Yesterday started well. I walked along the shore with Thaddeus, Jamie, Matthew, Bart and Judas to meet the five fishermen, who had nearly finished sorting their catches. They kept some fish to eat later, gave the rest to the crew of the bigger boat, then lit a fire to cook breakfast. There are few meals as satisfying as freshly caught fish in the morning, and we said little till we had eaten our fill. Then I told them my plan, which so far only Mary had heard in any detail.
I have become certain that this age will come to an end at the festival of the Passover in March, and that in order to convince the Son of Man we are really serious we must be in Jerusalem when it happens. By coincidence that was exactly what Peter’s voices had been telling him lately, which really encouraged both of us. Even Matthew said it made perfect sense in the light of the revelations he had received in his vision, which he hadn’t stopped talking about all week.
The other thing that I thought might have held us back before was that we hadn’t saved enough people from a wide enough area. What we will do now is reaffirm the commitment and faith of all the people from the Galilee region who had been ready for the end at Yom Kippur, and get them to go out and spread the word to as many others as possible. In the meantime the apostles and I will travel south to Judea and establish a completely new mission, spreading the word throughout the region and saving many more people, with five whole months in which to do it.
All ten apostles were really excited by the plan and couldn’t wait to get started. We spent the rest of the day talking, walking and eating fish for every meal, then they all came back to Magdala for the night.
This morning we set out early for the synagogue in Capernaum, where I’d had some of my biggest successes and everybody had always been friendly and supportive. This wouldn’t be like Nazareth, or even last week in Magdala.
It wasn’t. It was worse. Far, far worse. Having people turn their backs on us would have felt like a compliment. We were jeered, insulted, jostled and spat on. The non-arrival of the Son of Man had clearly upset a few people, especially many who had given up everything to join us, some of whom I recognised in what soon became a crowd. Word of my presence could still attract large numbers of people quickly, but now they weren’t there to receive my teaching and beg me to stay. Just the opposite.
I did what I could to reason with them, especially those who had been with us at Yom Kippur, telling them we had come so close to salvation then and would soon finally achieve it, but they wouldn’t listen. My biggest supporters had become my fiercest enemies. It was almost as if Tom had visited them and preached against me. It was horrible.
Eventually I decided we couldn’t overcome their rejection, at least not today, and we retreated. It was still only mid-morning so there was time to go elsewhere. Acting decisively, I led my loyal band to Chorazin, scene of other past successes.
It was even worse there and we didn’t even make it into the synagogue. The whole town seemed to be against us. I kept trying to reason with them as we were gradually forced to the edge of town, but it only made their reaction worse. Eventually I gave up and lost my temper in a way I have never done before.
“A curse on you, Chorazin!” I bellowed at the top of my voice. At last the clamour subsided a little, but I wasn’t about to go back to pleading with them. I had been working on my ‘Jesus son of Ananias’ voice and put it to use now. “If the miracles performed here had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, their inhabitants would long ago have put on sackcloth and ashes to show they had turned from their old ways. God will show more mercy to them than you when he arrives to establish his new Kingdom!”
Then it was my turn to spit in their direction, and for good measure I removed my sandals and shook off the accursed dust of their town at them.
Then I stormed off to Capernaum. They weren’t expecting me back and I made it into the centre of the town, where I stood in the main square and cursed them too, comparing them unfavourably with the people of Sodom, before leading the dumbstruck apostles out of town and back to Mary’s farm. I had avoided going into Magdala itself in case I ended up cursing its population too, which wouldn’t be a good idea if we intended to continue living there.
I sat for a while in the middle of the courtyard with my head in my hands, the apostles wisely keeping their distance and uncertain what to do next. I couldn’t send them home, partly because some of them had no home and partly because I had only just brought them back together again. Eventually I asked if they would mind camping outside until the morning, when I would meet them to discuss our next steps. Peter took over the arrangements from there.
Mary has been very kind, calm and reassuring. I sometimes think she deserves better than me.