Excerpts from “Redemption’s Road”

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Chapter 18

Mary followed the silence in the streets until it ran into rambunctious cacophony near the outskirts of the city. She knew instinctively this was where they were. The whole town at large. That was the kind of crowd that always surrounded Jesus. He had to pull himself away from people, because humanity itself was drawn to him. And even though the faces and the needs that surrounded him changed, he was always surrounded when in public. Mary knew she had found the house of Simon the Pharisee.

She moved slowly, unnoticed, through the people pressing into the open doorway. She was small and, with little effort, managed not to make waves as she skirted the outer wall and slid into the house. All eyes were straining to catch a glimpse of Jesus, therefore no one noticed the beautiful, olive-skinned woman with piercing golden eyes slip past one after another to scoot closer to the right side of the table, where Jesus sat at the right hand of Simon.

Standing with her back pressed against the wall, she hardly dared to breathe. She wondered how they all did not hear her heart pounding in her chest. She had no excuse for being there, and definitely no invitation. Her heart compelled her near him.

There was so much noise, so much conversation, so many things going on to draw their attention away from her. A servant rushed past her toward the kitchen, in a hurry to get more wine on the table. This meeting could last well into the night, and his master could not afford to stain his reputation as a host by dishonoring such a guest.

Mary closed her eyes and silently prayed that the servant did not recognize her. Thankfully, his eyes were full of apprehension, and could not grasp the memory of her.

Exhaling silently, she inched her way closer to the table, trying harder and harder to not bring attention to herself. How in the world had she ever come this far, she wondered.

She looked around the room at the others. Men surrounded the table, lounging over chairs, on rugs, in the dirt. Every one riveted to the conversation at hand. Women, not commonly invited to dine with the men, were engaged in whispery conversations scattered along the edge of the room. So many distractions, so much to be thankful for.

Mary moved silently, unnoticed, toward Jesus. Her head was down and her fingers wrapped tightly around the gift she had brought for him. Determination moved her along the wall toward him, inch by inch.

The moment she came up directly behind him, bodies began shifting like the parting of the Red Sea her mother used to tell her about, and somehow, there was room for her to move nearer still. She said a silent prayer for courage and rushed to Jesus’ feet.

Shame swooped in to attack her, but fell back into Fear at Jesus’ penetrating gaze. He had noticed her. There was no way Shame and Fear could work against her now. But Disdain and Accusation were still standing sentinel near the homeowner. Satan had not altogether lost his moment.

The noise in the room tapered off into a terrifying silence as Mary Magdalene fell at Jesus’ feet, tears falling shamelessly. Years of anguish and torment found relief in that moment.

She kissed his feet. How could she express her love for him? She wept freely, removing the shroud that covered her head and letting her hair fall down her back.

The room let out one low, collective gasp. She hardly noticed. Jesus sat watching her as she cried, watching her as she began wiping the tears off of his dusty feet with her beautiful, clean hair. His human heart could hardly contain the joy and adoration. If only she knew how much he loved her.

The room erupted as she pulled out an expensive bottle of perfume. Whispers of excitement, of condemnation and resentment filled the air with noise and created a circle of intimacy around Jesus and Mary.  Only he could hear her groaning heart pour itself out at his feet.

Judas, driven to his feet in rage, furrowed his brow in consternation. How had she gotten in? Who let her through the door? How had no one noticed her before she got to Jesus? He pressed his jaw together firmly. The smell of perfume did nothing to assuage him. His hardened heart could not accept the glorious reality of what was happening at the other end of the table.

Bowing her head down, Mary kissed Jesus’ precious feet, then opened the bottle and poured out the perfume. The last thing of value she owned. Completely oblivious to the audience in the room, she lovingly rubbed the perfume into the calluses on his feet. She kissed his feet again, and again wiped them with her hair.

Tears of joy and deliverance poured from her, down her face, dripping onto his feet and then down onto the floor as Mary emptied herself of years of pain and shame. Jesus gazed down at her in love.

Simon couldn’t contain his indignation any longer. Judas had told him about this woman, and the recognition was immediate. A harlot, in his house! He stood abruptly and slammed his hand down on the table. This is exactly the thing Jesus would bring into his home! Hadn’t he known that?

“Jesus! She’s a whore! How could you let her touch you?!”

Jesus bent down, gently touched her chin to lift her face toward his. “I forgive you.”

Mary’s heart swelled and leapt. Her eyes reverberated a gleam they had not known since her youth. Joy filled her. Forgiveness crowned her while tears ran down her radiant face.

Jesus looked up and around the table. Mary lowered her eyes back to the floor, still embracing the hardened feet of the man who continually caressed her heart with his love.

“Simon, I have something to tell you,” Jesus said.

“Tell me, teacher,” Simon answered sarcastically.

All eyes moved from Mary to Jesus. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?”

“I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven,” answered Simon.

