I Am Simon, the Leper

I was a Pharisee of high standing, well-respected, serving in the Temple.

Watching the people give their gifts and sacrifices at the Temple, I had just instructed one hesitant giver to give more. He excused his meager offering by saying that he must care for his ailing father and mother. I rebuked him. His offering to God must take priority over his parents. The man seemed torn between obeying my words and the need to honor his parents.

A disturbance at the entrance of the Temple caught my attention. The crowd parted, like the waves of the Jordan when we entered our Promised Land. A leper had entered, against all rules and policy. He was unclean.

I must rid the Temple of this man. I called the Roman guards, standing outside the Temple.

They entered boldly, but wouldn’t touch him.

The leper begged to be allowed a sacrifice for his sin. He wanted to be cleansed.

No sacrifice could cover the sin of defiling the Temple!

Finally, in my anger, I threw him out of the Temple.

The man rolled down the Temple stairs and lay still at the bottom, his legs bent awkwardly underneath him.

No one helped him.

I stared for some time, before demanding that a peasant to remove him.

When he stooped to touch him, he looked at me. “He is dead.”

The shock of the news left my mouth dry. He was not that frail. He had withstood the soldiers and all the people when he had entered the Temple.

After the initial shock passed, anger took over. How could a man, so unclean, dare enter God’s house! This was God’s judgment! He had brought his uncleanness into the Temple. He deserved to die. God had cleansed His Temple.

I looked around. What would the other leaders think of my actions?

They had already turned back to their duties.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I would not be accountable for this man’s blood.

He had brought it on his own back, by entering the Temple unclean.

I directed the same peasant to remove him from the city. He didn’t dare refuse. If he didn’t obey, he would be excommunicated from the temple.

I fingered a widow’s mite, worth only a fraction of a copper coin, in my tunic pocket. “Here.” I said, as I tossed the coin to him.

When he caught it, he frowned as he studied it a moment. Glancing once more at the body, he dragged the man toward the gate of the city.

As soon as he was out of sight, I excused my departure and ran home.

I ordered servants, “Bring water to my chamber.” I bathed seven times, ordering the water hotter each time, and using oils to ensure that I would be clean.

As I waited to be done with the purification period required by the Law, I could not sleep. Each morning, I examined every inch of skin to see if any had changed.

One week went by. This day I could declare that I was clean, according to the Law. I examined my skin, more as a duty, than as the frantic searching that I had done on those first days of waiting.  When I saw my white finger, I screamed. I scrubbed again, but I could not deny my white finger. I was unclean. I could do nothing. How could I be a leper? I was a Pharisee, clean and in God’s service. What would I do?

The sun rose overhead. I saw through my window the Temple where I had served since my youth as a respected man of the Most High God. How could someone so clean, be declared unclean?

I sat all day, denying my condition. The sun was setting.

I heard a commotion in the hallway.

Armed soldiers barged into my room.

I stood up against them. “What’s the meaning of this?”

They grabbed me by the arms, dragging me from my house.

I turned back to glimpse my son standing behind them, watching. I spat at him. “You’re no son of mine. I am clean.”

He watched those soldiers take me away from my own house.

I yelled, “You’ll be sorry, when God judges you. I’m clean. Do you hear me, I am clean!”

They dragged me through the streets of the city in shame, as if I was a common criminal, worthy of disgrace.

I bowed my head, hoping no one would recognize me.

The city gates were closing when we reached them. “Wait!” One of the soldiers called, “We have one that must be removed.”

The gate keeper opened the gate wide for us.

They threw me to the ground off the road out of the city. They wiped their hands on their tunics and hurried through the gate before it closed.

I watched in the light of the setting sun, as the doors swung shut, clanging loudly as they came together. I heard the bar drop in place across the gate. I would hear that noise every night for years afterward. The gate that kept me out of my own city.

I was a leper. I was alone. I was unclean.

The disgrace of my condition did not fully settle over me until morning. The gates opened when the sun rose. A servant brought me a basket of bread and drink. She dropped the basket, bowed quickly and left, not even glancing back.

I wrapped my robe around my body and hid my fingers in its sleeve. Was this what it was like to be unclean? To be unacceptable before everyone’s eyes? To be stared at like a freak and an idiot?

