By the time I was in my fifties, I started hearing some men occasionally talking in the market squares about how we should live in harmony with the Romans, and ‘love thy neighbour.’
I went and listened and afterwards, I asked, ‘Can I talk to you about this? Where does it come from, and what are its origins?’
The speaker, a man named Andrew, told me about Jesus and that he’d evolved these ideas somehow. He’d gathered a group of men to spread the word because, ‘if you had more speakers, you could get the message out to more people more quickly.’
‘Well, how do you…’ The words came out of my mouth, but I certainly hadn’t gone with this in my head, ‘… do you look for more men?’
He looked hard at me. ‘We always welcome people who might be willing to talk.’
Several days later, I went back and Andrew was there with three or four others, including this younger man who stood immediately out. There was something about him, don’t ask me what. He was dressed the same; he looked the same; he had a beard as most of them did. But there was something more. I thought, ‘Goodness me. I bet that’s Jesus!’
I went and introduced myself, and we agreed to go and have a meal and talk it over. Everyone asked different questions, and I answered them all. Suddenly out of my mouth came, ‘I have another skill that I probably hadn’t thought relevant. I can scribe.’
They all stopped and stared. ‘How come?’
‘That’s what I do for my job,’ thinking gawd, I’d better be careful here. ‘I’m not really at liberty to talk about it, but I can scribe. I don’t know if that would be of any use.’
One of them perked up and said, ‘Some of the things Jesus has done might well be worth scribing.’ Jesus looked at him, and I wasn’t sure whether he was happy with that thought or not.
I thought I should start and accumulate some papyruses or parchment, or whatever the Romans used, and some quills and inks and all the rest of it because if I was going to do this scribing for Jesus, I would need to have my own materials. I knew exactly where the Romans stored these materials at work. I also knew that they were moderately relaxed about keeping an eye on who took what out. So I surreptitiously started stealing, let’s be honest, and I slowly accumulated quite a store of the parchments and ink and a small number of quills.
Eventually, I saw that the men were back in town so I went in my robes again. By chance it was Andrew, and he recognised me. ‘Oh, we’ve been looking out for you…’ and, ‘Yes please, we’d love you to come and join us.’