Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” (John 8:1-11 NABRE)
Just before this happened, a woman named Mary lay on a mat, in the corner of a house, the weight of the man on top of her, feeling him, as she had felt others before him. As usual her mind drifted, always trying to understand how this could happen to her. How had it come to this, how could she be such a woman, especially in Jerusalem, the holy city. She was naked with a stranger. But what else could she do? She is a long way from the life she thought she would be living. All her choices taken away. Truly she was a demon women, someone God did not love, someone God had no time to help. Although she grew up in a good Jewish home, always followed the law and always kept holy, she must be demon filled, a sinner, outcast and she had become no more than a common whore. So what else could she do but become a sinner to survive. For a women without a man in her life there was no choice other than walking off in the desert to die.
Just a months ago everything was different. She was married to Seth’s for almost two years, a farmer, trying to start a family and counting her blessings. She and her husband were happy together. She felt lucky to be married, lucky to have a man and his family who loved her and had taken her in. She felt blessed and could not believe God had taken such good care of her.
Even this was a surprise, as she was raised by her uncle and his wife, who had nothing to offer in a marriage promise. She never particularly felt like she was to be married. But it was okay, she loved being a midwife to the woman of the village and helping with their babies, and she also took care of their some of their personal needs, especially hair care. She would fish with her cousins off the shore, the sea providing their meals. She liked helping and never really thought of herself as a wife, she was alone most of her life. So it was a surprise when her uncle Jacob told her Seth from another village wanted to come to a meal and hoped he would have a chance to meet her. She knew what this meant and was nervous and caught off guard. How did he even know her? Uncle Jacob told her that Seth had seen her working and caring for others and like her way. He said, “Mary, you are a fine woman and others can see this in you.” She blushed at her uncle’s candid comment and wondered what he would have said to Seth. She never heard anything like this before. Her uncle and aunt were good people but they were busy, and now that Mary was older she was left more on her own.
The wedding was wonderful, Mary didn’t think she could be so happy. It was small without much money. But still for Mary it was unexpected and so extraordinary. Life was good, Until it wasn’t.
It was after their marriage and their attempts at starting a family that seemed to turn her good fortune bad. She began to worry God had abandoned her. It had been almost two years of trying and still she could not become pregnant. She prayed to God, begging to put a baby inside her. But her prayers went unanswered. In this area of her life she was most uncomfortable, she never was fully comfortable with herself as a woman, she was the first to wonder if she was demon possessed. A sinner not favored by God. Seth was growing impatient, it was the only thing they discussed any more, it always turned to an argument.
It wasn’t easy to argue because they continued to live in Seth’s family home. They shared the home with Seth’s parents and his seven younger brothers. They all knew she could not have a baby and this added pressure didn’t help Mary get comfortable at night with Seth. She was always on edge. They lived in a village off the western shore of the Sea of Galilee on the outskirts of Tiberius. Living with his parents was supposed to be temporary. Seth continued to work on the farm with his father and his brothers.
Seth’s father Ben promised they could build their own home on the farm as soon as Mary was with child. They could continue to work on the farm and build a small home. It was a promising future for Seth and Mary, but one she knew was in jeopardy as the months passed without her bearing a child. They tried and tired almost beyond their capacity to be alone and still she could not get pregnant. Seth got angrier each month that passed without a child growing insider her. Mary knew she would be blamed and feared she be expelled if she did not give her husband a child. Somehow she knew, it was her who could not produce, she felt she was demon possessed. To try and save herself she suggested maybe somehow Seth couldn’t place a child in her.
Her attempt to save herself backfired. Seth had been thinking perhaps there was something in him that kept a baby from them. Seth suggested his brothers lay with his wife, surely one of them could place a baby inside his wife. It was not an unusual request, having children was very important to the head of house. Night after night Mary would be joined by a brother and would lay praying to God this would work. Certain nights even Seth’s father would come and lay with her, certainly his seed could produce a child. After several months of trying it was clear to the entire family that she was barren. She brought shame on their family and herself.
