Extra: Extract from a re-imagining of John’s Gospel

Chapter 6.

The light is fading quickly now. Simon and James stand. ‘We’re going across the lake,’ says James. ‘Anyone else coming?’ They all are, even Mary. They’ve waited long enough. They make for the water. There are a few ripples snagging at the calm surface. Simon licks a finger and holds it up, testing the breeze. ‘We should be all right,’ he says. They are not. The wind, as ever, comes out of nowhere on that sea. Churning the water and jabbing at the boat. These men may be experienced fishermen, but dying at sea is always their big terror. ‘Keep rowing!’ James yells, shoving his brother to force him on. It’s a losing battle. They should have never left the shore. The sea is a mass of danger and chaos now. A monster stretching its grey foamy jaws, getting ready to swallow them all. There is shouting and cussing and blaming one another. But as loud as this is it’s nothing compared to the sound of the storm. They are finished. Jesus has gone and the sea is getting payback. ‘What’s that?’ Andrew points into the swirling night. A white figure is rising out of the waves, coming towards them. ‘It’s the spectre, death himself, he’s come for us,’ says Matthew. ‘Don’t be so melodramatic,’ says Salome. ‘Then who? Who else is churning through the waves in a storm like this?’ ‘Maybe it’s Jonah,’ says John, ‘come to warn us?’ ‘He’s a bit late isn’t he?’ says Joanna. ‘Maybe if we throw someone overboard the storm will die down,’ says Thomas. ‘Maybe if we throw YOU overboard…’ ‘It’s him!’ calls Andrew. ‘I told you – death! Come for us!’ ‘NO! I mean – him!’ They look, strain to get a glimpse through the soaking night, their eyes narrowed as they scrape the sea water from their faces. ‘Don’t panic!’ calls the figure. ‘Be calm. It’s me. I’m here. Don’t worry.’ They know that voice all right. Heard it only hours before, telling them to hand out a tiny bit of bread to a crowd of thousands. ‘Jesus? Is that really you?’ Mary calls. ‘Can I come into the boat?’ They never heard anything so sweet before in all their lives. Several hands reach out to haul him in as he draws near. Oddly, he’s barely wet. Jesus smiles at them. ‘You’re okay,’ he says, ‘you’re okay.’ ‘Where were you going though?’ Salome asks. ‘You know, out there on the water? Were you taking a short cut?’ Jesus laughs. ‘No, I was doing what I often do,’ he says, ‘I was looking for you.’

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