This is the first part of this chapter in The Next 40 Days.
It was funny how that day started out. Tom had been doing what he was used to doing. His new job was to spread the word about Jesus. This had become a passion for him. Anyone and everyone had to hear his story. Most people already knew it but he could not help but share it anyway. You see, most people had known Tom when he was known around town as “the crazy naked guy.” For years Tom and been totally out of control. They had tried chaining him up so that he would no longer hurt himself or anyone else and yet he broke out of those chains repeatedly. It was horrible to watch him whip himself with those chains until he bled. People would cover their children’s eyes and ears when they saw him anywhere near, which was rare since he tended to spend most of his time roaming among the tombs. He would wander along the cliffs and howl and shriek at the top of his lungs. The sound coming out of his mouth would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and cause you body to be covered with goose bumps. The only thing that people knew was to give Tom his distance and to keep away. Then again, people only had to encounter him when there was a funeral and someone had to be placed in the burial caves since that’s where Tom chose to live. And this made people feel at ease most of the time.
Then, one day, his life was completely changed. Jesus showed up along the shore with his disciples and Tom had charged at him. Then a totally unnatural voice started to beg with Jesus and the next thing anyone knew 2000 pigs were drowning themselves in the sea. The pig farmers were just a little upset and so was the whole town since the pigs had been a very big part of the economy. When the town showed up to see 2000 bobbing pigs for themselves they were all stunned by the sight of Tom. He no longer looked crazy and he was definitely no longer naked, much to everyone’s relief. The people were so upset over the death of the pigs that they pleaded with Jesus to leave and some even threatened him with bodily harm. Jesus just shrugged and told his disciples to get back in the boat and they would go somewhere else. That’s when Tom approached the boat and asked if he could come. Jesus very kindly told him that he needed to stay where he was and share what had happened to him. Tom was disappointed but knew what Jesus wanted him to do so he said good-bye and waved to Jesus as he and his disciples rowed out of sight.
That’s when Tom went to work, not for money, but for God. He told everyone who would listen, and many who wouldn’t, about how he had been tormented by demons until Jesus showed up. He told the people how he used to cut himself with rocks and pottery and how he used to sleep in the tombs along side of corpses. Word began to spread about Jesus and when he returned to the region a few months later Jesus could hardly move form place to place for all of the people brought to him to heal. Tom took his job seriously and the news of the messiah being present was welcomed throughout the region.
All was going well until that day during Passover. Jesus had insisted on going back to Jerusalem and ended up dead. This devastated Tom. What would he do know? He had told all of the people that Jesus was the messiah and yet he was dead. People had seen him breath his last breathe. People had seen him laid in the tomb and the stone rolled across the mouth of the tomb. Tom wept along with many of the people who had looked to Jesus to be the promised messiah. Then, the rumors started to circulate that people had seen Jesus alive. Somehow, a miracle had happened and it seemed as if Jesus was really alive. Tom even made a trip to Jerusalem to see the empty tomb and his heart leapt with joy. But now what? What was he going to do? What should he tell people? These were the thoughts that swam circles around the inside of his head as he turned back to his mending.