Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jesus at the Temple: The Widow's Mite, the Money Changers and Paying Taxes

These are skits that middle schoolers enacted at the Peace and Justice Academy in Pasadena. This is a fun way to teach the Gospel and get kids involved in the stories.

Widows Mite
Luke 21:1-4 

Actors: Widow, Pharisee, Jesus, Peter and Crowd.
Jesus and others eavesdrop on what happens when a poor widow and a Pharisee meet in front of the Temple.

Pharisee, seeing the widow: “Where are you going? Aren’t you the woman who owes me 500 shekels?”

Widow: “Yes, I am. And I’d like to pay you back, but a Roman soldier came and took away all the clothes I was going to sell to pay you. All I have left is one shekel.”
Pharisee: “That’s not my problem. You made a deal with me and it’s time to pay up.”
Widow: “But Mr. Pharisee, sir, my land lord is going to evict me from my apartment. I need extra time to make more money so I don’t end up on the street.”
Pharisee: “Well, I’m not a monster. I’m a God-fearing man so I’ll let you pay me back tomorrow. With extra interest of course.”
Widow: “Bless you, Mr. Pharisee. Thank you so much! You’re too kind.”
The Pharisee walks away, and the widow sighs. She looks up towards heaven and says:
“Lord, all I have left is a shekel. That’s not enough to pay the rent. I’ll leave it at your Temple to help someone who’s poorer than I am.”
She drops her shekel into the alms box.
The Pharisee returns, bringing some jewelry to donate to the Temple. When he sees the widow, he looks at her scornfully. Other rich people walk by and donate luxury items.
Watching this scene, Jesus turns to his disciples and says:
“I tell you that this poor woman has put more in than all the others. Everyone else gave what they didn’t need, but she gave all she had.”

Peter walks over to the poor woman, takes her by the hand, and welcomes her into their fellowship. The crowd is surprised. Jesus smiles and puts his arm around Peter and the widow.


“Jesus at the Temple”
Luke 19: 45-48 

Jesus stands with Peter and watches this scene in front of the Temple.
Galilean: “Which way to the Temple?
Jerusalemite: “It’s right in front of you. Can’t you see?  I guess you Galileans need glasses”
Galilean: “Wow, look at that Temple. It’s even bigger than I imagined. And covered with gold. God sure has a nice home here in his holy city.”
Homeless man: “Sir, can you help me? I used to have a home, but the tax collectors took so much of my harvest I went into debt and lost my farm.  Can you spare a shekel?”
Galilean: “Just a moment. All I have are Roman coins. I need to change my Roman coins into the shekel. Sir, what’s the exchange rate?
Money changer: “I usually give three shekels for one Roman coin, but for you, I’ll give five!”
Homeless man: “That’s highway robbery! The going rate is ten shekels for a Roman coin!”
Money changer: “Shut up, you good-for-nothing bum! All you do all day long beg and complain.”
Jesus watches this scene and become angry. He walks over to the money changer and turns over his table, scattering his money.
Jesus: “This is my Father’s house. It is supposed to be a house of prayer for all people, and you’ve turned it into a den of thieves.”
The money changer is terrified and runs away to a nearby priest.
Money changer: “Did you see what that man did? He ought to be arrested.”
Priest: “He will be, don’t worry. We’re giving him enough rope so he’ll hang himself.”
Money changer: “Thank God.”
Peter to Jesus:
“Let’s get out of her before the Roman soldiers arrive.”

Jesus walks off calmly, followed by Peter, who seems very nervous.

Paying Taxes

Luke: 20: 20-25

A Pharisee and a Priest are walking down the street. One of them brushes up against a man.

Pharisee: “Did you just touch that man?”
Priest: “Yes, I did. Why?”
Pharisee: “He’s a tax collector.”
Priest: “That’s terrible. I will have to go to the Temple and be purified.”
Pharisee: “Yes, those tax collectors are the scum of the earth.”
Priest: “Did you know that one of Jesus’ disciples is a tax collector?”
Pharisee: “That’s right. He lets anybody join his movement, even women. That gives me an idea.”
Priest: “What do you have in mind?”
Pharisee: “You know how the people hate tax collectors…”
Priest: “Of course, they rob us blind…”
Pharisee: “And you know it’s against the law to refuse to pay taxes…”
Priest: “Yes, yes. You can be crucified just for telling people not to pay taxes.”
Pharisee: “Well, just watch what I am going to do to that would-be prophet Jesus.”
Jesus walks by with a crowd of people.
Pharisee: “Rabbi Jesus, how nice to see you. I have a question for you.”
Jesus: “What is your question?”
Pharisee: “Is it morally right for a Jew to pay taxes to Rome?”
Jesus pauses as the crowd watches for his answer.
Jesus: “Bring me a Roman coin.”
Pharisee hands him a coin.
Jesus refuses to touch it. Instead he asks:
“Whose graven image is on the coin?”
Pharisee: “Caesar’s.”
Jesus: “In that case, give what belongs to Caesar back to Caesar….”
Jesus turns and gestures to the rest of the city.
“And give to God everything that belongs to God.”
Pharisee looks displeased and walks away with the priest. The crowd applauds.
Woman: “Jesus is a Godly man. He knows that everything belongs to the Lord.”
Homeless man: “Except for those blasted coins the Romans make us use.”
Tax collector walks over to Jesus: “I hear that you don’t hate us and that tax collectors can join your movement….”
Jesus: “If that’s what your heart tells you to do….”
Tax collector: “Then I will give up this lousy job and give all my ill gotten money to the poor. Can I become one of your disciples?”
The tax collector places a bag of money in the alms box of the Temple and gives a bag of coins to the homeless man.
Jesus: “Sure. We’d love for you to join us.”

Jesus places his arm on the tax collector’s shoulder and they walk away arm in arm. The crowd is amazed and praises God.

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