Episode NT18 – The Transfiguration

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – New Testament

Based on Mark chapter 8 verse 27 to chapter 9 verse 13

The Transfiguration

As they travelled northeast, out of Israel to the area of Caesarea Philippi, they couldn’t help noticing all the temples and places of worship there were to different ‘gods’. It was said that at the bottom of one of the nearby mountains the so-called ‘god’ Pan was born – a god of fertility, perhaps the most important fertility symbol in the whole region. It was as they walked through this landscape, a landscape of so much worship but so little knowledge of the true and living God that Jesus turned to His disciples and asked, ‘Tell me, who do people say I am?’

The disciples mulled it over for a moment or two. ‘Some say you’re John the Baptist come back to life,’ one said. Another added, ‘Or maybe Elijah or one of the other prophets, you know, Jeremiah or someone like that.’

‘But what about you?’ Jesus asked them, ‘Who do you say I am?’

Simon Peter didn’t hesitate when he heard the question, because somehow he already knew the answer. And so in a land of so many gods and idols, Simon Peter spoke his true confession, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’

‘God has really blessed you Simon son of John,’ Jesus said. ‘Because you didn’t learn this from anyone else, it was my Father in heaven who revealed it to you. And now I tell you that with your true acknowledgement of who I am – you are Peter, which means ‘rock’, and on this rock – I will build my church, and even though the powers of hell will rage against it, they will never conquer it. And, I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven so that whatever you bind up here on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you set free here on earth will be set free in heaven.’

Jesus knew that even though His disciples had begun to understand who He was, as yet they had little real idea of what the Messiah would be like. They thought the Messiah would set them free from the power of the Romans, that their nation would become the most powerful on earth – they only thought of the Messiah as someone who would set them free from the problems of this world. But Jesus knew how little they understood, and how easily others would misunderstand if they found out that He was the Messiah, and so He sternly warned them not to tell anyone else that He was the Messiah.

From that moment on Jesus was determined that the disciples should understand what the Messiah’s life was all about. So He began to tell them plainly that He would have to go to Jerusalem and about all that would happen there.  That He would have to suffer at the hands of the leaders, the high priests and teachers of the law. That He would be killed and on the third day, He would be raised back to life.

But this wasn’t anything like the Messiah the disciples had in mind! Peter couldn’t believe his ears! The Messiah suffer? Die? What was Jesus talking about, surely this couldn’t be right? Jesus must have got it all mixed up. So taking Jesus to one side he started to correct Him, ‘Jesus, Jesus, heaven forbid that these things you’re talking about should come true…’

As Peter spoke, Jesus realised where all the false ideas Peter had about the Messiah had come from, and who had whispered them into Peter’s head. So looking at Peter and making sure they could all hear He said, ‘Get away from me Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me because you don’t see things from God’s perspective but from a human point of view!’

And with Peter still reeling from His rebuke, Jesus started to teach the disciples what it really meant to be one of His followers, to show them how wrong their ideas were and just how much it was going to cost them. ‘If anyone wants to be my follower,’ He began, ‘then they must put aside what they want and pick up their cross and follow me.’

Pick up a cross? Was Jesus saying that following Him was the same as being a prisoner under sentence of death? For only a convicted criminal walking to his place of execution would carry his cross, knowing it would be the last journey of his life! But Jesus was still talking, ‘If you try to keep living your life for yourself, then you will lose your life. But, if you live your life for me, then you will find true life! Tell me, what good is it if you become master of the whole world and have everything you could ever imagine and then lose your soul to the fires of hell? Is there anything worth more than your soul? For one day I, the Son of Man, will come in the glory of my Father, with His angels, and I will judge all people according to what they have done! And what’s more, I assure you that some of you standing right here will not die before you have seen me, the Son of Man, coming in my Kingdom!’

The disciples were to remember this later when Jesus had risen from the dead!

About six days or so later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers James and John with Him as He went up a high mountain. When they reached the top something amazing happened before their eyes! As they watched, Jesus’ appearance started to change until His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any process known to man could make them. And as they watched in terror and awe, two other men appeared with Jesus. There was no doubting who these men were. One of them was Moses, the man who had led the people of Israel out of Egypt and who had received the law and passed it on to the people. The other man was Elijah the great prophet who had been taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. And as they met with Jesus, Moses and Elijah started to speak with Him about what was to take place soon!

The disciples didn’t know what to think, what to do. It would perhaps have been wiser if Peter hadn’t said anything, but as he looked at the scene unfolding before him he spluttered out, ‘Lord, this is wonderful! If you want, I could make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!’ He didn’t really know what he was saying!