Seth was the eldest son and was dishonored not having a son of his own after two years of marriage. He didn’t want to make his failure a public scandal and so moved Mary in with the servants, she could serve with the other slaves in caring for the animals. Eventually, Seth did serve her with a bill of divorce and began to search for a new wife.
Mary’s shame was complete. She was able to stay on as their a servant but would receive no special treatment. Those on the farm and surrounding area came to see her as an evil woman, demon possessed and easy to disregard, the lady of the house now no better than a common slave. Everyone new she had slept with all the members of the family. In fact when the brothers wished they would still come and lay with her, she could do nothing to refuse them. She felt nothing from their use of her, she hoped it ended quickly. There was no happiness in her life because of the humiliation of not being a useful woman. In fact her unhappiness grew day after day. She thought of returning to the home of her uncle but she was too ashamed. She just wanted to go somewhere she was not known.
Life for Mary became more and more sad. Even the other servants looked at her with disgust and fear. She would eat alone and be by herself most of the day. The only time she was not alone was when one of the men wanted to use her for his pleasure. She would take their use as one of her duties, she would try to think of happier times but these memories were harder and harder to conjure up. She knew God had abandoned her, and she was the possession of a demon. The God of her ancestors would never let her be so abused and used if he had truly been with her. She longed for the days when she was midwife to the ladies of her village, combing out their hair, listening to their stories of children being so much work. Had she never agreed to a meal with Seth she would still be living with her uncle and aunt, fishing with her cousins, a life so much better than what she endured now. But she was stuck, and knew there was nothing she could do to change her destiny.
Festival of Booths
The time had come for the Festival of Booths in the holy city. It was the last major festival of the year. It is a week-long celebration where God wants the Hebrew people to observe the festival by living in temporary shelters for seven days as a reminder of the time when their ancestors were in the wilderness. God provided them booths (tents) to dwell in. Mary had never traveled to the Jerusalem to join in any of the major festivals. But she saw caravans of people leaving and passing on their way. She wondered if she could sneak along, perhaps serving and make her way to the festival. She could start new in a big city like Jerusalem and her fortune might change. Perhaps she could find a holy priest at the temple who could exercise her demons. She knew she would be a woman alone, but life could be no worse. Her hopelessness forced her decision, she would try to join a caravan that passed.
A few days later, quite spontaneously she joined a caravan that had traveled from Magdala, a town north of Tiberius off the western shore of Sea of Galilee. She was sure she knew no one from that town and she could offer her services as payment for passage.
Her clothing was tattered and she looked as though she slept outdoors. With nothing to offer but service she was looked down upon by those in the caravan, more a slave than a servant. There were many in the caravan as the feast required attending for the men of age in the Hebrew community. She joined outside of Tiberius and it would be almost three days journey before they would arrive in Jerusalem. She was ignored and dismissed as if she didn’t exist.
She walked along with the other slaves and began feeling more and more like a slave. Someone abandoned and left alone having no rights or freedoms. She has been losing things her entire life, first her parents when she was young. She also remembered a sister and brother who were left behind when she was taken away to live with her uncle and aunt. She had heard they were taken to live with another family member who lived near Jerusalem. She had never been in touch with them so it would not be possible for her to ever be able to find them. Now she even lost her uncle, aunt and cousins because of the curse of an empty womb, no doubt created by the demon who possessed her.
She couldn’t blame her husband for leaving her, he needed a wife that could bring children into his life. His family depended on him to continue their inheritance. A wife with a barren womb was not a wife for a man. This thinking made her accept her worthlessness. Perhaps it would be better to walk off into the desert and let the Lord who she believed had abandoned her take back his spirit so it would not be wasted on her.
