When Jesus asked his father whether He could borrow a donkey one morning, his father pointed out that he did not know whether he could trust his son with the donkey, reminding Jesus of that marriage in Cana last month where Jesus performed his cute little stunt – the one where He turned the water into wine. The entire wedding party fell into such a stupendous stupor that no one noticed when Jesus won every gold coin in the church by rolling a dreidel. It was one perfect round of spin-the-dreidel after another. No one even thought it odd. When Jesus was twelve He took his father’s best donkey without asking. This alone wouldn’t have been so bad, but Jesus lost the donkey in a bet with two Roman soldiers. Jesus misunderstood the bet and thought the soldiers meant something else by ass. Now the remaining soldier has two donkeys. This became a point of contention between Jesus and his father for quite some time.
“But father,” Jesus said, “I must get to the temple by noon. I will not make wine. I swear to it. Please let me borrow a burro.”
“Tell me son, why is it so important that you make the temple by noon?”
“I am meeting friends there father, and there is a flea market.”
“A what market son?”
“A flea market father. There will be vendors.”
“And just what do these vendors sell son?”
“Everything father. Goats, sheep, sandals, really really tall walking staffs.”
“Will Judas be there?”
“I do not know father, probably.”
“You understand I do not approve of him?”
“There is something about him I do not like.”
“So can I take the donkey?”
“I think it best not son.”
“Ah gee whiz father.”
“Watch your tongue son.”
“Take my camel dear,” said Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from her animal.
“That is hardly the point,” said Jesus’ father to his sister.
“Ah Joseph, you are too hard on the boy. He is a good boy, so He likes to dabble a little in the dark arts, what of it.”
“Thank you Aunt Dot. Can I father?”
“Fine, ” said Joseph, “but be home in time to wash lentils.”
“And Jesus,” said Aunt Dot, “please do not turn my camel to dust only to show your friends you can make it live again. The camels are never the same afterwards.”
“I promise Aunt Dot.”
When Jesus arrived at the temple, Peter, Paul and Mary were waiting for him at the main entrance.
“Nice ride,” said Mary.
“Yeah it’s Aunt Dot’s”
“Can I ride him?” Peter asked.
“Better not,” Jesus said, “she’s funny about her camel.”
“Turn him to dust,” Paul said.
“I promised my aunt I would not.”
“I bet it’s because you can’t.”
“I don’t have to prove anything.”
“I think it is because you can’t do it.”
“There,” said Jesus.
The four friends stared at the empty place where the camel had stood moments before.
“Uh oh!” Jesus said.
“That’s a lizard,” Mary said.
“I can see its a lizard,” said Jesus.
“Why did you turn your aunt’s camel into a lizard?” Mary asked.
“I didn’t mean to,” Jesus said.
“I told you He couldn’t turn him to dust,” said Paul.
“I hope your aunt wants a lizard,” Peter said.
“I can fix it,” Jesus said.
But before Jesus or any of the others could react, the lizard darted away, through the entrance and into the temple.
Peter, Paul, Mary and Jesus all stood dumbfounded before scrambling together after the lizard. They all four reached the entrance at the same time. The friends pushed and shoved one another through the jammed doorway, because that seemed to make more sense than going through one at a time.
Inside, Jesus asked, “Did anyone see where it went?”
“No Jesus, you know why?” Peter asked.
“Because we were all stuck in the doorway at the same time genius.”
“Well you should have let me go through first.”
“Oh really Jesus, who died and made you king of the Jews?” said Paul.
“Come on,” Mary said, “let’s find Jesus’ camel, er.. well, lizard, that is.”
The temple was large, loud and crowded and any chance of finding the lizard was fading rapidly. People walked by alone and in groups. The people who walked by in groups did not watch for lizards as they stepped. And neither did the people who walked by alone.
“We have to get everyone out if we have any chance of finding the lizard,” Mary said.
“And how do you propose we do that,” asked Jesus.
“I don’t know,” Mary said, “you’re the Messiah. Haven’t you any ideas?”
“FIRE FIRE FIRE!” screamed Paul. “FIRE FIRE!”
“Oh Jesus,” Peter said.
“What?” asked Jesus
“Nothing – just an expression.”
“Paul is right,” said Mary, “we have to get these people out.”
“Can you not just make another camel?” Peter asked.
“Aunt Dot will know. Don’t ask,” said Jesus.
Peter, Mary and Jesus joined Paul in screaming FIRE in the crowded temple. People ran in every direction at once. Jesus ran down the center aisle of the temple tipping tables and thrashing about madly searching for Aunt Dot’s camel that is a lizard. It took only a minute before the panicking people realized there was no fire. So they stopped panicking and watched Jesus tear through the center of the temple like a crazed fool. Even Peter, Paul and Mary stopped to watch as Jesus continued to destroy the temple and to scream FIRE! When Jesus realized He was the only one screaming FIRE, He stopped too.
“Awkward,” Jesus whispered under his breath.
“That was A W E S O M E,” Peter said.
“His father is going to be soooo mad,” Mary said.
“Fire,” Paul said with timidity, “fire.”
“I can explain,” Jesus said, “but I’d rather not.”
The people of the temple were angry at Jesus but Jesus assured them if they tore the temple down, He would rebuild it in three days. Then He left the temple in favor of the brutal desert sun. Outside, there in the dust was the lizard. Or at least it was a lizard. The friends agreed it probably did not matter whether it was the same lizard.
The people tore down the temple, but Jesus did not return to rebuild it. Maybe He was speaking symbolically. Or He was grounded. Shrug.