Jesus, Saturday November 18, AD 29
I managed to go to the synagogue in Magdala without stirring up too much ill-feeling, at least to begin with. It was good just to stand at the back and be out in society again, listening to the readings and discussions. A lot of the comments were mistaken or even misleading, but I wasn’t in the mood for an argument and I managed to let it go.
We had decided not to go as a group, which might have antagonised people, but went singly or in pairs. This also meant that between us we heard much more about what was going on as people chatted quietly among themselves while the more learned types aired their views publicly at the front. There was still a certain amount of talk about how the people of Chorazin and Capernaum had rejected my message, and how I had cursed them, but even that seemed to be fading from people’s memories.
The main topic of conversation was about the Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, having sent a Century of soldiers – eighty men – from his stronghold in Caesarea Philippi to the Galilee region to enforce the peace. This was unusual, because Herod Antipas is supposed to be ruler of Galilee, but it’s still Pilate who has the Roman army at his disposal, and it’s still Pilate who is ultimately responsible to the Emperor Tiberius and could be asked to fall on his sword if he doesn’t swiftly stamp out any hint of rebellion. Not that Pilate needs any encouragement: if his reputation is true, he’s a cold-blooded psychopath who would have a man killed at the slightest excuse without feeling any remorse at all.
Unfortunately a few of the people in the synagogue seemed to think it was all my fault: that the soldiers had been sent because I had been stirring up unrest by claiming that the current leaders were about to be overthrown and a new king was going to take their place. I hadn’t exactly put it in those terms, but I had to accept that’s what it might have sounded like to someone in Pilate’s position.
I began to notice the apostles edging towards me and the eyes of more and more of the congregation settling on my face. There was a time when I would have stood up and taken them all on in debate, but today I decided to slip out as unobtrusively as I could, my entourage in close attendance.
It’s a shame I can’t even spend time in the synagogue these days without attracting hostile attention. If only these people would listen to the message and realise that the Son of Man could arrive any day, they might still save themselves from God’s judgement, but you can only do so much. Those who still want to receive the message and be ready for the new age can do so. The rest have had their chance.