Along the journey she did what she could to be useful. At night she would take care of the animals, bring feed and water. She would help with the meal, serving the men and cleaning up after all had eaten. She would take some of the scraps from the plates and anything that would not be given to the animals. She helped milked goats and cleaned up after. She was a good servant and she wanted to prove that they made the right decision bring her along. But no matter, she was still looked down upon, even the animals where treated better than her. At night she would sleep near the other servants, close enough that she would feel safe but not too close as to intrude.
On the second day one of the servant girls, Esther asked her about her plans when she arrived in the holy city. Esther explained how the city would be overrun with people and everything cost money, there was no trading service for food in Jerusalem. Mary remarked that she had served as a mid-wife and could provide help with new mothers. Esther doubted there would be much need in Jerusalem, all the pregnant women would stay home from the festival. Esther shared there are usually jobs available in the temple as cook, pastry maker, spinner or other menial tasks, jobs that went to the lower class or slaves. But these jobs were not easy to come, usually you had to know someone in the temple or be willing to serve as their whore.
Mary hadn’t thought about where to stay or how to find meals. Asking Esther if there was someplace she could sleep or stay to be safe, Esther gave her an odd look. Esther knew if Mary was not careful she would easily be traded or sold into slavery, there were many visitors and outsiders in Jerusalem during the festivals. Esther warned Mary and told her to be careful, not everyone could be trusted. The wives will hate you because you don’t have a husband and will see you as a whore, the men will see you as someone to be taken advantage of and abused, and mercenaries will see you for your strong back and chance to make them some money being sold to a rich farmer or trader after the festival.
Almost jokingly Esther said, the only ones I would trust are the prostitutes, they will have empathy for your situation and won’t want to take advantage of you. Mary asked where she can find them once they arrive in Jerusalem. Esther smiled and told her usually they are somewhere in front of the Beautiful Gate of the temple in the Court of the Gentiles. Mary wondered how Esther knew so much about Mary’s circumstances. As if she could read Mary’s mind, Esther said, I was like you, alone in Jerusalem, it is how I was sold into servant-hood. Jerusalem is no place for a woman alone.
Mary thanked Esther for her assistance remarking she was the first one kind to her in a very long time. Esther warned Mary to be careful, the prostitutes are stubborn and have no regrets for what they do, they have seen what the “good men” of Jerusalem are really like. There concern is always for themselves, they are real survivors.
That evening Mary again did all she could to prove her worth. Taking care of the animals, bringing water, cleaning up after the cooking. But her efforts again went unnoticed. She watched Esther as she served, she had a good relationship with the men of the caravan, and Mary wondered what else she had to do for her bosses, she never looked happy. Mary was running away from the life of a servant, would she end up just like Esther anyway. A servant for a wealthy family, at their beck and call, never free to do as she pleased. Mary thought if God would listen to her she would pray for a different outcome, she would ask God if she could once again be respected, even though she did not deserve it.
The next day they approached the city. Mary could see that Esther was right, many people were filling the road to the city from the north, the crowds were so large it was difficult to walk. As they all merged together Mary lost touch with the caravan she travel led with to this point. She looked for a familiar face and there was none. Her fear and anxiety jumped several levels. She had never been in such a crowd and with no resources she was sure to be consumed by the activity and swept up into some life she knew would be hard and demanding. She decided immediately to seek out the prostitutes hoping they would help her. It never occurred to her that she would have to become one of them, it is not what she wanted, she hoped maybe she could serve them, take care of their needs as they went about the business of pleasing for money. Her training as a mid-wife could be useful in serving these women.
