The last were first by some distance

The two quietest disciples finally return from a hugely successful preaching tour, putting the rest to shame

Thomas, Tuesday August 8        

Thursday’s the big day, and we have to travel over to Bethsaida tomorrow to be ready in good time. Peter and the fishermen have already gone off by boat to make advance arrangements.  A boat will be useful if we need to escape the crowds, and it’s an excellent way of carrying tents and supplies that would otherwise have to be carried by pack animals that we haven’t got.  The other big advantage is that they can do some fishing.

Thaddeus and Jamie finally returned this evening.  I expected them to be shrunken and exhausted, but they came back glowing, healthy and telling one story after another of exorcisms and preaching to large crowds – and not a single sandal-shaking incident on their entire trip.  It appeared their lack of confidence in their own abilities had led them to disregard caution and rely totally on their faith in the powers of Jesus and of God.  It was a lesson to us all.

And the reason nobody had seen them was that while the other ten of us had been milling around northern Galilee like ants in a back yard, they had taken themselves off to the south and had visited places that had never heard of Jesus, such as Gadara, Scythopolis, Shechem, Jericho and Bethany, almost making it to Jerusalem, home of the Temple where God himself is visited by priests on major feast days.  The pair of them had done more to spread the word than the rest of us put together.  And I had thought all that ‘first shall be last’ business was just words.