The conversation with her brother still ringing in her ears, she ducked into an alley to avoid the stares of the women who were at the Shul to do their shopping for the day. Mary wanted nothing to do with their judgment, after all they didn’t know what she had gone through that brought her to the place she was today.
And to have Lazarus bring those stinging words, “You are no better than a temple prostitute Mary! You know that our parents would be so ashamed of what you are doing with your body, giving it to that Pharisee, Simon. What a hypocrite! And you joining in his hypocrisy. One of these days this whole business is going to come out into the open and you know that he will not be to blame, you will. Please come home, Martha and I will take care of you.”
“Why can’t people mind their own business!”, She thought. “I just want to be left alone.” “I know what I am doing, and besides, Simon is good to me. Would I have that beautiful new silk robe if it were not for him?” “I don’t care what people think or say, it’s none of their business.” “He makes me feel like a woman and I have not felt like that for a long time.”
She hurried back to her home to get ready for Simon. Surely, he would have a surprise for her today.
He arrived at midday. She opened the door and greeted him with a passionate kiss, teasing him with the promise of more later.
“What did you bring me today, Simon?”
“Ah, Mary, you are always wanting something.” That stung, but she did not allow it to stop her. She would have something for allowing him to use her. She was sure that she could win his heart. So, she persisted. “Simon, you have asked me to be faithful to you and, you know, not entertain others. Should I not have something from you?”
Simon brought out a box. In the box was a jar covered with gold, etched with pomegranates and bells. She was so excited.
“What is this Simon?”, she asked.
‘It is a jar of pure spikenard, Mary.” “Do not ask where it came from.”, he said.
Mary placed the jar on the shelf; turning to him, she thanked him, took hold of his hand and led him to her bed.
The door burst open, “Okay, Simon, we caught her in the act. Leave now and we will deal with her.”
They dragged Mary into the street, throwing her at the feet of the one they had been trying to trap. This time they were sure that they had Him.
“We caught this woman in the very act of adultery. She should be stoned according to our law. What do you say?”
“Yeshua, bent down and with His finger began to write something in the sand.” He named the secret sin of every man there. When He had finished He stood up and said, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” Beginning with the eldest, one by one they backed away, until only the woman and Yeshua remained. Reaching out his hand to help her up, He asked, “Woman, where are your accusers?”
The presence of this man was overwhelming. Mary had never felt like this. He embodied acceptance without judgment. It did not matter what she had done, what she had been. Somehow He knew what she was and yet He cared about her and He required nothing from her. Something was happening in her heart.
Responding to his question she said, “They are gone, sir.”
He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Turning, He walked away and Mary went back to her home.
As she entered the place that she had called home for quite some time, she saw it in a new light. She felt different, she was different. She could not continue this lifestyle. Simon had betrayed her, but she still had the gift of nard. She had to find this man who had set her free and let Him know how thankful she was. She would offer Him the gift of her harlotry.
Simon had invited Yeshua to come to his home for the evening meal. He was curious about this man after what he was told had happened with Mary today. He had to hear more. But, he was not going to make himself vulnerable to condemnation from the Sanhedrin, that was for sure. So, Yeshua would not be treated as an honored guest. He would see to that. After all, he would explain when they asked him, that he only wanted to hear the man’s philosophy.
Reclining at the table, Simon was asking questions, as were those whom he had invited to the meal. In the midst of this, Mary came in. What was she doing here? Simon was embarrassed. She lay down at Yeshua’s feet. Crying, she wiped his feet with her hair. Simon watched horrified as she took out a jar, it was the jar of nard that he had given her earlier. She broke open the seal and began to pour the fragrant ointment on Yeshua’s feet. The fragrance filled the room.
Simon was indignant. That spikenard had cost him a great deal, to say nothing of what he had gone through to get it. What if one of the guests recognized the jar? The pomegranates and bells on it would be a dead give away. He could be in real trouble. The holy anointing oil was only to be used for worship of God.
If Yeshua were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman Mary was and would not want her touching him. “Rabbi, don’t you know this woman is a sinner?”, he asked.
Yeshua looked at him and said, “Simon, you invited me to come to your house for a meal and I came. It is customary for a guest to have their feet washed upon entering, You did not even do that which is customary. You see this woman that you call a sinner, she has honored me by washing my feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair and she has anointed my feet for ministry.”
