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Brother Tom’s Adventures (The Acts of Thomas) Part Three

Posted by JVP on April 22, 2008

A little later the same morning, Brother Tom and his disciples went down the road in the direction Jesus told him. When he came to the second milestone, he saw handsome boy’s figure lying in the dust on the ground. “Is this what you sent me here to find, Lord?” he asked. “Okay then, here we go,” and standing over the body he started to pray:

“Lord, judge of the living who’s standing here and the dead who’s lying here in the dust, master and father of everything– the souls inside bodies and the ones outside of them– join us now, and shed your glory on the one lying here.”

He turned to his disciples. “I’m telling you, the enemy has something to do with this; he made it happen so he could get at us somehow. Make sure in your lives he hasn’t done anything else, or acted through anybody not directly working for him.”

All of the sudden, a giant, black snake emerged from a hole near the body, shaking its head back and forth and sliding its long tail all over the ground. It laughed like a maniac, and shouted in a booming voice, “Listen here, boy, you think you’re here to speak out against my deeds? Let me tell you why I killed this guy and then see what you have to say.”

Tom crossed his arms, and calmly replied, “Okay then. Let’s hear it.”

That old mean snake curled up in front of the crowd on a big, flat rock. “Nearby these parts, there’s a small town, and in that town lives the most beautiful girl this land has ever seen. She walks by every now and again, and I’ve fallen for her hard. The last time she passed, I followed to see what she was up to, and found this man kissing her, pressing up against her, having sex with her and doing all kinds of things far too dirty for me to mention to you, what with you being the Lord’s Twin and all. Now, siince I was in love with her, I didn’t want to scare her, so I waited until I caught him walking by alone last night and sneaked up on him and bit him right on his ankle. He deserved it all the more for doing these deeds on the Sabbath! So as you can see, I was completely justified.”

“Hm,” said Tom. “Now explain to me what you are.”

“I’m a reptile, and it’s my nature to be reptilian like my father was,” the snake replied:

I’m the terrible son of my terrible father,
the one who ruins and strikes in all direction.
I’m the son of the ruler of the earth,
the one who takes back everything that’s owed to him.
I’m the son of the one who’s wrapped around the globe,
the one who swallows his own tail.
I’m the one who climbed over the fence into Eden,
the one who told Eve everything my father told me.
I’m the one who riled up Cain,
and caused him to kill his own brother.
I’m the one who sowed thorns and thistles,
the one who made them grow up through the earth.
I’m the one who led down the angels,
the one who showed them how beautiful human women are.
I’m the one who told those angels to make children,
the one who works my deeds in those very same kids.
I’m the one who strengthened the heart of the Pharaoh,
the one who lifted that king’s dark hand against Israel.
I’m the one who sedueced the multitude in the wilderness,
the one who praised them for creating the calf.
I’m the one who worked in Herod,
the one who made Caiaphas lie to Pilate.
I’m the one who drove Judas to betray the Christ,
the one who later made him plunge a sword in his guts.
I’m the one who lives in Tartarus,
the one wronged by the Son of God.
I’m the brother of the one who comes from the East,
he who also has limitless power on Earth.”

When he’d finished talking, Brother Tom took a step forward and shouted at the top of his lungs. “Have you no shame, sir? Stop this trickery and shifty business at once! Your days of destruction have come to an end, so shut your wicked mouth, and stop talking to people about what you’ve done to your own subjects. Now I call upon you in the name of Christ Jesus, who never stops fighting for his people, to suck the venom out of this dead man and take it away from him!”

“Oh, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon, like you’d like me to. Where do you get off trying to make me take back the poison I put inside this man, and to die before I’m supposed to? When my father puts his mouth on creation and sucks out the venom he put there, that’s when his end will come.”

The Apostle stood firm: “Show us your father’s nature!”

The serpent struggled for a moment, and then under the power of the Lord, slowly inched over to the body, put its mouth over the wound and sucked the venom right out. Slowly but surely, the youth’s color, which had been a dark purple, started appearing more natural, when all of the sudden he leapt up, ran to Brother Tom and fell at his feet.

Now the snake was so full of his own poison he swelled up like a bladder full of wine, and as soon as the young man had come back to life, that old snake exploded with a bang, spewing poison and gall everywhere. To everyone’s amazement, the ground around the serpent started shaking, and splitting, and a chasm widened in the earth underneath it, and swallowed up that snake for good. “That’s that,” said Tom. “King Gundaphorus, you and your brother should have some workmen fill that hole and lay down foundations on this land. You can build houses here where foreigners can live.”

