(This is Mark’s first imaginary interview with Jesus. You can find the second here and the third here.)
Below is Mark Goldman’s fantasy interview with Jesus after Jesus attends a showing of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”
Mark: My goodness, well I do appreciate your taking the time to do this interview. I imagine a lot of people will be interested in what you have to say, and if I may say so, it is a real honor to meet you.
Jesus: No problem. I’m glad to do this. In fact, I appreciate the opportunity.
Mark: You know, it’s kind of strange. You don’t sound like I thought you would. I mean you speak excellent English and you don’t even have an accent. Can you explain why you sound like… well… I mean, like anyone else… that is to say, in your manner of speech?
Jesus: Well, you know, I haven’t been entirely idle since I left this plane. I’ve learned a few things and have had time to reflect and observe. I want to be understood when I speak and not be too unconventional in my demeanor. You might say I don’t want my presentation to get in the way of my message.
Mark: Well, ok then. I just think it might be a surprise to some of my readers to hear you expressing this way. I just hope they’ll understand and believe this is really you.
Jesus: Don’t worry. I think they’ll understand. I hope so anyway. But then again, I don’t think I’ve ever been very well understood. There are still a lot of lingering misconceptions. But I keep trying. Why don’t you just get right into it... I don’t mean to rush you, but my schedule is…
Mark: Sure… I’m sorry… you bet. Ok. Well, you just sat through more than 2 hours watching a movie of your life here on Earth. What did you think? What’s your first impression?
Jesus: Well first of all, let me say that the movie was not a movie about my life. It was about my death. I mean, you need to understand that it was not my intention when I set out on what you might call my journey here on Earth, to make the manner of my death the most important aspect of my life. It sure is true that I did experience a pretty horrible death, (if you want to call it that) to be sure, but I’d hate to think that that was the whole point of my life. So, the movie was not about my life. To tell you the truth it is kind of irksome to me that people so often choose to focus more on that than on the rest.
But on the other hand, I think the movie, while it was not an exact reenactment of what happened, does capture the essence of what it was like for me. It was pretty bad. What happened to me happened to a lot of other people at that time too, you know. It was a pretty common event in those days, I’m sorry to say. Very cruel and barbaric. I’m glad that’s not done anymore. You do a lot of other things on this plane, though, that I’d like to see changed but at least you aren’t doing that. But did I die because of other people’s sins? I would say… I was killed because of ignorance and hate. Unfortunately, those attributes of human expression have not disappeared on this plane. I see plenty of that when I look around, even today. If a closer look at my life can help change that… well, that’s all to the good.
Mark: Well, what do you think the main point of the movie was, and are you pleased with it?
Jesus: I think the point of the movie was that I experienced a very painful and excruciating death with the implication being that somehow my death was perhaps more awful and more significant than others who died the same way. Of course that’s not something I agree with. I was tortured and killed because all of a sudden a lot of people began listening to what I had to say. And what I had to say was very different from the consciousness of the day. I was a threat to the power structure of both the religious and the political order that was in place then. My death was indeed a horrific injustice, but the injustice done to me was no more significant than similar injustice done to others. What’s more painful to me now is not the memory of my death or how I died, but the fact that the meaning of my life has largely been lost and the way a lot of people interpret my death does not please me at all. I imagine I would be a threat to the religious and political order today too if people really wanted to pay attention to what I have to say.
Mark: I’m sorry. I don’t understand.
Jesus: Well let me put it this way. It was never my intention to come onto this plane to be worshipped. That’s not my consciousness. That was never my intention. That’s not what I’m about. It does not please me to be called God and to be worshipped. My main message is very simple. What I wanted to say in my life is simply this: love one another. Which is to say, honor one another, tell the truth, seek justice, have courage. How hard is that to understand. Anyone who wants to honor me, or my life, can do so by simply living their life with that same intention. But somehow things got turned around. And that, I have to say… is something I still find very painful.
Mark: Well don’t you think people know that? Isn’t that why they go to church? Don’t they go to pray for guidance in how to do just that? I mean… isn’t the purpose of religion to gain greater understanding in how we can all love one another?
