“Son,” a voice says. A shadowy figure rustles the darkness in the damp corner and steps forward. Nearby is the lifeless body of Jesus. A few days ago his body was plucked off its crucified perch and given over to Joseph and put into an empty crypt, under a sky swirling with angels. Now this earthen cavity is swollen with two godheads inside.
“Son, it’s time,” the voice repeats. An outstretched arm reaches across the space, a tender father awakening his son. He begins to gently unwrap him. “Oh, my son, dear son,” he cries. “What have they done to you? Oh, look what they did!”
The spit and blood, the sweat and tears, painted Jesus’ skin with the struggle that began in Gethsemane. Dripping with tears, God traded water for the caked-on blood. Kisses left the bite of hate, roosters marked the edge of night, and humanity sucked in its borrowed breath as it trampled over this worn out messiah.
“What have they done? ...This is the end.” His voice shakes. “They have butchered my son, my very son and I'm finished with it.”
He steps away in pain and places the burial clothes on the shelf. Knelling down beside a naked, lifeless Jesus, God weeps. After what seems a thousand years, he repeats his request in a still, soft voice. It no longer has the boom of promised land songs. He simply says again, “Son, my dear son, who anchored the oceans and built up the mountains, it’s time.”
With that he breathes into the dead mouth of Jesus. He wants to restore affection to its rightful place.
And after a stir and a stretch that calmed waves only weeks earlier, Jesus awakes from the hellish curse that broke their garden and sent them hunting for a cure.
“Dad?” He rubs his eyes. “Dad, is that you?”
“It is, Jesus.”
“DAD!” he exclaims as he hobbles forward and catches a huge embrace. “I have journeyed to great ends these last days. First to the gut of our holy city and then into Hades itself. Inside the pit, I told them what was to come, what is now here, and what our followers will do. I told them that hell has seen its last crowds, I hope. I hope it has. I know it hasn’t. The curse rides long into the night of thieves, and many won’t care it’s been lifted. They won’t believe.”
“They never have.”
“There are some who do.”
“Only a few; only a small few.”
“I will tell them to go and tell others.”
“Yes. Mary is on her way. That will start your exodus. Whisper to her and tell her to not fear. How are you feeling? Are you ready for this final time?”
“Here, I brought you some clothes.”
“Thank you. What happened to Judas?”
“He took his life. He went madly the other way.”
“Judas. My Judas. He was closer than a brother, and so often too far away.”
“When that stone rolls away, it will rebirth the promise. This is a good day. This is a very good day. Now, your body is caught between what it has passed through and the shackles it still wears from the crucifixion.”
“I feel it. My hands ache a little, and my side acts as if it’s carrying a heavy load.”
“Well, they stabbed you dead in the heart. Soon you can relinquish the pain when the pillar of cloud takes you home. It won’t be easy. It never is, but you will be okay?”
“Jacob made it.” Jesus' face lights up remembering the story.
“But he still limps to this day,” God pokes back and smiles.
“It’s the dust stirred up in the soul.”
“You never get it out, even when you’re free.”
Jesus cautiously stands up. He slowly bounces on his toes as if he were a boxer preparing to take the ring. “I’m ready.”
God leans into the stone and whispers. After some moments he looks back at Jesus.
“He’s an old friend,” God says. “I brought him here to make sure you were tightly held in until I could come and raise you up.”
“I remember. Inside his belly boasts streams of water.”
“That’s the one.”
“Horeb, old friend, open up. The time has come. Our work draws to an end and the long wait is now dawning a new day.”
With these words and a gentle nudge, God opens the world to a savior, reborn from out of the grave in the city of Jerusalem, Christ the Lord.
written by Zach Kincaid