I loved watching Scooby Doo as a kid. But there was something about how the gang investigated strange occurrences that left me scratching my head: They always split up. I guess it makes sense to cover more ground in a shorter period of time, but I don’t know. Fred, Velma and Daphne would go off in one direction and Shaggy and Scooby would go off in another. If you don’t know the show, Shaggy was kind of a goofball and Scooby was a dog. Both teams had a job to do, but one team was much better at figuring things out than the other. Shaggy and Scooby were only good at finding food and getting in trouble. Why in the world would Fred ever send those two out on their own and expect them to get something important done?
For that matter, why would Jesus? He was the reliable one, but today we see him lead the disciples out to a deserted place and say “Let’s split up! It makes sense on the surface. For the very first time, the disciples now understood the magnitude of what Jesus has been doing all along. He was not just working to restore political glory to Israel. He was laying the groundwork for the coming Kingdom of God. They now knew that this kingdom was like nothing else in human history. They got a taste of it in Jesus’ resurrection. His battered human body, not just brought back to life but transformed into something eternal. His body would never age, never become ill, and never die. He was 100% eternal spirit and 100% eternal human, both together in the same place for the very first time.
The Apostle Paul would call the risen Christ “the first born of the New Creation” where spiritual heaven and renewed earth would be brought together into the same place as a perfect eternal kingdom where God and humanity would live together in peace. But first there was work to do. Heaven had to be prepared for the Big Day. Earth had to get ready for the Big Day, too, which is why Jesus said “Let’s split up!”
“I’ll work on getting heaven ready while you work on getting the earth ready.”
And off he went. The disciples just stood there, dumbfounded, staring up into the clouds. Had Jesus just made the biggest mistake of his life? We have no doubt that Jesus will get everything ready on his end, but we’re not so sure we can come through on ours. Jesus is like Fred and Velma and Daphne. Fred was brave, Daphne was beautiful, and Velma was incredibly smart. Shaggy and Scooby were neither brave, beautiful or smart. In fact they were cowards. How they got dragged into the business of investigating hauntings and monsters, I’ll never know. They were not well equipped for the job. Maybe that’s why they were so easily distracted, spending more time playing around and eating than actually working.
Isn’t that us? I mean, compared to Jesus, that’s us! How in the world we ever got dragged into the business of redeeming creation, I’ll never know! We are simply not well equipped for it. What do we know of the mysteries of God or Eternity? For that matter, what do we really understand of the intricacies of the human heart or the problems of the planet? We are terrified of the dangers of the world and would rather wrap ourselves up in a warm blanket and watch Saturday morning cartoons than confront the evils of racism, terrorism, corruption and addiction. We have a hard enough time surviving our own lives, let alone making other people’s lives better or even making the world better. Jesus has to know that we are going to find a million ways to mess this up!
Here’s the thing though. Shaggy and Scooby may have been goofballs, but every week they were the ones who blundered their way into the truth. They would run face to face into the monster haunting the old ski resort and accidentally unmask the monster as Mr. Jenkins the groundskeeper who was trying to drive everyone away so he could claim the undiscovered silver mine on the property for himself. THEY did that. The cowards. The goof balls. It’s almost as if Fred knew that if sent out to make a mess of things, these two would find a way to crack the case wide open, even if it was by accident. I think Fred had far more confidence in Shaggy and Scooby than they had in themselves.
There’s more than one way to solve a mystery, the smart patient way of finding clues and putting it together with logic or by accidentally crashing head on into the monster and exposing it as a dishonest fraud who would’ve gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling kids. In the end, it was a team effort, but Fred had to send them out to stir things up and knock Mister Jenkins off his game, to make a mistake.
Jesus has more confidence in us than we have in ourselves. Compared to him, we feel like we are just bumbling our way through this redeeming the world stuff. But remember, even a broken clock is right twice a day, isn’t it? In the end, Jesus does the most important parts, but it is also a team effort. Jesus has to send us out to stir things up to knock the Enemy of his game, to make a mistake that Jesus can use to his advantage. But he was also smart enough to not send us out alone, which is why he promises the Holy Spirit, which shows up on Pentecost.
In the meantime, let’s split up.
Go stir things up.
Blunder into things.
Bump into people.
Discover things going on the neighborhood that you didn’t know about before, and bring Jesus into it. Jesus is getting things ready in heaven. We are getting things ready on earth because the Big Day is coming when God will bring heaven and earth together so beautifully you’d swear it had been that way since the beginning. We have a lot to do before that happens. Let’s get out there! Get to work!