Tom, Peter and Jesus briefly consider taking the message to Jerusalem but decide it can wait. Then an old friend reappears and everyone relaxes
Sunday August 27
Great excitement as everyone set out this morning, followed by a flat silence and a trough of anti-climax. I said it was about time we made a start on preparations for the final weeks now, but as usual Peter disagreed with me. He was disappointed at not going out on the road, and I could tell Jesus was beginning to wonder how we were going to fill the time.
“I know,” said Jesus eventually. “Let’s go to Jerusalem and see what it’s really like. With the High Priest and all the senior leaders of the Jewish faith there, not to mention the Temple itself, it must be a really wonderful, holy place.”
I shook my head and stared at him. “…Not forgetting that butcher Herod, the casually sadistic Roman governor Pontius Pilate, the Roman army and the Temple guard…”
“Don’t be such a cynic Thomas. Obviously there must be security concerns in a city that’s so important to the world and to God, so you’d expect to find some troops there, but that would just make it feel extra safe.”
“Sometimes I think your mother’s right and you are completely bonkers,” I said. “Anyway, Jerusalem is only a minor outpost of the Roman empire, and our God isn’t that important to anyone else. Admittedly he will be once the end comes…”
“I thought you went there as a boy and stayed behind to discuss the scriptures with the priests, and your parents got really worried when they thought they’d lost you,” said Peter, interrupting. I looked at Jesus and he looked at me. That was one of my early propaganda stories that I put about at the start of the mission to provide a bit of back story, and it had obviously become historical fact already.
“That was a long time ago,” said Jesus, dodging the issue with his usual aplomb.
We talked some more and eventually agreed it was too late now to take the message to Jerusalem, and that we should concentrate on making best use of the remaining weeks.
As the day was coming to an end we heard the approaching hoof-fall of a tired, heavily-laden donkey. We looked up and saw a familiar figure on its back.
“Hey guys, it’s great to see you all again. How’s it going?”
It was Cyrus, and we couldn’t help smiling and returning his greeting. After a fraught day we all suddenly relaxed. Peter led the donkey away while Jesus and I accompanied Cyrus into the house, chatting as we went. Mary looked up from her food preparation and her look of cold concentration melted into a sunny smile.
“How’s my favourite lady?” he asked. Flattery like that would normally attract a glare that could turn a man into a pillar of salt, but she seemed to love it from him. She sat him down, invited him to dinner, sent for a bowl for his feet, brought him a cup of water for his thirst and one of wine for his wellbeing, and started talking about the state of the grape harvest, which was of course why he had turned up.
We had a jolly evening, and his refusal to take the end of the age seriously helped everyone relax. It’s late now and I’ve drunk more than I’m used to, but I should sleep well.