Thomas, Sunday May 7
Still can’t believe it. I just can’t…I met Jesus after work and was all ready to tell him all the plans I had worked out to get his mission started and capitalise on the boost Jordan had given us. I had hardly slept the past three nights.
“I’m going to spend some time in the wilderness,” he announced. “Forty days and forty nights should do it, I reckon.”
“Tell me you’re joking,” I said. “We get the perfect opportunity to make you the biggest thing in Galilee since leavened bread and you decide to go walkabout?”
“John the Baptist did it. Many of the prophets did it. Even Moses…”
“Moses led his people through the wilderness to escape slavery in a foreign country,” I blustered. “He didn’t decide to go there as a lifestyle choice as a way to prove himself. He overcame it as an obstacle when leading the people to the Promised Land.”
“All the same, I think it would add to my credibility as a holy man if I were seen to test myself in the crucible of the desert,” he said.
“A holy man? Come off it mate. You can preach and prophecy and gather a following, but when did you start to become holy?”
“You heard God’s words at my baptism.”
I started to count to ten, but I realised I would still be mad with him if I got to 100. I had to try a different approach.
“But you’re not cut out for the wilderness. It’s like an oven in the daytime, especially this time of year, and it’s freezing cold at night. There’s no soft bed to sleep on, no mum to wake you in the morning with a cup of water. You’re lucky if you can find any water at all, and there’s nothing to eat.”
“John the Baptist lived on locusts and wild honey.”
“Yes, and look at the state of him! And when did you last eat a locust, let alone catch one? And you couldn’t fry them up in a bit of olive oil and serve them up with a green salad and fresh bread; you’d have to eat them raw. And who’s so afraid of bees he’d never get within a hundred cubits of any wild honey?”
“God will find a way,” said Jesus.
I actually walked away and seethed for a minute before coming back.
“Go on then,” I said eventually, “and don’t blame me if you die out there or if people have forgotten you by the time you get back. But please drop this holy man thing. You know and I know that you’re not actually the son of God. It’s not possible anyway. It’s just a cover story we made up. I made up.”
“I appreciate your help mate,” he said, turning on the charm again. “I really do. OK, if not the son of God, how about some other title I could use?”
“How about the Son of Man?” I suggested out of weary desperation. “All the prophets talk about the Son of Man being at God’s side in the final days. Perhaps you could use that. It would certainly get people thinking.”
“No, I think you were right the other day when you said it would be the Son of Man who would descend from heaven on a cloud at the end of the age, not God himself, and I’d be there waiting here with my followers to receive him,” he said, “so I can’t use that. OK, I know. I’m off then. Wish the Saviour of the Jews good luck on his quest.”
“Piss off,” I said, giving up. “And you take care. Don’t do anything stupid. And mind the bees.”