In The JUSTUS Scrolls, Recollections of an Almost Apostle, the author has chosen to examine Jesus of Nazareth,
the Son of Man, through the eyes of someone who, it could be said, was “rejected” by God – assuming, of course,
that you believe the mind of God can be divined by the manner in which a few stones are tossed.
The eleven apostles "cast lots" to determine who the Holy Spirit might have to replace Judas Iscariot. The preemptive requisite credential for anyone who could do this must be someone who had been with Jesus the whole time since his baptism to that present day. Two such men met that requirement: Joseph bar Sabbas, called Justus, and Matthias.
The stones were cast. The lot fell to Matthias. Joseph called Justus is never heard from again, not in the sacred writings, nor in the volumes of literature and traditions which followed. Some say he became a bishop, but this is more than doubtful.
One is left to surmise how Justus felt about this. It may be safely assumed that since he had been with Jesus and ‘went in and out’ (Acts 1:21-26) among the rest of the disciples throughout his ministry, that he must have been close to Jesus; held private conversations with him and laughed with him. Slept around the same campfires, lodged in the same facilities, visited the same friend’s homes, ate at the same tables. Such an assumption is more than plausible.
Now his friend and Lord, Jesus, was gone. And for all of the good face to put on it, Justus must have felt rejected by his friends, and if the stones were to be believed, rejected by the Father as well. Where did this man go? What did he do with his feelings? No doubt he rejoiced with Matthias, or at least, tried to. But what was in his heart? What staggering mischief lay in those stones?
No matter. Paul Morris has found him lurking beneath the shadows -- and in his creative imagination, peered into the mind of Justus, and for us, his readers, has played back the ancient memoirs of time spent with Jesus and those he chose as apostles, scene by galvanizing scene. What we see through the eyes of Justus is unique to the writer's own experience with the Master. Perhaps, Morris should put it in his own words. He writes to a friend . . .
For what it is worth, you should know that I do not treat Jesus as the effete cleric handed down to us by formal church history. He is not halo’ed and is not portrayed as one of the sacred figures moving across the pages in the Bible. Jesus is larger than the biblical record.
I have come to see Jesus as a seminal working man, whose hands were cauterized with carpenter’s callouses. He preferred, it seemed, to hang out with water-front toughs, rather than the insufferably legalistic pundits of his day. He probably laughed a lot and it wouldn’t surprise me if he owned a dog. I affirm masculinity in men; indeed, I perceive Jesus as the foremost schematic, the paradigm and model of masculinity.
Jesus is the preemptive, singular Prism through which the rest of the Bible is understood; indeed, he is the Lens through which the whole of the cosmos is fathomed.
If you want to know more, read the book.
You are invited to do the same.