The afternoon sun was sweltering today, beating down on the road’s clay-hardened surface, baking the running boy’s skin-calloused feet like the crust on Aunt Rachael’s cakes. Rounding the familiar fig tree as he sped into Uncle Simon’s doorway, Ben stopped abruptly.
“He’s coming!” the sweaty messenger exclaimed as he bent over, hands on knees, to catch his breath. The other guests made room for little Ben as he delivered the news.
“I saw him and Elihim a half mile yonder. And there are twelve others with him!”
Uncle Simon absentmindedly patted his nephew’s head.
“Thank you, young Ben! You have been very helpful.”
Clapping his hands, Simon commanded his servants to make haste with the final preparations and checked to see that the pillows were in perfect positioning on the floor and the food excellently arranged.
“Get more bowls, Shabeth, as it appears we will have additional guests supping with us.”
No sooner had the table been extended and more seating arranged than he heard,
“Shalom, friend!” at the doorway.
“Shalom, Teacher. Please. Be seated!” Dusty togas rustled as the group settled on the floor and thirteen pair of sandy, hot feet wiggled in relief as they stretched out beneath the rough-hewn table.
“Simon, what a bountiful feast you have provided,” complimented the teacher. “The figs and dates are especially fine. I noticed you have your own trees on our way in.” The others nodded their heads in agreement.
Conversation flourished between the guests as appetites were quenched. The cool swept floors penetrated through the pillows while the odor of unwashed bodies slowly subsided. An occasional bark of laughter erupted between these men as they related stories of the teacher’s adventures to their host. Simon found himself listening thoughtfully to Peter’s amazing, unbelievable tale of a recent experience of a storm that nearly capsized their fishing boat.
Halfway through the delicious repast, there was a commotion clear down at the opposite end of the table. Simon quickly arose and approached to see if the wine needed to be replenished, clapping his hands twice for the head servant. But when he finally climbed through the extended dirty feet of those men reclining at his table, an astounding scene appeared before him! Rahab, that “lady of the night” in town, was actually kneeling before his renowned guest, openly sobbing. Through her tears she was fumbling with an intricately-carved alabaster jar of perfume, which fell from her shaking hands onto Jesus’ foot pillow, emptying all its contents over his tired, hot feet. Not wanting to make more of a spectacle than was already in progress, Simon bent down awkwardly and whispered into Jesus’ ear.
“Teacher, this—er--'lady', is of poor repute and a sinner. You should not allow her to touch you!” And, turning to the woman, he demanded, “Be gone, woman! You are not welcome here! Go back to your own abode, Rahab!” But Jesus interrupted Simon’s harangue in a strong, clear voice.
“Simon, this lady has shown remorse for her sins,” Jesus began.
“Bu-but, Teacher, this perfume was purchased with dirty money, and it is wrong to waste it in this manner.” And, attempting to appeal to Jesus’ humanitarian nature, exclaimed,
“Think of all the poor widows and children the money from this jar alone would feed!”
Now, out of the corner of his eye, Simon suddenly realized all conversation around the table had ceased and all eyes and ears were upon the tableau before them, as the woman continued to dry Jesus’ feet with her long, dark tresses. Softly, Jesus reprimanded Simon.
“Simon, would you speak against the small courtesy this lady has given to me--a courtesy that you, as host, have neglected? Do you realize how much courage it has taken for her to come before you, who so despise her?” He continued, “How is it that you know the name and reputation of this sinner, Simon?”
Red-faced and stuttering excuses, poor Simon retreated into the background as Jesus kindly thanked Rahab for her service to him. Looking directly into her eyes, he said,
“My daughter, your sins have been forgiven. Go—and sin no more.”
As a tremulously smiling Rahab arose and left, the disciples responded to this latest in their Master’s repertoire of questionable behavior in typical argumentative fashion, along with the other guests observations and opinions. Simon sat down and joined them—but not before ordering Shabeth to fetch basins, fresh well water, and towels for his guests.
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