Jesus pounced again as I was leaving work. I said we could chat on the way home but then I needed some time with my family. We discussed the recruitment of a band of followers and he said he was sure he could count on at least four fishermen. He modestly told me he had helped Simon and Andrew make a miraculous catch after a fruitless night’s fishing, and then he had tried one of my lines on them.
“Which one was that then?”
“Oh, you know, that weird one about fishers of men. They really went for it, though it probably had more to do with the miracle.”
I bit my tongue. He was becoming full of himself again, but I didn’t want to start an argument. I didn’t even want to make him admit my ideas were pretty good really; he’d already done that. Instead, I told him about Bart and Judas wanting to join us, and he seemed pleased. “So, what’s our central message going to be?” I asked, just to get the discussion going. I was still finding it hard to think of a distinctive theme that stood out from all the others, apart from fish or sheep.
He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Well, I quite like the idea of the weak and the poor being the first in line when the new age dawns. They’re the people who are going to listen to the message anyway. The rich and powerful already have it easy, and no doubt they expect to be at the head of God’s new order, but I think God will decide it’s their turn to go to the back of the queue.
“Not bad,” I said. “So you sell them the idea of confidence and empowerment. They will no longer be downtrodden but will rise up and become…oh, I don’t know…something like stakeholders in the new order.”
“Mm, not quite.”
“Well, for a start I don’t want to be seen as a revolutionary. You know what happens to anyone who even suggests taking over power, once the King or one of the Roman top brass hears about it. Three nails and a tree is all it takes, and it wouldn’t just be me. They’d pin the lot of us up and leave us to scream and rot. No, we need to be clever, stay below their line of vision.”
“OK, good point, and very well put, but…”
“So I think we offer the Kingdom to the downtrodden but tell them they can get there by becoming even more downtrodden and giving up any advantages they already have. That way, if it does all take off and the authorities get wind of it, all they’ll see is a bunch of losers who want to lose even more. They may laugh, but they certainly won’t feel threatened.”
“You’re mad,” I said. “Totally, utterly barking. But it might just work. Leave it with me and I’ll work on a few ideas and phrases you can use.”