. . . Three Men in a Box

QUOTE: Using one five word sentence, describe what John 13:21-23, John 21:15-17, and Luke 10:38-42 have in common.   Use the rest of the page to explain your answer.   This question is worth--"
   "We know what it's worth, Kevin," Henry Meyer said.   "It's still fresh in our minds. . . I say, he's gone insane."
   "Now that's a real nice thing for a preacher boy to say."   John Bastogne, the oldest, and longest saved member of the group was crossing his arms in rebuke.
His wide shoulders and towering stature got the message across.
   "Okay, okay, I'm sorry.   I shouldn't have said that," Henry said.
   "Look, guys," Kevin's thick rimmed glasses gave his voice a ‘nerdy’ sound.   "I love Preacher Colixs, as much as anyone here, but he's 89, you know.   Maybe there's some truth to Henry's statement.   Colixs hasn't been exactly--"
   "All right you two.   Enough," John said.   "We came here to discuss our answers, not to tear someone down, much less Colixs."
   "Now, John," Henry said, "no one is tearing down anyone.   I merely meant--"
   "I SAID DROP IT!   Let's discuss our answers."
   "Should I read the question again?"
   The other two shouted, "No!"
   "We know the question!" Henry said.   "For one hour, I sat there sweating over it!"
   John looked around the table.   "So who wants to start?"
   Kevin raised a finger.   "I put down: Jesus Christ was always around."
   The others wrinkled their forehead and glanced at each other.
   "You're joking right?" Henry said, with a big grin.
   "No . . . That's what I wrote--five words, count ‘em."
   "Get out of here!" Henry said.
   "That ain't even good English," John added, trying to be funny.   Henry laughed.
   "I'M SERIOUS!   That's what the three verses have in common!"
   Henry couldn't stop grinning.   "Preacher is not going to buy that, I'm sorry--it's too obvious!"
   "He warned us not to overlook the obvious!" Kevin insisted.   "Sometimes we don't see the trees for the forest!"
   They broke into laughter again.
   "STOP IT!   You know what I meant!"
   "All right, all right, everyone," John said.   "It's getting out of hand.   We owe Kevin an apology--sorry Kevin.   And let me add that no answer should be considered too dumb--sorry, Kevin."

   Henry raised a hand.   "I put: All three were Christ's disciples.   He was teaching them and giving them His commandments.   That's what the Christian life is all about--following His commandments."
   "We know Peter and John were disciples," Kevin said.   "But Mary--?"
   "Mary what?   She was a disciple!"   Henry leaned across the table, almost in Kevin's face.
   "I agree," John said.   "Just because she didn't travel with them for three years, doesn't mean she's not a disciple.   I think it's a good answer."
   Kevin shook his head.   "But Preacher Colixs wanted a lengthy explanation!
Your answer can't be expounded upon; it's lame."

   "OH, and I suppose your answer about Him being always around' is a lot more profound?" Henry said.
   "Sure it is!   I even used half of the back page."   Kevin almost popped a button.
   "Oh, I gotta read that--!"
   John rapped on the table to get their attention.   "Look guys, I realize that a whole term's grade is riding on this one question, but you've been called to preach, so start acting godly for a change!"
   Kevin and Henry paused for a moment, turning slightly red.
   "By the way," Henry's voice was reserved again, "did we have to write an explanation that filled the whole page?"
   "Yes," Kevin interjected.   "I walked up there and asked him."
   "YOU DID?"   Henry grabbed his forehead with both hands.   "Forget it.   I flunked!"   Kevin patted him on the shoulder.
   "Maybe there is no profound answer," John said.   "Maybe it was a test of character.   You know, Preacher's always trying to instill character in us.   Maybe he wanted to see if we were honest enough to admit there wasn't anything deep enough to expound upon."
   Kevin raised an eyebrow.   "Are you implying my explanation was a snow job?"
   "Of course not!   I haven't even read your explanation!"
   Henry looked at Kevin.   "Well, you gotta admit, using a page and a half to expound that 'Jesus Christ was always around sounds like a snow job."
   John looked at his watch.   "Look, before we start tearing into each other again, let's go home and call it a term."
   "What about Terry?" Henry said, pointing at the fourth man at the table.   "He hasn't said a word yet."
   Kevin, John, and Henry visually converged on Terry Manson.   Terry's small frame projected an image that wasn't imposing.   Often, similar discussions would ramble on for hours without as much as a peep from him.
   "I'm sorry, Terry."   John smiled.   "We didn't mean to leave you out.   What answer did you give?"
   Terry brushed his hand through his dark crewcut, then spoke.   "God's need was being met."
   The other three stared.
   "Those are my five words."   Terry added, sinking his neck between his shoulders.
   "But what does it mean?" Henry asked.

