Thomas comes up with a new job title for the original Twelve
Thursday August 24
Didn’t want to rush to send everyone out just before the Sabbath but quite a few were really itching to go, so we decided it was easier just to let them. They will miss a few final preparations, but letting them leave early will mean less mayhem on Sunday morning. We’ve decided to send only half a dozen pairs out around northern Galilee, revisiting the places the disciples went to last time and adding any that were missed. This region already knows the message well, so all we really need to do is get out there and remind them to make their peace with God because the end could be imminent.
We haven’t discussed an actual date, even with the disciples, never mind the followers, but there’s a real sense of urgency now and a general feeling that we must be entering the final days. We’re telling everyone to stay out on the road for at least two weeks but not more than three, to allow time to prepare for the New Year celebrations, but I can tell people are getting edgy. I think most people will be back for the Sabbath in just over two weeks’ time, which is when the build up to New Year really gets going.
A couple of pairs are going further north to Caesarea Philippi and one pair even want to go as far as Tyre, but with our limited resources and we just can’t spare any more to visit such remote places. Anyway, Caesarea is a Roman stronghold and we don’t particularly want to draw attention to ourselves by telling them they are about to be overthrown by our God. It will mean many people in these big cities won’t stand a chance when the end comes, cruel as it may sound.
The majority will head south, spreading out through Samaria and into Judea, reaching as many places as possible but not going to Jerusalem itself, which again is simply too big. Anyway, we reckon there must be enough holy people in Jerusalem to ensure its people know what they must do to be saved.
Matthew had this great idea that when we make new converts, we encourage some of them to go out to places in the surrounding area and make their own converts, who then go to yet more places, ensuring as many people as possible get to hear the message in the limited time available. If only he’d thought of that before, but up to now most of the focus has been on Jesus himself, and unlike God he can’t be in more than one place at a time.
Bearing in mind the distances involved, we assigned the pairs who left today to the Judea mission, as it will take a good four days or more to get there. They should be able to cover quite a lot of ground before nightfall tomorrow, and eventually get deeper into Judea and spend more time there. All the disciples have teamed up with followers rather than stay in their original pairs, spreading their experience more widely.
There was even a debate about what we should call ourselves. I thought disciples and followers was fine, but the sixty followers who have signed up for this last tour wanted to be called disciples too, and Jesus gave in to them in the end. Then the original disciples felt their title had been devalued, so after a long chat with Bart and Matthew I suggested that the original twelve should also be referred to as apostles, which has a satisfyingly important Greek ring to it. In fact, apostle means someone who is sent out, so really the new ones should be apostles and the old ones remain the disciples, but everyone is happy and there’s no point in rocking the boat.
More planning still to do tomorrow. Jesus is even allowing some pairs to take provisions with them, because of the large distances between towns and the risk of going hungry if they get rejected anywhere.