"Yes, I am Simon of Cyrene and I've come from far away and have traveled for a long long time. Can you tell me where I can find Jesus?"
"Well... why do you want to see him?" she said and took a step toward the door.
"Oh, do not fear. I have met his disciples in the desert. Even before that I've heard of him. I even met a man whose brother knew him in Egypt as a child. Oh, please, please, I must see him!"
She stood gazing at him. She seemed to analyze every feature of his face, yet it was in kindness. Then she looked at the ground and softly said, "I'm sorry, very sorry, please forgive me, but we have all feared so much for him-come in, come in. I'm Mary." Then she looked down at the two children standing quietly by. "These are my two sons," Simon said. "Alexander and Rufus. Their father died and left them to me."
"Oh, Joy," she said and tenderly leaned over and kissed the two young sons. They dropped their heads but she grabbed them each by a hand and led them into the house. Inside they met Martha, the sister of Mary and just a bit older by a couple of years. They invited all the people with Simon into the house. The horses were taken to a nearby stable. They all had a good bath, then they sat down for a supper. It was a lovely meal, as they lounged on the cushions and ate together. It was almost like a banquet, and the amazing thing was everyone was treated the same. The attendants of Simon usually ate separately and the nurse for the children never ate with them, yet here all ate together as equals and the spirit was beyond Simon to describe. But one thing kept going through his mind-where was Jesus?-not another word had been said about him.
After supper the women began to show the people to their places to sleep. Mary and Martha insisted on keeping the children with them for the night and said they could stay there as long as they were in Jerusalem. Simon agreed and told all his people that tomorrow they could go to the place in Jerusalem where he had a house and business friends and wait for him there. As everything seemed to settle down, Mary came in and sat down on a long couch. She leaned forward with big tears rolling down her cheeks and said, "They are plotting to kill Jesus, my Lord. They are out even now trying to find him! Oh, he is beautiful! He has been in this home so often. He has sat there, right where you are sitting and talked to me for hours. He is so peaceful, so powerful, so loving-if you ever see his eyes, you'll know he is the Lamb of God. He knows he is about to die! They have tried to kill him before but did not. He said, 'My time is not fulfilled'-but I believe it is now, and he knows it. I can see it in him. Death is at hand!" Tears flowed from her eyes as her long, lovely hair reaching down to her waist, brushed in her face.
"But," she continued, "he refuses an army. He is King, but his kingdom is not of this world. He has a different kind of army, one not of knives and swords, but of love, forgiveness and spiritual power. He shall die soon, he knows it, and he is ready. I know it."
"But if he is killed," said Simon in sober words, "what will happen? I had a dear friend named Beida. He was greedy, wicked and did not even believe in God. He met some men many years ago and they spoke of the Messiah, yet in the desert a long while back he died. I was with him and he said some Baba tribesmen explained about Jesus to him and he believed. It's true, that old wicked man had peace and believed he would see Jesus, he did not even fear-I saw him!"
"Oh, well this is something you must understand. I don't believe even his disciples understand it. Neither do I completely understand it myself but maybe better than anyone else except Lazarus, my brother."
"You mean the man that died?" Simon said and rose from the couch and began to walk about the room. "I've heard about it, but could not believe it."
"Yes, it's true. You see Jesus is very close to our family. We sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick but he did not come. After he died and was buried four days Jesus came and when told of the death of Lazarus whom he had spent so much time with, he wept! I saw him with my own eyes. Oh, he is so full of love. Martha had met him outside the city and he had sent for me. I fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'
He said, 'Where have you laid him? So we took him to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid in the entrance way. When we arrived Jesus ordered the stone removed but Martha protested and said that the body was already stinking by now, but Jesus ordered it any way, then he looked up to heaven and prayed to the Father. There was a big crowd around that had gathered with us at the home and had followed me to Jesus. Many were believers and others were not. Everyone was astonished but with tears flowing down his cheeks Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' His body began to move and stood straight up. His body was wrapped in grave clothes as is our custom and he was bound hand and foot. Jesus ordered him unwrapped and Lazarus was alive. He was simply aglow in the radiance of God's power. We all began to leap about, praising God, singing and worshipping Jesus. Many of the people repented and believed in Jesus. Oh, it was so glorious, so wonderful-it's absolutely true.
Now you see why I can't conceive of Jesus dying. Jesus said, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever believeth in me shall never die.' You see it all seems impossible to me for Jesus to die when he has the power over death! I don't understand it all but I know that Jesus is the Messiah and that he shall never die, nor shall we... I have faith in his words! Simon, I love Jesus. He is my Lord. I saved and saved and bought the most expensive alabaster box of precious ointment I could find. Then five days Jesus was here in Bethany at Simon the Leper's home. Martha prepared the dinner; the disciples were all present along with many more. Jesus still sitting at the meal.
