Friday, October 30, 2009


I went down to Glenrose two weeks ago at the invite of a friend (to read all about her, click here) to see the outdoor theater presentation of ‘The Promise”, a play all about the life of Jesus. There are several of these around the country, but it seems the one in Glenrose is the only permanent set. It has been in operation for 21 years now. For more information about “The Promise” and its season, venues, show times and how to get tickets, click here.

Now I used to be a pretty good little church boy. Maybe not so much anymore, but the life of Jesus, the story, its not entirely foreign to me, and I was very interested in seeing how “The Promise” would present three of my favorite scenes from the life of Jesus.

The first is the scene at the river, when Jesus meets John the Baptist and asks John to baptize him. John recognizes Jesus as being the Messiah, and tells Jesus he is "not worthy" to Baptize him.
Jesus says:
“John, you Baptize folks with water, but I come to Baptize 'em with fire and with the Holy Spirit!”.
So John goes ahead on and dips Jesus into the river. As he does there is a loud clap of thunder, and a puff of smoke over the stage from which flies a White Dove, representing the Holy Spirit. The dove flies over the audience and away into the night.
Then comes the booming voice of God himself:
“This is my only Son, with whom I am well pleased!”

The second scene I would like to describe to you occurs after Jesus has left John, and gone into the Wilderness for forty days and nights, and where he is tempted by Satan.
Satan is dressed in red and black with a menacing look and a long red cape. He comes to Jesus in the dessert and says:
”Come up to this high place, and throw yourself down. If you are truly the son of God, a band of Angels will catch you before you hit the ground.”
This is done on the stage, but at some point in that dialogue Jesus and the Devil both suddenly disappear from the stage, only to reappear just as suddenly on top of a 30 foot tower at the right of the stage. I do not know how they did this.
Maybe there is a trap door and a cable that quickly transports them, maybe its done with lights and mirrors, maybe there are doubles on top of the tower, or maybe its just a miracle!
I don’t know, but it’s a very cool scene.
Of course Jesus reply to Satan is that he “will not put the Lord my God to the test”. I’m not entirely sure what all that means, but I always liked the answer. I imagine it could be a bad habit to get into, and might really wear on the Lord.

Finally, the third scene I will describe to you comes after Jesus has performed many miracles. I had hoped that they would use this in the play as it is one of my favorite parts of the story, and I sat at the edge of my seat in anticipation. There are four women on stage, and they are singing a really beautiful song about what wonders they have seen, and how wonderful Jesus and his love and message has been. As Jesus moves through the crowd, he passes by one of these women singing and she drops to her knees and barely touches the bottom hem of his robe. He continues walking as if he did not even notice this light touch, then suddenly stops and turns to the woman.
He tells her that it is her faith that that has healed her, her faith that has made her whole.
Perhaps it is because I have so little faith that this scene appeals to me so much.

Whatever your belief, the story of Jesus is a great story, compelling and poignant in all its parts, and I always enjoy hearing it.
We come now to a time of year that the story figures prominently, and I hope that no matter what our beliefs might be, that we all can consider that which Jesus asked that we do:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Here is Jesus explaining to ol' Satan that "Man does not live by bread alone, but by ev'ry word of God"


Barbara said...

I always loved those Jesus stories. I feel lucky that I got to learn them before converting to Judaism. I sometimes still sort of feel like I'm straddling the fence between religions. When we have been in Israel, I always get the goosebumps when we are around the Sea of Galilee.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Steve. I would like to see something like this. Jesus seems like a calming presence over everything that he came into contact with, when He was alive. Nothing would ruffle him, except maybe the moneychangers. Hah! Tina

Anonymous said...

Hope you are doing well 'ol buddy.

Mother of Invention said...

Great post and I totally love your take; the last paragraph says it for me too!

Kim said...

The Promise is cool, yes. Some day you should go to Eureka Springs and see the 900 foot Jesus (not really but big and on a hill like Rio) and then their version of the Passion Play. Very cool. Jesus is cool. I just don't think Christianity was what he had in mind.