The smooth-talking public relations director of Jacobus and and Jacobus wants John the Baptist to "soften" his message to reach a wider, most tolerant audience. Uses
This skit addresses the temptations of materialism, pluralism (accepting all moral points of view as valid), and "political correctness." It can stand on its own or be used to introduce a message or series, or to serve as a discussion starter.
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[Jacobus is sitting at table/desk reviewing file. John hestitantly enters, looking bewildered at setting.]
Excuse me, I'm John the Baptist. Your scribe said that you wanted to see me.
[With used car salesman attitude] Ah, John the Baptist! May I call you John? I'm the senior Jacobus of "Jacobus and Jacobus." Have a seat. Care for some wine? Oh, please forgive me. You don't drink any wine or fermented drink, do you? It's all here in the report [he picks up folder].
Yes, my people have been talking with your people and I think "Jacobus and Jacobus" can provide you a valuable service. You see "Jacobus and Jacobus" is the largest public relations firm in Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. We handle such clients at Pontius Pilate the governor of Judea, Caiaphus the high priest, and many other up and coming movers and shakers of the region. And according to our recent survey, you ranked higher in middle income appeal than both of them.
I don't understand.
Listen, John, your identity recognition factor and perceived integrity ranking make you a prime candidate for political power.
You don't understand. I've been sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. I must decrease and He must increase.
Wrong, wrong, wrong! What we need to do is package your message so that the maximum impact is felt on the target audience. That's where we can help! Now, let's begin with the clothes. According to our survey the camel hair suit is a strong factor in name recognition and identity for the lower class , but those making over five thousand denarii find the outfit too much of a gimmick. Now if you want to reach the upper class, I have a fine tailor I could recommend.
But my clothes haven't stopped the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem from coming out to the desert to hear my message.
True, but can't you see that you're neglecting entire demographic groupings. For instance, our survey reveals that you have alienated the ruling class by your comments about Herod the tetrarch of Galilee and his . . . ah . . . “relationship” with his brother's wife. You must realize that we live in a pluralistic society and that there must be tolerance for a wide range of lifestyles.
But Herod took his own brother's wife as his own!
True, but you've alienated a political ally. Our research shows that at one time Herod perceived you as . . . [he shuffles through some papers]. Here it is: "Herod perceives potential client to be righteous and holy man whom he enjoys listening to." Frankly, it's just not politically correct to confront people about their private lives and now our research shows that Herod's wife wants your head--figuratively speaking, I'm sure. Now, about the religious sector, it appears that you've alienated the Pharisees and Sadduces. Here, I have a transcript of one of your messages [he shuffles through more papers]: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
But that is the message I have received.
Hey, we're not asking you to change your message, but to simply rephrase a few key points. Our demographic profile of the person on the street reveals a growing frustration with the political and religious powers. With slaves from Roman conquest taking over the skilled trades, the middle class is virtually being eliminated. The rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer. Now, by appealing to felt needs of the demographic sampling you can offer a message of hope rather than this negative message of repentance.
It is the religious and political corruption that I speak out against: [Forcefully] "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." To the tax collectors I warn "Don't collect any more than you are required to" and to the soldiers I command, "Don't exhort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay."
John, John, John. You've got a message that touches a felt need in the large demographic sampling. But, you've got to get rid of offensive words like "repent." My people have found that phrases such as "realize your full potential" and "become the person you've always wanted to be" register more positively with your target audience than all these references to "axes" and "fire." I think we can control the damage already done with a public relation's campaign that re-positions you as a moderate who has the best interests of the entire demographic spread: economically, politically, and morally. So, what do you say, John? Can we work together?
I can give it to you in just one word.
Jacobus [dejectedly]: Let me guessrepent?
Repent! [John walks out, as Jacobus shakes his head.]