This poem is originally part of a collection by Tim Watson (who tweets as @beatliturgist ) in his book Crucify This Jesus. It is published here with permission. The text is below.
“Crucify this Jesus”
Not my Jesus,
Or your Jesus,
Or our Jesus,
But the for all Jesus,
The for the poor Jesus,
Crucify this miss-managed Messiah,
Who brings life with a heart and hands on fire.
Whose feet are as naturally placed walking on waves as up the sides of mountains,
Or hospital wards.
Drag this Jesus through the streets,
Unrepentant prophet of the prosperity of peoples,
Not through purchases and product placements,
Not to be seen in glossy catalogues and car showrooms,
But the prosperity of the kingdom where wealth is found wanting and wanton,
Where what is wildly wanted is a wealth of the Spirit that cannot be found in the flags planted in the ground,
Staking a claim on creation,
And by nature instigating segregation and seclusion,
“Crucify this Jesus” who spits in his muddy hands and scrapes pictures, words or prophecies in the sand.
To him to whom no need is not noticed,
“Crucify this Jesus” whose harvest is wild and opulent,
Profound and potent,
Wild and risky,
Confusing to watchers and commentators,
Pilloried for prioritizing the practice of a life lived in love’s abundance,
So that Zacchaeus hosts a party for the Jesus, who sees all, and loves all.
This one time encounter, breaking bonds of greed and graceless perspiration in the production of personally prioritized wealth and wonder.
Bang harsh nails into the wrists or the hands of this God-man,
And do it for his failings and his faults.
His failings to accommodate hate and his fault in promulgating another way,
Free from the cynicism of selfish self-serving statutes and points to prove.
Mock the man-messiah whose simple bleeding hands held lepers close and did not push away the despised.
Those simple hands that plucked illicit Sabbath grain and blessed humanity abundantly.
Draw around the frail form and wonder at his ways of encouraging the forlorn to live afresh and find faith and focus.
Crawling toward crucifixion with a cross on his back.
Tear the clothes of the one who shared the miracles of his grace with others.
Who beckoned the disciples to participate in giving out bread and fish,
To satisfy the hungers of this life,
And look at him, he whom, with words of love,
Spoke of water without end,
Who welcomed beyond welcome,
Whose invitation to the feast crossed gender, ethnicity and geographic bounds.
Crucify the messiah – man,
The Jesus, who would banquet with the “broken” and the “best.”
Rally against the one who would walk another mile,
And on into minefields,
Through the most dangerous streets to give hope to all those in the bulging brothel of the trafficked,
Nail home in furious rage against the unwelcome presence in boardrooms and church pulpits.
Call down fire and carpet bombs on the man to whom passports pack no punch.
Whose heart is in New York, Dresden, Jerusalem, Benghazi and Pyongyang.
Crucify the king whose crown is scrap from the compost heap,
Whose sharp shards kiss the head of him who reads Isaiah aloud without a nervy second breath of hesitation.
Creation breaks and buckles in his wake,
Him whom death dares to dare.
Bring swords against the one who would walk with all and for all in all the places of earth,
And who would rather hold the hand of a child than sign a contract.
Take your swords to the antique shop,
Trade them for ploughs, beaten and battered.
Pour out wine and anointing oil onto the ground,
Mix in (bitter) herbs and seek to sate your thirst with watchful, wilted wills of warped wonder.
Proclaim to high court’s the injustice inherent in this holy one’s perspective.
He who will not be drawn into the words of aimless arguments,
Whose answer to charges is enacted hope and faithful frankness,
Crucify the Jesus who gives to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and yet stands nowhere neutral, despite what the papers say.
Proclaiming the dawn of an endless day,
where “resurrection” is whispered in the courts of fools and failures.
“Resurrection” in the ears of disbelief, whose apartment overlooks the city dump.
“Resurrection” in the temple, soon to falter and fall, whose curtain’s tear illustrates more than the gap being bridged and the way opened up.
Wrap in bubble-wrap that statue,
Gilded in the latest style, stock-piled in the service of preservation.
Providence’s approval lacking,
Crucify this Jesus who heals with a word,
This Jesus who wanders with Elisha in the working of his ways,
Taking chances on inevitability, despite its inevitability,
Crucify this king of creation,
Namer of stars,
Eternal word and wisdom.
Call to mind the categories that cannot stick in the face of such a Jesus.
Crucify this Jesus whose concept of treasure transforms the aspirations of those he encounters.