I grabbed the basket and lifted the linen napkin. I brought the wineskin to my lips. I hadn’t realized how thirsty I was. I hadn’t eaten nor drank anything the day before. I swallowed. Spitting out the water. And throwing the wineskin to the ground. I watched the contents pour out on the grass. They give me water! I am a Pharisee of the highest order. I deserve the best of wines with my meals. I licked my lips and grabbed for the wineskin, almost empty of its contents. Water was better than nothing.

The sun grew hot. I stayed under a group of trees outside the gate. I would not be cast out in public disgrace again. But nor would I beg in the streets.

My son, Judas, came.

I cursed him for calling the Roman soldiers.

He shrugged. “Father, it’s the Law.” He backed away, finally walking back into the city. He had thrown his own father out of his house!

Days melted into years. My fingers were not the only thing that turned white. Whiteness crept up my arms, covering my toes, feet, and legs. I could feel holes in my face. Just as the disease crept through my skin, anger seeped over my heart. My anger spilled on anyone who came close.

The servants still brought my daily portion of bread and water. Never did they bring wine.

One day, I sat against a tree as my son approached. I had already received my daily food. Why had he come? I watched his approach through semi-closed my eyes.

He bowed before me.

“What do you want?” I growled, unable to stand his weak posture. Couldn’t he at least stand like a man of power?

He licked his lips and looked at the ground in front of me. “A man from Galilee has been teaching in synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.”

“Why do the Pharisees allow him in the synagogues?”

Judas fidgeted. “He speaks with authority.” He gathered his cloak more tightly around him, as if to give him confidence. “He heals.”

I spat at his feet. “A leper is cursed for life.”

He continued as if he hadn’t heard. “He heals all kinds of sickness. I went to see Him. He can heal you, Father.”

I listened, but did not believe. I had watched the whiteness take over my body. I was disfigured. Did I dare hope?

He squatted down and looked me in the eyes. “Come, see, Father.”

We followed the crowds to this Man, who could work miracles. We met Him as He came down from a mountain outside the city.

The crowds parted, allowing me to walk right up to him. They moved out of fear of the dreaded disease.

I bowed before Him. “Lord, if You’re willing, You can make me clean.”

He didn’t hesitate. He stretched out His hand and touched me. “I’m willing; be cleaned.”

I hadn’t been touched in years! His touch cleaned the inside of me and left me whole outside. I looked at my hands, my feet…the whiteness was gone! I touched my face. The holes had closed.

He still held my shoulder. “Tell no one. Show yourself to the priest and offer what Moses commanded.”

I looked at him. How ironic that this man, not a ruler, would tell me, a Chief Pharisee, to follow the Law. To be declared “clean.”

I entered the Temple that day, the first time in years. I did not have to yell through the streets of my city, “Unclean. Unclean.” I boldly walked up the stairs of the Temple, where the priest declared me “Clean.”

I returned to my own house, and position in the Temple.

My son became a follower of this Man. He claimed that He was the one who would throw off the Roman rule from off our backs.

On one of Judas’s visits home, he spoke of this man’s teachings. “He doesn’t prepare armies, nor stir up the people. He talks of giving to the poor and loving your enemy.”

I looked at Judas in pity. I squeezed his shoulder. I could feel him cringe. How could he be deceived?

He tried to back away.

“You believe Him? He only finds those true to Him before He shares his real plan. Stay with Him and tell me when He shares it.”

Judas fidgeted, trying to back from my touch. “He deceives the people well. I, too, am almost deceived.”

I shook my head. “Do not be sucked into His kindness. He heals to draw a following. Then He will use it against Rome to overthrow its power. Keep me informed.”

He nodded, hesitant to leave.

“What is it?”

“His disciples…they’re crude fishermen. They don’t even wash their hands when they eat bread.”

I shook my head. “Yet He knows the Law?”

He nodded. “He speaks with authority.”

