He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him. And we were with Him, too. Who else would have allowed us to travel with them? No other rabbi would even have noticed that we existed, let alone tolerated our presence on a preaching trip.
No other rabbi would drop their pearls of wisdom into the ears of women; without exception they would all consider that on a par with throwing valuable family heirlooms into the Valley of Hinnom. Other women, if they heard any rabbinical teaching at all, it was because their husbands cared to pass it on to them. But most husbands wouldn’t have bothered.
But Jesus – he had time for every one of us. He talked to us, He let us listen to His teaching, and He really listened to us – you could point to any one of us in this group and He would immediately be able to tell you her deepest concerns, who she cared about, what were her hopes and dreams. He really knew each one of us, and He didn’t treat us as lesser beings just because we were women. I’ve never met another man like Him.
You can imagine how much we all loved Him. Each of us had her own reasons for loving Him. I had seven reasons to love Him – once upon a time I was possessed by seven demons. They haunted my dreams and tormented my mind. They destroyed my self-respect so that I didn’t care who used my body or what they did with it. I thought I deserved it all anyway.
Then I met Jesus. And He turned my life on its head. He took my soul and shook it upside down until every last one of those demons fell out, and then He set me right way up. It was like emerging from a thick fog. I had lived my life in confusion for many years, never knowing what to believe, except that I was ugly and undeserving.
But when He came, I stepped out of the fog into the Light. Suddenly I could see clearly. First I experienced Him as an authoritative Commander. He ordered those demons to go away and leave me alone, and they had no choice but to obey. And once they’d gone, I remember that I stood there, fully clothed, but feeling a bit naked because I could see that He knew exactly what I was – well – not what I was any more, but what I had been. I was half expecting Him to come on to me.
But no – He treated me with immense tenderness, the way a really loving brother treats his sister. The way my own brothers had long ago ceased to treat me. And in that brotherly love that radiated from Him, I began to see myself clearly, not a worthless piece of trash but a jewel of great beauty created by God Himself to enhance the glory of His world. It took my breath away.
No wonder I followed Him. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for Him. All those years doing the devil’s work, I had managed to salt away a bit of money from my life as a working girl. And suddenly here I was, part of this amazing entourage, and I had something really worthwhile to spend that money on – supporting Him and the work He was doing. I felt as if I’d fleeced hell to fund the Kingdom of heaven.
If you asked me to describe Him, I’d say He was my brother, my shepherd, my rescuer, my Lord. He was the reason I got up in the morning, and He was the reason I didn’t go back to my old life. Every time He turned that brotherly smile on me I felt whole. He never undressed me with His eyes; instead He clothed me with a cloak of beauty and priceless worth. Little, humble me – I felt like a royal princess whenever I was near Him.
And as we travelled from place to place I saw Him again and again dive into whatever mess people had got themselves into and pull them out of it. For me He personified the words of the Psalmist when he spoke of God who heard my cry and pulled me out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm, and put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. The Psalmist described how God did that for him, and that’s exactly what Jesus did for me. He’s the only God I will ever worship. I’m going to be singing His praises as long as I live, this brotherly, fatherly, kingly man whose love rescued me.