The city was buzzing. Tents were everywhere, on the streets, on rooftops, in the squares, and there were more people than Mary thought she would see in her life time. There was hardly any room to walk in the streets, but Mary new she wanted to get to the temple, the Court of the Gentiles somewhere near the Beautiful Gate hoping to make a friend. It seemed unconscionable to her that she would befriend prostitutes but when you think you need something to save your life you will do almost anything to have it. She walked the streets most of the afternoon finally arriving at the temple. She entered the Court of the Gentiles, and began to realize there were very few woman inside the temple walls. She was getting many looks and stares. The vendors wanted to know her business and why she would dare to come into the temple walls, a single woman on her own and with no veil to cover her face.When you think you need something to save your life you will do almost anything to have it. Click To Tweet
Mary, could see those eyeing her and she felt quite vulnerable. They could tell she was alone, her clothing was dirty and in tatters, she was obviously not a person of means. In fact her clothing hadn’t been washed in many days and her hair was dirty and tangled. She left in such a hurry she had nothing for cleaning or grooming. The looks she was receiving scared her and she really felt what Esther tried to warn her about, how it was possible to be swept up by a mercenary, taken advantage of and used. She tried to find a place where she could be inconspicuous and watch for someone to trust at the same time.
Court of the Gentiles
Mary made her way through the Court of the Gentiles near the Beautiful Gate. It too was completely filled with vendors and booths selling temple goods, animals for sacrifice, money-changers and others. With so many people she thought it would be easy to hide, but somehow she felt like she stood out, the mercenaries kept watching her. She could not find a place where should could just watch for women working.
She moved around, standing near the wall of the court, she could see men approaching women and speaking to them. The women did not have veils either so she thought maybe they were married. But different men approached the same woman. Every once in a while the woman would walk off with the man, only to return to the same area later. These women must have been the prostitutes that Esther had spoken about. Mary watched to see if there was a chance to speak with one of them privately. She needed to take care, she too was getting approached and asked to go outside the temple walls for a while. If she had a veil she could cover herself and they would think she was an unmarried or a virgin and would leave her alone.
Mary noticed one of the woman, older who didn’t leave the courtyard at all. If she was approached she would call out to one of the other women and they would speak with the man. Mary wondered if she was someone who could be trusted, someone who could point Mary toward help. Mary also noticed that the ornately dress men approached these women, in fact most of the men in the courtyard looked either like a holy man or temple guard or one of the vendors. Mary didn’t see any farmers, or any people that looked like the simple town people she traveled with on this side of the courtyard near The Beautiful Gate. She knew prostitution was tolerated but here it seemed accepted. As if the men expected these women to be here, in fact they depended upon them.
Mary began to move toward the older woman, the one who never left the courtyard. As she approached she said, “Hello, I am Mary.”
The woman looked at her, from toe to head and back and turned to walk away.
Mary pushed closer and said. “Please, may I speak to you?”
The woman turned and said, “What do you want to say. That you are a woman alone in a big city, run away from your home because you were treated badly. You now have no way to survive and you are ready to just walk out in the desert to die if someone won’t help you? Well, I won’t so go take a walk.”
Mary stood in unbelief this woman knew her story. She had discerned so much about Mary just from one look. And she did not care about Mary at all.
The woman continued, “Do you think you are the first abandoned woman sent here by some servant girl thinking making money laying on her back is better than being a slave on some rich estate? I tell you, you will be better off with the farmer you have run from than being a whore here in Jerusalem.” The woman walked off. Mary stunned just stood desperate to think of something she could do, some next step.
Mary walked off and out of the temple. She passed other women returning from outside the temple, certain she had seen them walk off with men. She could tell they were tired but she also knew they had money, a place to sleep and eat. She did wonder if it was something she could do. Perhaps the strange woman was right, she was better as slave than a whore.
Outside the temple Mary stayed in the market plaza, she wondered if she could beg for something to eat, but already the entrances were filled with lame begging. Why would anyone help her, she was at least capable of serving somewhere? It was getting dark and Mary watched as people started fires and knew they would be celebrating all night long. She didn’t even know where she could go to sleep alone and be safe. She stayed near the Triple Gates of the temple, watching, hoping to see something that would help her. Maybe she could ask one of the prostitutes for help if she caught one leaving the temple.