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud came over them all and a voice spoke from within the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with Him. Listen to Him.’ As the voice spoke the disciples were terrified, and just like Moses and Elijah had fallen down to worship God on Mount Sinai many years earlier, so the three of them fell face down on the ground. (PAUSE)

God had spoken His approval of all Jesus had said and done! In the most spectacular way, God had told these disciples that He was fully pleased with Jesus and that they should listen to Him even though He wasn’t the kind of Messiah they’d been expecting. And even though He taught that following Him would cost so much.

Moments later Jesus came over and touched them. ‘Get up,’ He said, ‘don’t be afraid.’ As they got up and looked around they saw that only Jesus remained with them – as if Moses and Elijah had been pointing to Jesus so that only Jesus remained, because, in Him, all the law and the prophets found their fulfilment. As they descended the mountain, Jesus commanded them yet again not to tell anyone what they had seen until He had been raised from the dead.’

Episode NT5 – Baptised and Tempted

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – New Testament

Based on Luke chapter 3 verses 1 – 20 & Matthew chapter 3 verse 13 to chapter 4 verse 11

Baptised and Tempted

‘Who warned you – you brood of snakes? Who warned you about the coming judgement?’

Did he know who he was talking to? Had John gone completely out of his mind? He was calling the people of Israel – Jews – descendants of Abraham – a bunch of evil snakes!  This prophet, this man of the wilderness was certainly causing a stir! (PAUSE)

Just the look of John was enough to worry most people. His clothes were made of woven camel hair with a big leather belt around it all to hold it together! And he came out of the wilderness preaching … the Kingdom of Heaven was near.

‘Turn away from your evil deeds,’ he shouted. ‘And turn back to God before it’s too late! The Kingdom of Heaven is near.’

Just a short while before, this unusual man who had lived in the wilderness, eating locust and wild honey, had received a message from God. It was to time for him to start to warn the people to turn away from their evil ways and be baptised! But only non-Jews were baptised – to show that they had changed and wanted to become part of the Jewish people, Jews were already the people of God, weren’t they? Surely they didn’t need to be baptised?

‘Who warned you – you brood of snakes?’ John continued. ‘Who warned you of the coming judgement? Don’t just pretend to be holy, prove that you really are children of God by the way you live your lives. Show by your words and deeds that you have turned away from sin and turned back to God. And don’t think that you’re safe just because you happen to be Jews – descendants of Abraham! God could change these stones into children of Abraham if He wanted – just being born a Jew won’t keep you safe! For even now the axe of God’s judgement is poised, ready to blow, to cut at your roots! Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.’ When he talked about trees he was using it as an example of what would happen to the people, everyone who didn’t turn to God and live a good life would have to face terrible punishment!

As John preached, the people realised that something new was happening. Many years before a prophet called Isaiah had talked about John and written about him saying, ‘He is a voice shouting in the wilderness; ‘Prepare a pathway for the Lord’s coming! Make a straight road for Him!’’

So who was John? Could he be the Messiah himself? Was he the one they’d all been waiting for?

‘All those who turn away from their past self-centred lives and decide to live lives that please God, I baptise with water,’ John shouted. ‘But there is another person coming. And He is so much greater than me I’m not even worthy to be His slave. I baptise with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate out those who are truly children of God and those who only seem to be. Like a farmer separating the grains of wheat from the chaff they grew in, so He will separate those who love God and those who don’t. The one He will gather to Himself, but the other – like chaff – will be burnt with everlasting fire.’ So John was just a messenger – preparing the people for the coming Messiah. (PAUSE)

 One day as John was preaching, Jesus arrived to see him – and asked to be baptised! ‘Surely not!’ said John. ‘Surely you should be the one baptising me? You don’t need to be baptised, you haven’t committed any sin?’

But Jesus looked at John and said, ‘John, it must be done. I must do everything that’s right.’

Shaking his head in amazement, John took hold of Jesus and lowered Him down into the water and then back out again. And as He came up out of the water the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God, in the shape of a dove, descended and settled on Him. And as this happened so a voice from Heaven – the voice of God – thundered, ‘This is my beloved Son, I am fully pleased with Him.’ (PAUSE)

As all these wonderful things happened, the devil, or Satan – for that’s his name, listened and watched. He heard the words of God – that Jesus was His Son and that He was fully pleased with Him. And thought about how to attack Jesus and ruin God’s plans.

No sooner was Jesus out of the water, filled with the Holy Spirit and with His ears ringing with those amazing words of God, than the Holy Spirit led Him out alone into the wilderness. For now, He was to be tested – and Satan was waiting. (PAUSE)

For 40 day and 40 nights, Jesus ate nothing until he was very hungry. And it was at this point when Jesus must have been longing for food that the devil started his attack.

