In the middle of the night the bishop came with a candle, unlocked the door, fell at the feet of Jesus and said, “Forgive me. I had recognized you, but we are doing your business perfectly well. You are not needed at all. In fact, if you insist, we will have to crucify you – unwillingly – because people like you are always troublemakers. With great difficulty we have managed your empire. Almost half the earth follows you, not because of you but because you have the best managers – the priests, the bishops, the cardinals, the pope. What more can you do? We are already doing it! It is better you go back. Don’t make unnecessary trouble; otherwise the second coming will become the second crucifixion.”
This story from Brothers Karamazov I told to Stanley Jones and asked him what he thought about it. It is fictitious, but I think it has a truth in it – if Jesus comes, this will be the behavior towards him….
I have heard that one early Sunday morning a young man looking like Jesus entered a church before the bishop entered. The bishop was almost in shock, but thought, “Perhaps he is just a hippie – these hippies are creating so much trouble. Now he is pretending to be Jesus Christ. What is he doing here?”
He approached the young man, and the young man immediately said, “Don’t be misguided by your mind. I am not a hippie, I am Jesus Christ. You have been worshipping and you have been asking for me to come and now I have come. Last time, I had come to a very remote part of the world, uneducated. I thought this time, New York would be better.”
The bishop could not figure out what to do. He said, “Wait a minute.” He phoned immediately to the Vatican, to the pope, saying, “I am in great trouble. A man whom I think is a hippie, but he looks exactly like Jesus Christ…and who knows? He may be. I need your guidance.”
The pope said, “Jesus Christ? Do two things: inform the police and look busy!”
It has not only happened in Greece, it has happened almost all over the world. Judea has not been able to create another man of the quality of Jesus, nor has Arabia been able to create another man of the quality of Al-Hillaj Mansoor…. Something similar, in different ways in different countries, has created a spiritual poverty.
In India we have not crucified Gautam Buddha but we have been more sophisticated in destroying him, far more clever – and it is bound to be so because India is a far more ancient land than Greece. At least for ten thousand years India has been in existence.
Gautam Buddha and Socrates were contemporaries, but before Socrates there is emptiness in Greece. There were sophists, but sophists are not seekers of truth. There is not a single figure who can be compared to Socrates. Greece reaches its youth with Socrates – and dies young with Socrates. Much more was possible.
Gautam Buddha was not the first in the line but the last. Socrates was the first in the line. Gautam Buddha was not new to India – Krishna and Adinatha and Neminatha and Rama and Parasuram and Yagnavalkya…and the story goes back at least ten thousand years. A far more sophisticated country, naturally. It has killed Gautam Buddha not by poisoning him, but by far more subtle means.