Whose hope-filled and faulting yet faithful followers, would rather free a girl from demonic terror and answer to the economic mumblings of the oppressor than turn a blind eye.
Prepare a tomb for the falling “saviour”, who sends pigs packing and walks amongst the living, the dead and the living dead.
Who weeps for Lazarus and stands at the bolt-hole of death’s last fading stand, where the way is being lost and the tombs are soon to crack.
Lay down your nets and record books, before the cross that is called to carry the One Word who speaks.
Vanquish thoughts of self over others in the treatment of brothers and sisters,
As this Christ recognises distinction,
Only in the eye of the beholder.
Crucify the Jesus,
Who saves the best wine for last and calls all the unexpected to the wedding banquet.
See through the hole in the roof how he who loves beyond life, longs for restoration,
Follow him along the course of rivers, to their source and to the temple,
Knee deep in glory and yet so far removed.
Traipse up, yet another hill to sit like Mary,
To be fed eternal food for heart and soul and mind.
Be welcomed into his presence,
Not as a stranger,
But a neighbour,
Or estranged relative returned,
Or once again, call out,
“Crucify him”, at the encounter of the three in one who sits at table and shares himself and broken bread.
Speak to the man-messiah of the orders that enthral you and guide you.
Of the legions and share holders,
Of the generals and small holders,
Whisper to him of wants that will never rust,
Or become fodder for moths and dry rot,
Rising damp and the promise of potential benefits,
Be swallowed up like Jonah into the deep down dirty depths of cold watery death,
Just to rise up and out,
Spat from the sea and from the ground,
From death to bold new life,
Brought forth by the rejecting grave.
Hold fast to this hope that does not hanker to power brokers or broken-dreamed dreamers.
Join with the prophetic chants of the poets,
Proclaiming resurrection in the hearts and hopes of all.
This failed zealot and confused pacifist who speaks of words and worlds and crushes snakes with his metaphorical heel.
Kneel, before the one who walks with the weary, and works wonders with his words,
Of miraculous healing,
And hope for the oppressed and to captives, liberation,
That itself captivates, captivating on the God-king who rides a colt and a donkey, borrowed,
To mixed reaction.
Whose royal entrance is understated and so quickly underrated and berated.
Fetch the hammer,
Sharpen the nails,
For this betrayal,
Sealed with the kiss of the accountant,
Bank rolling something that cannot be understood.
Pause and pray pity for the coin carrier,
Carrion’s friend and feast,
True sorrow and remorse’s companion.
Crucify this Jesus who disobeys the basic expectations of manners and sanitation,
Whose every movement is amongst the degradation of societal-seconds,
Cast-out and castigated by many,
But to him welcomed warmly,
Healed and holistic.
See through the eyes of a blind man,
Blind since birth,
With which to confuse the imperial elite.
Bring in this Jesus,
Put him before the courts and powerful people of all ages,
Speak more life than any other voice in eternity.
Gather up his followers and ask, “weren’t you with the God-man Jesus?”
Watch, listen and be open to expectation’s shattering,
As the one Divine-human walks with the wounded and draws water from wells deep within.
Who stands by the wrestling well and welcomes and makes wanted.
Come and see the Jesus who knows all you have ever done,
Who saw you under the fig-tree and walked with you,
Crucify this false prophet whose heart is not heavy with what heavy’s our hearts of envy and greed.
Instead the heart of him whom spoke creation into being is burdened by our blindness, and by the Babel’s we let tower above and before us,
Worshipping an image made of iron and mud,
While the shepherd stands in the back alley of our souls and speaks simply and says,
“Come and follow me!”
Shout down this Jesus and call instead to Barabbas whose intentions and methods can clearly be understood,
If not appreciated.
But let the confusing face of God to the grave go,
Whose words are riddles and whose answers aren’t easy in a way that is wanted.
Instead request an audience with the pro-consul and beg for the benefits of what Caesar can offer.
Look to the puppet king as he stands in his silken robes,
Head held high by Caesar’s hand.
No purple cloth drapes the fragile frame of the Messiah man who breaks chains of sin and blinds those who dare not seek him.
Blinds them into being born anew into fresh garments, startling and pure,
Free from past perversions and persuasions.
Crucify this Jesus who never stands jaded or near broken,
But who instead wears wonder like a cloak and shares salvation with his tears,
And his feet.
Call out to passersby to hold-up the frame of this God-man’s cross and wearily walk behind him through streets lost from hope and the prayers of peace,
To the desolate place of bones,
This pool of putrification where the Christ will take residence and has in so many ways, always taken residence.