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. The he turned toward Mary and continued, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman has kissed my feet many times. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Jesus looked Mary in the eyes. A look that lifted her spirits from the pit of despair. “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Mary stood and turned, about to walk back out of the room when Judas announced with much hostility, “That perfume could have been sold, and the money given to the poor!”

Before Mary could even consider a response, Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them anytime you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Mary’s heart soared. Jesus had publicly exonerated her. She glanced up into his face and felt his smile impressed upon her soul. Turning again toward the door, she walked out through a parted crowd, no longer afraid or concerned about their opinions. Jesus had once again set her free.


Buy the book here! Don’t forget to review it on Amazon after you’ve read it! Thanks and God bless!

Chapter 26

A heaviness in her chest was suffocating Mary, and she woke up fighting to remove the burden. She sat up and gulped air desperately. While everyone around her slept peacefully, another fitful night assured she was awake again before dawn.

The room was stifling hot and very claustrophobic. Pulling her clothing on and grabbing her shawl, she left the house as quietly as she knew how. Before she knew it, she was walking the road toward Jerusalem, more out of habit than purpose.

She walked quickly, trying to escape the dread she felt and soon, she was in the garden of Gethsemane. It was such a comforting place. Jesus had taken them there often. Between the moon and the hint of sun on the horizon, there was just enough light for Mary to see the outline of familiar rocks and trees.

Perching on a large boulder, Mary inhaled a deep breath of fresh air. She hugged her knees to her chest and closed her eyes, taking in large droughts of air to satisfy the emptiness in her chest.

“Mary.”

Her eyes flew open and she jerked to see the person behind the voice. “Jesus! You frightened me!” she gasped.

“I’m sorry,” he said, sincerely.

“What are you doing here?” Mary asked.

“I come to the garden alone often,” Jesus told her. “It’s peaceful here, and I needed to pray.” Looking at her curiously, he asked, “What are you doing here?”

Mary looked up at the sky and sighed, “Waiting for the sun.”

Jesus leaned against the rock she was sitting on. “Here I am,” he said teasingly. Mary giggled and shoved his shoulder playfully. “Not you,” she said. “That.”

Pointing to the bright orange hue peeking out in the east, she explained, “It’s my favorite time of day. It beckons me.”

Jesus looked off toward the east and asked, “What do you find so captivating there?”

Mary pondered his question before answering. She felt like a little girl again, about to say something silly. She rested her cheek on her knees with her face toward him.

“All night long, darkness prevails. Until right now. The threat of light begins to rise in the east, and right before your eyes, darkness runs away and the sun rules the day.”

She threw up her hands in celebration for the sun’s victory. Jesus watched her with fascination. “Wow. That’s deep.”

Mary appreciated that he was not making fun of her.  She had told him something so personal and he had taken her seriously.

“Jesus, can I tell you something?”

“Mm hmm,” Jesus said.

“You’ve been talking about things lately that I find a little … unnerving,” Mary said.

Jesus contemplated her words. “Me too,” he said softly.

“I’m scared,” Mary whimpered.

“Me too.”

“Why do you keep saying you have to die?” Mary stammered.

Jesus shifted to face Mary. “God loves the world so much, Mary, that he sent me, his only son, to defeat Satan and offer eternal life to anyone who will believe in me,” he explained. “When I die, my blood will become the sin offering that no offering before could satisfy. So deep is the need of mankind. So binding is the contract between man and Satan. I will die for you, Mary. And pay a ransom with my life, so that I can have you in eternity.”

“Me?” Mary asked.

“As many as will believe in me.”

“How can you do it?” Mary asked desperately.

The pain showed clearly on Jesus’ face when he answered, “The spirit in me is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

His voice broke under a potent wave of emotion. “I have prayed ‘Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from me.’ I have agonized over it. I am struggling to carry this mantle my Father has placed on me. But imagine the victory, Mary.”

Jesus’ eyes were wide with an expression of joy. “Imagine when sin and death can no longer threaten the lives of God’s people. Imagine freedom, Mary!” Jesus clasped her hands in his own. “I will give that to you.”

She didn’t know how to respond to him. She had no idea what to say. Those things sounded so wonderful. And so did having him forever. But the cost! Oh the cost!

“They’re going to kill you?” she asked weakly.

“They are not taking my life. I am laying it down willingly,” Jesus told her. “But I have the authority to take it back up again. And I will rise, Mary.”

With nothing left to say, Jesus leaned into the rock Mary was perched on and together, they watched the sunrise. It was one of the only things Mary could always be certain of. The sunrise. Her life had always been so chaotic and unpredictable. The sunrise was often her only comfort. The only stability she knew. The sun would always rise. As she watched it next to him, Jesus’ words echoed in her spirit, “I will rise, Mary.”

Buy the book here! Don’t forget to review it on Amazon after you’ve read it! Thanks and God bless!

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