Simon was livid. How dare He speak to him in this way. He had position and place, this itinerant preacher was in no position to question him. And yet, when all of his guests had left the house, and Simon was alone with his thoughts, he pondered all that had taken place that day. He had not wanted to go along with the scheme the other Pharisees had hatched to catch Yeshua in a trap, but he had done so. Now he felt dirty and ashamed. This man, Yeshua, was a good man. Simon felt changed by His presence. He must know Him.
Mary went back to her house, determining to take Lazarus up upon his word. She would go back to Bethany in the morning.
Martha and Lazarus were so thankful that Mary had come home. They knew it was not an easy decision, they wanted to know the whole story. Sitting down, Mary began to rehearse the road she had traveled that brought her back to them today.
They were shocked to learn that their uncle had molested Mary when she was only thirteen years of age. This had sent her on a spiral downward. She had told no one for the shame of it. Besides no one would believe that Samuel would do such a thing.
When they had heard it all, they were overcome with the thought of what Mary had to go through alone. With thanksgiving to God, they promised to care for her. They were so thankful for this man Yeshua. They had to meet Him. As God would have it, that happened in a rather interesting way.
Yeshua and His disciples were traveling in the area around Bethany, they often stayed at the home of Simon the leper, whom Yeshua had healed. Word of Yeshua’s preaching and miracles was spreading rapidly. The sick were healed, the blind received their sight, the lame walked and some were raised up from death.
Martha had gone to the shul to get some vegetables for supper. There He was, this one who had done a miracle for their Mary. Drawing near she listened, “I am the good shepherd.” He said, “I give my life for my sheep.” She had never heard such words as this man spoke. She must tell Lazarus.
Hurrying home she told Mary and Lazarus, “Never have I heard such words as this man spoke. You must come and hear.”
They watched Yeshua touch those who were hurting and saw them set free. When he placed his hands on those who were sick and diseased they were healed.
Suddenly Yeshua stopped, turning to Lazarus, He said, “Today I must stay at your house.”
Lazarus was overtaken with gratitude. Yes, he wanted that more than anything. “You are most welcome, sir.”, he said.
That was the beginning of many such visits. Lazarus was known as a friend of Yeshua. He regularly contributed to His ministry, being a wealthy man. Mary and Martha always ministered to Him as well. “He who is forgiven much, loves much.” These three knew the reality of those words.
Another time, another day, on the anniversary of her deliverance, Yeshua was in the house. Mary loved to sit at His feet and listen. She was like a sponge, she soaked up every word He said. This day her love for Him prompted her to use the gift of nard that Lazarus had given her when she came home. It was her inheritance from their father.
As Yeshua lay at the table with Lazarus and the disciples, Mary broke open the flask and began to weep as she remembered what He had done for her. She poured out the golden liquid upon his feet, wiping them with her hair.
One of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, scolded, “This is wrong. Think how much bread this would buy for the poor. This is a waste. It should have been given to the ministry and sold.” He said this not because he cared for the poor, but because he managed the money for the ministry and regularly took for himself whatever he wanted. He was a thief.
Yeshua spoke these simple words. “She did this for my burial.”
From that time on whenever the story is told, Mary is remembered for her sacrificial offering.
Yeshua ministered in and around Jerusalem and then in the Galilee. The opposition from the religious ruling class increased as time went on. They keenly felt their control of the people loosening as the masses turned to Yeshua. There was no refuting the miracles that were taking place. In their fear of losing control, they began to hatch a plan. But it required an insider. They had to figure out some way to make that happen. As it turned out they didn’t have to wait long.
Word came to Yeshua that his friend Lazarus had died. The disciples were ready to head out to Bethany right away. But, Yeshua was not in a hurry. He told them, “Lazarus is asleep and I am going to go wake him up.” They said, “If he is sleeping he will wake up.” Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”
When they approached Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Word was brought to Martha that Yeshua was coming, she went to meet Him.
“If you had been here, Lazarus would still be alive.” she said. Was she accusing Him? Was it His fault? He just didn’t arrive on time, Martha’s time?
What time was Yeshua keeping? This is an important question, one that every generation must answer. Martha was bound by time. God is not bound by time! You cannot put God in a box, any kind of box. He will break out of it every time.
Yeshua said to her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: the one who believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Her answer was yes, but. How often do we add something to a question of faith? A friend of mine would tell me: “Goats butt, sheep follow?”
Martha sent word to Mary that Yeshua was here and asked for her. She got up quickly and came to Him. All the mourners followed her.
“When Mary came where Yeshua was, she fell down at His feet.” “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” The same words that Martha spoke.
Jesus was moved by her tears, and by the mourners and he “groaned in the spirit”, and was troubled. “Where have you laid him?”, He asked. “Yeshua wept.”