I was thinking of his death to come because he had spoken of it. He had helped me so much. I am nothing without him, and as I saw him, I could withhold my expression of love no longer. I went into the room and got the ointment I had bought and rushed into the room. I was crying with tears of sadness at his coming death and joy at the life he had given me. I poured the ointment over his head and then on his feet and began to wipe his feet with my hair. I have never felt such love as he looked at me. I worshipped my God, and the whole house was full of this splendid fragrance. The disciples began to shout me away, and condemned me for the waste of so much money, saying it should have been given to the poor-but Jesus didn't condemn me. He knew my love, as I had sat at his feet so often. He said, 'Leave her alone, she has anointed my body for my burial and in all the world, where the gospel is preached, she shall be remembered for this.' Oh, I bathed his feet, so hard and tough that had carried him along the roads to preach the gospel of peace, his hair so soft and his hands so strong, yet tender. Simon, yes he shall die; but he shall not die. I think I may be the only one of his followers who truly knows this-oh, I love him!"
They sat in silence. Not a word was spoken as minutes passed. The candle was Slowly burning as Simon looked upon the face awash with tears, yet she possessed a peace, a love, a rest and a faith,-it seemed as if she must be somewhat of a reflection of Jesus-and he felt the deep longing to know Jesus as she. Yet the shadow of death was over head, and he wondered if his deep longing would ever be filled. He wanted to cry out to her to help but no words came to his lips. After a long while she slipped to her knees and began to pray, words so tender, spoken to the Father, words of thanks, praise and love, words of prayer for God to give her strength to be his witness. Then she began to pray for Simon. It seemed as if she knew every need of his heart as though she had known all the pain and lostfulness of his soul. Then she said, "I ask this in Jesus' name." She looked at Simon and he looked away. He felt so filthy, so unworthy and ashamed. "Simon-Simon." Her words were soft, yet sharp like a knife, "Are you his disciple?" Moments passed as he tried to answer. He realized tears were slipping down his cheeks but he could not stop them.
"Mary"... he answered in broken words. "When can I see him?"
"Any time you believe, you shall know him!" Jesus said, 'Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I shall give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest for your soul, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'"
Simon began to tell of his search, beginning in his small village and continuing up until the present moment. Mary told of her life, of her first meeting with Jesus and of the closeness to him through the past several years. She told of his sermons, the people he had helped and of those who hated him. It all seemed only a moment but hours had passed and it was now dawn as their conversation continued without pause. Simon was asking questions and she was telling him of the words of Jesus. Martha awoke and prepared breakfast. Soon the house was astir with the sound of life and the boys. It was a new day, yet a continuation of yesterday- what a day it was to be!
Suddenly the front door burst open and a man rushed inside, his hair flowing down his back, a young man with a full beard and flashing eyes. He stood, pale and trembling. "Lazarus, what's wrong?" cried out Martha as she rushed toward him. "It's Jesus. It's Jesus! They've got him-they are going to kill him!"
"But where is he?" Martha said, grabbing him. "I'm not sure exactly where he is at this moment but they are going to crucify him-it's terrible." Martha began to cry. Lazarus took her in his arms and held her. Mary remained where she stood, and Simon slowly walked toward the door, buckling on his sword.
"Lazarus, where can I find him? I have come a long way, I have met several of his followers, I spoke with your sister Mary about him all night, and now I must see him, no matter what the cost." Simon's words were strong and unswerving. Mary rose and stepped toward him. "I shall go with you Simon. I anointed his body for death; I must stand with him in his suffering. Let's go. Martha, will you watch the two sons?"
"Yes," she replied, wiping away her tears.
Then Lazarus spoke, gathering his emotions, "Let's go by Simon Peter's house. Most of his disciples are gathered there. Maybe they know more by now." Then they moved out into the early morning freshness. The streets were already alive with people as they rushed through the streets. No one spoke a word as Simon's mind was filled with ideas of how to bring about the escape of Jesus. He knew no way to form an immediate band of warriors to attempt the rescue except for the disciples, yet he wondered why they were here instead of in Jerusalem with Jesus. But also he remembered the words Mary had said about Jesus knowing he was to die, and wondered if Jesus wanted to be rescued or just what it was all about. Maybe when he met the disciples of Jesus he would know more. Soon they arrived at a home with every window closed. Lazarus beat on the door and called out his name. The door opened and a short heavy set man grimly said, "Come in... quickly." Lazarus rushed in, Mary behind him, with Simon following. The huge room was dimly lit as everyone began to talk. Simon looked about at the crowded room. Everything and everyone seemed in a state of shock and absolute confusion. The men were weeping and in a state of depression such as he had never seen before. He soon realized that this was nine of the select twelve disciples that Jesus had personally chosen. He had spent three years training them and they all knew Jesus personally, but how could his followers be in such a state of despair? Where was their faith, such as he had seen in Beida, the tribesmen, Mary and others?