The woman had watched, her eyes full of sadness as she had gazed longingly at the figure struggling to make his way through the crowd.
So much had happened in such a short time.
That amazing scene as he arrived in Jerusalem just a few short days ago. Crowds going wild as he made his way riding on a borrowed donkey.
Then that strange Passover meal where he had served his disciples, washing their feet. Then the strangest part of the night when he had broken the bread and told them “this is my body, broken for you” and as he passed the cup and told them “this is my blood, poured out for you”.
She wasn’t sure what it all meant, but somehow felt everything had been leading up to this day.
She’d felt so alone all her life – until she’d met him.
He’d treated her like a real human being.
She couldn’t remember how long it had been before him that someone, anyone had spoken to her as though she mattered.
But he’d been special. She’d realised that the moment he had bent down and begun writing those names in the dirt when they’d brought her to him. Instead of looking at her with hate and disgust as all the others had, he had just bent down and started writing. While he was writing he had told them “Let the one without sin cast the first stone”.
But when he had stood up, all bar herself were gone. Not one of them had had the courage to stay and condemn her.
She remembered the way he had looked at her. The gentleness, the love, the acceptance in his eyes. He’d looked at her and told her that she was special, told her that God loved her. Then he’d hugged her and told her to go in peace and not live in sin any longer.
She’d followed him ever since. Sat and listened whenever he’d had an opportunity to teach. Learnt from his teaching. Shared his fellowship. Grown under His guidance, faith, compassion, grace and love.
They’d become friends. He as her first male friend. The first who had never expected anything more than friendship from her.
But then that friendship had come under threat. He had been sentenced to death. Death by crucifixion. She shuddered when she thought about him suffering the most horrible of deaths. But he’d told them not to worry. Told them not to grieve for him.
He’d said that this was the Father’s will. That he needed to go through this to fulfil his purpose in life. He’s said that the Father sent him to suffer on our behalf.
But how could that be?
Why would God allow him to suffer this way?
He had told her God had forgiven her her past, that she didn’t need to be punished because she was truly sorry for the things in her past which had shamed her and her family. So why did he have to be punished for her sins? What had he done to deserve this?
She found it hard to comprehend. He had done nothing. Absolutely nothing! Yet he had been nailed to the cross for her sake. For Peter’s sake. For John’s sake. For all our sakes.
She had whispered to him as he stumbled past her that she didn’t deserve this. That he didn’t have to do this for her, for anyone.
But he had looked at her with those eyes always so full of compassion, full of kindness, full of love. And he had told her “I do it because I love you. I love them all.”
Then he had touched her gently on the cheek and said “Don’t forget to keep loving them on my behalf. Love them because I first loved you.”
Then he was gone.
She had stayed with his mother as they had crucified him. Stayed while they waited for his body to be returned for burial.
A few days later she had gone back to the tomb with his mother. But the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty.
At first they had thought that someone had stolen his body. But why?
Then they had come across a gardener who had told them not to be afaid and they knew it was him.
He wasn’t dead! He had risen just as he had promised them he would. She clasped his hands and gently kissed his wounds.
Then she had hurried with his mother to find Peter and the others. They had to tell the disciples what had happened.
But Peter didn’t believe them. He thought they were made – gone out of their minds with grief.
Eventually they had managed to convince Peter to go with them to the tomb. TO see for himself that it was empty.
He was still there when they got back. He had been waiting for them.
He spent many days with them after that, before leaving them to go and prepare a place for them.
But she still remembered his words to her that day, “I do it because I love you. Remember to always Love them because I first loved you.”