Jesus Christ: The Last Interview

October 15, 2012 9:13 pm

This had to be the trickiest assignment I’d had so far since working for 21st Century News.

The idea was easy. At 21st we choose who we’d like to interview or what historical event we’d like to witness first hand, make the request to one of the editors who then opens up the transport chamber and away we go through the swirls and wormholes of time.

I decided to throw myself into the deep end, go straight to the top, in the beginning there was ‘the Word’, well, maybe not quite that far. That was his supposed ‘dad’…well, that was something I might ask him to clear up because I thought his ‘dad’ was some carpenter guy called Joe Christ in Bethlehem (or was it Nazareth? Must do the research). I was confused. Felt dizzy. The chamber always did this to me. Made you feel like a Sunday morning after eight pints of lager and a dodgy curry…bluuuuurgh!!

There is a green hill far away…

…and I landed at the bottom of it. Even though the sun was beginning to go down, the light was still good and sent elongated shadows across the landscape. Behind me was a sprawling city with a wall around it, Jerusalem. The main gates were still open. I could see from there, at the centre, the dome of a big temple-like building. There were two soldiers holding spears on either side of the city gate. Their cloaks flapped in the gentle breeze.

I brushed down my dark suit. I had landed on my side and had sand and dirt down my jacket sleeve and trouser leg. One of my shoes was missing. I found it after a cursory scout around. The sand was still hot beneath my single shoeless foot, so I slipped it back on. I checked my digital recorder. Seemed to be okay. I looked up the hill. There, I saw three crosses. I could make out three figures hanging from them. Beneath them, at a short distance, a small group of men and women. I could hear some wailing going on. I really hoped their noise wouldn’t drown out the interview. As a precaution, I decided to turn the recording level to the max. I got my breath back and began the slow uphill trudge.

As I reached the rocky crest, I sat down to get my breath back. The wailing had subsided somewhat, which was a good sign that the interview wouldn’t be spoiled by their racket. There he was, like in all the pictures, in the middle of three crosses. The two other guys were in a bad way. The one on the left had his head shaved and black teeth, his mouth lolled open. He might already have passed away. The guy on the right had matted dark hair and he was writhing, trying to wipe sweat out of his eyes onto his shoulder. He was whimpering. Jesus was there at the centre. His hair was twisted in a bloody crown of harsh looking thorns; above his head, a crude sign that translated as ‘King of the Jews’. His loincloth was bloodied, and the red stuff had run down the main stem of his cross. He moved his head so he could look down on what I assumed were some of his followers. It seemed they were only there for him. Nobody seemed to be too upset about the other two guys.

Stood around the base of the crosses were five Roman soldiers. They held their spears horizontally to form a barrier to anyone getting too near. Most of them looked bored. The one built like a bull seemed to be in charge. He looked mean, but he kept looking up at Jesus. If he had had a wristwatch, I guess he would have glanced at it impatiently. Maybe he had better things to do? I moved forward through the small crowd that parted for me. The ‘bull’ looked at me as I drew nearer.

“Chris Robinson,” I said. “21st Century News?”

“What?” he said. We could understand each other on account of the ‘Parley’, a small digital translator system we’re issued before we enter the chamber. It’s like a small headset, like a transmitter/receiver, in case you’re interested.

“Just like to have a few words with Jesus Christ there?”

“What?”

“Before he dies? A lot of people would be interested in any opinions he may have about what’s happened?”

He looked at the soldier on his right who shrugged. Again, he would have looked at his wristwatch at this point. Instead, he upended his spear and stood to one side.

“Make it quick,” he said. “He hasn’t got much time left.”

Radical Rabbi

The nearer I got to the base of the middle cross, the more I had to crane my neck, looking up.

“Jesus?” I called up. “Mr Christ? Chris Robinson, 21st Century News? I just want to ask you a few questions?”

That’s when his eyes opened and he looked down at me, focussing for the first time.

“Will that be okay with you? Are you able to talk?”

“Yes,” he said. “I can talk.”

I switched on my digital recorder.

CR: Jesus, do you think you have accomplished what you set out to do in your work?

JC: I believe I have only done God’s work which I was born to do. I had no choice in the matter. My impending death will be a part of that work because I knew that, if you raise your voice against orthodoxy, that orthodoxy will do its utmost to silence that voice.

CR: What do you think you have achieved in your life?

JC: (wry smile) I have spread the word and the will of God. I have tried my utmost to rekindle the people’s belief in life, belief in themselves no matter who they are. I aimed to show that we are all children of God whether they are Philistine, Jewish, Egyptian or Roman, it matters not. Rich or poor, we are no different.

CR: But you have been seen as a threat to the social order by the authorities.

JC: I am but one man. How can I be a threat? Is it not that it is the message that is the threat? I am a mere messenger. They may crucify a messenger, but the message lives on, and so it will live on, down the ages.

CR: But, isn’t it so that the message and the messenger become construed as one and the same – you, a radical rabbi, calling on people to ‘turn the other cheek’, throwing out the money-lenders from the temple…?

JC: Of course, but the man can die. The message, the idea, lives on. They can’t kill an idea and the main idea is…the meek shall inherit the earth…

CR: Can I pick up on that very phrase, Mr Christ? ‘The meek shall inherit the earth’ and that other phrase – ‘the rich man has as much chance of entering heaven as a camel has passing through the eye of a needle’. Aren’t those radical, if not revolutionary, phrases? Aren’t they then quite subversive? Isn’t that why the Romans and their local puppets see you as a political threat?

JC: This is true, but anybody is welcome to join with me; the more the better. Only when the majority of people join together, whether they are labourer, fisherman, taxman – even Roman soldier – only then can paradise come down to the earth. Why should we wait until we die to gain paradise? We can make paradise on earth…

CR: But that isn’t what the priests and the bishops and archbishops in your church are saying in my time. They seem to say the opposite…that we must suffer this ‘vale of tears’, no matter how horrible it is and then, as long as we obey the church’s rules, only then will we be allowed in heaven.

JC: No. That is not my message. My message is that we can take control of our lives now. The meek can take control of the earth and create our paradise here, today, in our lives…

“That’s enough!” It was the Roman bull soldier. He’d heard enough. He sneered up at Jesus then pushed me back away from the cross.

“Just a couple more questions?’ I said, but two of his soldiers were now blocking me with their spears.

“No more questions,” their leader said, taking his spear in both hands. He thrust it deep into Jesus’s side and twisted it. The crowd behind me screamed. I saw three women collapse to their knees as Jesus called out in agony.

I made my way down the hill, leaving his people to grieve. I needed a drink at the nearest well I could find in Jerusalem before heading back to 21. I was still in a state of shock.

Those Romans don’t fuck about, man.

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  • Anthony French

    This is interesting! Strikes me as a touch Monty Python-ish, but a unique way of telling a story for sure.

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