Authors note: To some it is a mystery why Jesus choose to be seen with and use sinners and common folk in the three years he walked the earth. But to those of us who have been touched by him there is no mystery. The following story although fictionalized is true not only because it appears in the Bible but it is true because in many ways it is my story too.
Hannah awakened by the morning sun shining through the window felt the pain of the previous night as she sat thinking about getting up she mumbled to herself, “Why do the men have to be so rough with me?” Instantly her mind filled with years of guilt and regrets she closed her hoping the thoughts and pain would go away. When they wouldn’t she thought it best to get up, “perhaps if I busied myself they would go away,” she said to herself. Fifteen minutes later she walked out her door and into a world that was no more welcoming to her then the world the night before.
Walking toward the market place to buy her food she tried covering her bruised face but it did no good everyone knew her and knew what she did for a living. Nearing the market she happened upon a crowd suddenly above the noise she heard a voice, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn me for my yoke is easy and my burdens are light.” Somehow the voice sounded as if it was meant for her and she began pushing through the crowd to get closer.
“Look! it’s that woman Hannah!” someone shouted.
“Don’t let her through!” another voice called out.
Suddenly from out of nowhere a man pushed her away, “The Master will have nothing to do with the likes of a woman like you! Now get away and go back to that dark evil world you belong in!”
Falling to the ground Hannah somehow rolled over on her knees and pulled her arms up over her head to protect herself from those who had begun kicking her, “Be gone woman,” one last voice sounded. Even though it was only minutes it seemed like hours before Hannah heard the noise of the crowd diminish to the point where she dared pick up her head.
“Is something wrong,” she heard another voice ask? Slowly Hannah picked up her head to see who it was expecting to be kicked again she looked around but there was no one close enough to have spoken to her. “Who said that?” she spoke out loud.
“I did,” the voice called out again.
“But who are you? I can’t see you. Are you ashamed to be seen with me?” she asked.
A third time the voice spoke, “I am the one of whom the prophets said would come to set at liberty those held captive. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. I am the one whom will die for your sins. My Father in Heaven has chosen you to complete a special task. Be diligent, be faithful, and be ready.”
“But who are you and where are you,” Hannah asked slowly and painfully getting to her feet. Standing alone for a few minutes she tried to understand what had just happened to her. A beating, a voice calling to her, a special task from heaven none of it made sense to her. Shrugging her shoulders Hannah headed for the safety of her home still uncertain of where the voice came from and whose it was. Suddenly echoing through memory she again heard the words of the stranger, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn me for my yoke is easy and my burdens are light.” Instantly she recognized the voice as the one who had just spoken to her.
“What would such a noble man have to say to an outcast like me?” she asked herself out loud.
A second time she was recognized, “Harlot! Get off the street there are children out here!” a woman shouted at her.
“Somebody grab some stones! We’ll take care of the trash around here!” another woman screamed.
Suddenly Hannah found herself dodging stones, “What if I told them it was their husbands who visited me,” she thought to herself, “What would they do then?” Minutes later she arrived at her home opening the door she headed straight for the bed and carefully laid down and fell asleep.
Suddenly she awakened by the shouts of people heading her way. “He makes himself equal with God kill the blasphemer,” an angry voice called out.
“He is the Son of God,” another voice sounded.
Moving to a window Hannah couldn’t believe her eyes. She saw a man carrying a heavy wooden beam heading toward her he was nearly naked and on his head he had what appeared to be a crown of thorns. She could tell by the way he stumbled he had been severely beaten. Suddenly he fell to the ground and a Roman guard pointed at a bystander and shouted, “You there! You standing there come over here and help this criminal carry his cross.”
“I’m not part of this sir,” he said back.
“You either help him or you’ll die with him,” came the indigent reply!
Instantly the man bounded out of the crowd and bent over to help the injured man pick up the heavy wooden beam. As Hannah stared intently at the scene there was something strange about the injured man it seemed as if she knew him. The man looked her in eyes and smiled suddenly the sound of a whip hitting its target filled the air and a Roman guard shouted, “Get going!”
