“I may be the saviour of mankind and all, but today you breathe your last. If you actually breathe that is.” And with that, he took aim, steadied and struck.
Killing the bug on his arm instantly.
It had been a particularly awful day. The heat in these parts was beyond searing. He was hungry and parched. Being without food and water for nearly six weeks could do that to anyone. Son of God or not. Having all these awkward insects and spiky leaves for company didn’t exactly help lift those spirits. He swatted again. Today, the bug-fair must be doing a major exhibition because they were certainly out in numbers, he thought.
And to think that this was just the beginning.
“Hi.” The Messiah looked up from where he was squatting to see a smiling man.
He was dressed… differently. He wore what looked to be at least four articles of clothing: from his waist to his feet, he wore long trousers but the cut was unlike anything he’d seen before. Of similar material was a kind of dress – if he could call it that – that took care of the man from the waist up. This one had two visible buttons. And then there was a very attractive rope around his neck…
Observing Christ’s inquiring stare, the man spoke again. The texture of the man’s voice was almost sonorous and quite manly at the same time. But it somehow unnerved Christ as he spoke:
“The word you’re looking for is ‘suit.’ My name is Lewis and you’re Chris aren’t you?”
“Not Chris, CHRIST. THE Christ. Chris is the overweight kid with glasses clacking away in the background for record purposes.”
“Uh.” The Tempter showed his understanding by rolling his eyes toward some nondescript corner of the bushes where he assumed the clacking was taking place.
“So you’re SURE that you’re Christ?” Lewis inquired again. Jesus could practically taste the sarcasm. This made Him angry.
“Do you have a learning impediment or something? Did I not just say that?!!”
“Chill man, chill. No need to get all grumpy on me.”
“Oh I’m sorry,” Christ started, “I forgot that going three score and four days without food or drink actually serves to lighten a man’s mood!” Lewis laughed and shook his head.
“That’s the thing,” Lewis started, “you look gaunt and hungry. I’m looking around at these little rocks…” as he said this, he gestured by opening his hands and vaguely pointing to the ground, “…and I’m thinking: If you’re THE Christ, couldn’t you feed yourself adequately by turning a few of them into, say, spaghetti?”
The question hung in the air for a second while Lewis proceeded to stare Christ down. A response wasn’t forthcoming.
“Aren’t you gonna say something?” Lewis offered.
“What the heck is spaghetti?!” came the bewildered retort.
“What year are we in?” Lewis asked as he looked at some object strapped around his left wrist, “Ooh. I’m coming from 2015. The Italians haven’t gone flour crazy here yet, have they? I forget. Okay then. Something more common. Can you turn these into … bread perhaps?”
“Uggh. Bread alone isn’t enough to sustain anyone.”
“Exactly. That’s why I suggested spaghetti! You should try it with meatballs and…”
“That’s not what I meant,” Christ interrupted. “I meant that there is a substance more filling than bread: the word of God.”
“Word of what? Sorry pal. Not my style.”
Christ caught sight of something,suddenly realized who his newest acquaintance really was and immediately went on the offensive: “Lewis, you’re Satan, aren’t you?”
“’HELL no?!’” Christ mocked, “We were talking about your identity not your address. Don’t change the subject. And I am sure you’re the devil.”
The Tempter was keen to hold on to every last shred of anonymity: “How come?”
The reply was quick: “Dude, it’s only 27 AD,”
“Well you’re wearing Prada!”
“Oh my, you must really be Jesus! Or how else could you know that I’m donning Prada?”
“The tag’s sticking out, dumbo.” As the Christ said this, he pointed to the cuff end of the Tempter’s left sleeve where a piece of plastic was peeking out. It was quickly yanked out and tossed away. The Tempter straightened up and tried to get on with his actual purpose.
“Well you’re mistaken. I’m not the devil. I’m a friend and I came here to cut you a deal. A great deal.”
“Why would I want to make a deal with you?”
