In the council meeting on Thursday, Simon’s resolve grew stronger. He’d always nursed the thought in his heart, that this Jesus could be the real deal, and if he was but another fake prophet and rabbi, he deserved to be heard at the very best. To be investigated. He rapidly tapped his left foot against the ground as excitement filled him.
It was the forbidden fruit all over again – restricted areas always have awoken the greatest curiosity. His sister, Ruth, would prepare a befitting meal and Jesus would stop over at his place before leaving Nain, he had it all figured out.
Delighted, he was tempted to laugh aloud but restrained himself. Supressing his glee, he tuned in once again to the discussion at hand, the Pharisees council of Nain always had been such a heated group of people for a small village 32km southwest of Capernaum.
”…he just wants the crowd!” Someone was saying
”and oh are they following him. Jesus of Nazareth” another scoffed.
”he supports the baptizer, John! And openly claimed he would eat, drink and be a friend to the tax collectors. Tax collectors! What kind of teacher of the law speaks in that manner?”
Simon couldn’t stop himself from venturing the other side, ”but haven’t you heard he healed the widow’s son as they all left the village mourning. Surely the man is worth knowing-”
”we have known ENOUGH. I heard all he had to say once he made mention of John. Surely this one also thinks he is the messiah. Woe betide us, all men are now the chosen one of David’s race, all men are now the messiah”
And the murmurs of discontent increased.
Food had been passed and wine served. The meal was nearing completion and Jesus seemed in good spirits. Simon’s alert eyes had noticed his every move, down to the very first fact that his disciples ate without a thorough washing. He stored each detail in mind ready to tell the others. Surely, this man was a prophet, speaking boldly the truth contained in the law.
A pleasant smell filled Simon’s nostrils. In the cacophony of noises as Bartholomew told a story and the men laughed, Simon knew when the masculine smell was infiltrated by a fragrance; a fragrance as appealing as it was disturbing for reasons he couldn’t place his hand on yet, – a forbidden fragrance. Alarmed, he looked up just in time to see the sinner.
He almost swore. In his house!
Almost at once, the male-dominated crowd quietened and most eyes fell on the woman while the remainder fell on him – passing a message, ”do something.”
But Simon remained rooted on the floor where he sat. He was bewildered that such a sinner woman had even braved entering uninvited in the first place.
Simon’s eyes popped wide as she fell at Jesus’ feet. Her cream coloured cloth lifted with the wind and settled after her as she crouched behind Jesus.
Holy indignation filled Simon. Didn’t Jesus care what he and others thought of him? Didn’t Jesus know that he, Simon, was the only Pharisee to have extended him a warm hand in Nain, and he dared act like a sinner with this woman, this infidel!
His pulse throbbed and he gripped the end of the table cloth to rein in his anger.
The scent of fragrant perfume filled the house, as an alabaster box broke, it overpowered the combined smell of the food, masculinity and even her own fragrance that had previously filled the air.
The other men around the house stood to gain a clearer picture, some gasping.
Her heavy sobs pierced the silence. Each sound of the sob fuelled the inferno burning in Simon, no prostitute or beggar or tax collector had stepped foot in his house right since he’d lived there and in the one day this Jesus came, his house became unclean with this terrible sinner.
He couldn’t help the regret that gnawed at him, he’d been forewarned, Jesus was nothing but an impostor, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Surely a prophet would’ve known what sort of woman touched him; even a beggar would’ve known!
Jesus, hearing Simon’s thoughts as clear as day, chose to speak with him. In the many pairs of eyes that followed him, Jesus knew exactly where to look. His eyes found Simon’s and with a levelled gave he spoke. ”Simon,’‘
”Teacher.” teacher. That word still befitted the man for reasons Simon couldn’t place. The fire burning in him began to die and Simon knew he needed to keep that anger.
”I have something to tell you.’‘ Jesus said and Simon nodded.
“A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of the men could repay him after. The man was kind enough to cancel their debts. Now who do you think will love him the most?”
Simon didn’t need to think hard, his heart fluttered and he felt a sinking in the pit of his stomach. Shame took hold of where anger had been. ”I suppose the one who had been forgiven the largest debt”
Whatever stone had sank was lodged there at the pit of his stomach and for the first time in many years, Simon knew he wasn’t as pure as he’d always thought.
“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet,’‘ Rejection wrapped round Simon, Jesus was right. The night air became cold, all laughter and feasting from earlier on, forgotten. Of course, it was proper custom to offer guests water for washing their feet. He hadn’t been after honouring Jesus at all, so he neglected that.
”… but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet.”
Simon broke inside. He saw for the first time what he had never seen in his many years of being a Pharisee, in his years of laying heavy rules on people while priding in his own obedience to the law. Light shone and he saw himself for who he really was.
” …You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins—and yes, they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
Turning to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”
But Simon looking at Jesus now thought in his contrite heart, ”forgive me my 500-silver-coin-worth of many sins Lord. I need to love you more for I am a sinful man”.
A person who believes they haven’t sinned like the cultist has, is rarely ever repentant. Like Simon, they skip the real details of honour, they forget to wash and annoint his feet.
You only love him to the degree you’ve come to realize your former depravity and the magnitude of his love and grace in forgiving you.
”some people tell me I take this Jesus thing a little too seriously, I tell them, I guess he took me pretty seriously when he chose to be nailed to a cross for me’‘
The lyrics of a certain song goes thus ‘‘why should I care what people say? They don’t know what you mean to me”. You can lavish your love on Jesus when you understand the great depths he went to save you; when you realize you’re the one who owed a employee’s daily wage for 500days and deserved to be locked in utter darkness but he forgave you.
*P.S: The events of this story could have taken place at Capernaum and not Nain. Commentators are not sure where this event took place.
P.S.S: if you liked this post, you may like this on the violent storm too.
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