Jesus writes a very long diary entry about a wildly successful day, and comes to a neat conclusion
Thursday July 20
Wow! There must have been over a thousand men there today, not counting the women and children, so perhaps two to three thousand altogether. I didn’t know what to expect, so I had some parables and some of Tom’s best lines (he calls them sound bites!!) rehearsed and ready to use. We were at Capernaum, the place where I have been received best so far, on a patch of land just inland from the beach. Peter had found me a good-sized flat rock to stand on, facing towards the lake, and the crowd stood on the slope below me.
In the event it seemed almost as many people had come to be healed or exorcised as wanted to hear my message, and I was a bit worried because I hadn’t brought any of my exorcism paraphernalia with me. I realised I would just have to rely on my faith and the will of God, and hope that enough people would be cured to stop me looking a complete flop. That incident in Nazareth where I hadn’t been able to achieve any miracles at all, apart from the man with the withered hand, had really rattled my confidence, and confidence is so important in these things.
I didn’t even have time to worry, never mind rub spittle on people or give them herbs to sniff. Many people had such high expectations that it almost seemed they were healing themselves. They were helping too, by telling me what they wanted. Some wanted to touch me, some wanted me to tell them they were healed, others wanted me to pray for them or command a demon to leave them. Because of their faith, God was able to heal or exorcise almost all of them through me. The few who didn’t benefit simply lacked faith or didn’t meet with God’s approval.
Peter did a fantastic job of organising the disciples to marshal the people into manageable groups so I wouldn’t be swamped. I think if I’d wanted them to, they could have helped even more by finding out in advance what people’s names were and what they were suffering from, but I’ll leave that for another time.
When the demand for healing dwindled, Tom pressed me to do some preaching. I was surprised he had managed to get himself there at all. He was well covered up against the sun but what I could see of his face looked worse than when the burning had been at its peak, with so much skin peeling off. Anyway, I was pleased he had made it, and he was right. Healings are a bonus, to help get the message across and bring people to hear me, but the most important thing is delivering the message and ensuring people act on it. We are here to save as many people as possible by preparing them for the coming of the coming of the Kingdom and making them acceptable to God.
I started off with a full list of Tom’s Luckies, expecting people to raise objections like they did last time, but this mass of downtrodden folk just seemed to find them a real encouragement. They loved being told how lucky they were to be poor, hungry, sad and rejected now, because they would be made rich, full, happy and popular in the new age. They particularly enjoyed hearing how those who led an easy and comfortable life now would end up with nothing. I felt like telling them they should love these people and not gloat about their future misfortune, but there are limits as to how far you can go.
Encouraged by how that had gone, I then tried one or two parables. I was surprised at how quickly people seemed to be picking up their meaning, so perhaps Tom was right about how they worked after all.
Up to then I had still felt that some mysteries were too complex for ordinary people to understand, but that parables would give them something reassuring to hold onto in their minds. Quite how this was going to prepare them for the Son of Man’s arrival I hadn’t worked out, unless he was going to be particularly looking out for those who were busy trying to solve the mysteries so he could save them first as a reward for their efforts. I had to admit it didn’t make sense. I couldn’t preach a message that could only be understood by an elite few. That wasn’t what I was here for. No, the parables had to be a way of illuminating the truth and making it easier to understand.
Anyway, I tried out my latest one, which I hadn’t even had a chance to discuss with Tom yet, and I could tell people got it straight away. I told the story of a rich and powerful man who forgave his head servant for a major offence, only to find the same man refusing to forgive a junior servant for a much smaller misdemeanour. When I explained that this showed how God’s powers of forgiveness are unlimited, but only provided we are prepared to forgive others, I could see people nodding knowingly.
I think I’ve finally cracked the central point of my message. It’s not that God will be coming in glory very soon. That’s obvious, and plenty of people are predicting that. It’s not even simply that we all have to be prepared for the event, because John the Baptist and others have been telling us that. My message tells people two things: first, exactly what to do to be prepared, and second, that following me will ensure they remain prepared at all times. The Son of Man could arrive tomorrow, and when that happens it’s no use asking for time to put things right. It’s too late. He will quite simply save those who are ready, while casting everyone else out to some dark pit where they can gnash their teeth etc for eternity. Being prepared means abandoning all ties to money, family and other earthly attractions and being free from sin. By ‘free from sin’ I don’t mean never having done anything wrong, but rather having put things right by atoning for past sins and then keeping the law, forgiving others and so on. When the Son of Man swoops down from above the sky and is faced with thousands of people, he simply won’t have more than a moment to make a snap judgement about whether to save or cast out each one.
That’s where I come in. God will know that all my followers at the time are fully compliant and are living, as far as possible, a sin-free life, and will be able to save them automatically without the need for any further clearance. It will make it easier for God and for me. All I have to do is ensure my followers keep their preparations up to date, and do my own casting out when their standards aren’t high enough.
Obviously there will have to be some allowances made, such as for people continuing to retain wealth and family connections provided they are doing it for the benefit of my mission and disciples, or for recent small sins, but that’s the beauty of the arrangement. With the help of my disciples I will monitor my followers and be able to present them to God in a fully-prepared state. And the poorer and more downtrodden people are to start with, the less work they need to do to be prepared.
I must run this all past Tom to make sure it all makes sense, but I think this just about sums it up.