“’Cuz we’re family, bro.” As the Tempter said this, he walked towards Christ and put his left arm across the other’s shoulder. At close quarters, Jesus found Lewis’ scent to be quite unnerving. His stomach voiced His disapproval.
“And how are we family?” the Christ inquired. His curiosity evidenced by the angle his eyebrows had curled into.
“Well, we’re both of Jewish descent.”
“Really? Who’s your daddy?” For some reason, Lewis chuckled audibly, and then answered:
“Same question Hitler asked me a few nights ago. Phew! COMPLETELY different circumstances though.” He rolled his eyes as he muttered: “Freaky bastard…”
“I beg your pardon…”
“Oh sorry. Got lost there. My dad’s name is Dong Choo Fa; D. C. Fa for short. Dad made me take his middle and last names.”
Christ broke the mini-embrace to inspect the man by his side and try to get some distance from that awful fragrance. “That’s a weird name for a Jew,”
“I’m adopted,” was the reply. And before Christ could get another word out, Lewis announced: “I want to show you something,” and snapped his fingers…
At once, they were at another locale. At the top of a cliff. Jesus looked down from where they stood and saw a tiny spot of red on the ground. “What’s that bit of red I’m seeing?” Jesus asked,
“Ah… let me see.” Lewis stretched his neck to look. ”That’s a small pond. Nothing major.”
“So no large water bodies beneath us then?”
“Nope. If any regular man falls, he’s toast. Well, mangled toast but toast anyway. But you’re not just anybody are you? You’re Jesus for Christ sakes!”
“Did you just hear yourself???”
“Hehe. I know. I’m on fire with the puns today. But my point is, your daddy has promised to send His trusty angels to catch you in case of a fall. You could actually… jump! Or you could follow me. You know, join me in a partnership!”
“You fool! You’re asking ME to choose between the Devil and a…” Jesus looked down again then continued, “…shallow red pond?!” Jesus blasted, “How dare you! You shall not tempt the Lord! Never! It’s not your place to do so, neither is it mine. His will is supreme and you best learn that it stays that way! Are we clear?!” Christ was fuming.
“Okay, okay. Calm down man. Take it easy!” Lewis pleaded. He paused for a second then exclaimed again: “Jesus!”
“What do you want now?” inquired Christ,
“I wasn’t calling you. I was cussing, man.” Instantly Lewis felt the ground tipping under him. He tried to steady himself but was helpless to stop from falling. To his knees at least. Bewildered, he looked at Christ and asked: “What was that?”
“Oh, didn’t you hear?” Jesus deadpanned, “Apparently, at the sound of My name, knees tend to bow and stuff. I thought you read the Bible, Lewis?”
“Only the Old Testament mate. You’re still trying to live into the new one, remember?”
In the absence of a reply, Lewis now tried to pick himself up. As he did so, music erupted from his breast pocket.
“And what’s that?”
“A telephone,” Lewis answered. “Necessary for communicating across eras.” Lewis now pulled out a small rectangular device from his celebrated Prada suit pocket. The tune was now more audible and Lewis sang along: “Suffer suffer for world (a-men), enjoy for heaven…”
“How does that work?” Inquired the Messiah.
“I talk from this end, they hear at the other. You know what? Let me put this on speaker to demonstrate. It’s probably my agent calling about another acquisition.” He now pressed a button and spoke into the device.
“Hello. Lou speaking, can I help you?” Lewis began.
“Hi,” started the voice on the other end. Jesus could hear the voice quite clearly. “My name is John. I’m calling from the Jehovah’s Witness hotline and I’m concerned about your spiritual life.”
“Heh,” Lewis began, “and what about it?”
“I’d like to know: do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and saviour?”It was Lewis’ turn to feel ire:
“I take offence! This lanky guy? Look, I only did Hitler a couple of nights ago cuz he asked nicely, okay? Now could you sod off please?! He’s totally not my type!” He pressed another button and the device became quiet. But Jesus wasn’t. His laughter echoed everywhere.