The young man, weeping, asked Brother Tom, “What have I done to you to deserve this? You seem to have two forms, and wherever you want to be, you can be found, and nobody has any power over you, I can tell. When I was dead, I saw that guy standing next to you, and I heard him tell you that he had signs and wonders to show you and deeds for you to do, that you’re gonna be rewarded for. Then he told you you’d bring life to a multitude, and they’d live forever in light as God’s children. Next he told you to raise me from the dead and save me from the enemy, and watch over me always. So I’m glad you’ve come here, even if you’re gonna eventually go back to him even though he’s never really gonna leave you. But listen, I don’t care about anything any more– he’s freed me from worrying about the dark, and helped me rest after working all day, and freed me from the one who put me in this state and made me sin. I’ve found the light, and found my long-lost brother! I’ve gotten rid of the one who blinds his own servants so they don’t get what he’s doing to them and makes them do shameful things, and joined up with the worker of light and truth, who you’re never ashamed to be with. I’ve left the master of lying and darkness, and found the one who delivers beauty and truth, who scatters the clouds and makes men to see, heals the wounds of creation and conquers the enemies of goodness. Please, Brother, show me this man again, reveal what’s hidden from me, let me hear his voice, the one this imperfect body can’t even describe.”

Brother Tom answered him. “If you’re serious about what you just said, and are ready to give up the works of the enemy, and if you really know the one who caused this change in you, and you’re willing to study and listen to the works of the one you’re looking for, then you’ll certainly see him and live with him forever– you’ll rest with him and experience his joy. But, if you slack off and go back to your former ways, and turn your back on his bright face that you saw while you were dead, and forget how beautiful the light is, not only are you gonna lose this life, but also that life to come. If you turn away from him, he’ll leave you, and you won’t ever see him again.”

Brother Tom took the young man by the hand, and they started back for the city. On the way, Tom told him a few things. “All these things you’ve seen today are nothing compared to what God’s got in store that you haven’t seen. Since we’re stuck here in bodies, there’s no way for us to really describe and talk about what’s going to be given to our souls. If we say he’s going to show us the light, it’s not really the light here that we’re talking about. Concerning the wealth of this world, we don’t need it; remember, it’s been said it’s really difficult for rich people to get into heaven. Concerning fancy clothes that people say are fit for kings, they’re not for us. Concerning high-end parties and huge feasts, we’re told to avoid them, not to carry around the effects of partying and drunkenness and material things. After all, we’ve been told: ‘Don’t worry about your life, where your next meal or drink is gonna come from, or what clothes you’re gonna wear. The soul is more important than food, and the body is more important than what covers it.’ Keep in mind, this place we’re in is temporary, and it’s gonna be judged. But, if we’re talking about the Kingdom of Heaven, the world above, we’re talking about God and angels and watchers and saints who eat immortal food and drink the wine of truth, who wear cloths that last forever and never get old. We’re talking about things nobody’s ever seen or heard about, things that aren’t even available to sinners, only to the people who love God. These are the things we’re talking about, and these are why our tidings are so joyful. So you should also believe in him, and trust in him, and you won’t die. He can’t be bribed by anything you could possibly offer to him, and he certainly doesn’t need any sacrifices. Just look to him and trust him, and he won’t let you down. He’s so beautiful you’ll want to look at him and love him forever. Really, he won’t even let you stop loving him once you’ve truly started.”

Well now, as he was giving this speech, a crowd started surrounding them, that got bigger and bigger. Tom started to notice all these people around him, climbing up on roofs and stairways so they could see and hear him. He looked around, and addressed the crowd. “If you want to join the Christ’s assembly, take a look at what’s happening here. I’m just a human like you, but if you want to see me and hear what I’m saying, you need to climb up to higher places– you need to be lifted up. If you can’t even see me without lifting yourselves up, how can you possibly see the one who lives in the skies and on the earth if you don’t lift yourselves up out of your former ways, your sins and errors, your impermenant desires, your attachments to material things and places that grow old, and clothes that rot, and physical beauty that gets old and turns into the dust it was made out of? This is all stuff for the body. You should, on the other hand, believe in Jesus Christ, the one we’re here to talk about; you should place your hope in him and you’ll live eternally; he’ll travel with you and be a safe port of call in this stormy sea. He’ll be a cistern of clear, flowing water for you when you’re thirsty and a banquet hall full of delicious foods when you’re hungry, and a soft bed when you’re tired, and even a healer for your body when you’re sick.”

When they heard this, the majority of people gathered around started weeping, saying, “You man of this foreign God, there’s no way we can claim to be his, because we’ve done wrong by him. But if he has pity on us, and saves us with his compassion, forgives us our errors and sets us free from evil, and if he won’t hold the sins we’ve committed in ignorance against us, we’ll serve him forever and do anything he asks us to.”

Brother Tom answered, smiling, and said. “He won’t hold these things against you, or hold you responsible for what you did without realizing it. He’ll forgive you for all of these things.”

TO BE CONTINUED

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