Do not hesitate in hoping for the blame of beyond to fall afresh on the man-God who calmly walks to the wolves, with no sword, sling or ox-goad.
Barren of life and bearer of eternity who knows no other way but the sharing of his flesh and the pouring out of his blood-red wine.
Breaking open into streams of life,
Tattering time and tearing up the curtains,
This human-Christ whose peace is perpetual in presence,
Despite dreadful, desperate, deplorable, behaviours of sin,
Borne to the bearer of all births and the bringer of tree’s blossom.
Hang him high on his mutilated creation,
Whose branches, never before did bear such a weight of weary woe.
Pray out to the silence of the horror that turns skies black and cracks the earth’s skin,
Like old leather,
Pouring out from fractured wounds,
Too pure, to be consumed and yet offered to all,
For all and forever,
Shatter the peace of this day and pierce the skin of the Jesus,
Who wearily walked to Golgotha,
And gladly bore the bane of broken betrayal.
Scares the seas into silence,
And bears witness to creation.
This Melchizadekian deity who dares, to demand all and nothing,
All at once.
Him, who calls his fractured-faithed followers to walk with him on the waters,
Where expectations lie shattered floating amidst the washed out waste of worry and woe.
He who beckons all people to leave behind the ways and wants well-known and well-loved and instead to find hope and worth and comfort in something less tangible,
In the rest of the one who knows only love and offers peace that transcends pure physicalities,
But that rings out like a gunshot across the valleys and mountain ranges,
In its uncontainable summation.
Hold fast to the hands and arms of the one to be nailed to those beams.
Hold fast with a child-like grasp, to the one who could escape in an instant with a shower of angels and a legion of heavenly bodies like never before seen.
But, as in that wild, desert, of ache and hunger and thirst, where the tempter makes his fetid home in his impotence, the God-man simply is.
He calls down no curse,
No self-preserving plan.
He jumps not from the temple of that cross,
With every beat and breath,
Lives out the purposes given to him and welcomes the weary,
And forgives the “failures”.
For his kingdom is vast and makes room for all who open wide that door and walk straight across the desert of personal degradation and denial and find a way that is wide open.
Crucify him, that man-God who topples tables taking up sacred space,
Loaded with corruption and inequality,
Thieving iniquity in a place of purity whose capstone walks with children, cheaters, adulterers and the dirty “unclean” and “impure”.
His disgrace is not opaque,
But vivid and clear translucence for all to see,
No shy inhibitions or social nuances can hold back the divine-fragile-figure who says what needs to be said and stands against an unfaltering army of corruption and political dalliances and predilections,
With their plethora of potent potentials,
By far the loudest voice,
No clanging symbol,
Belongs to the quietest of all,
Whose revolution erupts out of selfless suffering and undeserved death.
No simple martyr for humanity,
But the entirety of creation’s past and future fate is enacted and anticipated in the wild,
Wordless witness of a one,
Welcomed into death for the sake of so many,
Join the heady throng of that bustling crowd,
Rocks in hand,
And prepared, to let fly with any moment,
Ears and eyes shut to the truth that all to the ground should throw stones and rocks of judgement,
For no one soul stands better placed to throw such an implement of potent pain.
To the messiah-man,
Those rocks are but dust and sand,
Worn down by eternity,
Worn out by burden’s bilge.
“Crucify him” this fox-faced homeless wanderer who sees power in the actions of the poor and preaches peace that is spoken, sharp, with double-bladed precision.
Bountifully deny this messiah,
Last in a long-line of hopefuls.
Break the chains of your self-expectations,
Stand in that prison pit and call out to him aloud so that all might hear,
Of the mighty one who works miracles magnificently.
Lay down your grain offerings and give them to the poor,
Live out the jubilee on the walk home from work,
On the phone to call centres.
For the Christ Jesus,
Knows all people and loves all people,
The garden of grace blooms in bounty before the man-king.
To the weak and dishevelled hope is distributed,
Not as charity,
But through clarity,
As a glass that was dark and made clear in the whisper of “resurrection” that reverberates through the hopeless,
Disgraced, dead to decency places,
That hide lives lived in shadow cages of confusion,
Trapped in iniquity’s profusion.
But instead break down the distorting barriers of bandaged blessing.
Walk the walk of those who could not walk but were once set free.
No anxiety in peace will be found,
For the servant messiah’s sanctuary is profound.
Burn your addictions to decay down.
