Thomas, Sunday December 24, 29 CE
It was wonderful to see Jesus again. We arrived after dark and caused a commotion because of the hour and who we were. Although he hadn’t seen his wife for weeks, Jesus greeted me first with a huge, clinging hug. Then he turned to Mary and kissed her before asking after her health and the state of the farm. Then he introduced her to Mary, Mary and Mary.
I was given a bed in a neighbour’s house for the night but Jesus was already talking about moving me in with him and moving Judas out. I don’t know if he heard Mary’s discreet cough but he quickly corrected himself and said she must of course share with him.
I rose shortly after sunrise and came to see how Jesus was getting on, so I could help him with his plans. It was mid morning by the time he finally appeared, just when I was wondering if he’d gone out early and I had missed him.
He looked relaxed and well, even a little chubby and pink. He smiled as he told me how well the mission was going, and how he was getting in with the local rich people, eating with them and persuading them to give generously to the mission.
“You’d be proud of me Tom,” he said. “I have a plan and I have funding in place, and the spreading of the word is gathering pace. By Passover we should have more recruits than we ever had in Galilee. It’s all going really smoothly. The main challenge is keeping up the enthusiasm in the short term.”
I stared at him.
“What?” he said.
“I suppose you expect me to be impressed. I’m not.”
His eyes widened and he sat back.
“You’re complacent to the point of boredom, you’re getting far too chummy with the rich and powerful, and you’re losing the whole point of what you’re trying to do.”
He leant forward and placed his thumbs and fingertips on his thighs, the backs of his hands facing each other. “Which is?”
“Which is to prepare as many people as possible for the imminent end of the age, freeing them from all attachments to earthly things so that the Son of Man will instantly judge them to be the good guys and pluck them up to join him on his cloud.”
Apart from lowering his jaw slightly he didn’t respond, so I continued.
“In Galilee you told people to sell absolutely everything so that they actually joined the poor and would be the first to be saved when the end came. Now you seem happy to just accept gifts that the rich make to show off, and you even seem to enjoy their company. Don’t you see, they’re patronising you? People like that used to fear you.”
“Oh give me a…”
“And where’s the sense of urgency? In Galilee you were preaching to hundreds of people at a time, sometimes thousands, in an effort to save as many as possible in case the end came any minute. Now you’re just relying on nothing happening for three months and on other people helping you to spread the word.”
“Now come on…”
“And where’s the impact? I stage-managed your baptism, I spread positive rumours about you and I wrote you speeches and parables. People really took notice of you. You recruited some really eager disciples, you learned how to exorcise and you healed people in their hundreds, sometimes thousands. You convinced entire towns to repent. Some idiots even believed you walked on water…”
“And where did all that get us Tom? Entire families became destitute, entire towns rejected me while you, my biggest friend and supporter, deserted me.”
“Only because some idiot listened to voices in his head about the date, and nobody questioned it. But that doesn’t mean you should start behaving like this. You’re just…coasting.”
If I’d written my speech in advance I might have ended on a stronger word than that, but he got the message. It was some time before he spoke, and then he looked at the floor instead of me.
“Maybe you’re right Tom. OK, you are. But one reason I’m like this is my lack of a campaign manager. Won’t you stay, at least for long enough to get me on track? At least stay for my birthday tomorrow. I’ve been invited out for dinner by a Pharisee, believe it or not. You could come along and have some fun. I think he half wants to compete with the tax collectors and half wants to put me in my place, but with a bit of preparation we should be able to deal with him.”
How could I resist the smoothest talker in Judea? Mary came in to see him so I left them alone, saying I would have a go at writing some sound bites for him to use. Instead I’ve been enticed by the lure of my diary again and have wasted valuable time.