“I will check into this.…” He must follow the Law or He is not the one whom we want to deliver us from Rome. He will be like a foreigner imposing His rules on us. I was tired of Rome demanding more taxes. I wearied of all the soldiers filling my city’s streets. I hated Herod for bringing foreigners to rule in my Temple. I had heard enough of this Jesus, Who had a following that could overthrow the Roman Empire, yet didn’t lead them to freedom.

Judas nodded and slipped out the back gate.

I went to hear this Man. I shook my head as His disciples ate with unclean hands. Judas had been right. They were unclean. I approached Jesus, to instruct Him in the Law. “Why don’t your disciples wash their hands when they eat?”

Jesus remained sitting, not even standing out of respect for my position. “Why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘he who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say, ‘whoever says to his father or mother, ‘whatever I have that would help you has been ‘given to God.’ He is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. In vain, they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

I stepped back, surprised at His words. He did know the Law, but He twisted it to fit what He wanted it to say. I couldn’t answer Him. Even as I considered, He turned to the crowd. “It’s not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

I clenched my fists at my sides. I could feel my face flush. I caught Judas’s eye.

He approached Jesus and whispered, “You’ve offended the Pharisees by Your words.”

Jesus looked directly at me. “He is blind, leading the blind. Both will fall into a pit.”

I could feel my face flush. He made me look like a fool! How dare he accuse me of going astray! He judges me? Wasn’t I the leader who pronounced another clean for Temple worship? I looked at the crowds. They believed His words. I swallowed my anger. Another time I would respond, but I would remember this disgrace.

As I performed my duties at the Temple, Jesus’s words lingered in my mind. I couldn’t sleep. This Jesus had humiliated me before peasants! I must show them that He’s the one that is blind and leading them astray. They are deceived. I started following Him, just so I could humiliate Him. I yelled from the back of the crowd, “Show us a sign from heaven.”

Jesus nodded. “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you discern the sky, but cannot discern the times? An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. A sign won’t be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” Then He walked away.

I had been dismissed. How should I respond to that? How dare He call me evil!

This was not the Man that we should follow. He would not work with the holy men of God. The scribes, Pharisees, even the Sadducees must unite to eliminate His power, crush His influence, and shatter His following. His insults against us were public…but we could not eliminate Him publically. The people followed Him. He acted peacefully, but He stirred up the people with His words against the Temple and us. If we caused a riot, we would be put in Roman jails. And our own power would be crushed.

I cursed when I learned how He went to Jerusalem, and whipped our moneychangers who bought and sold in the Temple. We received a high percentage from their profits. He dared to enters our sanctuary and tells us how to worship God? He is not the man that we wanted to overthrow Rome. He must be eliminated. All of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees met to discuss how this should be done.

I heard Judas slip into the house. “What is it?”

He seemed preoccupied. “He knows of your plans….to deliver Him to the Roman courts.”

I paced. “How could he know? Did you let something slip?”

Judas shook his head, but backed up. “I said nothing, but He knew everything.”

“What else did He say?”

Judas swallowed. “The Jerusalem chief priests and elders asked him by what authority He preached.”

“Good question. And What did he say?”

Judas shook his head. “He asked them by whose authority John baptized?”

I considered. If they said from men, then the people would discount their words, but if they said of God, then He would ask, “Why didn’t you believe him?”

“What did they say?”

Judas said, “They didn’t know.”

My shoulders slumped. He had outsmarted them again. “Did He answer their question then?”

Judas shrugged. “He said, ‘Neither will I answer you by what authority I do these things.’”

I paced before the window. There must be some way to trip Him in His words. To show the people He is not who He claims to be. He undermined my authority and brought uncleanness to my soul.

Judas continued. “He pronounced woes on all the leaders of the Temple.”

I turned from the window.

Judas seemed to find pleasure in sharing the Man’s words. “He called you unclean. Clean on the outside, like a cup, but full of robbery and self-indulgence on the inside. He even called you whitewashed tombs…beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones and uncleanness.” Judas smirked.

I felt the blood rush to my face. My own son laughed at me, siding with this Man who destroyed our traditions. I moved quickly across the room and struck him across the face.

His smile disappeared. “I find His words true.”

I stood face to face with Judas. “You don’t know what clean is. You don’t even know the duty of keeping yourself pure for God.”

