No, I'm not JosÃ© Luis De JesÃºs Miranda, but there was this one time I was Jesus. Yesterday the Enquirer posted an article about men who play Jesus in local Passion plays. They also published an article about the training that goes into such a role. It brought back memories of four years ago when I was Jesus in Christ's Church at Mason's Easter play. I sorta fell into the role. They were already a month into rehearsals when the guy playing Jesus dropped out. Dave, the music minister, knew I could act a little and asked if I could fill in. I figured I might as well give it a shot. I mean, what would Jesus do?
But it took a lot more work than I bargained for. I took over the role at the end of January, leaving me about twelve weeks to get ready. First, I started to grow a beard. I had never grown a full beard before, nor will I likely do it ever again; it was annoyingly itchy. Grizzly Adams I am not. I then proceeded to get in shape. I wasn't in horrible shape, but I didn't want people to see Jesus on the cross and ask, "is our Lord a tad pudgy this year?" So I had to tone up.
I hate working out, so my routine consisted of running and playing sports. I also altered my diet to help out the process. In addition to abandoning all sweets, I decided I'd try to keep a kosher diet [again, it's what Jesus would've done]. The "no crustacean" part wasn't a bother since I never eat it anyway, but cutting out pig from my diet was rough. For some reason it felt like everywhere we went during that time had bacon cooking. One time I ordered a salad for lunch and it was covered with bacon pieces; I picked all of them off. It was a sad, but I stuck with it throughout the duration. All I can remember is that after that last show, we headed to the local steak place where I ordered a huge plate of cheese fries. I asked for extra bacon.
Also, they insisted that I had darker skin. I wasn't about to go to a tanning salon, so I had to use that fake tan stuff. It absolutely sucked. It had a certain stench to it. And it got all over my clothes. Plus, you can never get a consistent coat with that stuff so I had to romp around town with a streaky orange hue. What really peeved me off is that for the performances they caked make-up on me to make me even darker. Still not sure why I had to fake, fake bake it.
Obviously, getting into character was difficult, but the most strenuous part was the cross scene. The elevated stage left me some 25 feet above ground level. I was tied to the cross and held on to nails that fit around my hands; there was an angled foot stand that allowed me to support my weight. There was a moment, when the soldiers lowered the cross into the hole, that the cross leaned forward, giving the sensation that you would fall forward. It took numerous rehearsals in order for me to get used to it.
And then there was the strain on my arms. For the cross scene I was up there almost 25 minutes. Even though my arms weren't holding me up, it was painful to hold them up. Every night was an ordeal. But that part of the experience is the most memorable to me. It really helped me appreciate what Jesus really went through on the cross. I was in pain just acting like I was crucified. The act of crucifixion was meant to be excruciating as well as humiliating. And Jesus endured it for us. It's unbelievable. My Jesus experience challenged me to reevaluate the way I sometimes flippantly thought about and spoke of His sacrifice on the cross.
I wasn't worthy. But none of us are. And that's the lesson I took away from that role. That's why Jesus is the most amazing figure in world history. And hat's why my life is consumed with following Him and teaching others to do the same.