As the night wore on Mary did see the same woman she had spoken to leave the temple and start walking down the street toward the Lower City. Not sure what to do Mary followed her. The further from the temple they walked the less people there were out on the street, even the temporary booths in this part of the city were empty, used for meals only, the families moved into their homes with the doors closed for the night. Finally, the woman from the temple arrived at a small stone house. She knocked and walked in closing the door behind her. Now alone Mary did not feel safe at all. So she knocked.
The woman opened the door immediately as if she expected Mary’s knock. She stared into Mary’s eyes which were pleading for help. Mary asked, “Is it possible to sleep with you tonight, I promise to leave early in the morning.”
The women stepped out of the way, and let Mary pass. Inside the house was another older woman and a young boy. The woman introduced herself, “I am Rahab, this is my son Jonathan and my mother Mara. Mom, this is Mary. She was hoping to spend the night to rest.” Both Mara and Jonathan welcomed Mary. It was the first time she felt noticed in months. It was also the first time she felt safe. Rahab put out a dish of food taken from the pot in the fireplace, along with some bread, offering it to Mary who she presumed was hungry. Mary didn’t realize how hungry she was until the first of the food touched her lips, consuming it nonstop while Rahab put a dish out for herself.
As it was very late Jonathan and Mara rolled out their mats on the dirt floor and laid down to sleep. They extinguished all the candles except the one on the low table where the two woman ate. Finally Rahab asked Mary about herself, where she was from, why she was here and what made her think she could survive in Jerusalem. Mary told her story as they ate ending with she wasn’t sure what she could do to survive in Jerusalem, but she knew it was her last hope.
As Rahab listened she remembered her own desperate story of being without a husband and remaining with her mother and father. But after her father died and it was just the two woman she knew things would get desperate. It was then she turned to prostitution at the temple, using the money to keep the small home of their family and help her mom with food and other things needed. It was a meager existence and she spent far too much time soliciting at the temple. But like others, including Mary here before her, there really wasn’t anything else she felt she could offer that would let her survive on her own.
Eventually Rahab became pregnant, and had Jonathan. She was disgraced being a woman alone and pregnant and eventually the people in her part of the city understood what she was doing every day at the temple. She was treated like an outcast, but fought to stay in their house. It was a few men who were close to her father that stepped in to speak for this unusual family and so they were able to stay.
Rahab had not aged well and these days was not desired by the men willing to pay for her services. So she acted more in the role of a madam for the others. She would work with the temple leadership so they could have protection and she would be sure the girls were safe, not being gone too long or going off with someone who would get violent or not pay. Rahab had a sense about people and she would turn away anyone who seemed like trouble. For her help the others would give her money. Rahab felt lucky she could keep doing the work at the temple, if she couldn’t, she had no idea where they would go.
It was as the madam that she had changed her mind about Mary. A Captain of the Temple guard approached her in the afternoon after she spoke to Mary. They needed one of Rahab’s ladies for a special client. They had something planned and would need her at a moment’s notice. They wanted to know if Rahab could provide them someone. Rahab immediately thought of Mary. She knew anything involving the Temple Guard included the leadership of the temple and it was very likely to be debilitating to one of her girls to do as they wanted. She tried to keep her girls from the politics of the temple. Mary came to mind, perhaps she could do what was needed. Rahab knew saying no to the captain would only bring harassment and probably expulsion, so she figure she better try to make it work with Mary.
Rahab began to tell Mary a little about herself and her role as madam. She looked Mary in the eye and asked directly, “Do you think you could let yourself be used by men for money? It is not glamorous or exciting and in fact it won’t be fun for you at all. But you will have money and could at least pay for a room and some meals.”
Mary thought about this question, and remembered all those times when Seth’s brothers laid with her, treating her like an object, something to be used and ignored. She remembered she would always go on a trip in her mind to her uncle’s house, fishing with her cousins, waiting for it to be over. Mary told Rahab, she could definitely put up with it and she explained her humiliation at the hands of the farmer and his sons as a test for her infertility.
