A Play in One Act…and my apologies to Broadway.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
–Jesus; John 15:13
Of course I know who he is. What? I cost the guy his life! Whadayamean by that? The DA is calling it what? Criminally negligent homicide! Hold on there, sport. Wait just one minute. You got nothing on me. You can’t hold me. I know my rights. Besides, I barely knew the guy.
You’ve got the wrong guy, I tell you. I’m a pretty good fellow, really. Ask anybody. I pay my taxes, I generally obey the law, I’m a pretty good husband and neighbor. I’ve got a good job; been there for years. Oh yeah, I go to church every Sunday, haven’t missed one in, well, a few weeks. I’m respectful of my elders, too, and I like kids. I take good care of my dogs. Our house is in good repair. I mow the lawn and tend the flower beds. I ride my bike on bike-to-work day, and we recycle! Ask anybody, I tell you, anybody. Well, almost anybody. I’m certainly not like one of those other kinds of people…you know the type.
Well sure, I’ve done some “bad” stuff, I suppose, everybody has. For the small stuff I did I thought this Jesus guy just winked and smiled at me like a doting grandfather. For the more serious stuff I did (and I assure you there has been very little of that!), I think he punished me a bit; I admit that probably deserved that. Some minor punishment was okay with me. Nothing I did could possibly have caused his death. We barely knew each other, I tell you. Tell me again why you are charging me with homicide?
Alright, you could say that some of what I did was wrong, I guess, if you really must use that old word. And I admit to sometimes even knowing that it was wrong before I did it. But most of it seemed harmless at the time. Yes, of course there were those few times when I admit to knowing beforehand that there would be consequences to others, and I didn’t care. There, I said it. Sometimes I didn’t care. But later I did say I was sorry, didn’t I? Sometimes I was even reeeally sorry. That didn’t fix it?
Okay, so there’s a little bit of criminal in all of us, so what? We all do wrong sometimes. It makes life a little exciting, “living on the edge” like they say on those reality TV shows. But that doesn’t make me a bad person. I’m just living my life my way, I’m a Nike-kind-of-guy! Just “do it,” you know. Acting with negligence? No way. Maybe I occasionally acted recklessly toward others, but what risk did I expose him to? Nothing big, I assure you. This guy Jesus, whose death you say I caused say was never at risk for my actions. I can’t do anything to him, he’s God; I told you, I go to church, I know these things. So, negligence on my part is for sure out of the question. Out! of! the! question!
What do you mean, God is love? I know that; church-goer, remember. What has that got to do with anything? Besides, if God is love then he could have turned the other cheek, right? Overlooked the stuff I did. He didn’t have to die because of me. And I certainly didn’t cause him to do it, he volunteered. Can’t blame that on me, no sir. He didn’t have to do it, you know. Yep, just a little punishment for me and things would have again been just fine between us. Slap on the wrist, swat on the behind…that’s all it would have taken. None of this dying stuff. Remember, I’m not one of those people. Not me.
He had to do it? What do you mean, “He had to do it?” And I should have known it! How can you say that?! How could I have known that little fact? Yeah, I know all about forgiveness. I told you that I said I was sorry to those people I wronged. Isn’t that enough? A gift? What gift? I didn’t get a present. Two presents! Wait, I got two presents?! Oh, I’ve been offered two presents, one from those I wronged and one from him. I don’t get it. I wronged him and some others and they offer to give me a present…how can that be? Well, since I don’t have it, what present did they offer me? Not holding my guilt against me? Hold on just one minute. Who said I was guilty of anything? Not me! Okay, I guess if I did those few things wrong I’m technically guilty, I guess.
But, why would anybody offer to give me that kind of present when they could hold my guilt over my head, make me owe them? Dog-eat-dog world, ya know. Love? Are we back to that? Are you telling me that because he, and those others I wronged, love me so much they freely offer me this present? Whadayaknow? Maybe there are two kinds of people in this world, them that take and them that get taken…they seem stupid to me. What’s in it for them? Yeah, I know…love.