There have been many commentaries written and sermons preached on this short passage of scripture, “Jesus Wept.” The viewpoints range from grief to anger; grief over the death of His friend, to anger at the lack of faith in Martha and Mary. The bottom line is that they didn’t know who He was. I think the correct viewpoint is all of the above.
What commences from here in the Biblical narrative is the raising of Lazarus from death. This was a monumental thing at that time; so much so that the chief priests and Pharisees convened a council to deal with it. They knew they had to do something about this man Yeshua. He did many mighty miracles which could not be denied.
This man Lazarus, according to a report they received, had been dead and now was alive. It appeared that the whole world was going after Yeshua; they came up with a plan, but It had to be executed quickly, this was getting out of hand and it must be dealt with soon
Caiaphas, the high priest for that year, said: “It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation perish.” “Being high priest he prophesied the death of Yeshua for the Jewish people.
It was Passover. The time when each family took a lamb into their home and cared for it until the day it would be the sacrifice lamb for their house.
The evening drew near and Yeshua told his disciples to go prepare the place that was chosen for them to share the Passover meal, the feast of unleavened bread.
When the time had come, all twelve disciples were there with Yeshua, He told them how he longed to eat this meal with them before his time of suffering came. As they were eating, Yeshua took the bread, broke it and gave it to them saying, “Take this bread and eat it, for this is My body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me.” Taking the cup of Messiah, he said. “I want all of you to drink from it. For this cup is the new covenant in My blood which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins.”
Yeshua became quiet, then He said, “The hand of my betrayer is with me on the table.” They all began to question what he meant. Which of them would do such a thing. John, the beloved, leaning over on Jesus chest said, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” Dipping the piece of bread in the wine he gave it to Judas Iscariot. After receiving it the Bible says, “Satan entered him.” No one at the table knew the reason he said to Judas, “What you do do quickly.” The Pharisees and priests now had their insider.
In the gospel of John, chapters 14-17, it is recorded that Jesus taught the disciples “The Way” to live as believers. His prayer for them and us is recorded in John 17:20-21 as follows:
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they all may be one, as You, Father; are in Me and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
God has not changed His mind. It is His will that believers in Yeshua, the one we English speakers call Jesus, be united in faith and love for Him and each other. God’s will is going to be done on earth as it is in Heaven!
Yeshua was betrayed, He was arrested, He was tortured, He was beaten, He was crucified on a Roman cross. God watched, the angels watched. Nature responded to Yahweh’s grief and anger at sin, earth shook, and the sun grew dark. Yahweh’s Son became sin; He had to pay the price to buy back humankind. Yahweh turned away to keep from destroying Him. It was the first time that they were ever separated. In great agony Yeshua cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He bore the full brunt of punishment for sin, separation from His Father. His heart literally broke.
Lucifer, the adversary of God, was full of glee. He finally had Him, this man, this Son of God who tormented Him with His sickening displays of power. Now He would pay; He would pay for Lucifer’s loss of position and power in Heaven. He had Him in his domain, on his own turf. It was party time.
Lucifer did not know that it was a set up. He was in for a big surprise.
On the third day there was a rumble, thunder, he knew that sound, he shivered in remembrance. Suddenly, light burst into that dark domain, filling Yeshua with power and authority. Grabbing Lucifer, He took the keys to death and hell from him, stripped him of the authority he had over the earth, removed the beautiful gemstones that were part of his apparel, put a rope around his neck and paraded him through hell in the presence of all of his minions. When it was all over Lucifer lay stunned.
Yeshua then went into Sheol, the place of the righteous dead. This is the place the old testament saints went when they died. The prophets who had seen His day rejoiced. King David danced for joy. Yeshua then brought them to the Paradise of God in Heaven. They are there today, for many have been taken to Heaven and seen them.
According to scripture, Yeshua is the “first born from the dead”. That morning, the morning of the third day, He became a life-giving spirit, a born-again eternal man. This one who was The Word become flesh, who was the second Adam, became the substitute sacrifice for all man. After His suffering, death and resurrection, anyone who comes to Yahweh through Him can become a life-giving spirit and their destination upon death will be Heaven.
It was a beautiful morning in Israel. It was Spring and the flowers were blooming in Simon’s garden. Yeshua was alive and had conquered death, hell and the grave. Stooping down to smell the flowers, he heard a voice. “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him and I will take Him away.” It was Mary of Magdala.
