I had lunch with Jesus today. Yeah, we met at Pret Manger in Downtown Chicago. I grabbed a ham sandwich and a fruit cup with some lemonade, he grabbed a tuna melt (go figure), and he ate like it was his job to practice eating. Each bite looked like he had planned the exact amount of calories he would take in each time. It was kind of creepy but amazing at the same time. Oh, and Jesus didn’t look like I had imagined. He had tan skin with shoulder length brown hair and no beard. Yeah, that’s right. Jesus shaved. Jesus also wore a plain white tee with true religion jeans and crisp, white Air Forces. Of course none of this seemed to matter when I watched him eat like he was performing surgery on his sandwich.
“You don’t have to stare,” Jesus said as he looked up from his sandwich. “Even if I’m not looking, I know you’re doing that, and it’s rude.”
“Sorry, Jesus,” I said.
“And stop saying my name at the end of all your sentences,” Jesus replied. “You’re a grown man, and I’m not Santa Claus.”
“No, I’m not mad at you,” Jesus said through a mouth full of tuna while speaking with surprising clarity.
Jesus waved his hand as if to bat away my next sentence long before it reached his ears. He wiped his mouth with a napkin, even though he didn’t need it, and folded his hands on the table; staring at me with hazel eyes that forced me to stare back.
“I’m not mad at you,” Jesus said. “No matter what.”
“You never get angry?”
“I didn’t say that,” Jesus replied. “I get angry all the time. Humans are a frustrating creation, much more frustrating than any of the animals.”
“But I thought we were in your image.”
“You are,” Jesus said. “And somehow you think that makes you entitled to speak for me. Do you have any idea how many people have died because someone said I wanted them to die? It’s crazy.”
“People have done a lot of good things in your name too,” I replied before clasping my hand over my mouth. Was I seriously arguing human history with Jesus?
“Yeah, and I get all the credit for that,” Jesus said. “I don’t send people to do good work so I can take the credit from them, and I certainly don’t send people to do bad things so I can take the blame. I had one goal; to save you from your sins, man, that’s it. I drop a few dimes of wisdom and now everyone’s a prophet.”
“So nobody speaks to you?” I asked before taking a sip of my lemonade.
“None of these clowns, “Jesus said with another wave of his hand. “They just think what they want, do what they want, and then slap my name on it so nobody questions it without looking like a heathen. It pisses me off.”
“So what should we do then?” I asked.
“I can’t tell you,” Jesus replied.
“Because I already have.”
“Well, clearly we misunderstood,” I said through gritted teeth. “Care to clarify?”
“Nope,” Jesus said. “Just because you got something wrong doesn’t mean I’m required to explain myself.”
“There has to be something you can clarify-”
“Oh, fine,” Jesus said. “If you insist. I want you all to love each other.”
“You already said that.”
“Exactly!” Jesus snapped and shook his head. “You see why you humans are so frustrating? You don’t know how to hold a conversation. You have all this technology, and you still can’t communicate. How many people do you think actually pray and listen for my answer?”
“People who hear your voice are probably schizo,” I said with a slight chuckle.
“Yeah,” Jesus replied with a snort. “Says the guy who’s having lunch with me.”
“Well, you just said yourself-”
“There you go again trying to tell me what I said,” Jesus laughed. “Look, love each other for real, and you’re ok in my book. And I mean for real; not for personal gain, not for money, not out of loneliness. I’m talking about a real love and appreciation for other people. I’m talking about giving money to the homeless on the street-”
“Shut up,” Jesus snapped as he slammed the table with his fist. “You humans always cut me off with your own issues and excuses, and then you get mad when you miss the point and ask me clarify. As I was saying, I’m talking about doing something nice without expecting anything in return, not for approval. I’m talking about some real altruism, and I rarely see it. I see people taking advantage of what I did left and right.”
“Yeah, I saw it coming, but that doesn’t make it less insulting,” Jesus said. “It would be ok if nobody got it right, but some of you do, which means all of you should, and I know you can. You’re in my image, but you screw it up. You make me look bad.”
“You should be,” Jesus said, “But forgiveness is what I do. That’s why I’m not mad at you. You know what gets to me the most?”
Jesus shook his head as his eyes moistened. He looked out the front door before returning his gaze to me.
“Every day, a child is born without knowing love,” Jesus said. “People throw religion and laws and all kinds of judgment in their face but show them no love, man. It hurts me every time. It really does. When you have kids, do your job right. Show them real love. Can you do that?”
“I can try,” I said.
Jesus shook his head and bit into the last of his sandwich.
“Yeah, well you’re human,” Jesus said. “A little effort is all I can expect. That’ll do.”
“Thanks,” I replied. “That means a lot to me.”
“By the way, stop checking out the girl at the register behind me,” Jesus said as he stood up and crumpled his sandwich wrapping.
“I know,” I replied. “It’s rude. I have the Messiah in front of me, and I’m looking at girls-”
“The girl two tables down is more your speed,” Jesus said. “Talk to her when I leave.”
“No kidding,” I replied as I spied a lady in a pink dress two tables down texting on her iPhone. She looked up at me, smiled, and looked back at her phone.
“Thank me later,” Jesus said as he patted my shoulder and walked out of the Pret Manger. “And I mean actually thank me.”
“Maybe at our next lunch?” I asked the thin air. Jesus was gone. Even the crumbs from his sandwich had disappeared from the table. I sat at the table by myself and looked around for any sign that we actually had lunch. There were none. All that was left was me and the lady in the pink dress two tables down. I picked up my fruit cup and my lemonade, took a sip of the lemonade’s sour goodness, and walked the two table trip to introduce myself. She batted her eyes and played with her brown hair as she looked up at me.
“Hey,” I said. “My name’s Adam. Yours?”
“Eve,” she replied. “Do you always talk to yourself?”
“Nope,” I said. “I’d rather talk to you, unless you’re expecting somebody.”
She smiled and shook her head before she kicked out the chair across from her. I grabbed the chair and sat down with my drink. Before I could think of something charming to say, she grabbed the drink and fruit cup out of my hand. She then rested her feet on my knee and leaned back in her seat. I frowned as I watched her finish my drink and devour my fruit in just few dips of my spoon. Eve then patted her stomach and tapped my knee with her heels before she handed me back the empty cups. She threw her head back and laughed as I stared at the empty plastic.
“Now that was a fun date,” Eve laughed before sighing and resting her head between her hands. “When’s the next one?”
I shook my head and chuckled at myself as I sat back in my chair. Even with all of that frustration with mankind, I should have known that Jesus liked to play Cupid. I just wished he had warned me first. I looked out the window next to us and saw Jesus across the street. He pointed and laughed as he mimicked Eve eating my fruit. Yeah, it turns out Jesus had a sense of humor too. Well played, Messiah. Well. Played.
-G. Miller (c)