A Biblical Short Story by JQuisumbing
32 AD – Meaning of True Love – Bethany, Judea
Mary had managed to escape again from Martha. Martha had given her much to do again. She was preparing the house for, what Mary considered another frivolous party for another unknown visitor who had sent word the day before of their arrival. Martha loves to play hostess to many of their father’s business acquaintances and even to quite a few of her suitors. Traditionally, husbands were already chosen by the parents even when their daughters were young. But since Mary’s mother had passed away when she was very young, her father, Simon, had forwent tradition and told that they are free to choose a partner for themselves. Martha is close to eighteen but no man has interested her yet. Mary suspects that her father may have to secure her a husband soon if he ever wants to see grandchildren. Lazarus who is about twenty would be expected to wed when he reaches his thirties. As for herself, her father had not spoken to her about love or marriage at all. She thinks that her father is trying to keep her as his little girl for as long as it takes. But Mary had her own ideas about romance and escaping from Martha gave her opportunity to daydream more about it under her favorite tree.
She went to her tree about two hours after the noon meal living out her romantic fantasy until sleep took her into slumberland. In her dreams, she was looking up to the man of her dreams except that she could not make out his face which was in dark deep shadows because the sun was at his back. Then he extended his hand down to help her up when she noticed that his wrist had a cruel scar on it. Then an echoey voice was calling her name repeatedly.
“Maa… rry… Ma… ry… Mary… Mary!”
Suddenly, her eyes snapped open and there before her was a hand just like her dream except there was no scar.
“Mary, wake up!” It was the laughing voice of her brother. When her eyes focused, she realized that it was nearly dusk. She saw her grinning brother and a group of men looking up from the road. She looked at the hand that awaited to help her up. She followed the arm up to a smiling face of someone she did not recognize. He had a short beard and his hair came down to his shoulders. But it was his eyes that fascinated her. It’s like they can see deep into her very soul. As he helped her to her feet, she felt herself blush.
When they joined her brother and the others on the road, Lazarus introduced her to the man.
“Mary, this is Jesus. He was the one that healed father.”
Mary did not hesitate to gleefully throw her arms around Jesus’ neck which caused all of them to laugh.
The next day, Jesus was teaching in an enclosed garden. The disciples were there with Simon and his son, Lazarus. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet. One or two of the disciples probably noticed that as she attentively looked up at Jesus she was obviously glassy eyed. Even Lazarus was amused with the wideness of her eyes. But as to Mary, she was joyously oblivious to her surroundings. All she saw and heard was only him.
“If anyone wishes to follow me as my disciple,” Jesus teaches. “He must deny himself. That is, set aside selfish interests, and take up your cross.”
“Master?” asked Simon Peter. “What did you mean ‘take up our cross’?”
“A time will soon come when all these things will become clear. For now, you must learn to develop the willingness to endure whatever may come and follow me. This means believing in me, conforming to my example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in me.
“For whoever wishes to save his life in this world will eventually lose it through death, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find life with me for all eternity. Consider this, for what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world… wealth, fame, success… but then forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory and majesty of His Father with His angels, and then He will repay each one in accordance with what he has done. And I assure you and most solemnly say to you, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” [Matthew 16:24-28]
Jesus taught more on those things that the disciples needed to be his true followers. Mary so wanted to join them… to stay closer to him. She knew that besides the men that were his companions, a number of women too were with him providing for his and their needs. She intends to speak with her father and get his permission.
As she watched him teach, she closely studied his face. An idea sprung into her mind and maybe she could be very good for him… as a wife. In her mind’s eye, her finger traced his face from his moving lips up his manly nose (much like her father’s except that the bridge of his is slightly longer) to his eyebrows which were curved and not too bushy. His forehead was taller than most. She imagined running her fingers in his bluish-black shoulder length hair. All in all, he was not really handsome. By most he would be almost considered ordinary, but for Mary, he was heavenly.
When he finished his lesson, Mary dreamily asked, “Teacher? Tell me about love.”
Then Mary realized what she said. She blushed because she can almost feel the amusement of the men behind her. Jesus smiled encouragingly. He looked to the others and gave a nod. She heard them get up and left the garden to just the both of them. Then he turned back to gaze at her for a long while. She felt that he could see deep into her. Blushing, she turned her face away.
“Mary, I know your heart,” Jesus said in a gentle voice. “But my Father in Heaven has tasked me with important work. It is a task that will become known to you and my brothers soon. A task that only I can undergo singly and alone. Do you understand, Mary?”
She asked, “Was it wrong for me to… to love like this?”
“Oh Mary!” Jesus lightly laughed out loud. “Of course, it is not wrong. In the beginning, your Father in heaven had always intended that people should not be alone. The way a man and a woman are attracted to each other was the way the Creator had always intended. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one flesh.’ ” [Matthew 19:5-6]
“What you feel, though, you will feel many times but they are always short-lived as they were meant to be.”
“Meant to be? What do you mean, Lord?”
“True Love goes beyond the passion of romance and infatuation. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
“Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. Knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! When the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. But love, that is, true love will last forever!” [1 Corinthians 13:4-10]
“Lord, I think I understand but I so wanted to go where you go,” she sobbed. “Can I not go wherever you go?”
“That time will come,” Jesus said as he looked at her penetratingly and smiled. “For now, I think it best that that time would be best spent with my mother. Would you like that?”
“I’ll speak to your father.”
Then, Martha came into the garden and she did not look happy. She looked at her. Mary expected an earful but instead Martha approached Jesus.
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” She was almost pleading.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” [Luke 10:40-42]
Mary thought that she probably was free forever from helping out in the kitchen, but then Jesus’ words on love, selflessness and sacrifice convicted her heart. As Martha walked back inside, looking a little dejected, Mary said, “Wait for me, Martha.”
Jesus helped Mary on her feet. With a nod of approval from Jesus, she went to Martha. They hugged and both went in.
Click to go to Part 1 or Part 3
Mary of Bethany is an actual person based in the Gospels of the Bible, but this short story is basically fiction.
There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them were not named at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.
One response to “MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE [part 2]”
[…] Click to go to Part 2 […]