The bible states Jesus hit the road with twelve disciples, but what if there was a thirteenth and he went by the name of Chester?
Chester may have been a favor Jesus did for his cousin, Vince, who was related to Chester by marriage. It was the kind of arrangement where Jesus needed another man and Chester needed to move out of his parents’ house so they could move back in.
Accustomed to an easy life back home Chester was by no means prepared for a rugged one on the road. Afraid of the dark, he stayed up at night and filled the camp with nervous chatter. During the day when Jesus was in the middle of a sermon, he had to raise his voice over the snoring Chester. At dinner Chester was the first in line and always came back for seconds. Around the campfire, Chester complained about his sore feet from all the walking. And even though being a disciple was purely a volunteer position, Chester kept hitting Jesus up for money.
Jesus didn’t much care for Chester. It got to a point where he had to take time in the day to be alone. He told his disciples he needed to pray and reflect, but the real reason was he needed a “Chester-free” hour. Still, it was not easy.
When Jesus found a nice, secluded spot on a remote hill, it didn’t take more than five minutes for Chester to appear with a presentation on why they should invest in a company mule. When Jesus slipped away to practice walking on water, he kept getting hit in the ankles by the skipping stones Chester threw from shore. Even in the middle of night when Jesus tried to lull himself to sleep by counting sheep, it was only a matter of time before Chester appeared to chase them away.
Although Jesus went from town to town preaching love and forgiveness, there were times where he would lay under a starless sky with no other vision than an unfortunate accident involving Chester.
“It could happen,” He thought. “Chester could twist an ankle. He’s not the most coordinated person in the world. I doubt anybody would miss him while he recuperated. There definitely would be more food for the rest of us.
With the lack of sleep and perpetual complaining from Chester, Jesus felt himself slipping into an edgy state and it worried him. What he did and who he was all about was setting a good example. As a prophet of good news, he could ill afford getting into a squabble with one of his disciples. So, Jesus went proactive and confided in his most trusted disciple.
JESUS: Peter, can you do me a favor?
PETER: What’s that Big J?
JESUS: When I’m preaching today, can you keep Chester far away from me?
PETER: How far?
JESUS: Visually would be fine; the next town ideal.
PETER: Is Chester still getting on your nerves?
JESUS: I think it’s beyond nerves. Why don’t you send Chester into town with Thomas? They can get provisions. Heck, they might even bring some back.
PETER: I like that idea.
JESUS: It is, but in the future…
JESUS: You know how there’s a plan and sometimes the plan doesn’t go accordingly?
PETER: You don’t have to tell this fisherman.
JESUS: Exactly, we are fishermen, gathering fish. But you see there’s this dolphin.
JESUS: Yes, there’s this dolphin named Chester. And although he can be playful, he still can create quite a mess by getting caught in our nets and eating all the fish.
PETER: Sounds like a problem.
JESUS: It is. So, in the future if you see me making any sudden movements towards this dolphin, I need you to get in the way.
PETER: (GIVES A PERPLEXED LOOK)
JESUS: Pete, you know I consider you my rock. But for the time being, I need you to be a rolling stone, a moving boulder between me and Chester.
PETER: (BEGINS TO NOD)
JESUS: Block me. Tackle me. Do whatever it takes.
PETER: Got it!
And Peter did. He became Chester’s unknown shadow, an unrequested bodyguard. How little Chester understood, how fully aware Jesus remained. After all, he was standing on one leg for peace and the other for understanding. Jesus knew Chester was a person not to be liked, but still he needed to try. Chester was a test as well as a testament to Jesus’ own beliefs. And in the still of the night while the rest of the camp slept, Jesus quietly repeated the mantra, “Love Chester as much as yourself… Stay focused, Big J. You have a big day tomorrow.”
Indeed, it was. The Sermon on the Mount wasn’t any gig. Jesus was starting to get a following and people were coming from miles around to fill the hillside and see a man who was a little groggy when he started to speak:
JESUS: I begin today’s sermon by letting you know that you are loved. No matter who you are or what you do, you are loved by God the Father.
MAN: What about tax collectors?
Jesus darted his eyes through the crowd to find the little pinhead. But when his eyes located Andrew, James the Just and Bartholomew, he could not find Chester. Then he remembered his morning ruse, telling Chester how excited he was about his Sermon by the Sea, asking Chester and Thaddeus to scout the perfect location. No, Chester wasn’t even there and Jesus knew that he had to deal with something far worse: a heckler.
HECKLER: Does God love tax collectors?
JESUS: I suppose He does.
HECKLER: I’m a tax collector and not a very honest one. I skim off the top to buy wine and women.
JESUS: I’m sure your parents are quite proud?
HECKLER: They should be. I used tax payer money to set them up in a condo.
JESUS: My friend, I’m not here to judge you nor am I here as a prophet of doom. I come as one to proclaim: Blest are the poor for the reign of God is theirs. Also, blest are the hungry for one day they shall be filled.
