HE SAID, "FOLKS, Jesus was a prisoner too. I don't mean Jesus was a prisoner in a prison though the Jews, they booked him there for a few days at the end. But I don't mean that kind of prisoner. And I don't mean Jesus was a prisoner inside his own skin like you and I, because Jesus was Rose of Sharon, brothers, he was Lily of the Valley. He was the royal Bengal tiger and the lamb without blemish both. There was no sin in him, nothing he had to jail up inside. He had the seat of honor in Heaven, and it was through him the earth was made. Only then he come down. He come down from Heaven. From Heaven! You ever stop to think what that means? You ever stop to think what it means to come down out of Heaven into this two-bit world?
"Up there in Heaven Scripture says the streets are of pure gold like unto clear glass and the twelve gates are twelve pearls and there is no Temple where people go to worship the Almighty because up there the Almighty is worshiped all over the place and day and night the angels sing praises at his throne. That's the place Jesus left to come here.
"He come down out of the heavenly place to this place. Down, down he come, and what did he find when he got here? He found a place where there's not enough food to stretch round. He found a place where every single night there's little children go to bed crying because that day it wasn't their turn to eat. He found a place where people are scared stiff of each other most of the time and hide from each other and sometimes come out of their hiding places to do hateful things to each other.
"You take your nine-year-old girl found beat-up and raped in the park. You take your old woman shipped off to some cheap-jack nursing home to die of lonesomeness. Jesus found a place where even nature's gone bad. Where babies are born with little shriveled-up arms and young men with their whole life ahead of them get cancers, and there's droughts and floods, and peaches are piled up along the road going rotten to keep the price up when there's people don't have the price of a peach.
"Friends, Jesus come down to a place where every last man, woman, and child is living on death row. You'd think the least thing we could do was draw close and comfort each other, but no. Except for a few loved ones, we close the doors of our hearts and bolt them tight on each other."
Bebb's voice grew quieter toward the end. He held on to the sides of his new pulpit with his shoulders hunched up. He said, "This world Jesus come down to, it's got good things in it too, praise God. It's got love in it and kindness in it and people doing brave and honest things, not just hateful things. It's got beauty in it. It's got the silver light of the moon by night and the golden beams of the sun by day. It's got the sound of the rain on the roof and the smell of the rain on the fresh-turned earth. It's got human forms and faces that are so beautiful they break your heart for yearning after them. But coming down from where he come down from, all the good things of the world must have just made Jesus homesick for the place he come down from. Brothers and sisters, the whole planet was a prison for Jesus. He got born here like the rest of us and did the work here he come to do, and he died here. But it was never like it was home to him.
"Same as creatures from some other part of the universe, Jesus was a stranger in this place, and that's another meaning to Saint Paul's words when he says, 'I am a prisoner for Christ.' Saint Paul means this whole planet's my prison because I don't belong to this planet. I'm down here just for your sake same as Jesus was. That's all. I belong to someplace else far, far away. Sometimes I get homesick for it something wicked."
- Originally published in The Book of Bebb