued speaking in an effort to clarify the Truth’s that He has been sharing since the beginning. He concludes with, “Whoever lives by the Truth comes into light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (Jn. 4:21). No other words were spoken by Nicodemus.
On Their Way to the Theatre (Mt. 21:18-22)
As Jesus and His disciples were headed back the theatre, Jesus was hungry. He saw a fig tree but it didn’t have any fruit, only leaves. Cursing the tree, He said, “May you never bear fruit again.” Poof! The tree withered before their very eyes.
The disciples stand fairly still and slowly rotate their eyeballs trying to get a view of the expression of each person’s face, and then slowly, rotating their heads they look to see if anyone else witnessed what they just did.
Catching their breath and realizing that no one else saw this, they asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
A perplexing response followed, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” They continue on to the theatre. By this point they are running late. No time to process.
Curtains Open (Matthew 21:28–22:45, John 4:1-42)
There are people from the crowds dancing in small groups all around the stage. Jesus moves from one group to the next taking turns dancing with each. With one group He dances a dance exhibiting a parable about two sons. With another group, a parable about tenants. With a 3rd group, He dances a dance exhibiting a parable of a wedding banquet.
He then begins dancing about the entire stage in a way that address concerns that the crowd has. One concern was mostly the concern of the Pharisees, who are among the religious authority. It is about who to pay taxes to and He concludes that part of the dance in a way that all understand that they are “to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”
The next dance He begins represents marriage and resurrection. This dance is addressing the Sadducees, another group among the religious authority. His dance is astounding and the crowd watches with awe at His brilliance.
Jesus switches back to another concern of the Pharisees about which of the commandments is the greatest commandment. He dances the most beautiful dance of love one could ever imagine. Bottom line, the greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Certainly, this made the crowds think. It was much different from the long list of laws that they were used to. For a moment all were still and quiet. Jesus took this opportunity to dance over to the Pharisees and ask them their thoughts about the Messiah. When this part of the dance ends, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and all on stage are again still and quiet.
Jesus walks across the stage alone to an area that had been set up to represent a well in a small town named Sychar in Samaria. He sits next to the well. It was the middle of the Act. He stopped there for a drink of water. A short time later, a Samaritan woman walks across the stage headed to the well to draw water.
Surprisingly, He asks her if she would give Him a drink. As a Samaritan woman, and one who we find out, as they dance, has been married 5 times, it is way out of character for Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi, to dance with her at all. She studders, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (Jn. 4:9).
Jesus calmly, and with authority, responds, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water” (Jn 4:10).
This made no sense to her at all since He had nothing to draw water with. How would He give her a drink? She is definitely perplexed. This is not what they had rehearsed. She has no idea where He is headed with this.
Yet, Jesus, in the end, reveals to her His identity: the source of living water that quenches thirst for eternity, the Messiah. She definitely wants some of that water!
About that time, the disciples dance over to Jesus. They too are perplexed when they reach Him. Not by what He had revealed to her (they didn’t see that). They were perplexed because He was even dancing with her at all. The woman, leaving her jar, danced with excitement and joy to the other side of the stage where many Samaritans were gathered.
The disciples let the idea of Jesus dancing with the Samaritan woman go (by this time they had come to expect surprises). They were hungry and they were sure Jesus must be hungry too. As expected by Jesus, they make no gesture of their own hunger and instead inquire about whether He has eaten. Maybe they think He will be more likely to be in favor of eating if they frame it as though they are serving Him or have a concern for Him. Maybe, but who’s to know for sure. They don’t even notice that they do it. This dance step is transparent. It just flows out without awareness.
Jesus dances again. His dance is joyful and strong. It has an heir of immense peace about it: “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (Jn. 4:32). “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (Jn. 4:34). It is obvious that the disciples are now becoming disinterested. They are hungry and He is continuing to try to teach them new steps … during the live performance! You can just hear their inner thoughts: “Haven’t they been following Him for years and haven’t they already learned all of the dances He teaches?” “Hasn’t He taught them enough?” “This week is not about more dance lessons. This week is about getting everyone to finally see who You are! It is about getting everyone to join the dance.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the stage, the Samaritan woman is telling all of the people that she can find in her town all about Jesus, all about the Messiah who spoke with her at the well. Many of them believed her! They ran across the stage and begged Him to stay with them. He did.
Act 3 is quite tumultuous. It moves fast and shifts frequently. At times, it is difficult to take in all that transpires.
Nicodemus, fig tree.
The two sons, the tenants, the wedding banquet. Pharisees, Sadducees, taxes, marriage and resurrection. The greatest commandment. Who is the Messiah?!
Samaritan woman, food that is to do the will of the Father!
Maybe we just need to sit with all of this today.
I think today is about us taking one piece of fruit at a time and sitting with Jesus quietly listening. Consider reading all or portions of John 3:1-21, Matthew 21:18-22, Matthew 21:28–22:45, and John 4:1-42 as many times as you would like throughout the day today.
Maybe by tomorrow we will have more to share.
Heavenly Father, through Your Word and Your Spirit, draw us in today. Make the Words on the pages of Your Holy Book speak to our hearts in new and transforming ways. We trust You, we love You, we adore You. Keep the dance flowing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
- When I read __________, I heard/saw/thought … (this can be done numerous times throughout the day with various chunks of Scripture)
- I can relate to Nicodemus when …
- I can relate to the Samaritan woman when …
- I can relate to the disciples when …
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Amen. God Bless You & Keep You Safe Too! Thank you!