How Christmas Continued, 18

WHY DID I FOLLOW JESUS? (Luke 8: 3)

I am Susanna and I, too, was remembered to have followed Jesus. Just think my name appears in a book that is all about Jesus. Only, one of the writers found room in his story of Jesus for me. All Luke, the Gentile physician, had to say about me is, “Susanna, with many other women not named, helped to support Jesus out of their own means.” The other writers did not bother to mention my name; yet, I too was with Jesus to the end. Only, there I am one of the other women. There too, I am the nameless one on whom the Lord depended to make out on earth. Just think of the many women who never got their names printed or written or even mentioned at their own funeral; yet, without their contribution, regardless how small it may have been, things would have turned out differently. What would have happened to Jesus’ mission without the help of the other women? I dare say, that His work would have suffered additional hardships. Our names were not up in front, but our deeds were. And that was why we were remembered for what we had done.

I also had my own reason why I followed Jesus. In fact, there were two reasons why women were drawn to the Prophet from Nazareth. He treated us as equals in the eyes of God and with the same rights that men had. He did not stone us for being raped or seduced. We were helpmates and not slaves. The other reason was that He opened His religion to the Gentiles, especially Gentile women. He drew all people to Himself. He was teaching us that God could live in our hearts and not in a temple or on a mountain. It was what we did and how we lived that mattered and not just what we believed in. Jesus taught us to care even for those that were not friendly or worthy. Among the Jewish people, my name was romantic and virtuous. I pretended to be a Jewess. Actually, I had Jewish and Gentile blood in my veins. I lived in a Jewish environment and found it difficult to be part of it. Very few of us were allowed any notoriety in a male dominated Semitic world. Jesus, too, had to practice discrimination. We were good enough to sacrifice and serve, but we were not proper enough to sit at the table with the men. For me, it did not matter. I was content, that this great spiritual Leader, allowed me to follow and serve Him. And I may not have been important to my Jewish companions; but to the Gentiles, I was. The mentioning of my name, in connection with Jesus, alone gave credence to His interest in people other than Jews. And that I supported Jesus’ ministry added to the validity that He indeed approved of others. We were, after all, the other sheep that Jesus had come to bring home into His sheepfold. And I was grateful that I was permitted to be one of His sheep; especially, of being a woman at a time when our fathers had to pay the men for marrying us. We were treated like property and sold off when we no longer pleased our men.

For a moment, let me return to my name. It is actually a combination of two words, “Susa and Anna.” Perhaps it should read, “Anna from Susa.” Susa was the ancient capital of Akkad and then Elam. The Assyrians, when they carried away the ten tribes of Israel, they brought some of our people here to manage the affairs of their conquered territory. Both Akkad and Elam mean “su-sa-an” or “su-su-un.” The ending “anna” to my Jewish friends stood for grace. Hence, I was the lady from the place of grace. And they had a good reason to regard me as a gracious lady from a place that had the means to help them. But, there was another reason, why my name had a rather romantic attraction. My Jewish friends never grew tired of reminding me of an Anna from Susa that almost lost her life because she refused to engage in immorality. Her full name, like mine, was Susanna. I, too, was virtuous and did not yield to the wishes of lustful men. Especially, since Jesus crossed my path, I found distinct reasons to resemble the Susanna of old. And I had learned to be gracious or being humble about it.

I, too, had traveled the road of suffering and sorrow. An evil spirit held me captive. It had demoralized my mind and my health. In spite of the money we had, no physician could free me from the mental tortures I went through. I had a diseased mind. I had such pain in my head that I would roll on the ground or floor. At times, I would tear out my hair and scratch my face. I would bruise myself by running into walls and objects, just to lessen the pain in my head. No normal person has any idea what it meant to have a tormented mind. In addition to the unbearable pain, I was being harassed with doubt and fear. In my mind, I concocted all the reasons for my prevailing condition. One of these was that I had committed some sin that was demanding payment. It was Jesus that drove out that evil spirit and showed me that I was an innocent victim of the demonic attack. He also helped me to understand that the evil spirits go after good and decent people. Their intention was and will remain to discredit those that believe in God and His moral laws. These bad spirits or demons thrive on laying snares for the just and righteous. Every little thing that I did wrong, the evil spirit would remind me of what I had done. Well, Jesus cleared that up for me and once again I became a romantic, but this time it was for the cause of Jesus. I, too, followed Him from town to town and village to village and helped provide for His basic needs.

Along with the other women not mentioned by name, we cared for our Healer all the way. We were not allowed to be near Him when our Lord was arrested, tried and tortured. But we did follow Him on the road to Calvary. We prayed and wept for Him. He told us to weep for ourselves. We watched Him being brutally crucified and heard Him cry out in pain to God in heaven for help. It was painful to stand with people that mocked our Lord. They wanted Him, to prove to them, that He was the Son of God by coming down from the cross. He had helped others, why could He not help Himself? I could have told them why He would not do these things. I had heard Jesus often enough that He had come to save life and not to take it. He had to give His life to ransom mine. What He was doing was dying for me so that I might live for Him. The greatest thing Jesus could ever do was to give His life for His friends and I was one of them.