A Blessed Hearts Story
There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can't imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books. John 21:25 The Message
Jesus was teaching, as was his custom, to a large gathering outside of a village near Nazareth. The people had listened carefully, almost hanging onto his words. This story may sound just like so many others you may have heard since Jesus’ ministry spanned three years over many miles.
“Teacher, you spend so much time with sinners,” one of the Pharisees, the Keepers of the Law, Simon by name, asked him, “it seems that you do not care enough about the Law of Moses.”
“It is because I do care about the Law, which you call the Law of Moses, which asks of you to worship and obey God that I teach and minister as I do.
“How must we worship, teacher. Tell us that we may follow you.” The man said, trying to trick Jesus.
“Does not the Scripture say,
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
…what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously–
take God seriously.*
Then the man asked, “Who then is my neighbor?” Jesus looked around at the crowd and swept his hand in a broad gesture without word. The man looked around and smiled, but in his heart he was angry. He had been taught that the Law was the way to seek God and Jesus had just shown him that to be fair and compassionate was the true way of following the Law.
“You look troubled, Simon. What lays so heavily on your heart.” That Jesus knew his name without asking did not occur to him.
“Should we not love God with all of our being… our heart, our mind? Our soul and strength?”
“Yes, but you should also love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” Jesus smiled and looked again over the crowd. Simon saw the people; lepers, poor, gentiles…every one of those people that were unlike him, and he frowned. But something in his heart wanted to understand.
Simon stood back as Jesus touched the people; healing and blessing and showing compassion…the very example of what the prophet Micah had said. Slowly the crowd grew smaller; the setting sun peaking over the hills as Jesus continued ministering to the people until there were none left other than him and his disciples.
Simon stepped forward and touched Jesus’ arm.
“Master, would you be willing to continue this…discussion over evening meal?”
“That is very kind of you. I would very much enjoy breaking bread over… discussion.” Jesus smiled
Soon after at Simon's house...
As they reclined at the table, a servant came and whispered in Simon’s ear.
“Please excuse me, Teacher. There is a matter I must attend to.” He smiled, but his look belied his anxious mood. Before he could stand up, a young woman…a child actually, pushed past the servant and entered the room, falling at Jesus’ feet.
Simon jumped up and ran to grab the girl off the floor.
“I am sorry, Master, but this is…,” he said, pointing to the girl. Before he could finish his words, Jesus spoke.
“Her name is Adara.” He smiled down at the young woman, who was kissing his feet. She looked up and there were tears in her eyes. Tears that begged forgiveness and restoration, but spoke without words of rejection and a loss of hope.
“Master? This is no woman. He is my brother Mahlon,” Simon nearly shouted as the girl trembled, not in fear of her brother, but the loss of her brother through his rejection and hatred.
“What has she done to earn such scorn, Simon? Whom has she offended?”
“He pretends to be what he is not; he is an abomination...a disgrace before the Lord, Master. Can’t you see?”
“Surely he must see the disappointment Mahlon would be to our parents had they lived. The embarrassment he is to me to our village and our tribe. The shame he brings upon his name.” Simon thought. Jesus looked at him and smiled.
“Simon? If your parents had lived, they would see a daughter; industrious and hard-working who would be a blessing to them. If the village opened their eyes, they would see a good woman who cares for small children and animals; a kind and caring soul who loves without expectation. And if you opened your eyes, you would see a sister who loves you more than her own life, despite your neglect and disdain.” Simon’s eyes opened wide in astonishment.
“This man knows my thoughts…my heart. Surely he must be a prophet.” Simon thought even as his eyes darted to Jesus’ face; the man was stroking the woman’s hair as she kissed his feet once again.
“Master, truly you are a prophet. I believe you.”
“I am glad that you believe. Would that you believed before I spoke. It is easy to believe with evidence; so much harder to believe with faith alone.
“I am sorry. I will treat him with respect and care and I will forgive him.”
“All have sinned and do not meet the righteousness of God; even her…and even you. But she has done nothing to you for which she must be forgiven. It is you who require forgiveness; your hardness has broken both her heart and the heart of God.”
Jesus looked at him and Simon saw that Jesus was crying. The wound to Adara’s heart, caused by cruel neglect and disdain, as Jesus had said, was being healed even as the wound from his own thoughts and deeds was widening.
“Forgive me, Master.” Simon threw himself at Jesus’ feet, weeping.
“It is not I from whom you must seek forgiveness, Simon, but from your sister.”
Simon looked at Jesus and then looked at Adar and saw for the first time, not a foolish, witless brother, but a sister; a beautiful child. She looked at him, and without a word spoken between the two, peace was formed as forgiveness passed between them. Simon embraced his sister for the first time as he bade farewell to his brother; not the person, but the idea he had kept so hard and fast in his judgment. Jesus smiled and spoke softly,
“Rise, Simon.” The man stood and smiled through his tears.
“I will get wine that we may celebrate this homecoming, Master. Thank you for opening my eyes.”
Jesus grabbed the girl by both hands and lifted her to her feet, kissing her on each side of her face. The tears of a prophet and teacher mingled with the tears of a beautiful child, filled with love and gratefulness. She smiled weakly and said,
“MmmmMaster.” Her voice was halting and she searched for words.
“How did you know…how…dddi…you know…mmmmy name?” she stammered.
Jesus looked into her eyes and smiled.
“Adara…it is I who named you.”
* Micah 6:8 The Message
Artwork adapted from At Her Master's Feet, a painting by Del Parson
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