“What’s so funny?”
“What do you think?” Jesus had tears in His eyes. Lewis looked at his wrist again.
“Hmph. I have a business meeting about now. You might as well tag along.” Again, Lewis snapped his fingers; again, the location was altered. Now, they found themselves on a major, buzzing street. It was nighttime but visibility was perfect.
“I got tricks,” bragged Lewis, “and then some,” he continued. “Look around you,”
As Christ obeyed, his eyes were met by a daunting, glorious sight: rows and rows of buildings. Tall magnificent buildings with the shiniest, most attractive flashing lights you ever saw.
“Neat.” Offered Jesus.
“More like Vegas, baby!!!” Not altogether astonishingly, Lewis deemed it an appropriate time to put his arm around Jesus’ shoulder. As before, his fragrance tormented the Messiah enough to make His stomach turn.
“You don’t say.” A wincing Jesus croaked.
“And all yours to own and to rule forever.”
“Really? And what’s the catch?”
“Well, nothing major. Just a cursory bow to me and an acknowledgement of my awesomeness. Preferably now. Or a book deal.” He paused then added, “Like the one I’m about to do now.”
“Just like that? A curtsy? A book deal? That’s all?”
“Well, no. I AM Jesus you know. Besides, we all are supposed to bow to my Dad and my Dad only…” the rumbling in his abdomen became worse and Christ doubled over slightly.
“Are you alright there?” Lewis asked.
“I’ll be fine as soon as you get away from me.” Christ now found Lewis’ scent completely unbearable.
“Oh don’t be so mean. Look, here comes my client. Be nice, okay?” Looking into the distance, Christ made out the frame of an approaching woman. Lewis waved her over. Once she was close enough, Christ saw she was very heavily made up. And she wore very revealing clothes. Clearly a lady of easy virtue.
“Hello Miss,” Christ greeted.
“Hi. I Am Shagger Fierce. And you?”
“Jesus.” She was taken aback for a second then shrugged and faced Lewis.
“Hey.” Lewis chimed.
“Hey.” She replied.
“Do you have my merchandise?” Lewis asked,
“You have my money?” she countered,
“Alright then, yes I do have your stuff.” She handed Lewis a hardback book. Lewis looked it over, reached into his trousers and produced an envelope.
“Cheque?” she asked,
“Always. Nice doing business! Now hobble away before you get salvation on my watch!” She left hurriedly, trying to pry open the envelope as she went.
“Ah…” exhaled Lewis, “Another satisfied client.”
“What was that about?” A bemused but still very uncomfortable Jesus asked.
“Business. She sold me exclusive rights to her book.”
“What book?” Lewis showed Jesus the front of the hardback. Emblazoned in gold were the words:
“I can already hear her bragging to her friends: “I sold ‘My Soul’to Lou!” Isn’t that awesome?” Lewis chirped “Why don’t you want to do business bro? I’m offering everything you can see right now. Everything! It’s like the best deal ever!”
Then Lewis heard the noise from Jesus’ stomach again. This time, it was louder and Jesus was left clutching his midsection.
“Get thee behind me Satan!” Jesus groaned.
“Because I need to find a toilet right now!”
“Ooh, can’t argue with you there. And if that isn’t the true definition of a ‘Holy crap’ I don’t know what is! Look, I’ll be back soon. But here, take my card.” Lewis hurriedly slipped a piece of plastic into Christ’s palm. Once he was sure that Jesus had it firmly within His grasp, he turned and peeled away.
Soon, Christ straightened up; the rumbling in His stomach suddenly gone. He read the heading of the card before throwing it away:
“LOU C. FA
Deceiver, Tempter, Snake on a Tree”
Matthew 4:11; Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
1. If you caught the Beyonce reference, it’s not evidence of any views about her beliefs. I just thought it was funny to play on those words.
2. I’m just catchin’ cruise: If e pain you, too bad…