Judas laughed now. “And you do? I saw who left your chamber before I entered…and it wasn’t mother. What happened to the girl down the street…what was her name?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

Judas shrugged. “Are you sure all the leprosy is gone?” He laughed. “Whitewashed tombs…what a good picture.”

I raised my hand to smack him again, but stopped. I needed him to help stop this Man. I clenched my fist in front of his face and turned my back on him, looking out the window, and breathing deeply.

Judas turned to leave.

I was not done with him. “Caiaphas meets with the chief priests and elders.”


I nodded. “We cannot seize Him in public. We would have a riot. We must find another way.”

“Especially not during the festival.” Judas added. “Have us for dinner. There would be no crowds and I grow tired of sleeping in different houses every night.”

I smiled, the first time since he entered. “What a good idea. Bring Him here.”

I planned for His visit. I would show Him my wisdom and my place before God. I would also find out how He had come to know our plans. Maybe this would be the time to take Him.

When He came, bringing his disciples with him, Judas seemed ill at ease.

I drew him aside. “What is it?”

“What plans do you have?”

I shook my head. “This is not the place to discuss our plans.”

He motioned me to the other room and whispered, “He told us that He will be crucified.”

“Crucified…how would He know that?”

“He told us.”

I shook my head, looking through the doorway at Jesus as He reclined at my table. I had just come from a secret meeting of priests and elders. Caiaphas, the high priest, had plotted to seize Jesus and kill Him. I had told Judas nothing. I, too, was disturbed. I must be careful what I said. Someone was leaking information. Tonight would not work for taking Him. “We must find out how He knows.”

Judas turned back to the table.

I grabbed his arm. “You are still with us. Aren’t you?” I stared at his eyes.

He held my gaze.

I could feel him twitch beneath my grasp.

“Crucify Him? Father. Is that how you get rid of someone whom you can’t answer? His truth makes me question about what you taught me.”

I swallowed the anger rising in my throat. “You question me?”

He laughed then. “Isn’t that what you taught?  We should not honor our fathers, but give all to the Temple. I don’t honor you, but nor will I give to the Temple.”

I glanced through the doorway, clenching my jaws.

Who had just entered my house? Was it the woman from down the street? My hand stopped squeezing his arm.

He looked where I looked. “Seems like Jesus not only is taking your authority from the Temple, He’s also taking your entertainment from your chamber.”

I smacked him. The noise echoed in the hallway. I glanced quickly to see if it was noticed in the room of guests. “We will speak later.”

Judas stood confident. “I look forward to it.”

I followed Judas, as we returned to the room. I more ill than before.

The woman, who had entered, kneeled at Jesus’s feet as He reclined eating some of the grapes that had been laid there for before the meal started. She had started to weep. Her tears fell on His uncovered feet. In desperation, she looked for something to wipe her tears from His feet. Seeing nothing, she loosened her braid of hair and used it to dry her tears.

I approached the table, knowing what kind of a woman she was. Hadn’t she frequented my chamber before this Jesus had come? She had been unwilling once Jesus had come to be popular. Judas’s words still churned within me. Hadn’t Jesus taken both my authority and my chosen entertainment?

I made myself comfortable on the cushions, and chewed some grapes before speaking. I motioned to Jesus’s feet, in a gesture of disgust. “If you knew what kind of woman you allowed to kiss your feet, you wouldn’t allow her to touch you.”

“Simon,” Jesus paused to drink from his vessel. His tone sounded like I was some way-ward child, being reprimanded for some offense. “Simon. You invited me to your house, yet when I entered, you did not greet me with a kiss, yet she has not stopped kissing my feet. When I came into your house, you didn’t wash my feet, yet she hasn’t stopped washing my feet with her hair. You offered me only a token of hospitality, but she has given me her heart.”

While Jesus spoke, she took from her tunic’s pocket a vial of perfume. She opened it, filling the air with its fragrance. The odor of unwashed bodies was replaced with its strong, sweet smell.

I watched, unable to eat, as she poured the entire contents over Jesus’s head.

Judas leaned beside Jesus. “Why did she waste this perfume? She could have sold it for three hundred denarii and given the money to the poor.”

