Chapter Four from The Alabaster Jar by Theresia Saers
When his time has come, Jesus too approaches John and presents himself to be baptised among all those sinful men and women. In a flash of inspiration John recognises that here is the Man whose coming he has been sent to proclaim. His cousin Jesus, about whom there was a prophecy around the time of his own birth. At first John refuses to comply with the request. He raises objections, surely this is putting the world upside down? The master coming to his humble servant to receive baptism? But Jesus insists. As soon as he has come up again from the river, he leaves the crowd. John, however has received an inner confirmation that this Jesus is indeed the coming Saviour. He shares his insight with his listeners.
However, there is a problem: the man that they see striding off again is from Galilee -his accent and his clothes have betrayed him- and people are not exactly keen on following a prophet from Galilee. Of old Galilee has had a reputation of being unorthodox, far less holy than Judea. It is ‘pagan Galilee’. How can they accept a Messiah from Galilee? In the end two people get up and follow the retreating figure. It is all right for the one, since he, a certain Andrew, is also from Galilee. The other person´s name is not mentioned although at that point in the gospel the evangelist is ready to give these very first disciples their dues. Maybe the other is indeed Mary of Bethany. It would be a bit embarrassing for some to say a woman had acted so freely. But how could Mary have hung back, once John had spoken with such emphasis? It would explain an invitation to her home in Bethany. Anyway, the two are equally eager to follow John´s lead and want to find out for themselves. Andrew and his companion approach Jesus tentatively. “Teacher, where are you living?” “Come and see” is Jesus’ answer. John tells us that they stayed with Jesus for the remainder of the day.
After looking all her life for this pearl of great value Mary´s moment of truth has come. She is prepared to sell all that she has and buy that pearl and accept the saviour from Galilee. The gospels do not enlighten us about the events of the day, but when the two come back, Andrew goes to find his brother Simon, making him a disciple. Mary on the other hand finds Jesus knocking on her door some time later. Did Mary herself invite Jesus to her home in Bethany? It would have been a wonderful echo of the love tale in the Song of Songs.
‘I held him fast, nor would I let him go
Till I had brought him
Into my mother´s house
Into the room of her who conceived me.´
© Theresia Saers
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