A few years ago I had been meditating on the accounts in each gospel of the woman who wept over Jesus and anointed Him with the Spikenard. I was asked at that time to share with a group of about 20 college folks and I decided to put together a dramatic presentation – sort of a One Act play bringing together aspects of the various tellings.
I will warn you - I make many assumptions which I cannot defend at all. You might be better off considering this fiction based on true events.
I am assuming (or maybe pretending) that:
- All 4 gospels that tell this story at different times in Christ’s ministry with differing details are actually telling the same story from their own perspective when it bests fits in their narrative
Simon who hosts this dinner which she invades is:
- Simon the Pharisee
- Simon the leper
- Simon the father of Judas Iscariot
- Simon who I saw on classmates.com in Mary’s high School year book. (just kidding)
The story is told for the most part from Simon’s perspective and I hope it speaks to you.
The background, and true stories can be found in the following passages:
- Luke 7:36-50
- Matthew 26:7-14
- John 12:2-8
- Mark 14:3-9
- Luke 17:12-18 (10 lepers)
One act of Worship
Simon – To himself – Thinking out loud
Today is the big day – dinner party – make sure the guest all are seated in the correct place. Make sure the right people get the places of honor. Mayor here, Annas and Caiaphas - well not right next to each other, but at this end of the table. And we will put Jesus right in the center.
I have to make sure everyone knows that I know him, and make sure everyone sees what kind of relationship we have. After all look at my hands – clean as a new born baby – not white as snow – the way they were with that leprosy.
That was horrible – imagine – me – a Pharisee, with a great future. I had it all going for me. Circumcised on the 8th day – Barr mitzvah in Jerusalem with the high priest present to officiate. I went to all the rights schools, and was accepted by the religious leaders. I became a Pharisee – and was looked up to by the whole town. I had such power until that fateful day. At first I thought it was just a rash – nothing to worry about. But soon it was obvious – I had leprosy – it could not be – not me – I was a Pharisee – how could I have leprosy? Now I was no Pharisee – now I was a leper! No longer a big wig in town, but an outcast. I could not stay in my own house. I had to go and live with the others. What a vile group – the smell was enough to make you gag. And the dogs that came and licked our wounds – it was horrible. I have never known such humiliation – such shame – such degradation.
Then one day it happened – I was with a group of lepers outside of Samaria and one of them started calling to Jesus. I had heard of him before, but I had never heard or seen him myself, but there he was walking right toward us. We were desperate, and asked him if there was anything he could do for us. He told us to go show ourselves to the priest! What was he thinking – we were lepers, how could we go to the priest? So we all turned and headed back down the road, and as we went – the leprosy disappeared. I could hardly believe it. I was clean again. I made a bee-line to the temple where I showed myself to the priest, and made the offerings required by the law.
It was not long after my cleansing that my boy Judas started traveling with Jesus’ men. Last I heard he was actually the treasurer for the group. He may come to something after all my son.
Getting back into the good graces of the temple has not been easy. I am just starting to get back on my feet, just starting to make the right connections. Today, this party I am throwing should really get me back in. The mayor is supposed to come, and maybe even the high priest. And the best part is Jesus will be here. Maybe he will do something amazing. He is always surprising people with his stunts.
So I have to make sure everything is just so – I hired Martha to come and wait tables – she can bring off a feast like no one else.
Guests are arriving. Yes Caiaphas – you sit here, and Mayor – you sit over here, and we will put Jesus here, right next to Gamailiel. Nichodemus, you sit down here, and yes – that is just perfect. I have not forgotten anything. Here comes Jesus and His men. I think I will sit Judas right beside Jesus. Maybe I can help his career at the same time as I help mine.
Wait – what is this – what is she doing here? Mary – that slut – what is she doing in my house? How did she get in here, and what is she doing near Jesus? Always strutting her stuff, that one. I remember when we were teenagers together and she was always wearing clothes that were too flashy and low cut. I have heard stories about her and half the men in town. What is she doing with Jesus? What is that racket – how can we carry on a normal conversation? I am trying to get the nod for that position in the temple, and all everybody is looking at is this spectacle. All that weeping. Can’t she keep it down? She is fawning over Jesus. Sitting behind him and weeping, and now she is wiping his feet in her hair!
Wait – what is that smell – it smells like the costly perfume I bought to bury my uncle last month? That is it – it’s spikenard – look – she is pouring it all over Jesus. There must be a pound of it – that would cost a full year’s wages even for me. And she is just wasting it! This is a disaster – what will all my guests think. I have to get her out of her.
I really don’t get it – it does not take a prophet to know who this is. Could Jesus be so blind not to know that she is the town whore? I wouldn’t even let her touch me – after all – what would people think? And imagine this colossal waste – it would have been better to just give it to help the poor. Then at least there is a tax deduction. But this is sheer waste.
Jesus speaks to Simon:
Simon, don’t stop her. This that looks like a waste to you is actually preparation for my burial. You can do good things for the poor any time, but I will not be here much longer. When I arrived, you did not even assign a servant to wash my feet, and yet this woman has not stopped wiping them with her hair, and washing them with her tears. You did not anoint my head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with her costly perfume.
Tell me what you think. If a land owner has two men who owe him money, one $100 and one $1,000,000, and he forgives both of them, which do you think will love him more? Of course the one who was forgiven the larger debt.
Jesus speaks to Mary:
Mary, because you have loved me with abandon, I forgive you all your sins, which are many. And because of this great act of love you have displayed on me, you will be remembered everywhere anyone tells my story.
Copyright - 2012 - Benjamin Nelson