Jesus’s tone grew stern. “Leave her alone. You’ll always have the poor with you. You won’t always have Me. She has anointed my body for burial.”

I coughed, choking on the fig that I had started to chew.

He spoke of his burial. Did He know that it was soon?

He rebuked my lack of hospitality, making me feel unclean. He defended this sinner, while He judged me! I shook my head. My position guaranteed that I was clean. The discussion had not gone the way I wanted. I not only could not correct his teaching, but was rebuked for my hospitality and lifestyle. I could not wait for Him to leave. His presence unsettled me, not only by what He knew of our plans, but of how His words pierced me to show my uncleanness. I didn’t like it.

As He and His disciples left, Judas whispered to me, “When do the scribes meet again?”

Could I trust him? I studied him, finally telling where and when we would meet.

When the rulers met, I was surprised to see Judas enter. All discussion stopped as he stood before the chief priest. His voice was strong, confident. “I will turn him over to you.”

I felt a surge of pride. This was my son. He would defend my honor. He would safeguard my position. I caught his eye and smiled.

The council agreed to pay him thirty pieces of silver.

He agreed and left.

As I left the meeting, I felt elated. This Man, who could see into my very heart, would be gone. This Man, who challenged my authority, questioned my cleanness, and misinterpreted our traditions and Law, would be removed. I whistled as I made my way home.

I had finished the Passover dinner at my house. The house seemed oppressive on that evening. I struggled to choke down the bitter herbs with the lamb. The wine soured my mouth and unsettled my insides. I didn’t linger over the meal, but hastened to the meeting at the Temple. The night was dark, without a moon to light my way. I tripped over a root in the pathway in my hurry to arrive. Tonight was the night that Judas would hand over Jesus. The scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees waited in the darkened room to see if he was successful.

I looked around the room. Shadows covered the faces of the men. Their head coverings pulled low over their foreheads, as if they didn’t want to be recognized. No one spoke. The waiting taxed us all. The one candle on the table in front of the chief scribe sputtered. It made me jump. I was preoccupied. I replayed all the questions that Jesus had asked that I could not answer. How could our traditions not be right? Were they really against the Law? I shook my head, and reminded myself of my authority. I knew the Law. Hadn’t I studied it for years? Doubts of my cleanness crept in unbidden.

I had been a leper, cleansed by Jesus’s very hand. Jesus had called us clean on the outside, blemished on the inside. I crossed my arms and leaned against the wall. I could feel the dead man’s bones that He had called us. I could see the white of my leprous hand creep into my heart and choke it. I shivered. I must change my thoughts. I was clean. I looked at the candle as it sputtered and went out.

We sat in the darkness. No one rose to light another.

The silence was broken by footsteps running in the passageway.

Judas panted at the doorway. “The deed is done.”

I breathed deeply, unconscious of the breath that I’d been holding.

I could feel Judas’s presence, even though the light wasn’t strong enough to see him.

Someone finally took the candle from the scone in the hallway and brought it into the room. Even with the light, the room seemed dark, stifling. The air close.

Judas looked anxious. “Where’s the silver?”

The leader of the Sadducees slowly stood from his chair and opened the money chest. He dug through its contents, counting out thirty pieces in a pile. Each piece sounded hollow against the wood of the table.

When he finished, Judas gathered them in his purse and pulled the drawstring tightly, securing the purse in the folds of his cloak. He walked to the doorway. Before leaving, he scanned the room until he found me. He nodded, then left.

No one spoke. The deed was done.

I should have felt relief; instead I felt a foreboding, a pressure on my heart that evil had replaced any cleanness I might have had. I scowled. I couldn’t let His words change my mind now. I wouldn’t go back to before He had come. I sighed, then looked around, for it had echoed in the silent room. If I went back to before He had come, I’d still be a leper. I’d still be unclean. I shook my head. My thoughts didn’t rest. Being unclean like a leper seemed mild compared to what I felt now.

When a chair scraped on the marble floor, I jumped. The chief scribe stood, calling us to move to the court room. We would try this Man who questioned our authority, who caused my insides to be unclean, no matter how much I cleaned myself on the outside. We would remove Him and destroy this feeling of uncleanness that swept over me like a cloud, permeating my very soul.

