Mary of Magdala.
There was a Pharisee named Simon, who was very curious to know what Jesus taught, although he had no wish to be His disciple. He was a rich man and lived in a beautiful house with a court. Beyond the court was a banqueting room with couches on which guests sat leaning upon the tables in the Eastern fashion. There were other guests invited to hear Jesus talk, the friends of Simon, and it is quite probable that when they came the servants of Simon met them and took their sandals and washed their feet and arranged their hair as was the custom, and were also heartily welcomed by Simon. When Jesus came He had no such service or welcome given Him, for Simon did not love Him; he was only curious about Him.

While they were at the tables a beautiful young woman came in through the open door and passed swiftly by the couches on which the guests were reclining until she came to the place where Jesus was. No one spoke to her or about her, for they all knew that she had been a sinful woman. But soon they saw that she bent weeping over the feet of Jesus where He lay upon the couch, and soon they knew by the odor of costly perfume that she was anointing His feet. As her tears fell she wiped His feet with her long hair, and kissed them again and again.

Simon looked at her severely, but said nothing, though he wondered in his heart why Jesus did not know that a sinful woman was touching Him. Then said Jesus,

"Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee." And Simon replied, "Master, say on."

Then Jesus told a little story of a man who had two debtors; one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty; and when they had nothing to pay he frankly forgave them both. Then he asked which of them will love Him most?

"I suppose that he to whom he forgave most," said Simon, and Jesus told him that he was right.

Then He turned and pointed to the woman, saying,

"See'st thou this woman?" and the eyes of all were fixed on the weeping Mary of Magdala.

When Jesus had told Simon that he had failed to bring water for His feet, though she had washed them with her tears, and wiped them with her hair; that he had given Him no kiss of welcome, and she had not ceased to kiss His feet; that he had not anointed His head with oil, but she had anointed His feet with costly ointment, He added,

"Her sins which are many are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven the same loveth little." And turning to the woman He said,

"Thy sins are forgiven; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."

As Jesus went through the villages of Galilee He found many friends and many enemies. The twelve were with Him, learning daily the wonderful lessons He taught, and preparing to be preachers of the glad tidings also.

Not only Mary of Magdala, but Susanna, and Joanna, the wife of King Herod's steward who had been cured by Him, were His grateful friends. Some priests came down from Jerusalem to watch Him, and to tell the people that He was not a true teacher, and this pleased the Pharisees. They saw that He did wonderful things that no man could do, but they said that He did it by the power of the spirit of evil, and they asked Him to show them a sign that he was from God.

The Lord spoke words to the Pharisees that must have burned like coals of fire, for it showed how false and wicked their hearts were while their outward life seemed to be very religious.

He told them that no sign should be given them except that of Jonah; as he was three days and three nights in the great fish, so should the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, and though the men of Nineveh were wicked, yet they repented at the preaching of Jonah, but the men of Jerusalem did not repent, though a greater than Jonah was among them.

Mary and her sons had come from Nazareth hoping to take Jesus away from the crowds, perhaps, for a rest among the hills, for the summer heat was great down by the lake and along the Jordan. Some one sent word to Jesus, as He sat teaching within the court of a house, that His mother and brothers were outside, and wished to speak with Him. The crowd was too great for them to enter. Before Jesus rose to go out to his mother, He paused a moment to teach the great lesson He had come to bring to the world. Looking at His disciples He said,

"My mother and my brethren are these which hear the Word of God and do it."

chapter xviii the lord of
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