He was nowhere to be found that day. Where could he have gone? The desperation was growing. They'd heard the stories being passed around in the marketplace. People might share rumors of him over meals. His miracles were real. His preaching was fantastic. They wanted to see for themselves.
But he was missing. There was no time for this! They were demanding that he appear, demanding that he would perform for them. Please, he might die...please, I miss talking to her...please, he's so miserable...
In place of hope, there grew sadness and resentment. Attitudes began to change as a cloud of rationalization and bitterness crept around them.
'I heard that Bar-Mochba's leprosy came back a week later.'
'I heard that his disciples actually do all the work.'
'I heard that he's really ugly, and he has to hide his face in public.'
'I heard he actually has a few of these diseases himself.'
The grumblings began to change, from the front to the back. Word came through the crowd. He had been praying somewhere, and now had returned! A roar of requests mounted. Those near the back wondered if he'd make it to them. How could he possibly hear them all? Shouts of rejoicing could be heard. My child will live! My wife is well! My father can see!
The disciples took all this in. With each healing, with every touch, the crowd began to thin. With every moment of joy and thankfulness, a few more disappeared.
It was evening before they were finished. The disciples looked around. James shot John a look of anger and bewilderment. Peter caught Bartholomew's eye and shrugged. Jesus didn't seem to notice. He observed the houses; watched as one by one lights were extinguished and families settled in for the night. For many of them, sleep would be much easier.
James fought back what he really thought about all this, and instead ventured a question. 'So...what happens now?'
Jesus turned to look at his friend, reading that there was more he wanted to say. 'Now...you sleep. We'll move on to Capernaum tomorrow.'
'What will you do?'
'I'm going back out to pray.'
'Pray? Pray for what?'
'For all of them. For you. The usual.'
With that, Jesus set off to his familiar spot, leaving the twelve to wonder why he cared, more than a few of them stewing about the days' events. Shaking their heads, heading out in twos and threes, they prepared for the morning and for more of the same.