An awkward couple of days. The couple we’d been staying with in Chorazin seemed offended when I announced yesterday morning that we had to move on and spread the word further afield. Peter didn’t help either when he prevaricated and said perhaps we could stay till after the Sabbath. However, when the wife agreed with him and clutched his forearm, and the two of them gazed into each other’s eyes, my resolve strengthened. The husband finally caught on and backed me up, and we were on our way.
Thomas, Saturday July 29
We then had to get to another town and find accommodation by sunset. We couldn’t exactly move on within Chorazin, so we took a well-worn track heading roughly west. In the first village we came to, called Acchabare, we found Philip and Andrew preaching to a group of people in the square and rubbing oil on a few aches and pains. We said hi but realised we couldn’t stay there either. They said they were planning to move on tomorrow to the next village, Sepph, but we needed somewhere to stay the night and decided to beat them to it, arriving shortly before sunset. The people there were most unfriendly and nobody would offer us food or a bed. It was too late to move on, so we asked around again and were eventually offered a crust of bread and some straw to sleep on outside someone’s house.
This morning we rose with the sun and hung around till people were up and about so we could preach the good news to them. The village didn’t have a synagogue so we tried attracting an audience in the square, but nobody was interested. Eventually one man broke the silence and told us that they would have pelted us with vegetables and chased us out of town, but they didn’t want to break the Sabbath and were too poor to waste food.
He explained that a group of them had become close followers of John the Baptist about a year ago but nothing good had come of it. They had been rejected by family, employers and religious leaders and had become outcast and impoverished. And then after all that preparation, nothing happened. John himself had been arrested and, if rumours were correct, had recently been executed by that half-Jew Herod. The group had eventually been accepted back into the community but the experience had left the entire village bitter and disillusioned, and particularly distrustful of anyone telling them to prepare for the end of everything.
Although I recognised their fears from personal experience, I assured the man that this time it was different. I told him that Jesus was the one whose arrival John had been preparing them for, and that Jesus would lead them into the new Kingdom when the Son of Man arrived, which would be very soon, but he didn’t seem interested. He said John had never mentioned any Jesus and told us to leave before they decided to stone us. We took the hint and left, deciding not to shake our sandals at them in case they took it the wrong way and attacked us.
We shared a shocked silence as we trudged through the hot dust away from the village. Could good, kind, peaceful John really have been executed? What for? If it was true, it certainly undermined his message, but that was where my story would make sense. Maybe John really had been preparing people for Jesus’ arrival, even though he had never mentioned it.
That wasn’t the only reason for the silence. After a while, Peter grumbled that we would have been fine if we could have stayed in Chorazin a while longer. I told him it had been time to move on, and anyway I wanted to save him from doing anything foolish. He said if I was referring to the woman who had given us food and a room, he had merely been grateful and had no other intentions. I laughed, and warned him that he would be in terrible trouble if he gave in to temptation and the Son of Man arrived while he was at it.
“You could live to regret it for eternity,” I said. “Don’t let your dick lead you astray. You would do better to cut it off and enter the Kingdom without it. You would probably be given a new one anyway, or perhaps we won’t need one then.”
“Oh, shut up,” he said, reddening. “Anyway, I was only looking. She was very attractive, but I wasn’t going to do anything.”
“You can’t be too careful. If your eyes lead you into trouble, pluck them out…” I was enjoying myself and making a note to work this up into a sequence for Jesus to use, but Peter had had enough. He grabbed the front of my robes and almost lifted me off my feet, then threw me backwards so that I staggered and nearly fell.
I thought he was going to hit me but instead he laughed at my fear and started to mock me for panicking when we were in the boat that time, especially when Jesus was there and was able to calm the waves with a single command, and for being a baby when it came to learning to swim. I was furious now, and soon we were hurling insults at one another. I was worried it could get physical, which I really didn’t want, but suddenly he stopped and held his head in his hands, talking agitatedly to himself. He must have disturbed his voices. If they were all making as much noise we had been making, it would have been pandemonium in there, but I was very grateful for their intervention.
Eventually he announced that he could no longer work with me and marched off, leaving me to choose whether to follow him or find my own way. I decided to backtrack and found an inn for the night at Acchabare. Fortunately I had been doubtful of the merits of travelling with no money at all, and had kept a couple of coins just in case. I may have been disobeying Jesus but at the moment I don’t much care. I’m going to head back to Magdala and tell Jesus that I’ve had enough. I can’t work with Peter again, and I’m thinking of packing it all in. I’ll ask Hannah to have me back, and we can live good lives and still be saved when the end comes, if it ever does.