Unlike Thomas, Jesus has no ties to work or home. He sets off on a 10 mile walk to Magdala and along the way meets Simon and Andrew, who leave home and family to follow him without a second thought. Tom must be getting something wrong.
Jesus, Thursday June 22
A tiring but fruitful day. When I set off from my parents’ house first thing in the morning I felt fresh and energised, despite the long walk ahead and all the plans that were churning around in my head. The atmosphere at home hadn’t improved, and Nazareth was Nazareth, so it was good to get away. With no clouds and no breeze it was like walking in an oven, but I managed to get a few miles behind me before I took a rest. I found a lonely palm tree with a rock in its shade, where I sat and ate some bread, drank some water and gazed into the distance. I could see the shores of Galilee and some fishermen with their boats, looking the size of ants and working just as hard. I wondered if I would recognise any of them, or they me.
“Look, it’s the Master,” shouted one of the fishermen as I approached some time later. It was Simon, working alongside his brother Andrew as usual. They were just tidying up after making some final repairs to their nets for the day. Their baskets looked full and I offered to help carry them to the market or wherever they were going.
“Oh no,” said Simon. “We couldn’t let you serve us, Master.”
“What if I said that whoever would be first must put himself last, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?” I said.
“I’d say you must have been out in this sun too long. Sit down and have a rest. What brings you here today?”
“I’m on my way to Magdala, and from there I plan to go to Capernaum to preach in the synagogue on Saturday. Would you like to come?”
“Come? We will follow you now Master,” he said. Andrew nodded his agreement, and I noticed him looking over at the group of men working on their nets nearby. Theirs was a bigger boat than Simon and Andrew’s, and I recognised them as the crew who had helped to land the enormous catch that time I had told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.
“Don’t you want to go home and sort things out with your families, and sell your catch, and then come along on Saturday and see how things go?”
“What kind of followers would we be if we put you second to the things of the world? We are ready to follow you now.”
“Well, that’s really nice. You and Andrew must come with me to my wife’s house in Magdala tonight.”
“And James and John?” he asked, motioning to the nearby group. Two of the younger men had stood up and started moving towards us.
“Sure,” I said. I had been really worried about how to persuade some of these men to join me, and when exactly to make a move, and they were doing the job for me. “Follow me, but at least let’s take some fish with us.”
We agreed to sell some of the fish to the inn they often went to after work, and then give the rest to Mary to help feed the growing band of guests. James and John turned out to be brothers too. They shared a boat with their father, who went by the name of Zebedee and seemed remarkably relaxed about letting them go.
“Go on, my boys,” he said. “It’s time you did something on your own. Your mother will understand, and I can hire more men to join the crew if I need to. Don’t leave it too long before you come back though. I still intend to retire next year and hand the business over to you.”
What a cool dad. If only he knew the world was going to end before he could retire. I hope I manage to save him too.
I think Mary was pleased to see us, but she insisted I helped to look after the guests, at which point the fishermen said they would do all the work so I wouldn’t have to do any. I’m beginning to quite like this. They didn’t even want a room in the house. They had tents with them and are already out in them, fast asleep. I suppose if you spend most of the night fishing you can’t stay up late as well. I noticed that while three of them accepted a cup of wine, Simon refused firmly.