 ‘So you’re the Son of God are you?’ Started the devil. ‘You must be very hungry after those 40 days and 40 nights without food. Tell you what, why don’t you prove you’re the Son of God by turning those rocks over there into bread?’

It was very clever, Jesus was hungry and he surely wanted some bread to eat, but if He turned the rocks into bread, then He’d have stopped trusting God. Trusting – that no matter how hard things got, God was still in control and would look after Him. And so Jesus answered Satan with some words from the Bible. ‘No, I won’t do that!’ He said, ‘Because the Bible says, ‘People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.’

But the devil hadn’t finished. Taking Jesus to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem he used words from the Bible for his next attack! ‘If you are the Son of God, then jump off into the valley below – because the Bible says. ‘He will order His angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’

Again very clever! Satan was trying to make Jesus do something to prove He was the Son of God. Because – if Jesus did jump He’d have proved that He didn’t believe the words that God had clearly spoken to Him just 40 days before. ‘This is my beloved Son…’

But Jesus did believe God and felt no need to put it to the test, because when you believe something you don’t need to test it! And so He answered the devil with another verse from the Bible. ‘The Bible also says,’ He told him, ‘Don’t put the Lord your God to the test!’

Lastly, the devil took Jesus to the peak of a high mountain and showed him the glory of the world and the nations. ‘This is mine,’ he said. ‘And I will give it all to you – all I ask is that you kneel down and worship me.’

The devil was offering Him a shortcut! An easy way out! Jesus could kind-of fulfil what He’d come to do in one simple step. There wouldn’t be any need to face pain, rejection and death. He could be Lord of the whole world with this one simple shortcut – just bow down and worship Satan. But even though it might seem to be an easy answer, the cost would be far too high, it would cost Him His relationship with His Father in heaven – and that was a price He would not pay. So for the third time, Jesus answered the devil with words from the Bible.

‘Get out of here, Satan!’ He said, ‘For the Bible says, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’

At this the devil left, waiting for another chance to attack Jesus.

Episode 6 – Job – A Time Of Trouble

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – Old Testament

Based on the book of Job

A Time of Trouble – The Story of Job

     ‘Raiders!’ The sound of the man’s desperate voice made Job turn and look. ‘The Sabeans, they came and stole all your oxen and donkeys, and they’ve killed all your servants except me. (PAUSE) I’m the only one left alive!’

As he was speaking another man came running towards them. ‘Oh my master! The fire of God! The fire of God! As I watched, it fell from the sky and burned up all your sheep and the shepherds. I’m the only one left alive … ‘

‘The Chaldeans, the Chaldeans!’ The urgency in the voice made the three of them turn to see the man rushing towards them. ‘Oh my master. The Chaldeans have stolen all your camels and killed everyone. I’m the only one left!’ (PAUSE)

     It seemed that in a moment everything Job owned had gone with only Job and his family left. Silently, he thanked God that at least they were safe. (PAUSE) But even as he prayed he saw the small figure running towards him.

As he came closer, Job recognised him as a servant who worked for his eldest son. His face was pale, almost expressionless, but as he came and stood before Job, Job noticed the trembling in his hands that hung limply by his side.

‘ My master,’ he started. Then lowered his eyes to the ground. (SWALLOW) ‘They’re all dead my lord. There was nothing I could do. I left the house to fetch water, when a sudden violent and terrible wind rushed at the house. It struck the house on all sides at once. (PAUSE) They didn’t stand a chance…’ (P)

At the news of the death of his children Job fell to the floor, a roar of grief tearing at his throat. (PAUSE) While Satan, the enemy of God, smiled and listened to the man’s words. Surely now Job would curse God, and Satan would prove that no one really loved God, unless they had something to gain from it of course. 

You see, Satan had stood before God only a short time before and God had pointed out Job as a man who insisted on doing what God wanted. God had blessed Job with great riches, with children, animals and servants, and so Satan challenged God. ‘Take away Job’s riches and he’ll curse you.’

And now Satan listened, waiting to prove he was right with Job’s own words. (P)     

The roar of grief died on Job’s lips, and as he knelt in the dust he opened his mouth to speak. Satan listened carefully. (PAUSE) ‘When I came into this world, I came naked and with nothing, and when I leave it I won’t take anything with me. God, my Lord, has given me everything I have, and He has taken it away. But I will not stop telling how good my Lord is.’