HECKLER: Speaking of eating, I hear you can turn stones into bread.
JESUS: I don’t like to brag, but I can whip up a nice Jewish Rye.
HECKLER: Let’s see it.
JESUS: Do you mind? I’m in the middle of a sermon.
HECKLER: That’s boring. Do a miracle.
JESUS: I will not.
HECKLER: We want a miracle not a boring lecture.
JESUS: Would you be quiet!
HECKLER: We want a miracle not a boring lecture.
JESUS: (Good grief!)
Even with the Chester-free day, it was still a stressful one. So no one was surprised when Jesus added a few more jugs of wine to the dinner hour. And as the wine was passed around the campfire, Jesus started to relax. And after telling a few jokes about Romans and Norwegians, the disciples asked Jesus to look into the future.
JESUS: I see a time when men and woman will turn from the land and sea to worship a little box. And from this little box great pictures will appear and these men and women will speak to these pictures with a tiny creature called a mouse.
PETER: Will they be pet owners?
JESUS: No, they will be called system analysts.
JOHN: What are system analysts?
JESUS: I don’t know and I doubt they will either. But whatever their title, they will speak to this box for eight to twelve hours a day. And like tax collectors they will be compensated through monetary means.
JAMES: How sad.
JESUS: Don’t worry Little J, they will be compensated with comprehensive health and dental plans as well as group discounts to local wellness centers.
SIMON: What are wellness centers?
JESUS: They will be places filled with iron creatures, stationary horses, ponds with no fish and trails that lead back to themselves. And it will be there that these analysts will go to exercise?
PHILLIP: What is exercise?
JESUS: Exercise is something you do when you no longer walk to work.
JOHN: The future doesn’t sound like that much fun.
JESUS: It will have its moments.
MATTHEW: Maybe we can bring it a little closer to home and tell us who you like in this week’s camel races.
JESUS: I already told you I’m not here to enrich your wallet.
MATTHEW: (SMILES) Old habits.
CHESTER: Hey Big J, were out of wine and can you whip up some more of these lamb kabobs. I love kabobs.
As Jesus watched Chester throw another wooden skewer into the fire, he knew it would never work. He and Chester would never be friends and their parting would not have a happy ending. But he didn’t know it would be that night when he awoke in a fit of cold and soon found his missing blanket draped on a sleeping Chester.
JESUS: That’s it. I’ve had it. Get up!
CHESTER: What’s going on? Is it time for breakfast?
JESUS: No, it isn’t time for breakfast. It’s the middle of the night.
CHESTER: Then why are you waking us up?
JESUS: Because I’ve had it. I don’t care if you are related to my cousin. Give me my blanket back.
CHESTER: But how am I supposed to sleep with only one?
JESUS: You’re not. You are taking your blanket and leaving.
CHESTER: Why? Where am I going?
JESUS: It doesn’t matter as long as it isn’t here.
CHESTER: But why do I have to go?
JESUS: Because if you stay, I can’t guaranty your safety.
CHESTER: Do you think Peter may come after me?
JESUS: Are you that dense? Peter’s the only reason your still around.
CHESTER: Then who is my betrayer?
JESUS: Do I have to spell it out? Do I have to draw a map and take you there myself?
CHESTER: If you could. I have night vision.
JESUS: Okay, Chester, it’s me. You got it? Me!
JESUS: Yes, me.
CHESTER: But I don’t understand. We’re family.
JESUS: Two words: Cain. Abel.
CHESTER: But where will I go?
JESUS: I hear Damascus is nice this time of year.
CHESTER: Why would I go to Damascus?
JESUS: Maybe you could set up a branch office for us.
CHESTER: No, if you want me gone, I’m done. Just pay up and I’ll be on my way.
CHESTER: Yeah. Don’t I get a severance package?
JESUS: You still owe me from the race track.
CHESTER: What about a lamp? It’s pretty dark out there.
JESUS: I think you need to leave.
CHESTER: What about the mule? You know how sore my feet get.
JESUS: Please go!
CHESTER: What kind of outfit is this?
JESUS: (NODS TO PETER)
CHESTER: Look, I’m not as good at the parlor tricks as you are. How am I gonna eat?
JESUS: I’m sorry. I’ve carried you this far…
CHESTER: Oh, so when the going gets tough, Big J wants Chester going.
JESUS: That’s not it. It just didn’t work out.
CHESTER: You know Vinnie won’t be too happy about this and you know how big he is in the fishermen’s union. Did you ever think about that?
JESUS: It doesn’t have to go this way.
CHESTER: A loaf of bread… A few fish… Some humanitarian you are. I’m better off working with the Gladiators.
Peter eventually eased Chester down the path and set him up in the closest town.
Jesus decided to give the disciples the rest of the week off while he spent some time sitting under a cedar tree, trying to lower his blood pressure.
Chester eventually moved back in with his parents. He never amounted to much, but that didn’t prevent him from becoming the patron saint of daily annoyances.
We should all pray to him daily.