…despite associating with tax collectors and telling people to abandon their families
Thomas, Saturday June 17, 29 CE
Began to see Jesus as a potentially great leader for the first time today, and if the potential followers who came along to the synagogue to see him had brought any doubts when they arrived, they left them behind when they left. I bumped into Bart again yesterday when he came in to talk to my boss about some work we were doing for his master, and he was still really keen about meeting up with Jesus and joining his followers, so I said come along today and bring his friend Judas if he could. When Jesus turned up he was with someone he introduced to us as Matthew, and the five of us sat together.
Jesus didn’t say or do anything spectacular. He simply joined in just about every discussion of the scriptures and the law over a period of about three hours, sometimes agreeing with a speaker but adding to what he said, but more often disagreeing and tearing an argument to shreds. He even argued with Ruben, my boss from work, one of the chief Scribes and an authority on all aspects of the law, leaving him speechless.
At the end of this performance, Jesus had four confirmed admirers who were willing there and then to leave their families and follow him to the ends of the earth and the end of the world. Well, three anyway; I’d have to discuss it with Hannah and Ruben, and I knew what both would say. I’m not ready yet to lose my wife and livelihood.
On the other hand, he also had a group of elders from the synagogue who had just about had as much as they could take. They made it clear that they had not missed Jesus one bit during his time in the wilderness, and now he was twice as bad as before and they didn’t want him back again, especially if he was going to associate with low-life tax collectors. Ruben seemed particularly worked up, and said he would have words with me back at work. Jesus was remarkably cool about it.
“Don’t worry Tom,” he said. “A prophet is never welcome in his own town, remember? Let’s go somewhere else next week. Could you all make it to Capernaum?”
We all nodded excitedly. Watching him perform in new surroundings would be worth seeing.
“Good,” he said, “and I’ll reel in a few of those fishermen too; see what they make of it all. It won’t be far for them to come.”
That brought me down to earth. It’s a day’s walk to Magdala from Nazareth, and Capernaum is several miles further on.
“Er, I’m not sure I can make it actually,” I said. “What about you guys, how are you going to get there?”
The others weren’t going to be put off easily and said it would be no trouble at all. And when Jesus said he could put us all up at his house in Magdala the night before, they were even keener. I would still have trouble getting there. Maybe I could get a half day off work, and if I could borrow a donkey and the moon was shining, I might be able to get there late at night, even though it would involve travelling on the Sabbath. How could I say no?
“No,” I said. “OK then, I’ll see what I can do. It’s a very generous offer.” The last thing I wanted now was to lose my position as Jesus’ right hand man to one of these bright-eyed converts.
“I need to talk to you during the week,” I said to Jesus after the others had left. We need to get our theme nailed down, and I want to run the parables idea by you.”
“Anything you say Tom. I don’t know what you’re on about but I’m sure it’s good. Now, I’m going home for the rest of my Sabbath rest.”
I wasn’t sure how much rest a man who had never done an honest day’s work really needed but yet again I bit my tongue.