It struck me last week (not sure how, or why) that Jesus didn’t have a pen. St. Luke apparently had a pen. He had to write prescriptions. Did they have prescriptions back then? Certainly to be the “Dear and Glorious Physician” one would have to have a pen, or a quill, or a facsimile thereof. I also think the Apostle John probably had a pen on the island of Patmos. I have always been curious about how he managed to write all of that stuff down. Back in the day, olive dyes were a healthy substitute for ink. I think he had access to an olive tree, at least.

St. Matthew definitely had a pen. He sent out invitations to parties, like, all of the time. He also collected taxes, so he had ledgers. Ledgers presuppose pens. St. Mark (of all of the four Gospel writers, let’s face it) is the one most likely to have had a pen. He wrote stuff down, especially the big stuff. I actually think that there may have been some ceremony (not recorded for us) where St. Mark may have been given “the” pen.

The main character in these accounts, however, did not have a pen. Well, he may have had a pen, but we have no record of him ever actually “using” a pen. He was a carpenter, though. So he used hammers, and nails, and sandpaper(ish) things, and awls, and measuring sticks, and plumb lines. And based on his other skills — memorizer of scrolls — he would have been in the advanced reading class. He would likely have been a guy who knew his way around a pen. He never wrote anything down, though. He wrote stuff in the dirt a time or two, and that all went pretty well. However, the Gospel writers don’t tell us about him writing stuff down. That’s interesting.

There are some accounts not recorded in our Scriptures that suggest Jesus may have written a letter. Of course he wrote letters, I would think, but we don’t have record of that in our sacred texts.

My mother died of cancer in 2001. She never owned a computer, or a microwave oven, or an answering machine. We bought her a microwave oven in 1995, but she told us to take it back and save our money, because “the pepperoni Hot Pockets are plenty crispy enough” in her conventional oven. So we gave it to a friend. We bought her an answering machine (pre-cell phone era) for Christmas in 1996, but she took it back to Walmart and sent us a check in the mail for the store credit that Walmart gave her. With that check was a note — “Why do I need an answering machine? I’m not THAT important. Spend your money on a nice shirt, Howie, you need a nice shirt.” I did need a nice shirt.

Perhaps Jesus didn’t use a pen, because He didn’t “need” a pen. Frankly, though, it would have been helpful for me if Jesus had had a pen, because I would prefer to have some clarity on some stuff. Why is the road to destruction wide, and the path to glory narrow? Could you footnote that one for me Jesus? You said, “For just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” Please cite a second source on that one, Jesus, because it would be super helpful in my evangelism with people who have read the Bible more times than I have. They are not buying it. I can sell the David and Bathsheba story; it’s relatable. But a dude living in a fish? That’s a “non-starter” for some folks. An addition to the bibliography for fact-checking purposes would be helpful here.

But perhaps Jesus didn’t need a pen, because we are His pen.

…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

All we do these days is use pens (well, and keyboards and texting and a lot of other conveniences that my mom didn’t want). Much like my mom, however, Jesus did not seem to use what the rest of us use. Instead, he writes with us; we are his pen, and our lives are the stories he is writing today. Jesus chooses us as the instruments of his writing, and he wants us to use the pens of our era. He may also want us to wear a nice shirt now and then.