   "I'd love to hear the explanation," John said.
   Terry cleared his throat.   "Well . . . take John 13:21-23.   The Bible says, ‘When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.   Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.   Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.’   While all the other disciples were fussing over themselves--you know--as to which one of them might be the traitor, John was the only one consoling Christ."
   "Where does it say that?" Kevin said.
   "Don't you see it?" Terry said, his voice a little bolder.   "Jesus had just announced His betrayal.   It must have been stressful for Him.   John was the only one showing compassion, leaning on Jesus' bosom as an act of comfort.   John tried to provide moral support in Christ's time of need.   Why can't you see it?"
   "All I see is someone reading too much into God's Word."
   Terry drew back.
   John could see Terry's dismay.   "Go on, Terry.   I want to hear about the other two verses."
   "In John 21:15-17," Terry continued, "Jesus asks Peter three times: ‘Lovest thou me?...Feed my sheep.’   He tells Peter to meet His need by--"
   "What need?" Henry said.   "Christ had taught Peter, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’   (John 14:15).   Jesus was merely reminding Peter what He required of him.   Christ was saying: Peter, if you love me do as I say: feed my sheep!"
   "I don't argue with that," Terry said.   "But why couldn't Christ also be saying, I have a need of seeing my sheep fed, if you love me, meet that need?"
   "BECAUSE IT DOESN'T SAY THAT!"
   "All right, all right, calm down," John was motioning to Henry.   "Go ahead, Terry--last verse."
   Terry looked around the table and took a deep breath.   "In Luke 10:38-42, Martha is busy serving, while Mary is showing devotion to Christ, by fellow-shipping with Him.   Martha complains, and Jesus says to her, ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her’ (Luke 10:41-42).   Unlike Martha, Mary was meeting Christ's need of fellowship--"
   Henry shook his head.   "You got it backwards.   It was more needful for Mary to learn what Christ had to say."
   "I agree," Terry said.   "But why couldn't Christ benefit from the exchange as well?"
   Henry kept shaking his head.
   Kevin jumped in.   "I agree with Henry!"
   "Since when?" John said.
   Kevin continued.   "I think Terry is reading too much into it.   He has a funny way of looking at things.   Frankly, he could get in trouble one day if--"

   "Hold on, Kevin," John said.   "I find his point of view interesting."   John turned to Terry.   "How did you arrive at these explanations?"
   Terry shrugged.   "I guess when I read the Bible, I don't just look for God's commandments.   I look for signs of a relationship between God and man.   I mean, you have to know what we're supposed to do, but it's also important to know how to relate to God--on a personal basis."
   "I think it's kinda blasphemous!" Henry said.
   John looked at Henry.   "WHAT?!"
   "Okay, maybe that's too strong a word.   But Terry's trivializing God.   I mean God is God, you know.   We can't be bringing Him down; treating Him like He's one of us . . . you know what I mean?"
   "But we're made in God's image," Terry replied.   "We share the same emotions--so why not share some of the same emotional needs?"
   John pointed a stern finger at Henry.   "You better apologize to Terry."
   "That's okay, John.   I understand."   Terry started gathering his books.
   Henry crossed his arms.   "Oh, now you think you're more spiritual."
   "No . . . That's not it," Terry said.   "I'm just trying to ‘think outside the box.’"
   "Huh?"
   John stood up.   "Okay, everybody.   Let's go home.   We've grieved the Holy Spirit enough for one day."
   "What box?" Henry said.
   "You need a ride, Terry?" John said, grabbing his book bag.
   "No, thanks. . . . I think I'll walk.   I have some praying to do."
   In the parking lot, the three piled into John's car.   Terry watched as they waved goodbye.   The car pulled away from him, then suddenly stopped and backed-up.
John rolled down his window as he stopped along side Terry.
   "Hey, Terry . . . maybe one day we can get together, trade notes . . . Maybe you can even help me get that box open."   John winked, then sped away.
   Terry watched as they left the parking lot.   His smile was already ear to ear.

It only takes a box the size of a man's head, to hold
him captive.   Preconceptions, conventional wisdom,
and personal bias will often form the walls of such a
small prison, making it virtually impossible for many
to escape.   But for the few who find freedom, there are
profound rewards.   For not only do they gain more
room to grow, but they come face to face with the God
who's dying to have a relationship . . .

[Christian Helps Ministry (USA)] [Christian Home Bible Course]