Rahab responded, “Ok. In the morning we will get you bathed, wash your tunic and cloak. You can come with me to the temple. When I have someone for you, I will let you know.” She explained they would wait for a very special first client, someone who would be easy to satisfy and gentle. Rehab explained if everything worked out for her, she could do it more and more. In the meantime Mary could stay with Rahab and Mara. Rahab explained that the city would be crazy over the next week with the festival beginning tomorrow, but afterwards the city would quiet down, at least until the next feast. The festival’s where very lucrative for a prostitute who was willing to work hard.
Rahab left out that her first client would be at the prompting of a Captain of the Temple Guard and would likely lead to something bigger than an encounter with a single man. In truthfulness Rahab had no idea what would happen, but she did have a feeling it could be Mary’s first and last attempt at prostitution.
Rahab gave Mary a mat that she rolled out near the fire. Mary’s sleep came quickly. Being with Rahab made her feel safe, and she didn’t feel alone any longer. She really wasn’t too sure about their plan, but Mary had no other choice. She had no idea as a woman alone how she could survive. Without the aid of Rahab she would be desperate even just to sleep soundly this first night in Jerusalem. If she wasn’t sure about going forward with this plan, she was sure she didn’t have a choice.
The next few days were eye opening for Mary. She would travel with Rahab to the Court of the Gentiles, and she noticed while with Rahab all those stares and uncomfortable looks had gone away. She got familiar with the routine. She gained a new respect for Rahab’s ability to judge people and to keep her girls safe. She also noticed how certain of the vendors would step in and help when Rahab required. Everything about what they were doing ran very smoothly and away from any obvious observation. Rahab worked hard to keep things quiet and moving quickly. Mary never did see money exchanged.
Mary for herself was becoming anxious. They were entering the fifth day of the festival and still Rahab had not connected her with anyone. Rahab told her to be patient, she would know when the right man was available. But Mary began to doubt Rahab’s kindness for her. She couldn’t quite figure it out but it seemed like there was something unsavory about Rahab’s intentions. She didn’t introduce Mary to the other girls, nor any of the vendors that Rahab seem to depend upon. Rahab would speak often with the temple guards and she would never tell Mary what their discussions were about. Overall Rehab didn’t seem to be very forthcoming when it came to their plan.
Then finally the morning of the sixth day of the festival, Rahab introduced Mary to a man. She said his name was John and that he would lead her to where they could be together. Mary’s heart began to pound and she thought she would lose her balance. John told her to meet him outside by the market and he would lead her.
After connecting again in the market John led Mary to a small stone house down a small street from the temple. When they got inside he didn’t make any small talk, he just rolled out a mat on the floor. He asked Mary to remove her cloak and tunic and watched as she removed both. She felt ashamed standing there in her inner garment, it resembled a sleeveless tee shirt that went to her knees made of soft wool. She hadn’t been naked like this in front of a man since before her divorce from Seth. When his brothers used her they just lifted her tunic and finished quickly. John looked at her but didn’t seem to notice her, as if he was looking through her. He didn’t undress himself. He pushed her to the mat and climbed on top of her. She began to return to those memories of Seth and his brothers climbing on her for the same purpose as John. She wasn’t a human, she existed for the pleasure of the one on top of her. John raised his tunic and pushed her legs apart. Mary closed her eyes as her thoughts began to wonder how she happen to be here, how she became nothing.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the crashing open of the door. In came the Captain of the Temple Guard, along with other men she had seen at the temple. Some dressed ornately, others seemed like simple towns men, all looking at her and accusing her of adultery. Pointing and shouting this woman is a sinner. She must be condemned. Mary didn’t understand what was happening. Hadn’t Rehab made sure she was ok? She didn’t even know John let alone know he was married. They came and grabbed her. She was pulled from the house and back toward the temple, dressed only in her inner garment. A crowd began to follow. People excited and enthusiastic to see what would happen to this prostitute and sinner.