Leave no stone unturned in your search for truth in the library’s looking for proof and conclude with Thomas that the search for truth might not be the quest for proof.
Instead, look to the shepherd,
No hired lazy-day dallier,
But a persistent protector who leaves ninety-nine to look for the little lost lamb,
The lowest of the low,
Gideon of the animal kingdom.
This polarising constructor of alternate realities,
But not virtually or visually,
But actually, as a matter-of-factually, hypothesised and propitiated,
Enacted and inculcated.
The kingdom of tiny seeds prophesied and preached from a place of presence putting into pictures a panorama of providence.
Dance loudly to the bells calling all and asunder,
To bow at the altar of wonder,
Where past failings fall flaccidly,
No power to prevail against the Christ-man’s perfect peace.
Be realigned in thought and action,
Word and deed,
Hope and dreams,
Hate and schemes,
Hurt and painful reasons,
For mountains can be moved by tiny seeds in this world,
Working towards restoration with the clock ticking down.
Hang him up, cruciform in the spectator’s space,
In galleries and stadiums,
Cafes and race-courses,
Shopping centres and castle gardens,
Private beaches and top tennis courts.
String him up for all to see,
In sewing circles and Halloween parties,
In TV telethons and immigration offices.
Bang in the bitter nails in restaurants and fancy cars,
In hotels with five shining stars.
Throw coins to the floor,
Tie a noose and rip his thread bare rags to shreds,
Watch the weeping gather,
Hopes cascading into something more utterly confusing,
Some sad Saturday feeling,
When the walls collapse and down comes the ceiling of dreams held high aloft and then seemingly lost.
This colossal trickster whose words reign in spite of their confusing tendencies.
Silently swallow pride and progress and cling instead to death,
This chrysalis husk of life’s logic lost.
Open new eyes and clear the fog of misunderstood expectations,
Pause and wait as he walks painfully forward through those crying streets,
Traipsing towards a conclusion and a beginning.
Pause and wait,
Hide at the tomb of your ambitions and your-self.
Be hushed and whisper “resurrection”,
Heavy with a perfume poured and a jar cracked.
Go to the great cathedrals and hold aloft robes and cloths.
Stoles and clerical collars.
Either light a match or bathe them in nard,
Open crusty, long-shut eyes and in every step live out Passiontide and advent, Easter, lent, but let no time be ordinary and no space be mundane,
Profane the Sabbath of circumstance,
Turn your backyard into your neighbour’s medicine cabinet.
Crucify him, the one sustainer,
Who lived and died a life of love for stranger – motives that are yet to be fully decoded,
And do not come pre-loaded,
With Gnostic notions.
Where knowledge is nothing without living it and loving all,
As before the fall.
This Christ figure stands humbly in this world.
Fully, and yet,
Put him down,
Dead as dry dust into the tomb,
This freshly deceased saviour whose kingdom carries no call to battling angels from afar to free him from his bestial death,
Carry this capable king’s crown of tatters to the table and to the parliament,
Crush it into grounds,
Pulses of perfection,
Throw it to the wind,
This decadent dust,
Anoint the world with these simple flashes of fractured hurt.
Or share the bowl with Pilate,
Wash your hands alongside,
And in that water bless and baptise in broken terms and simple mediations.
Take all that value requires.
Hold vanity aloft and shatter its compact mirror,
Disclose no lies to the taker of talk,
To be chiselled in stone in lists from one to ten.
Wipe clean the slate heart that hurts and aches for meaning with its obscene pre-occupations to privation.
Instead lay down in slow motion, before a love wider than the sea,
And walk once more along the shore with the crucified messiah-mortal,
Who timelessly treads forward.
Drop your nets and turn towards Emmaus,
Walk the road on the Sabbath,
Stopping at the brothel and tax collector’s temple,
Take nothing but the Word as a weapon.
Lay down lives as long lost leaves across this wide and narrow way.
With divine help unplug and open eyes and ears and mouths.
Beyond the noise,
To the whispers,
The calls and words and Word of wonder.
Listen to the Jesus-saviour-Son,
Whose presence is grounded and boundless.
To red-raw knees may we fall and listen,
Lifelong and relentlessly,
To the shouts and cries and whispers,
Tim Watson is a poet, artist and liturgist, fascinated by culture and mission. He wrote the liturgy for the Beat Eucharist and tweets @BeatLiturgist . He is a husband and a father. He is a curate on the leadership team of St. Mary’s and New Horizon’s in Nantwich.