“What is there about that stranger,” she said to herself. Suddenly there was a knock on her door. Instantly she was awake and with the dream fresh in her mind she ran to window the street was empty.
Again the knock sounded, “Who is it?” she called out.
“It’s me Ahaz. Don’t you remember we have an appointment,” the voice whispered back.
“What happened to all those people and that man who was lead by here severely beaten?” she asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please let me in before someone sees me.”
“First you tell me about the man who was crucified today by the Romans.”
“Hannah! Please someone will see me.”
“Tell me Ahaz!”
“There was no one crucified today! I’m telling the truth. Now please open the door,” Ahaz’s voice was a little louder.
“Are you sure?” Hannah asked again.
“Yes I’m sure! Are you going to open the door or not?” he was almost shouting now.
“Go away Ahaz. I’m in no mood to entertain you I’ve got to much on my mind. Just go home to your wife,” Hannah hollered back.
“Hannah you open this door now! We have an appointment!”
“I just cancelled it! Now for the last time go home or I’ll open the door and scream,” Hannah was getting angrier by the minute. Suddenly she could hear footsteps thumping away. “Once he gets to his friends I’ll need to find another line of work,” she commented heading back to her bed.
For the first time in a long time Hannah found herself in bed alone at nighttime. “What is going on with me,” she said out loud, “A mysterious stranger, a strange voice coming from nowhere, and now a nightmare. What does it all mean?” Suddenly she was sleepy and unable to keep her eyes open within seconds she was sleeping soundly.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” the sound of a familiar voice woke her up. Looking around she was no longer in her home she was sitting on a hillside surrounded by people. “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”
Immediately Hannah recognized the man talking as the one who was in her dream. Turning to a woman sitting next to her she asked, “Who is that man?”
Still looking ahead at the man teaching she replied, “Have you not heard? That is Jesus of Nazareth. His closest friends say he is the long awaited Messiah. I’ve heard stories where he has given sight to the blind, heals the lame so they can walk, and casts out demons! Surely you’ve heard of him haven’t you?”
Meanwhile the man continued, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
“I’ve been away so long and haven’t heard of the man called Jesus,” Hannah replied more puzzled then ever. She tried to get up and leave but she couldn’t it was as if she were held there. “What would the Messiah want with me,” she thought to herself.
A cold wind blew across Hannah’s face and voice called out to her, “Nothing you are a Harlot, the vilest of all sinners! The Messiah would have nothing do to with the likes of a woman like you!”
“Who are you?” Hannah asked looking around for the source of the voice.
“I am the lord of this world. I am the one who controls your destiny. I am the one who holds your soul,” the voice sounded again.
Suddenly the teachers voice sounded again, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
“Are you all right?” the woman sitting next to her asked.
“Oh, oh yes I’m okay. It’s just the teachers words are so peaceful,” Hannah commented.
“I know what you mean. A few days ago I was a Harlot and when I heard him saying he came to forgive the sinner it’s like a great burden was lifted from my shoulders. What do you do,” the woman asked Hannah.
“I’m just a house wife,” Hannah could not bring herself to tell the woman the truth even though the woman had told her what she used to be. At that point Hannah’s mind drifted off as if it went to another world but suddenly a knock came at the door.
“Hannah! Hannah are you all right?” a voice called out.
Slowly waking up and realizing she had only been dreaming again Hannah moved slowly toward the door. “What is it mother,” she said a little sarcastically, “Come to condemn me some more?”
“Just because I don’t agree with what you’re doing doesn’t mean I condemn you Hannah. Please open the door and let me in.”
“If you don’t condemn me then why can’t I come home to visit you and father,” Hannah shot back.
“It’s not me it’s your father and he doesn’t condemn you either it’s just that you embarrass him to much. Now please Hannah won’t you let me in? I have good news for you,” Miriam’s voice was filled with excitement.
