He found them in the Garden, shame-faced. The discarded fruit lay on the ground next to them, and the snake hung above their heads, quietly gloating. Their hands twitched in an effort to reclaim the leaves that persisted in going astray.
Sadly, he told them what would happen next. The trust between him and them, between them and each other, between them and the Garden was broken. They would have to leave the Garden. He could not walk with them any more. They would struggle with each other. They would have to work, hard painful work.
He had a plan to make things right, he told them. But that, too, would hurt. It would hurt him more than anyone.
He took two of their small, woolly friends to show them how much it would hurt. They covered their eyes, the first tears trickling between their fingers as the lambs' blood trickled to the ground. He took the leaves, already wilting after their separation from the tree, and offered them his covering instead.
They were clothes that would cover them. They were clothes that would remind them of both their loss and their hope.
They hesitated. How could they wear the clothes that had been their friends? Should they not do... something to make it right? But in the end, there was nothing they could do. As much as they might try, they could not make it right.
They had mis-trusted him, walked away, chosen to believe what they wanted instead of what he said. It could not be undone.
They could only weep, reach out their hands, and accept the gift he had prepared for them.
He saw them in memory as he hung there, blood trickling into his eye. He struggled to breathe, to blink away the sting. The pain was intolerable. But it would pass.
Better this pain, now, than the pain of being without them forever.
They had no idea what they were doing. They thought they knew better, that they had seen through him, that he was trying to hurt them. He was only trying to help, to protect, to prevent the pain.
It could not be undone. They could not make it right. But he could. He felt the nails grind against his wrist bones as he reached for breath.
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" he cried.
His hands were outstretched. He saw theirs, outstretched, accepting the gift he offered. He saw them, standing again by his side in a Garden, restored.
He had done what he could. It was finished. The choice now, once again, was theirs.
Based on Genesis 3, Luke 23, Revelation 22.
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