What If Caiaphas Had Tweeted?

It’s interesting to follow the Twitter traffic during episodes of The Bible on the History Channel. Though reaction to the series has been pretty positive, there are detractors. One tweeted a summary “Yawn” to the second installment, adding, “David seems like more of a smart aleck than a man after God’s own heart.” Another ventured some humor: “The folks live tweeting The Bible are being very inconsiderate. Some of us are still reading the book and don’t appreciate the spoilers.” And others brought out preaching points: “David tells Bathsheba ‘No one will ever know!’ 3000 yrs later the world still knows.”
This social media reaction to screen characters makes me wonder how things might have gone had Twitter been in full gear in Bible times. Maybe Eutychus would have tweeted, “Yawn. Paul’s already made that point twice, and I’ve got to get up for work at dawn,” just before he fell asleep and keeled out of a third story window in Troas (Acts 20:7-12). Or maybe one of Paul’s critics would have observed, “Hey, I thought this guy was supposed to be a great spokesman for God. He’s not that dazzling” (2 Corinthians 11:6).
Who knows what jokes would have circulated (“A Roman, a Sadducee, and an Essene go into a tavern and . . .”). And past missteps would have taken on new life as tweets, retweets, and Google citations (“Peter may talk grand now, but he was a wimp when I asked him a simple question by the campfire one night” [Luke 22:54-62]).
If today’s traffic is any indication, embarrassing photos would have gone viral (Bartholomew picking his nose?); astonishing videos would be suspect (“If you look really, really close, you’ll see a jump in the image when He doubles that fish by breaking it.”); Caiphas would have tweeted warnings to and about the Lord; Peter would have tried to delete the one where he said he’d never let Jesus down; Judas would have used ListServe for fundraising, as would a Dalmanuthan trying to get his fishing buddies to come hear this new “rabbi” on the shores of Galilee; Nicodemus might have stopped his tweeting long enough to ask Jesus for clarification, “Wait a minute. How do you spell ‘born again’ in Greek?” (John 3); disciples could have used Twitter for logistics—“Hey, folks, can anybody use extra food? We’ve got 12 baskets of leftovers?” (Matthew 14:20); key points of the Sermon on the Mount would have gone out in real time.
Galatians 4:4-5 says that God sent Jesus to earth “in the fullness of time,” when circumstances were ripe for the gospel revelation. A common language, the Pax Romana, and a great road system served the first-century spread of the gospel. The Law, the Writings, and the Prophets were in place, all pointing to the Messiah. God’s people had, through the centuries, shown that they needed grace and mercy, and not just a set of rules and animal sacrifices. Things were finally in place.
I think we can be grateful that other things, such as Twitter, were not yet in place. As valuable as tweets can be, I can’t help but think they would have made hash of Jesus’ timing, forcing a premature, “nuclear” confrontation with the authorities. And confused, inflammatory gossip would have metastasized more quickly (“I can’t believe He called the Pharisees ‘whitewashed goons’” [Matthew 23:27]).
Thank God the Lord came when the time was ripe—and not overripe with social media frenzy.
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