I met Jesus at Starbucks yesterday.
It was early in the morning, so I didn’t notice him there for about five minutes. I was just zoning out like I normally do before I’ve had coffee. When the line started moving, I noticed a flowing white robe in front of me. I looked up and saw a mass of shaggy brown hair.
“Hey, not to bother you, but…”
He turned around and grinned at me. His eyes widened obnoxiously, as if he couldn’t wait for me to finish my sentence so he could speak. Have you ever looked at a stand-up comedian’s face right after he’s delivered the punchline of a particularly risky joke? They smile sheepishly, as if to say “sorry, I didn’t mean it”—but they know exactly how funny they are, because the crowd’s roaring with laughter. That was exactly the look I saw on this guy’s face. I hadn’t realized Jesus was a cheeky son of a bitch.
“Jesus? Right? Or am I thinking of a different person?”
“No, you got it. I’m Jesus. How are you, buddy?”
He extended his hand for a handshake. I accepted it reluctantly.
“Hey, can we talk for a second? Can we get a table or something?”
“Oh yeah, sure. Of course.”
He strode toward a table in the center as I shuffled over to the opposite chair.
I slung my coat over the back of the chair and paused for a second to look at him before speaking. His eyes were locked on me intently, his head tilted slightly forward and his hands folded on the table.
“Jesus, are we friends?”
“Of course we’re friends. We’re family. We all are—every man, woman, and child that walks the earth, and every baby who has yet to be born.”
“And what about animals?”
He leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. He took a sip out of his cup before answering.
“Do animals get to go to heaven, Jesus?”
“All animals are blessed with the breath of life, but not every creature has an immortal soul.”
“So that’s a no.”
“You’re thinking about it the wrong way. It wouldn’t make sense for an animal to go to heaven. That concept doesn’t mean anything to them. A dog wouldn’t understand what eternal happiness means. They aren’t capable of true happiness, nor are they capable of true sorrow. Only pleasure and pain. An animal doesn’t have a soul.”
“Where is the soul? Does every human have a soul?”
“Well, that’s also an extremely difficult question to answer. The soul doesn’t exist physically. Think of the soul as a passport to our conscious realm of being. The path of man winds about the mortal coil, until death takes him elsewhere.”
“Does every human have a soul?”
“Right, forgot to answer that. Yes, every human has a soul.”
“What about people with severe mental disorders? Coma patients? Fetuses?”
“They all have souls.”
“But if a fetus has a soul, then why shouldn’t a gorilla?”
“This is not a question of should or shouldn’t. This is a question of is or isn’t.”
“Are you saying that the way things are isn’t morally right?”
“The universe has a certain order.”
“Who created this order? Why should we listen to them?”
“That’s just the way things are. The Holy Father has left us with these immutable laws, and we act accordingly.”
“Jesus, you sound like you’re full of shit.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way.”
“If the universe has an order, and that order grants me a soul, then does it make any sense to say I have a soul? Does the order not exist past the moment of my birth?”
“The order exists always.”
“In that case, don’t my emotions exist always? Don’t my choices exist always? Doesn’t my destiny exist always?”
“The way I see things, yes. But you don’t know the code for your destiny.”
“Code? Is God a programmer?”
“In this universe, you were always going to ask that. If we were in another universe, maybe you wouldn’t have. But we are in this universe. And as far as you’re concerned, you always will be.”
“How is God a programmer?”
“That’s not really my point.”
“Jesus, why are you the savior of men? Why aren’t I the savior of men?”
“I died for your sins.”
“Holy shit, Jesus. I can’t believe it.”
“You don’t even know why you’re the savior of men.”
“Of course I do. I was born to be the Messiah.”
“God hasn’t let you see the code for your destiny either.”
“Not exactly, no.”
“Have you ever met God?”
“I’ve talked to him before. On multiple occasions.”
“Have you ever seen God?”
“I’ve seen him and I’ve felt him.”
“If he can do anything, how do you know he didn’t just make himself appear to be present?”
“That’s a fair point. I may never see God, and I may never know if I have. All I know is that he has created me as the Holy Son.”
“Jesus, how do you know you’re really the savior of men then? Isn’t it just the same thing as saying I have a soul?”
“As far as I can understand, I am indeed the savior of men. But I haven’t seen the code.”
I squinted at him for a second, then leaned back and nodded slowly.
“You’re an alright guy, Jesus. And here I was thinking that you were going around telling people you’ve figured it out.”
“What a terrible thing that would be to say.”
He grabbed the empty packet of sugar next to him, and tossed it into the cup. The coffee bled through as the packet turned translucent.
“I live on that packet of sugar. I can figure out certain things about the packet—-what laws govern its motion, what kind of substance it floats in, how big it is. Eventually, I might even figure out the shape of the cup. But I’ll never know what color the cup is.”
“Are you happy now?”
“Jesus, how far can we go? How much can we find out about this packet?”
“About as far as I can go, I suppose. It’s quite far. You won’t be able to get there in your lifetime. It’ll be a couple hundreds of thousands of years before humans get close.”
“Jesus, don’t you ever get bored floating around the edges of your universe?”
“Not really. Actually, let me show you something.”
He pulled out a small cube from his robe and held it in front of my face. It was orange with flecks of red. It was hard to make out what exactly was inside, but I could see some basic shapes—circles, spheres, spirals.
“I’m working on my own universe. It’s not too different from this one at the moment, but I’ve been experimenting. For example, I changed the color spectrum quite a bit. Added a few more shades. It’s probably difficult for you to see them.”
“Everything looks orange.”
“Sounds about right.”
We both stared at it in silence for a little bit before he put it away and folded his hands in his lap.
“Do you mind if I go?”
“No, not at all, Jesus. Hey, I’ve been thinking…we should hang out sometime.”
He smiled, and then he was gone.
I chuckled and stared into my cup for about a minute.
“Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?” I asked.
I paused for a second and licked my lips.
“What a stupid question.”
I held the cup to my lips and took a sip.