This month’s excerpt is from the second book in my REFLECTIONS series. A Laboring Hand tells the story I imagined for Martha and her two siblings.
We know a few things about them, but much of it always made me curious. Why was Martha in charge? Why wasn’t Lazarus in charge of their family since men were the patriarchs in the Jewish culture?
A portion from chapter two of the book gives my idea of Martha’s “come to Jesus” moment. If you enjoy it, you can purchase the book here.
Crowds funneled along the street, but no vendors clogged the way. Today, worshipers on their way to or from the temple made up the press. Lazarus tugged my arm. His breath came in short gasps, and I tried to slow him with a pull of my own, but I’d never seen him so focused and eager.
I heard the voice before we entered the outer court of worship. Masculine and level, it carried over the mass of shuffling feet and bleating animals. How was such a thing possible?
When I saw the man sitting on an overturned cart, I stopped. Laz pushed ahead, weaving his way through the press of listeners, and Mary bumped into me. Her breath warmed my shoulder as she peered through the assembled bodies.
Yeshua’s brown eyes were flecked with amber, and his face was broad, unremarkable under the shoulder-length hair and scruffy beard. There were no obvious evidences of piety—no frontlets like a priest might wear, payot the Pharisees favored, or prayer shawl like a rabbi carried—but something in his voice resonated inside me.
He told a story of a man finding a pearl of great price in a field and bankrupting himself to purchase the property. My ears tuned into the tale. It had been years since a man’s storytelling had interested me. My heart yearned for Abba. Would it ever stop?
As I listened, I sensed a deeper meaning to this man’s tale. A frisson of flutters moved in my chest, like I used to experience when the rabbi read the scrolls. Before my life changed. Before everything was stolen from me.
His story ended, and the hypnotic effect of his voice with it. Someone standing close to him asked a question I didn’t hear.
Mary pressed her mouth to my ear. “Let’s get closer. With Laz.”
I allowed her to guide me through the crowd. Some people pushed toward us, going in the opposite direction, their temple business done. They had no interest in Yeshua of Nazareth. Others pressed closer. I saw a man who trembled from some disease held upright by two younger men, trying to get close enough for healing.
Laz had molded himself to the edge of a group of scribes. One of them asked a question about the law as Mary pressed beside our brother, whispering something in his ear. He shook his head. What were they talking about now? Was she asking if he would be healed? I couldn’t imagine what our life might be like if Laz worked and took his place as the head of our house.
As Yeshua answered the scribe with another story, something hard inside my chest began softening. This was how I had often felt during my childhood as I listened to the weavers discuss scripture. Often, they sang as they worked, but at the beginning of each week, they discussed the reading from the synagogue. Their faith was simple but true. I hadn’t always understood what they said, but I knew they believed in the Creator, the One True G-d of Abraham.
How had I let that slip away?
A hot tear spilled from my eye. As I reached to press my veil into it, Yeshua’s dark gaze froze me. Rather than the impatience or patronization I often sensed from the rabbis and priests, I read only understanding in those deep pools.
You are seen. You are cared for. A long-silent voice spoke the affirmations to my spirit.
The moment of connection lasted long enough for me to choke back a sob. I was a sinner, and I had shown only outward contrition for many years. If I wanted to be right with Yahweh, I needed to confess.
Who is Yeshua to make me feel such things? I believe Messiah will come but is this man The One?
That evening during the temple sacrifice as the priest beseeched G-d for all of us, hands extended toward Heaven, I voiced my own petition to the G-d of my father.
I’m sorry, Yahweh. I’ve been a terrible daughter to You. I am not the mother of Lazarus and Mary, but they have You as their Father. Thank You for Yeshua of Nazareth. I see You in his eyes. Help me learn from his teachings.
For the first time, I considered that Lazarus might be right about the teacher who worked miracles. Was Yeshua of Nazareth Israel’s Messiah?
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