Turning around He said, “Mary.” She had thought He was the gardener, but it was her Lord, she was overcome with emotion. He was alive!. She wanted to touch Him, to worship Him, but He said, “Do not touch Me, I have not yet ascended to My Father; go to the others and tell them, I am going to go to My Father, to My God and to Your God.”
I believe that each of us is named by the Lord and in our name is the essence of who we are. Often in scripture a person is referred to in this way: Simon ben Judah. That is Simon the son of Judah. In some cultures a name may be Johnson or John’s son. In some cultures the first name will be last such as Yangi Cho Paul. I believe that no name is without the direct hand of God. While there may be a million Mary’s, there is only one you if your name is Mary, and all you are is in your name. You are unique and special.
There was a time in my life when I thought little of myself and thus those around me. It was a time of great misery and pain. In that time I was visited by Yeshua. He told me that He had named me Joy and that I was His joy. I can tell you that I was far from anyone’s joy at that time. He also told me that if I had been the only one who needed to be saved. He would have died just for me. Many times since, I have read that He has told others that He would have died just for them. Each of us is so loved. Corrie ten Boom said that God has a telescope and microscope interest in us. We are His desire and He loves us with all that is in Him. Incredible!
Yeshua was known in the community he lived in as the son of the carpenter, Joseph; he was also called the Son of David. Names are important and have meaning. They embody all that we are and will be. As I said, here there are many with the same name and yet when Yahweh speaks your name, only You will know it is to you personally that He speaks.
Think about when Yeshua called his friend Lazarus to come back from the dead with these words: “Lazarus come forth!”. How many dead people were there in Sheol with the name of Lazarus, yet only Lazarus from Bethany came back into his mortal body and out of the tomb.
Another thing I believe about this scene has to do with these words, “Don’t touch me, I have not ascended to My Father.” The Temple Institute in Israel has made items for the third temple. Among them is a large vessel that is round on the bottom. It cannot be set down. According to the guide, It catches the blood of the sacrifice. When the blood is caught in this container it is considered holy. It is to be taken into the Most Holy Place to be offered to Yahweh for the remission of sins.
I believe that Yeshua told Mary not to touch Him, because He was a Holy vessel, set apart and He had to take His blood to Heaven, where He poured it out on the mercy seat before His Father. When He encountered Mary, He had not yet ascended to the Father and to touch someone would have defiled Him. After He had been to Heaven He appeared to His disciples and told Thomas, “Touch me”.
I believe after His resurrection, when He ascended to Heaven with His blood, Yeshua came into the courtroom of Heaven to appear before Yahweh as judge. He made the case for canceling the adversaries earth lease, He made the case for what He had done on the cross being sufficient for anyone who would come to Yahweh through Him, and based upon what He had done and Yahweh’s will, authority would be given to those who believed and received in Him. I believe Yahweh said, “It is enough. Petition granted”
I believe this is the point at which the blood of Yeshua was placed upon the golden altar, the mercy seat, before the throne of Yahweh where it continually cries out, “Mercy, mercy, mercy.” Whoever will may come and receive mercy from Yahweh, the forgiveness of sin.
I have told you this story with this hope, that if you do not know Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth, you will be drawn to come to Him through the blood on the mercy seat and ask for forgiveness of your sin. Many think that sins such as smoking, drinking, gambling, prostitution, etc. will keep you out of Heaven. These things are of the flesh, of the earthly body, not the spirit. Human beings are living souls according to the Word of God. We were created with eternity in our hearts. Mortal human bodies will not be in Heaven when this is all over, only reborn humans with immortal bodies will be there.
By saying that a decision to accept Jesus is the only way to God and Heaven, and that sins such as I gave above will not keep you out of Heaven, It goes without saying, I think, that anyone who commits sins such as these, does not know God. It is not a matter of legalism, it is a matter of the heart.
If you have repented for wanting to live life your way, and received God’s forgiveness, your heart will desire to please Him in all areas of your life. We will always sin as long as we live here on earth. But, the sins of a person being led by the Holy Spirit will be less of commission and more of omission or ignorance of God’s ways; hence the need to learn and grow in the wisdom and knowledge of God.
Those of you who know the Lord have hopefully found my story entertaining and informative. If you are a student of the Bible, you know that I have taken some liberties with the Biblical narrative. Forgive me if that offends you. I have done so to make a point. The point being that God is at work in our lives from the time of our birth until we come ‘Home”. God loves us, oh how He loves us! May we be overwhelmed by the love that He has for us and choose to worship Him as did Mary of Bethany. He who is forgiven much, loves much. Amen!