“Won’t you be embarrassed being here mother?” Hannah asked.
“Of course I won’t a mother’s love is different than that of a father, Hannah. I don’t agree with the lifestyle you have chosen but I still love you and I’m not embarrassed at all. Please let me in, please.”
Finally Hannah unlocked the door and pulled it open. “Boy! Mother sure is aging fast,” she thought to herself, “I wonder how much of it is my fault?” Gesturing to the older woman to come in Hannah started, “I’m sorry Mother, please come in and thanks for not judging me.”
“Hannah I love you, you’re my only daughter. You are a good person, deep inside there’s a beautiful woman waiting to be born again I just know it,” Miriam said looking Hannah in the eyes.
Instantly Hannah’s mind traveled back through the past years, through all the beatings, through all the harassment, through all the nights with strange men. “You don’t know what I’ve been through these past years mother you’re only saying that because you are my mother.”
“I’m not saying that because you’re my daughter I’m saying that because I met a man the other day who changed the way I feel about others. His name is Jesus and he comes from Nazareth. I’ve seen him perform miracles and he has the power to forgive sins. I’ve seen lives turn around after listening to him. Hannah I know he can make a difference in your life! You are not happy I’ve seen it in your eyes many times and a mother knows things like that. Please Hannah,” her mother was begging her.
At first Hannah wanted to ask her mother to leave after all in her own subtle way Hannah’s mother was judging her. However the strange events of the past day stopped her. Deep inside Hannah knew her mother was right, “Could it be this man named Jesus or who ever he was could help her? Could he be the strange voice and the stranger?” she silently asked.
Hannah began to cry, “You’re so right mother I’m not happy with myself! I’m tired of the beatings! I’m tired of harassment! I’m tired of disappointing you and father! I love both of you so much but I just can’t love myself. I’ve brought shame on our family and I brought shame on myself and I can’t forgive myself.” The tears were flowing freely.
Miriam, crying too walked to where her daughter stood and put her arms around Hannah and without saying a word just held her daughter close. Seconds later Hannah began to feel a power flowing between the two women she couldn’t describe it was just there and it offered her some comfort. “I love you Hannah,” Miriam whispered and Hannah knew what the power was it was power of a mother’s unconditional love.
“I know mother. I really and truly know because I can feel it. I really can! For the first I am feeling real love,” Hannah replied. The room fell silent as the two women hugged each other. Little by little Hannah could feel the guilt, the self-hate leave her.
Minutes later Hannah broke the silence, “Do you really think the man called Jesus can help me?”
“I believe with all my heart Hannah he can help you. I’ve seen him in the company of outcasts. He has a one-time tax collector and fishermen as disciples. He frequents the homes of sinners. I’ve heard him say he came heal those with broken hearts and broken spirits. One time he said he came to tell us the Kingdom of God is within us and who so ever desires can become a citizen if they only believe on him. Oh, Hannah I know with all my heart he is what you need!”
By this time the two had separated and were now sitting down. Hannah started to tell her mother of her strange encounters and strange dreams. “I believe you mother I must find out where he will be and go to him. But first I must prepare myself and I must find some way of showing him the honor and respect he deserves. I must find some way of showing him I am giving my life with all my past sins to him.”
Miriam smiled at her daughter, “I heard one of the Pharisees named Simon ask him to eat at his house tonight so he’ll be there. Would you like me to stay and help you or go with you?”
“No mother it is something I must do by myself,” Hannah sounded confident.
“But there’ll be many who will condemn you and you might need someone on your side.”
“I appreciate your offer but there is one there who will be on my side.”
“Jesus will be on my side mother and he’s all I need. Now please excuse me I must get ready,” Hannah said turning and heading for her bedroom.
“I’m proud of you Hannah and I love you,” Miriam said opening the door.
“Thanks mother. I love you too.”
