The two boys dove into the water and came up sputtering and wiping their eyes dry. “Let me baptize you, John”
John scooped his arms in the water and splashed his cousin. “You did it last time, let me, okay?”
“Ummm… okay. But don’t hold me down so long this time. I about passed out last year.”
“You were fine. Jesus, I baptize you and cleanse away your sins.” John took both his hands and dunked Jesus deep into the water. He jumped onto his head for a few seconds then let go.
Jesus popped up and glared at John as he caught his breath. “I hate it when you do the baptizing.” John made a silly face and Jesus couldn’t help but make one back. They giggled. “We’re leaving tomorrow. I’m gonna miss you, John.”
“Whatcha doin’?,” big brown eyes peered into the wild eyes of his cousin.
John crunched contentedly, ignoring the question. He bent down and grabbed at a locust that he had captured in a jar.
“John, that’s gross. I’m telling Auntie.”
“Go ahead. I don’t care.” John stuffed the insect into his mouth while he watched Jesus run into the house.
Soon Jesus came out carrying two figs and handed one to John.
John gave it a side-ways glance and then threw it at a stray dog that walked by.
Jesus told him, “Eating bugs will make you sick, and besides that, it’s disgusting. You have a leg sticking out of your mouth, by the way.”
“You think you know everything but you don’t. I happen to like them, especially dipped in honey.”
Jesus giggled. He reached out and tapped him on the shoulder and shouted, “You’re it,” then quickly took off before John had a chance to move.
Jesus ran as fast as his gangly pre-teen legs could carry him. Just as John was about to tag him back, Jesus did a quick turn to the left and then executed a perfect cartwheel. “How do you do that?” John begged to know.
The two spent hours in the meadow perfecting the cartwheel and running and spinning in circles with their arms out. “Oh, no.”
John looked at his favorite cousin cross-eyed. “What’s wrong? Did you swallow a fly?”
“The sun’s going down. We better hurry back.”
Jesus took off at a fast run while John held back; fascinated by this person he only got to see once a year. They were as close as brothers and John would do anything for his younger cousin.
“John, lets go to the Tabernacle,” Jesus begged his cousin.
“I’m there enough. You go alone if you want to.” John sat back against the tree with a blade of grass in his mouth, determined to stay.
“Fine then. I’ll go myself. I don’t get to go to the Tabernacle all the time like you. I think you’re too used to it.”
“You got that right, little cousin. Go. I’ll run interference for you.”
“Thanks. I’ll be back soon. Long before we have to leave.”
A fly swarmed around John’s face causing him to wake up from his deep sleep. He ambled into the house to find Jesus.
“John, do you miss Jesus?” his mother Elizabeth asked.
“What do you mean? Have they left already?”
“Yes, hours ago. He didn’t talk to you?”
“There is no way Jesus would leave without telling me goodbye. Are you sure he was with the group?”
“Of course, where else would he be?”
John backed up out of the house and hit the door running. He ran through the streets, darting in and out of street vendors. When he got to the tabernacle, he slowed to a crawl. It was like he was seeing it for the first time. Jesus was right, he decided. He was too used to be there. He heard a familiar voice and followed the sound.
Jesus sat on the floor and dozens of John’s very own teachers sat around the boy listening intently. John could only stare and wonder who his cousin really was.
As John spoke to the crowd, he saw a familiar sight. The slight limp from one of their escapades gave him away. The skies opened and he suddenly understood what he had been preaching.
John spoke with authority, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Jesus trudged through the water. “Hi, Cousin. Will you baptize me?”
John looked at Jesus and winked. “You sure you trust me?”
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