‘NO!’ Satan screamed as he heard Job’s words, this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. And he ran away, working out how next time he’d make sure Job cursed God. (PAUSE)

Some time later Satan found himself, along with the Angels, once again standing in front of God. Last time he’d got it all wrong and looked such a fool. He’d been sure Job would curse God when he lost everything. But this time, if God mentioned Job, Satan thought he had a foolproof plan.

‘Satan,’ God was speaking to him. ‘Do you see Job? He still fears me even though you persuaded me to let you harm him without cause.’

‘Ha!’ Satan replied. ‘What do you expect, a man’ll do anything to save himself. He blesses you because you bless him. (PAUSE) And I can prove it, let me take away his health, and then he’ll curse you!’

God looked at Satan. Satan couldn’t look back. (PAUSE) ‘OK,’ said God. ‘Do with him as you please, but DO NOT kill him!’

Satan hated being in God’s presence. But he’d got what he wanted. Now he was going to make sure that Job cursed God. (PAUSE)

                 Satan planned his attack well, first he covered Job from head to foot with terrible and painful boils. All poor Job could do was sit on a heap of ashes, and scrape at the painful boils with a broken piece of pottery. Even his wife encouraged him to, ‘curse God and let him kill you! Put an end to all this trouble.’ But Job would not do it and continued to trust God.

That night, and every night, as darkness approached, Job longed to get relief from his troubles by sleeping, but Satan sent terrifying nightmares to rob him of his sleep and wear him down. But Job continued to obey God and didn’t do anything wrong. (PAUSE) Then one day his – ‘friends’ – arrived to … ‘console him’ in his suffering. (PAUSE)

For 7 days after they arrived the three friends said nothing to Job because they saw how terrible his suffering was. They sat with him on the ground, in silence. But inside they were working out what they were going to say. Or perhaps Satan was whispering to them what he wanted them to say to turn Job away from God! After the 7 days had passed, his ‘friends’ could hold back no longer.

‘Why don’t you admit it Job – you’re evil! Can’t you see it? God only punishes those who do wrong, so it’s obvious, you must have been very evil indeed! Say sorry and everything’ll be OK again.’

‘But I’m innocent!’ insisted Job. ‘Who have I cheated? Where’re the widows or orphans that I’ve abused? Which of my servants can accuse me of mistreating them? When my enemy was hurt, I wasn’t happy! I haven’t hurt anyone! I share my home and food with anyone who needs it. Tell me what I’ve done? I AM innocent!

‘You can’t be innocent!’ His friends replied. ‘Don’t you see it? No one’s innocent before God, everyone’s guilty. And that includes you! Anyway, it’s the way things are, God punishes the wicked and he blesses the good. But God isn’t blessing you, just look at all the bad that’ve happened to you, you must be very evil!’

The argument went on and on between Job and his friends, but no matter what Job said they wouldn’t believe he was innocent. And as he argued, Job found himself pleading with God to show him why he was suffering when he was innocent, and why God was silent when all these terrible things were happening?

‘God! It’s not fair!’


As Job questioned, suddenly thunder roared and a whirlwind appeared!

‘Who are you to question me Job?’ As God spoke from inside the violent whirlwind, Job’s friends cowered in fear and Job’s heart turned to jelly inside him. ‘Who are you, Job, to question my wisdom and what I do? If you think you’re so wise, then I will question you and you shall answer me!’

‘Where were you when I first put the world together? Tell me if you know so much. When I’d finished my work and the angels and the stars sang for joy, where were you?’

‘Who decided the boundaries of the sea and land? Do you know where the gates of death are? Have you seen them? But of course you have, you’re so wise you already understand it all!’

‘How about the lightening? Can you command the lightening and it will go where you say? Do you know the wild animals, where they sleep and have their young? Do you make the stars move in their seasons? And do you know the laws of the universe and how I rule the earth?’

‘Tell me Job, are you still so wise that you think you can question what I do and why I do it. Do you still want to question me? Tell me, do you have any answers?’ (PAUSE)

Job realised that all he’d said was foolishness. What right did he have to question God when things didn’t go the way he wanted? How can something that’s been made tell the One who made it, how it should be used?

Job apologised to God for his foolishness. And to show how sorry he was he sat in dust and ashes and in silence.

But God hadn’t finished. He spoke to Job’s so-called friends. God was angry with them for saying things about Him that weren’t true. God might let a good man, like Job, face terrible trouble. And, He might let a bad man have wealth and riches. What’s important is that God is in control, and whatever happens, in the end He will always be fair and good

Job’s friends apologised to God for what they’d said, and Job prayed for them. And after he’d prayed, God gave Job twice as much as he’d had before, and he lived 140 good years and saw four generations of his children and grandchildren.