The fish are on the other side


Jesus, Wednesday May 31

Yesterday was really confusing.  I went to see Eleazar the Exorcist at work and was hugely impressed.  He was so much better than Ananias had been, and so much more genuine too, and was having some real success at driving out demons.  I spotted him using many of the techniques Cyrus had taught me, but he was using them to help increase people’s belief so they would be more likely to be cured.

Then he started working on an old man who was absolutely riddled with demons.  It was a few minutes before I recognised the man as Daniel, Tom’s father.  Eventually there was just one demon left, but it just wouldn’t leave, no matter what Eleazar tried.

I don’t know what possessed me, but I found myself pushing through the crowd to get to the front where I could hold Daniel and try to comfort him.  He seemed to respond to my voice and touch, and I found myself praying for the demon to depart.  Daniel’s demon started to make him writhe around and I commanded it to leave.  I was as surprised as anyone when it went and Daniel became himself again.

Then Eleazar revealed himself to be Cyrus, or maybe Cyrus revealed himself to be Eleazar, and I became well confused.  I was going to talk to him about teaching me how to put on a show like he had done, but for some reason he decided he didn’t want me as a pupil any more and told me I was on my own now.  Tom turned up and we all went back to Mary’s house, I mean our house, for a meal.  We all went to bed but I was so excited by the day’s events I couldn’t sleep.

I went to Tom’s room to talk about getting started on the mission straight away, but he kept going on about having to be on message and needing to gather a band of followers.  He’s probably right, but I can’t help wondering if he’s having doubts and is simply trying to delay things or maybe put me off altogether.  Not that he has any chance of that.

We must have both fallen asleep at some point.  I woke up at dawn, my mind still replaying the events of yesterday and making plans for the mission.  Tom was fast asleep so I left him there and went for a walk by the lake, enjoying the still coolness of the morning before the sun’s fire built up to its full strength after a night’s rest under the earth.

After a couple of miles I reached a beach where a number of fishermen were still busy at the end of their night’s work.  Many were already bustling around unloading their catches, ready to go to market or feed their families, but I thought I recognised Simon and Andrew out in their boat still, not far from the shore.  They looked like they’d had a bad night and I could see them wearily gathering their nets as if getting ready for one last cast, hoping to catch something, desperate not to go home penniless, or worse, hungry.

“Hi!” I shouted.

“What do you want?” Simon called back, grumpily.

“I want to talk to you when you’ve finished work,” I said.

“You’ll have a long wait,” said Simon.  He and Andrew were holding the net in their tired arms, wondering if it was worth the effort of one last try.

“Wait a minute,” I called.  A slight breeze had picked up.  I closed my eyes, felt the breeze on my face, smelt its tang in my nostrils.  Their boat had drifted while we were calling out to each other.  I had that feeling again that I’d experienced at Magdala.  I felt sure there were fish around.  I opened my eyes.  Yes, there was an unmistakable shimmer.  It was behind them and they hadn’t seen it yet.

“Cast your net over the other side of the boat,” I called out.

“What? Don’t get involved in things you don’t understand, whoever you are.”

“Do it!”

It must have been the way I said it.  Like I did with the demon.  They turned immediately and cast the net as far as they could.  Immediately it was clear they had made a big catch.  A huge catch.  They struggled and strained but the net was so full they couldn’t even haul it back into the boat.  Another boat nearby had to come to help them out.

When they finally reached the shore, a very red-faced Simon staggered up the beach to greet me.

“Oh my God,” he said to everyone present.  “It’s that Jesus I was telling you about.  Now anyone who doubted me can see for himself – another miracle.”

I wanted to tell him it was only my sixth sense, which didn’t always work, and that there was more than a bit of luck involved, but then I realised I was starting to think like Tom.  It must have been God’s will that everything had fallen together perfectly, and who was I to spoil it?  After all, as soon as I saw them this morning I’d decided to have a chat with them and see if they fancied the idea of becoming my followers.  What should I say to them now?  Maybe Tom was right.  A fishing theme would be perfect with these people.  I wracked my brains in an attempt to remember one of Tom’s lines.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” I blurted out, feeling my face heating with embarrassment as I said it.

“Certainly master, we will drop everything and follow you to the ends of the earth,” came the reply.  “How could we resist a call like that?”

“Oh, er, no, not now.  No, you get your catch sorted out and repair your nets.  I was thinking more in a week or two’s time if that sounds OK.  I’ll come back and find you, and we can take it from there, discuss terms and so on.”

“I knew you’d come back.  My voices told me,” said Simon.  “Whenever you call, we’ll be waiting.”

I promised I’d return soon and left them to deal with the problems their massive catch had caused and the attention it had attracted.  I decided to go back home before Mary started to worry about me, but I was hungry after all the walking, so I stopped off at an inn for a spot of breakfast.  I hadn’t been there before but I recognised the innkeeper from Tom’s description.  This would be where I could find Simon and his friends if they weren’t at work.

On the walk back I felt a pang of jealousy about Simon’s voices.  I wondered if he heard the voice of God himself, like some of the prophets did.  However hard I pray, however much I study the scriptures, however intently I listen, I never hear the voice of God.  Not directly, not like someone standing next to me.  I sometimes feel I can sense it, like when I’m fishing, and I feel I know what God is guiding me to do, but I never hear it loud and clear like some people do.

I mustn’t tell Thomas where I’ve been; not just yet anyway.  He’s supposed to be organising things and I don’t want to tread on his toes.