One day, when Jesus and his disciples were on the road to Bethany to visit Martha, Mary and Lazarus, God asked Jesus if he would do him a favour: “There’s a man in Gadarenes who’s been plagued by demons for years. It’s gotten so bad lately that the villagers had to chain him up in a cemetery, far away from the houses, so that he wouldn’t frighten the children. This man is in a lot of pain and he needs to see you now. It’s urgent, my son. He’s finally ready for you.”
Jesus nodded, agreeing to do the favor his father asked of him, and told his disciples there would be a slight change of plans.
“We have to go to Gadarenes right away,” he said. A loud collective sigh was heaved by the group. Jesus smiled understandingly. “I know. I know. You’re tired, we’ve been on the road a long time, and you’ve been looking forward to Martha’s chicken pot pie and sleeping in a warm bed tonight. But this is an emergency. A man needs our help immediately. It can’t wait.”
“But Jesus,” protested Peter, “it’s not possible. Gadarenes is a three-day’s journey from here. We’ll never make it by nightfall.”
“What is impossible for man, is possible with God,” replied Jesus. “You know that, Peter. And besides, I know a short-cut.” Then he turned to the rest of the disciples. “Look, guys – I need a break as much as you do, but this is something that needs to be done right now, so let’s just do it, OK? Or as Martha would say: Less talk, more action.”
“Less talk, more action; less talk, more action,” hissed Judas Iscariot under his breath as he trudged along beside Thomas. “Yeah, I’d like to see a little less talk and more action, moneywise. I don’t get paid enough for this stuff. A three-day’s journey in half a day? Does that mean we’ll get three times our daily wage?”
Thomas snickered and whispered: “I know what you mean, Judas. I’m starting to have my doubts about this whole travelling around thing, too. And as for us getting to Gadarenes by nightfall, it’s just not going to happen. No, let me rephrase that – it’ll happen, but only when pigs fly.”
Judas smirked. “Good one, Tommy! ‘When pigs fly’! I’ll have to remember that.”
Jesus overheard the two men whispering and pulled them aside.
“Judas,” he said, “when you agreed to be my disciple, didn’t you also agree to a daily wage of a certain amount to cover your needs?”
“Yes, I did. What of it?”
“Have you been receiving that daily wage?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“Well, since you asked…. Sometimes we have to work in the evenings as well as the days. And now you have us postponing our time off and doing a three-day’s journey in half a day. You say it’s possible, and maybe it is, but it’s just not fair. The least you could do is give us a little overtime pay – you know, for our additional pain and suffering.”
Jesus stared intently at Judas and then said quietly. “Oh, you’ll get your overtime pay, Judas Iscariot. That’s a promise. Before my work here is done, you’ll be getting 30 pieces of silver. Consider that your overtime pay.”
Judas smiled broadly. “Thank you, master. I knew you’d be fair about this.”
“I appreciate the sentiment, Judas, but it won’t be me you’ll be thanking for the money.” Then Jesus turned to Thomas. “As for you, my doubting Thomas, before this day is through, you’ll get to see your flying pigs. That’s a promise.”
The other disciples overheard Jesus’ conversation with Judas and Thomas, and a wave of uneasiness passed over the group. Jesus walked on ahead for a bit, and then stopped suddenly and turned to face them.
“You say we can’t make a three days’ journey in half a day, but I said to you that with God’s help we can. And yet, even with this assurance, you still grumble and doubt. I’ve asked you before and I’ll ask you again – Where is your faith?”
The disciples stared at the ground, too ashamed to speak. Then a small voice piped up from the back. It was Simple Simon, a little boy with a lisp who sometimes followed the group around, helping them with their chores.
“I know! I know!” Simon said, his voice trembling with excitement. “I know, Jethuth! I know where my faith ith!” Simon spoke slowly and deliberately, knowing that his lisp sometimes prevented people from understanding what he said.
The disciples smiled at him good-naturedly (Simon was like a son to them), but Peter tried to shush him.
“No, Peter,” said Jesus. “Let the boy speak. So tell us, Simon, where is your faith?”
Knowing that all eyes were on him, Simon stood up as straight and tall as he could, and, pointing to his head, he cried: “Here it ith, Jethuth! Here’th my faith! Here’th my eyeth, my nothe, and my mouth. See? It’th my faith!”
Jesus and the disciples roared with laughter, and the mood quickly changed to upbeat camaraderie. “Never in all of Israel have I seen such faith as this,” said Jesus. Simon beamed. “Let this serve as a reminder that children are always welcome wherever I am. The kingdom of heaven is made of such as these.”
True to his word, Jesus led his disciples through a shortcut to a lake, on the other side of which was Gadarenes. They found a boat for hire, and
sailed to Gadarenes, and when he stepped out on the land, there met him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.
Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?”
And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged him that he would not command them to go out into the abyss.
Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged him that he would permit them to enter them. And he permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd threw themselves violently over the cliff into the lake, looking for all the world as if they were flying, before they plunged into the water and drowned.
That night, while they were sitting around the campfire, Jesus turned to Thomas and said: “See? I told you you’d see pigs fly today.”
Thomas laughed and promised Jesus he’d never doubt him again.