Jesus: Some people do. What concerns me is that so many go to worship, hoping that worshipping me, worshipping God, will somehow save them from something, or get them something they want. If worship made people more responsible, that would be ok. But it doesn’t always work that way. I think loving someone who has dedicated his life to humanity, which is what I did, is a wonderful thing, but I did not dedicate my life to humanity in hopes of being worshipped… or rather I should say, I would hope that in loving me and in being loved by me, people would use that experience to help them understand how to love others. You see, loving me is not that hard. But I want you to love one another. That’s not so easy. I know that. It never has been. But I still hope for it. The way I know I am really loved is when people who listen to what I said, take it to heart and try to follow my example. I hope my love comforts you, but I also hope that it inspires you to have courage in seeking justice and goodwill towards all people.
Mark: Well that’s not so easy. I mean most people have difficulty loving others all the time. I know I don’t always feel loving towards others.
Jesus: The problem is that people think that love is a feeling that they should always feel. When they don’t feel that way they think they don’t love. But to love other people does not mean that you have to feel any particular way all the time. To love other people has more to do with your commitment to the things you say you believe in. For example, in this country you can express your love for one another by simply being true to your ideals. Treat all people with respect, be a good citizen, try to help one another by supporting legislation that is compassionate and fair, for example. It has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with simply making decisions that are consistent with your values moment to moment. And on a more personal note you can do the same thing... in your own home, in your school, in your job. Treat people you know with as much compassion and understanding as you can… and treat those you know and those you don’t know the same. Look, everyone makes mistakes. If you can treat people fairly, particularly when they screw up, that is love, too. I never asked anyone to do the impossible. By making me into someone to be worshipped, I’m sorry to say… is really to reject my message. It isn’t an act of love, if you see what I mean.
Mark: Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure that I do. Can you give me an example or be more specific.
Jesus: Well listen Mark, the point is this: when you say that only I have the ability to love unconditionally and that you do not, you are already giving yourself an excuse to not follow my example. And besides, it just isn’t true. I lived on this plane just like you do. I was not capable of anything that others could not do or be. I wasn’t asking you to be more than you could be. I was asking you to be what you could be. But most people didn’t believe me, didn’t trust me, weren’t willing to change, didn’t have the courage to… not even my own followers. If they had believed in me and trusted me, they would have become what I was, which I told them they could do. A few understood but most did not. By choosing to worship me, by setting up a church in my name, they eventually ended up playing politics. They wanted to influence others not by being an example, which is very hard to do, but they took the easy road… by setting up rules and levels of authority… by inventing frightening images of how people would be punished if they didn’t obey this authority or that rule. That was not my example. They found it too hard to simply love one another like I tried to do and instead made me into much more than even a hero… they lifted my image up so high that no one could hope to be what I was. For many, all they understood was that they were supposed to worship me, pray to me, treat me like an idol. But that was a distortion of my message. I am not interested in being worshipped. I am interested in being loved. You demonstrate that you love me, by trusting me, by believing me… by doing what you can to love one another. If that’s what you are doing, then what I went through was worth it.
Mark: I think I understand. So do you think people should go see the movie?
Jesus: Sure. Why not? As long as they realize that what they are looking at is the pain of injustice that I experienced, that others experience, when injustice is allowed to flourish. Maybe the movie will help them better understand compassion… not only for what I went through, but for what so many go through even today. I cannot explain to you the pain of being nailed onto a cross. But then again I cannot explain to you the pain and suffering that so many of your fellow human beings experience every day because of injustice that is still allowed to flourish.
Mark: Well there seems to be some controversy about who was responsible for your death, for that injustice. Do you want to comment on that?
Jesus: No one living today is responsible for what happened to me. You do not come into this world guilty for what your near or distant relatives believed or might have done. There is hardly anyone living today who does not have ancestors who at one time or another were brutal and barbaric in how they treated others. But you are not guilty because of what they did. God is not like that. And yet, at the same time, all are responsible for the great amount of suffering that exists in the world today. Because responsibility does not mean that you are guilty for all of this suffering. It means simply that who you are and how you live makes a difference. Who you are and how you live can help heal the suffering or add to it. The difference you make has to do with how willing you are to love … even when you don’t feel like it.
I’m sorry I have to go now. But I have a message for you and your readers: If you ever think you have forgotten or never knew how to love… or if you ever feel so lost and alone that it is you who is suffering, I want you to remember this: this God that is within me, is within you too, He is within everyone. Remember?… closer than your own breath. I love you. Wherever you go, my love goes with you. Take that love and make it your own. Become someone who loves.
Mark: Thank you. I’ll try. I love you, too.
Jesus: I know. You’re welcome.
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