‘It’s not a matter of bulging muscles on the outside. What counts is the bulging muscle of the heart.’
‘You see child the body comes from the heart from which come the words, from which come life. Do you have any idea how heavy words are, let alone life?’
‘Yes Papa, um, I mean no Papa.’
‘Never mind child. Tomorrow, we shall talk of it tomorrow. Today… today, you eat!’
It was less than a year to go. His body was firmly toned after enduring three times over the seasons’ melodramatic emotions along the footpaths of the mountains. At times he would consider the meat of his muscles that had grown steadily as he worked at his craft. He had poked at them and considered them as one would a good steak. He had recently offered them to a bunch of hungry anaemic people, naively forgetting that he was just a person, not considering that he would need those muscles for himself. Of course, they declined the meal at which point he had thought, ‘Perhaps I am just not fit enough.’
He was just a man, and like all men he wanted to carry the world on his shoulder. And so he ran on the mountaintops leaping over boulders, dodging obstacles like a Mohican driven mad by the closeness of his enemy. He bounded until his body could not bear his spirit any longer. The mane of his hair betrayed his nature, untamed and free, caught in the mesh of flesh.
At times he would play with the boys. He would run beside them at their pace toward the goal posts like a stallion reigned in, and at the last minute he reared back letting the other win. He was always like that! He confused conventional principles of sport. It was as though he could not understand the concept of two teams in opposition. But they loved him… they all loved him, and loved to run beside him.
He walked amongst the people of the temple. For two and a half years he had poured his heart out to the people of Israel, the way he had poured his body over wood. How often had he thrown a piece of unyielding wood into the fire, annoyed by it’s hardness, yet always with the gleam of sweat marking his trying attempts. Yet he could not do that with this people. He could not walk away. He could not cast them into the fire. He continued to pour out his words, continued to carve them into truth by his life, yet they were hard… oh so hard.
I remember the day he cut through their iron cloaks, the day he sliced away their walls of hypocrisy, when he scrubbed them clean of their lies until they stood naked and shocked, void of all purpose and meaning. And his heart exploded the walls of his flesh in a massive crashing wave of despair. I remember that day, when his muscles crumbled beneath the salty tears of his heart as life carried his words across every chasm of time to reveal the purpose of the work of his heart, ‘…O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stones those which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and ye would not…’
It was not long after that really that his body carried the cross. They made his body bleed until it didn’t look like a man anymore. ‘Fit for nothing!’ is what they said, putting on a robe and giving him that cross. Yes, his muscles bulged…and bled… but it wasn’t that extraordinary strength that caused the gentiles to fall to their knees. It was, I’m certain, because of his heart. For from that heart came words of forgiveness for those who crucified him, carrying away the last breaths of his life.
In the heart of this man fitted every wrong thing, every harmful thought, word and injustice. He held it all in the fist of his heart, and shot that clenched fist through every realm of darkness into the very throne room of heaven. That was the day His Papa said,
‘Now, my Son, it is done.’ And it was the turn of the Mighty Father to set aside his strength as He wept over the bulging beating eternal heart of Jesus.
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