The meeting was difficult. Actually I had two meetings and both were difficult. The first one was with the eleven remaining apostles at sunrise. I needed to keep them all with me if we were to have a chance of spreading the word further afield and preparing for the Son of Man’s rescheduled arrival. Some had given up a great deal of worldly wealth to be with me, such as Matthew and Judas, and had become particularly disillusioned. Others, such as Thaddeus and Jamie, had started with far less but had still given up all they had. If they remained with the mission for any length of time their families could starve.
I thought at least the fishermen would not be too concerned about earthly matters, but they too had left their families and had put their best boat at the service of the mission, somehow managing to be my apostles while also continuing to fish to provide food and money for us all. They grudgingly said they could continue as we were if we remained in Galilee, but any move to Judea and Jerusalem would mean them having to give up fishing completely, making them a burden instead of benefactors to the mission.
Only Simon the Zealot really spoke out against continuing as we were, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he left us soon. From the start he had always wanted to pursue a much more active rebellion against the rich and powerful, but this was the first time he had been openly critical since the early days of his discipleship. In the end I had to tell him he was free to leave if he wanted.
The one speck of hope was that all of the other ten were coming round to my way of thinking, that the end of the age had merely been delayed for a short time and that we needed to redouble our efforts to save as many Jews as we could.
The meeting with the followers was bigger of course, and noisier. Some of them had given up just as much as the apostles but didn’t have the security of being part of an inner circle. They made it quite clear to me that they were ruined. What could I say? They have all done exactly the right thing, and when the Son of Man turns up they will reap the benefits and won’t regret a thing. So that’s what I told them. This was not the time to lose faith, but if they wanted to go, I couldn’t stop them. I hoped that after a period in which to see their families and to think things over, they would consider coming back, where they would always be welcome. But they shouldn’t leave it too long, as the Son of Man could arrive unannounced at any time and it would be a shame to miss the cloud after all that preparatory work.
Some stomped off angrily. Some trudged off resignedly. Some drifted off on a sea of their own tears of regret. But after all that, maybe a hundred or so remained, and most of those were already coming round to my view that now was the time to do all we could to exhort, exorcise and extort (only kidding), bringing as many people as possible to join us.
But where, when and how should we start? Those of us that remain must still be suitably prepared, in case the Son of Man should suddenly appear just a few days late, so I’m going to leave people to do what they want for a while. Then we need to revisit all the towns around Galilee to remind everyone that the end is still imminent and to save as many more as we can.
Of course the feast of the Tabernacles, or Booths, starts only next week, and we need to prepare for that, which provides a natural break of a few days, and then after Booths we can renew the mission. I’ve always wanted to go to Jerusalem for one of the holy feasts; it’s a pity I’ve left it too late again. No, maybe it’s not too late. I can pack up now and take some lunch with me. It can’t really be against the law to walk more than a short distance on the Sabbath, or I’m sure the law didn’t intend to prevent people going to the Holy City, so if I get going now I could still be there for Sunday night when the festival gets under way. I’m going to stop writing immediately and tell Mary what I’m doing. I’ll go on my own unless anyone is really keen to come with me. I could do with some time to think and pray as I walk.