Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Category: Keziah

Sinful woman forgiven (based on Luke 7)

Keziah’s Diary: Treasure

You saw me in my childhood,
Lost, alone, sullied, rejected.
And You gave me full acceptance.

You saw me on the street corner,
Beautiful, empty, desolate.
And You gave me peace and joy.

I was a prostitute,
Unworthy, unlovable.
You said my value was above the price of rubies.

You saw me in my sin,
You came to rescue me.
Oh what sacrifice was Yours,
To woo me back and make me pure.

You saw me in the darkness,
And Your love shone so bright.
I’m forgiven, I’m a child of light.
All because of You.

I’m loved.
I’m chosen.
I’m forgiven.
I’m accepted.

Jesus, my treasure.

Keziah’s Diary: Sacrifice

I’ve always known that what I was doing was wrong, but I loved the way Jesus accepted me. He didn’t push me away or condemn. It seemed the most natural thing in the world for me to kneel before Him and tell Him how sorry I was for all my sin. He put a finger beneath my chin and lifted my head. ‘I forgive you Keziah,’ He said, looking into my eyes. A weight rolled off me.

I decided not to go back to prostitution. Jesus teaches that if we put God first in our lives, then He will provide what we need. So I’m going to stake everything on that.

Shortly afterward, Jesus was invited for a meal by Simon, one of the local religious leaders. I made up my mind to go along too. Jesus has been so kind to me that I wanted to give Him a gift; the most precious thing in my possession was an alabaster jar of perfume. It was a family heirloom that I’d somehow managed to keep when my parents threw me out.

I was already at Simon’s house when Jesus arrived, along with some of the other ‘town riff-raff’ as Simon calls us. It’s common in our culture to do this.

I couldn’t believe how Simon snubbed Him. It’s common courtesy in our culture to give your guest a kiss on the cheek when they arrive, wash their feet, and to give them olive oil to cleanse their hands. There was none of that. Absolutely no manners. Simon was going out of his way to be rude.

I was horrified that they would treat Jesus in this way. He should have been an honoured guest, as a well-known travelling teacher. More than that, I believe Jesus is God come to earth.

What could I do? I know the shame and embarrassment of being insulted in public.

Jesus didn’t appear to be bothered. But I was bothered for Him.

Tears formed in my eyes. This was so wrong! They spilled down my cheeks, and then it came to me. I had no water but I could wash His feet with my tears. I knelt beside His reclining chair and let my tears drop onto His dusty toes. I’d brought no towel with me, so I let down my hair and dried His feet with that. Gratitude for Jesus’ complete acceptance and forgiveness of me, a sinful woman, almost overwhelmed me. I leaned down and kissed His feet again and again.

Then I stood and broke open my alabaster jar, and anointed His head with the perfume. The fragrant scent filled the room.

Simon and his other guests were looking on and nudging each other, clearly disapproving of my actions. They muttered at one another and gave both Jesus and me dirty looks. But through it all, Jesus sat peacefully, accepting my worship. If He’d pushed me away or even said quietly, ‘Okay Keziah, that’s enough now,’ I’d have been devastated. But He didn’t. Jesus accepted me and my sacrifice of worship for Him.

 

 

Keziah’s Diary: Injustice

That encounter with Jesus intrigued me. I couldn’t get the way He’d treated me out of my head. There was definitely something different about Him, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

I asked around a bit and found out Jesus is a travelling teacher. 

When I wasn’t working (I don’t know how else to earn money so I can eat), I made a point of going to hear Jesus teach. He was so interesting. He told everyday stories that I could identify with and which made me think. I’ve never heard anyone else teach like He does. And what I really love about Him is how He doesn’t avoid ‘sinners’. He welcomes people like me. Crazy, but true.

The more time I spent hanging around with Him and His friends, the more I felt convicted that I shouldn’t be working as a prostitute. That’s wrong and while I’ve never sensed Him condemning me for it, I just know that He doesn’t like what I do. He gives the impression that He sees me, Keziah the person, not Keziah the prostitute. I think He grasps the injustice I’ve been through.

I only got into sex work as a way to survive because I couldn’t see any other way forward. My childhood wasn’t especially happy and when one of my uncles showed me his own particular brand of ‘love’, my parents went mad. They said I was dirty and threw me out of the house. I had to learn the hard way how to survive on the streets. When you’re in the dust and you haven’t eaten in days, you do what you have to do.

The best of it is, the ‘respectable’ people who go to the synagogue every week are judgmental and look down on me.

‘There goes a bad girl,’ they say, with their haughty looks, perfect families and nice homes.

They think I’m not worthy of God’s love – and I’m not. This isn’t all my fault, yet I’m made to feel that it is. All they see is the woman on a street corner selling herself. They don’t see the abused and frightened child or the circumstances that put me here. Yes, I’ve made choices, but they weren’t really choices. It’s not like I enjoy what I do.

But Jesus is special. It’s like He seeks us out. I sometimes think sinners like me are His favourite kind of people. He spends enough time with us! I dunno, when I’m around Jesus I feel like God has come to earth or something….

Keziah’s Diary: Heal

The strangest thing happened yesterday . I’m still reeling from it. Did I imagine it? No, I feel different, I look different. Oh wow, this is amazing.

I went to work as usual. I hoped I’d get customers quickly so I could buy food and go home. There was nothing in the cupboards. I should probably plan better but my head is all over the place and it’s hard to get into a routine. I say ‘is’. I think all that is going to change now….

Business was slow. I stood patiently in the hot sun on my usual corner, I like this spot because there’s an olive tree that provides a bit of shade. And I eat the olives when they’re ripe, probably shouldn’t, but there we are.

Late afternoon I saw this group of men heading towards me. I patted my hair tidy and struck an alluring pose. 

They looked an odd bunch to be friends: some were clearly manual labourers judging from their muscles, one had the despicable air of a tax collector and I recognised one as a terrorist. But their leader, he was something else altogether. One look at him and I knew he’d never take part in my kind of business.

I pulled my robe tighter around me and turned away. I wished the ground would open up and cover me. I felt so ashamed and dirty. I was worthless, less than nothing. I wished I’d never been born. My life was pointless: how many times have I been used and not paid, or abused? Because the men I deal with think they can do what they like and get away with it.

But he came closer until he was standing right in front of me.

‘What do you want me to do for you?’

The words were so gentle and gave me the tiniest bit of hope. Such a simple question, yet coming from him it broke down the barriers I’d erected.

I longed for peace more than anything. To be able to sleep at night like a baby. For relief from these terrible, jagged, emotional wounds that cracked and bled at the slightest provocation.

‘Peace,’ I whispered.

‘I give you My peace. Don’t be troubled or afraid. I am giving you life. This is why I came: to bind up your broken heart and heal your wounds.’

At once I felt different, lighter, as if a very heavy load had been lifted. I raised my head and smiled at him. He beamed back. ‘I’m Jesus. What’s your name?’

‘Keziah.’

He squeezed my hand.

What a Man! He didn’t want anything from me, but gave hope, and peace, and life. Wow. I love this Man.

And guess what, last night I slept like a baby.

  

 

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