I followed the others to the courtroom.

Our Law stated that no trial for execution could be held before morning sacrifices. Our minds were to be clear. I looked for the sun. It would not rise for many hours. No one reminded us of the Law that we were breaking. We took our seats without a protest. How could I shout so loudly for us to obey the Law, when my own heart desired to destroy it?

I felt the evil of what we were doing. I studied my hands, expecting them to be white again. Could leprosy come back? I rubbed my hands on my tunic and shifted in my chair.

Jesus was brought into the room by the Roman soldiers. He stood before us, looking at each one of us.

Why did I feel such uncleanness in His presence? I pulled my head covering further over my head. I lowered my head and only listened to the words. I could not watch this Man stand before these witnesses. No one defended His cause: another Law that we did not obey. If we waited until morning, some of our own, Nicodemus, for one, would defend Him. We could not have that. The false witnesses came forward, not to defend, but to tell of His blasphemy. As they accused Him, His words pierced my heart, and I felt they were true. Could He be the Son of God? It angered me anew.

We could execute someone according to our Law. For example, the woman whom we caught in adultery, we could stone. But we wanted Him executed by the Romans, so the Jews would not riot against us. We must have a cause great enough for the Romans to execute Him.

Our Law did not allow a death sentence to be given the day before a feast or Sabbath. This was the day before the Passover. We also must allow a death sentence to have a two-day waiting period, to allow consideration. This rushed secret trial in the middle of the night prohibited any who would favor His release to even attend. Isn’t that why we had to do it in the middle of the night, under cover of darkness and secrecy?

I swallowed the bile that rose in my throat at our disregard of our own Law. I watched Jesus’s retreating back, as He was taken to Pilate for another trial. We changed the charges for the Roman court, making them more acceptable and convincing. He was a traitor to Rome, claiming to usurp the emperor.

The bones of the dead man seemed to be touching me and I shivered, but did not stop the proceedings.

When the trial went back and forth, between our group and Pilate, then even to Herod, I could not hold my dinner. I left to walk in the coolness of the garden behind the Temple. I shook my hands, looking again for the white spot of leprosy.

I remembered that cleanness that I had felt when the leprosy was cleaned away. I felt whole. I had forgotten that feeling of wholeness, of purity, of cleanness. My insides were filled with rotten bones.

When I arrived at my chamber, I pushed my head covering off my head and rubbed my hands through my hair. Anguish grabbed my soul and sucked it dry, squeezing it until I couldn’t breathe.

I felt that I wasn’t alone. Glancing around, I was surprised to see Judas on my bed.

He arose quickly when I saw him.

I tried to conceal my exhaustion and anguish. One glance at him told me that I didn’t need to.

He fell at my feet. The coins in his hand spilling out on the floor with a clattering that unnerved me. “I cannot take these.”

I felt angry. His prostrate form reminded me of weakness, grovelling on the ground like I had done when I was a leper. “Who am I to accept this money? Return it to the counsel who gave it to you!”

He raised his head. His tears had streaked his face. He pulled his hair in an effort to still his inward unrest.

I stepped back, unwilling to be unclean by his own wrong. Without saying another word, I turned my back on him and stalked to my balcony, shutting the doors behind me. I wanted peace, cleanness, the Law.

I laughed out-loud, without mirth. I wanted the Law? I disdained the Law. I had broken the Law all night. I only wanted my own rules, my own traditions, my own way. I had gotten it, but at what cost?

Later that day, when the chief priests met again, Judas appeared before them. I hardly recognized him. His eyes had a haunted look, like he had been sucked into the spirit world and only escaped with his body. His cloak was torn, his arms held limp at his sides.

The chief priests demanded. “What do you want?”

His voice was hoarse, and it pained me to hear him. “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?”

Judas threw the coins on the floor at their feet. They rolled and clanked. Before they stopped rolling, he was gone.

One Pharisee, not able to see any money wasted, gathered them up from off the floor.

I nearly stomped on his hand when he reached under my robe to take one found there. He placed them carefully on the table, where the night before, the high priest had counted them out so carefully and Judas had taken them so willingly. What had a night wrought!

