In which the loaves and fishes are also for the skeptics

He didn’t want to go. In fact, he could think of ten different things he would rather do than follow some charlatan prophet off to the mountainside and listen to him yap all day. They all said the same thing, more or less. The only real variation was in skill. Some of this new crop of would-be Messiahs had the con down to an art form. They were slick, believable. You had to look hard for the tell-tale glint betraying the contents of their corrupt hearts. Others were hilariously skeevy, scarcely bothering to hide their true motives. Savvy or not, each one siphoned hope from a population who was already on the edge of despair. Each one pilfered coins from a people two pennies from destitution. It ticked him off, and he wanted no part of it.

This so-called prophet and his entourage had passed by the man’s house at the crack of dawn. It almost looked like they were trying to sneak off as they moved quietly and purposefully toward the shore. The man found himself glancing once, twice, three times in the direction they’d gone. At last he gave in to his nagging curiosity and stopped his chores to watch. Despite the prophet’s apparent attempt not to attract attention, from his vantage point on the hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the man could see that droves of people were on his trail. The prophet – was his name John? Or was this the one called Jesus? yes, Jesus, that’s it – boarded a small boat with his disciples, and even then they couldn’t lose the crowd. The people simply dashed along the shore to keep pace with the man who seemed to function as a sort of human magnet.

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