As they neared the temple she looked back to see John, he was talking to the Captain of the Guard. Why wasn’t he being dragged along? In fact she thought she saw the captain give him some money. She was so disorientated she wasn’t sure she could trust her eyes. Especially now, tears were streaming. Her embarrassment for being naked in public was secondary, she tried to imagine what they could do to her, she wasn’t aware of the law about adultery and didn’t know the punishment.
She was a mess and had no understanding where they were taking her. But when they dragged her into the Court of the Gentiles, she saw Rahab and called to her. Rahab looked, turned and walked away. She shouted, “Tell them I am not a sinner, tell them.” But Rahab never looked at her again.
The crowd had grown, it was all men. The few women she had seen dropped off. They were dragging her near Solomon’s Portico. It was a place where teachers and students met. They arrived in front of a man who looked like a teacher. He was speaking to his disciples. They threw her near the man and began talking to him. She thought he must be someone of some importance.
She heard them say, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” The words stayed with her, “Stone her.” It was all Mary could think about for the next few moments. Mary, had come all this way to be stoned to death by these temple leaders. She was sure now some where priests and others guards, most in the temple as followers of the law. She prepared herself to die.
She had been terrified to this point. No one loved her. Even God had abandoned her. People didn’t even see her, she was nothing. She thought she should pray but God had long ago left her. She should beg for mercy but she knew that would do no good. The law was everything for these men, she meant nothing to any of them. She looked at the mob, they all had stones in their hands. Soon those stones would be thrown at her.
Then something unusual happened, the one they called teacher said something and one by one the men began to turn and leave, dropping their stones where they had stood. Almost instantly the entire mob had dissipated, leaving behind stones in their place. Mary didn’t understand it. The man they had brought her to was kneeling and looking to the ground. She did not know what to do.
Jesus stood and looked into her eyes. He saw her. Mary had never been looked at as he was doing now. She bowed her head in shame and he touched her, raising her chin so she had to look at him. He asked her, has no one condemned you? She nodded no, she did not understand. He said I do not condemn you either. Then he told her to go, but sin no more. She was surprised, he believed she was a sinner but still he would not condemn her. She wondered who he was and as she began to ask he took her hands and stood her up. In that moment she was sure the demon in her fled and she felt more joy and happiness than she had ever felt in her life. She looked again into his eyes as he looked at her. She was someone to him. She felt like someone. In fact the way he looked at her and protected her, she felt she was someone very important to him.
With that another man named John, came and gave her his cloak. She remembered she was naked and became embarrassed. But the men with this teacher didn’t seem to look down on her. They helped her wrap the cloak around her, and even gave her some bread and a little taste of wine. The teacher began to walk away and the men, his disciples, followed. Mary didn’t decide to follow him, she just did.
They passed the Captain of the Temple Guard and other men who moments ago where ready to stone her but she held no ill will toward them. She saw Rahab off in the distance, looking at her with obvious surprise and Mary just smiled. She knew now that Rahab had been a part of something to set her up, but she couldn’t be mad, she somehow loved her, probably for the first time. She hoped all would be well with her and her family.
Mary followed these men outside the walls of the city where they had a small camp. There were others there, men, woman and children who welcomed her and made her feel important. They found a new tunic for her and a cloak of her own, also a veil she could wear as an unmarried woman. They were used to Jesus touching others who would immediately begin to follow him. In fact many in the camp joined in the same way.
Mary stayed with them until after his death and resurrection. She heard Jesus speak many times. He spoke about his Father, he talked of love and forgiveness, he even healed and chased demons from many. She discovered what it meant to be loved and to love. She would talk about Jesus to anyone she met. Although there were times when her talk was met with insults and persecution she never again felt abandoned or lost. She would never stop telling about the man of love. Her encounter with Jesus in the temple that day began a movement in her that would change her eternally.She would never stop telling about the man of love. Her encounter with Jesus in the temple that day began a movement in her that would change her eternally. Click To Tweet