We’re all pretty familiar with the stories of Creation, and Noah’s Ark, and David & Goliath… but the Bible offers a detached view of its characters.
What would it look like if you could read the Bible from God’s perspective?
That’s the gist of Chris Matheson‘s new book The Story of God: A Biblical Comedy about Love (and Hate) (Pitchstone Publishing, 2015):
In the excerpt below, Matheson tells us what God was thinking when it came to Jesus:
Several hundred years later, God put what he referred to as “Plan B” into effect. He considered how he wanted to bring his son — Jesus was the name he’d picked — into existence. Should he create him fully formed? That hadn’t worked very well with Adam and Eve so God decided against it. Should he create a baby Jesus and raise him in heaven, then send him down to earth at the age of, say, thirty? No, he had no idea how to raise a child and — to the extent that he’d seen how human children behaved, how disobedient they often were — he didn’t want to try it either.
God decided to impregnate a woman and have her raise the baby Jesus. But how to actually do it? Would he have sex with the woman? God seriously considered the possibility, but couldn’t seem to find a woman who sparked his interest in that way. Also, why lie? He was inexperienced — the truth was that he had zero experience. He was, in other words, a virgin. And the idea of things going badly? That simply could not happen.
So God chose to artificially inseminate the woman; yes, that was a better idea. (Question: once the girl was pregnant, would she be Jesus’ biological mother, or merely a womb to carry the young god around in? Answer: God wasn’t sure and he felt it didn’t matter much anyway. “But probably just a womb,” he thought to himself.)
Before God inseminated Mary (for that was the girl’s name), well… he didn’t care for that part of the process. “Onanist… Onanist,” he found himself muttering at his own reflection. God sent an angel down to earth with, more or less, a turkey baster, and Mary was quickly impregnated.
God didn’t pay attention to Mary’s pregnancy, nor did he really care much about Jesus’ first thirty years of life. He did hear stories, apocryphal he assumed, of the boy’s behavior, how he had killed people for fun, and those made him smile indulgently and murmur, “That’s my boy.” (Thom. 2:8–9)
When Jesus turned thirty though, the wheels started turning. Jesus started to preach God’s truth. He quickly gained followers. The boy was smart and charismatic, quite a unique personality. If he lived a hundred years, he might attract followers all over the world. Or why not allow him to live nine hundred years, like Methuselah? Let him travel the globe, spreading the word everywhere! “Great idea, Lord,” God thought to himself.
At this point, however, a question began to insinuate itself into God’s mind: Given the seriousness of the job he was giving Jesus, did he fully trust him? Sure, he was his son — but given that he didn’t actually “know” this young man, they’d never met obviously, and given how much was riding on him, God felt that he needed to put him to the test.
Immediately after the Job disaster, God had worried that Satan would feel “empowered” by his victory — that he would start to challenge him, or even try to take over. But it hadn’t happened. Satan had been very quiet, in fact. He had gone back to hell-building and God had barely heard a word from him since. All those worries for nothing! Satan had no real power, he was God’s employee.The idea that he was, in any sense, a threat had turned out to be completely unfounded. Satan was God’s servant and nothing more. So when God needed someone to test his boy and make sure he was made of the right stuff, he wasn’t uncomfortable in the least contacting Satan.
“I need you to do another job for me,”God said the next time they met. (Hell was nearly complete and they were discussing some finishing touches. How hot would it be? Roasting. How cruel would the demons be? Merciless. How long would the agony last? Forever. Hell was beautiful, God thought — a gorgeous little world devoted solely to punishment. God adored it, and his pleasure in it put him in a mellow mood.)
“I need you to test my son, Satan, make sure he is up to the task I have given him.”
“How do you want me to test him?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Satan. I’ll leave that to you, you’re good at that kind of thing, I hear.” God loved how airily superior he sounded.
“Shall I torture him?”
“This is my son we’re talking about, Satan. I don’t want you to torture him.”
“I’ll leave that to you then.”
God’s lips curled. What did that mean? He instantly remembered why he disliked Satan so much; he was petty, mean, small. But no matter. God was not going to lower himself to his level. “Tempt him, Satan.You can do that, can’t you?”
“Good.Then — go do it, devil!” God made a casual little “scat cat” gesture with his hands, which felt lovely. His disrespect for Satan would have been obvious to any angels who happened to be watching (and there were always angels watching when he and Satan were together, God knew that), and he enjoyed that. Angels turned and watched Satan as he walked away, which irked God a tiny bit, but not much. Fine, the guy had “charisma” (whatever that meant), but he had no real power.
God and some of his favorite angels watched, eating grilled meat and drinking wine, as the temptation began.
The Story of God is available online beginning today.