“But it is true,” laughed the little man. “The Master said: ’Let Thaddeus say what he likes. He suffered yesterday in patience the wrath of an Arab.’”
“Yes, indeed; because they found no money, they beat Thaddeus.”
“If we meet another of that sort, we’ll defend ourselves,” said the publican, “or robbery ’ll become cheap.”
“It’s easy to see, tax-gatherer, that you haven’t known the Master long,” said the little man whom they called Thaddeus. “We and money, indeed!”
Then the Master said: “A free soul has nothing to do with Mammon. It’s not worth speaking of, let alone quarrelling over. Violence won’t undo robbery. If you attempt violence, you may easily turn a thief into a murderer.”
While they were talking the publican went into his house. He had made his decision. He would quietly bid his wife farewell, put the money in a bag and tie it round his waist. He did not do the first, because Judith had fled by the back door; he did not do the second, because Judith had emptied the stone vessel and taken the money with her.
Levi came sadly from the toll-house, went up to Jesus, and lifted his hands to heaven: “I am ready, Lord; take me with you.”
The Master said: “Levi Matthew, you are mine.”
Thaddeus came with the tray of fruit. “Brother, eat of your table for the last time. Then trust in Him who feeds the birds and makes the flowers to grow.”
As they went together along the dusty road, the new disciple related his loss.
Simon exclaimed cheerfully: “You’re lucky, Levi Matthew! What other men give up with difficulty has run away from you of itself.”
That day the toll-house was left deserted, and the passers-by were surprised to find that the road between Magdala and Tiberias was free.
In this way there gathered round the carpenter of Nazareth more disciples and friends, who wished to accompany Him in His wanderings through the land. For Jesus had decided. He desired only to wander through the land and bring men tidings of the Heavenly Father and of the Kingdom of God. He appointed some of His disciples to prepare for Him a reception and lodging everywhere. Then there were the assemblies of the people to regulate; and the disciples, so far as they themselves understood the new teaching, must act as interpreters and expositors for those who could not understand the Master’s peculiar language. Among those was John, the carpenter, who had once been an apprentice to Jesus, a near relative of the Master. Other of His disciples were called James, he was the boat-builder; then Simon, Andrew, and Thomas, the fishermen; Levi Matthew, the publican; Thaddeus, the saddler; and further—but my memory is weak—James, the little shepherd; Nathan, the potter; and his brother Philip, the innkeeper from Jericho; Bartholomew, the smith; and Judas, the money-changer from Carioth. Like Simon and Matthew, they had all left their trades or offices to follow with boundless devotion Him they called Lord and Master.