How are we to approach the Gospels in this current age? Certainly, Jesus’ words are timeless. There is no need to rewrite or “punch up” what the Gospel writers penned. They are beautiful how they are.
Do people really understand the context, the setting? Even if they can understand the setting, does it ring true to them because it’s not something they can easily visualize?
Take, for example, the Wedding at Cana (St. John 2:1-12). Sure, people understand weddings but do they understand wedding feasts that went on for days? Probably not.
At the wedding, the host ran out of wine. Mary, Jesus’s mother, encouraged Him to do something. Jesus ordered the servants to fill jars with water. The Christ then proceeded to turn the vats of water into the best wine anyone had ever tasted.
What if the story took place at a busy Starbucks on a Saturday morning. The store is full of young families with kids in tow, hunters on their way to the woods, youth soccer players in day-glow kits and so forth.
The long line teems with people desperately needing their caffeine fix. The baristas are busy working until one announces—quite shockingly—they’ve run out of coffee. (As improbable as this may seem at a Starbucks, work with me for the sake of this story.)
Mary and Jesus are sitting on comfy chairs with their morning coffee. They are on their way to a local craft festival. Mary plans on selling shawls she knitted, and Jesus is going to sell rocking chairs he made.
Mary hears the commotion and anguished cries. She tells Jesus to do something.
Jesus goes to a barista and tells her to take the customer’s order: soy, no whip, skinny Caramel Macchiato.
“Name for the cup?” Jesus asks.
“Jill,” says the impatient texter glued to her smart phone. “Aren’t they out of coffee?” she asks while still texting.
“Jill, thank you,” says Jesus. He writes “Faith” on the cup and hands it to the barista.
Taking the cup, the barista says, “We don’t have any coffee to make this order.”
“Put some hot water in it,” Jesus says, “and complete the rest of the order.”
The barista completes a hot-water version of a soy, no whip, skinny Caramel Macchiato. “This is going to be one nasty tasting drink,” the barista mutters. Jesus hears.
“Faith, I have a soy, no whip, skinny Caramel Macchiato,” says the barista as she places the drink on the counter and turns to the next order.
“It’s about time,” says Jill with a snarl. Turning to the woman behind her Jill says, “Faith? Starbuck’s is always getting the names wrong.” The woman ignores Jill because she cherishes her relationship with a smart phone.
Jill takes a sip and stops with an astonished look on her face.
“I thought you said you were out of coffee? This is the best coffee I’ve ever had.”
The astonished barista looks bewilderingly at Jesus. He hands her another cup for a double shot, three vanilla pump latte. The name, again, is “Faith.”
“What happened?” the barista asks.
“Another day at St. Arbucks.” He smiles and takes the next order for “Faith.”