The High Priest coughed after seeing the coins. “It is not lawful to put them into the Temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.”

I almost laughed out loud. We are concerned about what the Law says now? After disregarding it all night!

I watched in shock as they decided to buy the Potter’s Field. It was a field unworthy of anything, full of rocks, boulders, and snakes. They bought it for a burial place for strangers. I nearly choked on the bile that remained in my throat from the night’s activities.

Was this the group of men that I had fought so hard to be with? Is this what we had become? A group that used the Law to gain power, money, and position, but did not use the Law to cleanse our own hearts?

I was called back to the trial. I entered the court, head down, unable to listen to the proceedings. What if Jesus was right? Would I ever feel the healing of cleanness on the inside?

We moved to wait Pilate’s decision outside, where Pilate would stand on his balcony and announce his verdict.

When Jesus stood before Pilate on the balcony of his palace, Pilate asked, “What has He done?”

I stood with the mob of my peers, yelling, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.”

I remember Pilate’s confusion. “I find no fault with Him.”

Jesus’s words pierced me. Whitewashed tombs. Whitewashed tombs. Nothing but dead man’s bones. Bones. Bones. I screamed with the crowd. “Crucify Him.” If He were gone, my cleanness would return. I would be whole again. His presence made me feel unworthy.

We did crucify Him. Well, the Roman soldiers did. But I felt that I hung on that cross with Him.

Killing him did not give me peace. I felt the guilt of what we had done. How could I now uphold the Law?

Joseph approached the council for Jesus’s body.

We had not considered this problem. Joseph was a wealthy man, who gave much to the Temple and to our purses. Would he stop if he knew our part in the man’s death?

We had only sought to end His life; now what should be done?

We allowed him to take the body. That would eliminate our problem. Someone wisely suggested placing a guard at the tomb. Who knew what his followers would do with His body?

I returned home, exhausted. The Passover night had turned into a nightmare.

We had accomplished what we wanted.

He was dead.

I laid down, trying to sleep, even though it was still day. All I managed to do was relive the irony of this Man’s unjust trial. I heard a servant enter. “What is it?”

He bowed. “News has come of Judas.”

“What of him?”

“He has hung himself.”

I nodded. I could feel the weight of uncleanness press on my heart. I knew that Judas had felt that same weight. I had seen it in his eyes when he begged for me to take the coins. Did he think that I could replay history? Undo what wrong we had done? Judas was a coward. He died, trying to remove the weight that now choked me.

Couldn’t I even raise a man who could stand up to the decisions that he chose? I didn’t weep for the child that I lost, I wept for the son that I never loved. I wept for the Law that I didn’t understand. I wept for the cost of my decision.

What could I do now?

A thunderstorm at midafternoon…that darkness like the deepest pit…made my skin crawl and my hands rub my arms in reassurance that the leprosy had not returned. But how do I rub the dead man’s bones from the inside of my heart?

I dragged myself to the Temple on the Sabbath. It was time for evening sacrifices. I numbly partook of the lamb that was slain for the sins of the people.

Looking back now, I didn’t know that the Law was made to show me my sin. That the sacrifices were done to point us to the Savior that would die for my sin.

When this Man rose from the dead, I went to hear Him again. He spoke of victory over death, conquering my sin. Could He make me clean…not just my skin, but inside-out? Could He take away the dead man’s bones that haunted me? He could, and He did.

Somedays now, I stand on the mountainside and look over Potter’s Field. I weep over the son that I never thought was good enough, but now I see that I wasn’t good enough to show him God. I see a woman who kissed the feet of her Savior because He had given her worth, not because of what she did, but because of Whose she was. I see graves of strangers buried at my feet, but not forever.

I see hope. Hope of being washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.

The Man I killed, spilled His blood to wash my uncleanness away. I don’t understand it. But I know that it is so. I am for the first time clean, inside and out.

I am still known as Simon the leper, even though no spot of white can be seen on my skin.

I still teach the Law, but not all the traditions that man has added.

I still strive to be clean. But I know that it is not through my own efforts that I am made or even kept clean. It is only through the work of that Man Whom I nailed to the cross.


I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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Tell of My Kingdom's Glory
Three Book Series