Sunday, September 19, 2010

Arresting Jesus

"Someone's following us! Can we come in?"

The other afternoon while visiting a neighbor, one of her friends hurriedly comes to the door with children in tow. She describes an encounter with a man at the nearby park. He approached her, said he was Jesus, that she was Mary and that the child in her arms was theirs. Apparently he was vague as to whether he thought she was Mary, his virgin-mother or Mary Magdalene, his not-so-virgin lover. We conclude the later.

A moment later, he is at the door and we stop joking.

"Can I come in?" he asks.

"No!" says my neighbor. I come to the door. He is walking away. He stops. He turns and comes back.

I step in front of my neighbor. "Hi," I say. "What's your name?"
"I am Christ."

Oh. Okay. I quickly run the "what to do next" analysis in my head. Most likely he is mentally ill, needs help, and could be a threat, especially to the moms and kids here and at the park. But what if he really is the Christ? Would this be how he presents himself? What form of ID would I accept as proof? The Jesus of the gospel spoke often in parables, some confusing. Maybe the reference to "Mary's" child as being his was not some creepy, sick, come-on. Maybe it was the truth. After all, aren't we all God's children? What if I really were approached by Him, he introduces Himself, and I send him off as so many in the Gospels did?

"I think you better leave. Now," I say.

He turns, walks away and sits down right in the middle of the street.

Hmm. Messiah or not, he clearly needs help of some sort. He at least needs to get off the street.

I go up to him as ask if he needs help?
Can I call someone?
Is there someplace he can go?

Okay, then.

So the three of us - my neighbor, "Mary," and I - caucus briefly. I need to leave, but not with Christ sitting in the street.

"I'm calling the police," I say. No, that would be a hassle, they never come, he's just a poor crazy guy, I'm told.

I call the police. This is not an emergency, I say, but Jesus Christ is sitting in the road. It's near a dead end so he isn't a threat to himself nor is he blocking traffic, yet. But he did scare a mom with kids, etc. No, I don't think anyone was assaulted sexually or otherwise. I give a physical description, they thank me and say they'll send someone over.

Judas. I am Judas. But how could I know? I am a Doubting Thomas of sorts. Would I actually start believe Jesus is Messiah, Son of God, etc., if I saw him? If he introduced Himself to me? I sense how weak is my atheistically-leaning-agnosticism.

I shake my head and talk myself back. This is a safety issue. He probably has mental health issues and getting him off the streets can help. And worse case, he can minister to the others in prison. Jesus is good at that, after all.

Then off he goes. Jesus heads back into the nearby park and up the trail. Just like that. And isn't that just so like Him to wander off like that? Then the police arrive. I wave them down.

Yes, I placed the call. No, no one is hurt but a mom and kids are shaken up. I described what happened and that he had just wandered off. Thanks, the police say, they'll check it out.

So my neighbor, "Mary," and I kibitz briefly, and conclude it's safe. A neighbor asks what's going on. I give the whole run down then leave.

And as I'm driving off the thought returns. What Would Jesus Do? What would Jesus do if someone came to him saying he was Christ? Minister to him? Invite him in and feed him? Cast out his demons? Call the cops? I need to review my scripture to see if Jesus ever called the cops. My recollection is that it was mostly the other way around.

This is just silliness. He is a sick man, he made unsettling comments to a mom with kids, and acted erratically. There was only the one option. That's when the text arrived on my phone:

John, police came back to tell us he was wanted in next county for 2nd degree assault and fighting police. They are arresting him!

I exhale a sigh of relief.

Then reconsider.

Of course. This is how it went down the last time! With trumped-up charges against The Messiah. First it was the Romans, now Montgomery County. Typical.

I'll just have to wash my hands of this.


  1. you made me laugh and cry at the same time. Exactly - what kind of proof would we require? How to tell the beautifully crazy to the violently/inappropriate crazy. I like to think that Jesus would realize his appearance in such a way would be unsettling, especially given our culture, and have perhaps some kind of Thing To Say to acknowledge that. Certainly, I highly doubt he would walk up to a woman and follow her. Now if he had said "Follow Me".....
    I think you did exactly as was called for - you were kind, open, and not foolish. Send the man on with love, while being open to what could be.

  2. I meant - how to tell the beautifully crazy From the violently/inappropriate crazy.