A View From The Mountain Top

Andrew McArthur, with his satirical take on how Jesus became God.  

The air is hot and dry, the stench of unwashed bodies permeates the ground, the buildings even your thoughts. The crowd on either side of you seems to be waffling between hoots of derision and heart wrenching cries of support. You haven't eaten since dinner the night before. Your throat is parched. Rivulets of blood meander their way down from where the thorns pierce your scalp. Your hair is matted with dried blood and mud. Off to your right you hear a sneering, derisive call “Make way for the king!”

Your recollection of the previous few days is jumbled. You are a puzzle even to yourself, and several edge pieces seem to be missing. “Make way for the king of the Jews!”

King of the Jews? It all comes rushing back as you feel yourself crumble to the dust under the weight of a huge wooden cross.

“That's the son of God that is!”

The rough stone path shreds the skin from your legs as you struggle to regain purchase on your burden.

Son of God?

The sky above your head is leaden, promising the sweet relief of rain, if only you could rise to greet it. If only you could get out from underneath the weight of this damn cross!

The stone path grows steeper and the crowd seems to thin a little as though not wanting to stray too far from the tavern. It’s a long way to the top of Mount Golgotha; not a climb usually made by choice. Looking up, he could just make out the silhouettes of those unfortunates whose time had come a few days before. the Romans were never in any hurry to take down the evidence of their certain justice”

Son of God?

You remember the wine - too much wine! Your friends jollying you along to greater and greater heights of drunken theatrics as the evening wore on. You can dimly remember something about standing up on the table top, spreading your arms against the sky and demanding “Am I not god?!” The table was a bit wobbly (sure, it must have been the table) Brutus, beside himself with laughter, his arm draped loosely around the waist of a comely youngish girl; Mary Mag ... something, what was her name?! Things got a little hazy after that. Sometime after dinner, Brutus and Mary melted away into the bushes. After that, nothing. Nothing until awakening in a dank, dirty cell, the evening’s wine causing his head to throb in time with the drum beats sounding somewhere close.

Son of God?

You know with absolute certainty, you would never have made such a claim while sober. You know yourself to be a man, simply a man. The hangover provides ample evidence of that. If you were a god, or the son of a god, you would definitely have something done concerning the after effects of wine!

You recognize faces here and there throughout the crown lining the rocky path up the slope. There’s Brutus, almost managing to look worse than even you feel. Beside Brutus, Mary seems to be studying her feet. The third time you collapse under the weight of the cross, a stranger comes forward to help shoulder your burden. The Centurions didn't seem too perturbed, satisfied to allow the disjointed progression continue at its own pace. It’s a sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. Sweat and blood mingled with dust, creates a sickening paste that clings to every inch of exposed skin.

When the first nail pierces the skin of his palm you scream. More agony blossoms, another nail. Then everything goes quiet. The pain gone and every sense focused solely on the all consuming sky. You can taste the sky, feel it on your skin, caressing. You know you are still screaming, it just didn't seem to matter. The third spike shatters both his ankles as it was driven through him into the wood. The sky explodes in a shower of shattered stars. He hears screaming. His own? Crying?


Faces blur into view as the cross is raised up, the burnished beige of the city written in every face. They are his people; his brothers, his sisters. They are crucifying him! Really, actually crucifying him! The pain. The confusion, the taste of blood in his mouth. Mary, sobbing on her knees at the base of the cross until casually brushed aside by a burly, sneering Centurion. The spear pierces his torso. The world becomes red, then it grows dark. 

He is dying.

Andrew McArthur is an Atheist Republic blogger and newsletter contributor.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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