Minutes later as Hannah sat on her bed the wall suddenly disappeared and she found herself in a strange house. Hearing a knock on the door Hannah watched as a young woman walked to the door and opened it. “We have come a long way to honor the young Messiah,” said a man dressed like a king.
“Who are you?” the woman asked.
“We are Kings from the east and we have been following the signs in the heavens and have come to bring him gifts so we may honor his arrival. May we come in?” came the reply.
“Yes of course Jesus is sleeping now but please come in,” the young mother said gesturing the men to come in.
“Thank you,” one of the other men said walking into the house, “We bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh as gifts.”
The vision disappeared leaving Hannah again in her room. Getting up from her bed she walked over to a closet opened it and brought out a white stone box. Lifting the cover of it she took out a bottle of precious ointment removed the cap looked inside smelled it and replaced the cover.
Looking at the box she recalled the day her father had given it to her. “Inside is a precious ointment Hannah save it until the day you realize you are far more precious than all the ointments in the world,” she recalled him saying. Because her father gave it to her over the years it’s value had far exceeded any amount of money.
But now it was time! “Today I too will anoint Jesus a king.” Tucking the box under her arm she headed for the door. About 20 minutes later she walked up to the house of Simon the Pharisee. A crowd had gathered outside preventing her from getting closer.
“It’s that Harlot Hannah!” someone shouted.
“Go away Harlot this is no place for you,” another said.
“Please let me through I must get in to see Jesus,” she begged. Out of the corner of her she caught sight of a stone coming her way. She turned and ducked and heard as it sail past her head.
“I must get through to see him. Please don’t stop me let him be my judge,” she pleaded. The crowd suddenly became quiet and just as sea parted for Moses the crowd split in two leaving a pathway for Hannah to the doorway. Looking straight ahead she did not hesitate and moved quickly between the walls of hate. No one said a word, seconds later she stood in the dinning room of Simons house.
Immediately she saw Jesus and walked over to him and dropped to her knees. With tears running down her cheeks she carefully opened the Alabaster box and removed the ointment setting it aside she wiped her hair on her cheeks and eyes and began washing Jesus feet. Who is this who dishonors my house and my guest,” Simons voice boomed out momentarily startling Hannah, “You are a sinner do not touch my guest!”
“Do not stop her,” Jesus quietly replied, “She has come to honor me. Did you wash my feet Simon when I first came in?” Simon had not because he was a Pharisee and Pharisee’s didn’t go around washing the feet of anyone.
No one said a word as Hannah continued washing Jesus’ feet. A few minutes later she picked up the bottle of ointment then began anointing his feet quietly she whispered, “You are my king and my Lord.”
Turning to Simon Jesus said, “Simon, I have a question for you.”
“What is it Jesus, Master?”
Looking Simon in eyes Jesus began, “There was a banker who had two debtors one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. Each of men fell on hard times and was unable to pay their debts. Out of compassion for them the banker freed both of them from their debts. Tell me, Simon which of them will love the banker the most?”
Simon answered, “The one with the greater debt.”
“You are right Simon,” Jesus replied turning and facing Hannah, “Do you see this woman?”
“When I entered your house,” Jesus looking back at Simon, “You didn’t wash my feet you didn’t even give me the water to wash them myself. But this woman you call a sinner washed my feet with her tears and with the hairs of her head. You did not greet me with a kiss but this woman you call a sinner has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint me with an ointment or even give me any so I could do it myself. But this woman you call a sinner has anointed my feet with that which is most precious to her. Wherefore, Simon I say to you because she has loved much all her sins are forgiven.”
Turning again to Hannah and with tears now running down his cheeks Jesus said, “Woman your sins are forgiven.”
Suddenly the crowd inside and outside began to murmur, “Who is this man that forgives sins as well as performs miracles?”
Jesus continued, “Hannah because of your faith and courage in me you are saved go in peace and tell all you meet the good news.”
And Hannah went and did as Jesus had told her!