Found myself busy with the mundane things of life yesterday but we have to remain focused on the mission, and today I asked Jesus for some time to discuss our plans. Unfortunately he thought it would be a great idea to include Peter and have a more formal meeting.
Thomas, Tuesday July 25
We were all in favour of holding some more big events, which are useful for spreading the word to large numbers of people at a time and potentially raising some decent donations, and we agreed to aim at having one every other week and see how things went. Jesus is keen on the idea of sending the twelve of us out in pairs, spreading the word more widely by travelling in half a dozen different directions at the same time. I can see it has merit but I signed up as a manager and adviser, not a small-time preacher. They’ll be expecting miracles from the disciples next. We agreed to let the matter rest on the table, or the uneven lump of rock we were using in this case, and move on.
The rest of the meeting revolved around when the end of the age might actually occur, because once we had an idea what we were aiming at, we would be able to plan our campaign much more effectively. Jesus said he had prayed for guidance but wasn’t getting anything more than an increased feeling of urgency that it was going to happen very soon. He even suggested that one of us should stay awake on guard every night to rouse the others if the Son of Man decided to arrive at night. Peter said that with himself and his colleagues getting up several hours before sunset to fish, and the ‘so called’ intellectuals sitting up late, this only left a very short period to cover. We agreed it shouldn’t be a problem to get someone to keep watch during that time, with the bonus of potentially being the first person to see the Son of Man arrive, and it would be a good idea for safety reasons anyway.
I said I had been studying the writings of the prophets for clues about the end of the age and they were not proving helpful at all. Almost all that they had to say related to the sufferings of the Israelites, or often just the tribulations of the prophets themselves, at the time they were writing or ranting. Although there was a general feeling that the suffering was all part of God’s purpose, and he wouldn’t let his chosen people down, there were no clear clues. Of course, whatever happened, something of what they said might turn out to be seen as an accurate forecast, but even Peter appreciated that prophecies depend largely on hindsight. As an example I quoted a line from the prophet Isaiah saying, ‘He was despised and rejected’.
“I know the feeling, he must have been talking about me,” said Jesus, and we all laughed.
Having agreed that the prophets usually got it wrong, Peter then puffed out his chest and paused to ensure he had our full attention before announcing that he had been listening to his voices for clues. He knew that Jesus was envious of his gift, while I didn’t exactly take it seriously, so he usually played it down, but I could tell he felt he had something important to say.
“Have you heard anything conclusive?” asked Jesus. Peter’s brow furrowed.
“I mean, have you heard anything you think we could rely on,” rephrased Jesus.
“Oh yes. Two or three voices are saying it will be in September sometime. One, and it’s been right before – don’t laugh Tom – keeps saying ‘You will see no more tabernacles’. What if that means the end of the age will happen before the feast of the Tabernacles…”
“Which this year is in early October…” I said,
“And which begins five days after the Day of Atonement…” added Jesus, as if we needed reminding. “Wouldn’t it make perfect sense for the present age to end on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement? That way, all good Jews would have spent a day obtaining forgiveness of their sins and would have fulfilled one of the main requirements to enter the new Kingdom. Thank you Peter. That’s very helpful. Could you keep us updated on what the voices are saying? In the meantime we carry on as normal, remaining vigilant and assuming it could happen any time, but if you’re right we can – we must – start making more definite plans soon. It could all be over in two months.”
I’ve sat through more boring and inconclusive meetings in my time than I would care to mention, but this one had electrified me. Maybe it really was all about to happen. I suddenly felt the urge to see my family before it was too late.