But why die? What’s this present got to do with him dying. Why did he have to die if I’m guilty–not that I’m admitting to anything, of course? Compelled by love, you say. Wasn’t there another way? Well, sure I did; when I wronged those others I tried to fix what I broke; you’d have to be a real jerk to just walk away. I own up to it when I screw up; always have, always will. I make it right. You’re saying that’s why he died, to fix what broke? Look, I keep telling you that I go to church and the preacher says that God is perfect; so, how could he break anything. What I broke?! He died to fix what I broke?!
So, let me get this straight: you are telling me that he gave me the present of not holding my guilt over my head and he died to fix what broke because of me? So, he wrapped the present and opened it? What’s left for me to do, he’s done everything? Accept the present; sure, I can do that! Gimme the thing. I’m holding my hands out, God…where is this present?
Wait, it can’t be that easy. What’s the catch? No catch, you say, just admit my guilt. Is that all? I knew it! I’ve seen enough of those cop shows to know you all lie. You offer a deal, then get you to confess and, wham!, in the slammer you go for life. Bait and switch. You just want me to admit to this homicide. Clear the books. Another case closed. Well, no way. No way. No way. No way.
What! You are not so smart, you know; pretty dumb, really. Here’s a tip: this doesn’t help at all to get me to confess. You’re telling me now that if I confess my guilt to get this present, my guilt is not held against me, he fixes what I broke, but I STILL get the death penalty?! See, I knew it! Do you think I’m a complete imbecile? You were trying to trick me. You left out that little fact of THE DEATH PENALTY! Reborn? What do you mean, reborn? I get the death penalty and them I’m reborn. Sure. Right. No such thing as reincarnation, buddy boy.
Really? I’m reborn? You are going to stick with that? Yeah, the preacher does say he came back from the dead. He can really do that for me, too? Yeah, I guess he can, after all, he created this whole mess of a universe. Reborn. Hmmmmm, let me get this straight. I’m reborn, that means new fingerprints, a new face, new DNA…a whole new identity? Hey, then nobody could pin these charges on me, right? I’d be a free man. It’s better than double jeopardy. Oh?, not reborn like that…but I would still be free of the charges? And he will have forgotten them? Hey, maybe this deal isn’t so bad after all, accept for that dying part.
More? He’ll adopt me? The same guy who you say died because of my criminal negligence will give me a new identity by adopting me into his family. Really. This is like no fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Disney should be rolling over in his grave. No, I don’t want to hear that he is no longer in his grave. My head hurts enough already over this.
Stop! There can’t be more. Stop, I say. He’ll what?! Relocate me? Wait…if I have a new identity, then why do I need witness protection? Is this a conspiracy case? Is there somebody else involved in his death? Who else is in on this? YOU! You have a record, too! Not any more? What do you mean, “Not any more”? Ah…you accepted his gift?! You died and were reborn? Ha! For a guy whose been reborn, you don’t look so good. And I can see why: in your dealings with me it’s plain that you aren’t too good at this negotiating stuff. I’ll get a better deal in exchange for my guilty plea, I can promise you that. Maybe I’ll negotiate a full head of hair. Yeah, ha!, you didn’t do so good. What, you didn’t have a lawyer?
What do you mean “now and not yet.” Even though you have a new body it is still yet coming; you have been relocated but not fully; you are adopted and still becoming a son…geez. I’ll certainly get my deal now; I’m not waiting around for “not yet.” A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, ya know.
All this. I get all this and all I have to do is confess? Let me ask you, did it hurt to die? Great, I told you how bad you were at this. If it is good and hard how did you do it? How do you keep it up? He what?! He helps! After what you did, and what I allegedly did, to him…he still helps? Foolishness. You gotta know that this story gets more and more foolish to a wise guy like me. Do you ever clear any cases? Your job must be like trying to coax a camel through the eye of a needle. Where is my lawyer?