Anonymous and Her Example
Jesus Worked a Miracle
She is never mentioned by name in the Gospels. In fact, she isn't mentioned at all, except by inference. Yet, her example of devotion and mothering frames one of the most well-loved stories about Jesus in the New Testament. Therefore, let me refer to her as Anonymous in the following:
Just at dawn, Anonymous rose from sleep, picked up the earthen jar near the door of her tiny house, and hoisted it to her shoulder. She made her way to the well at the heart of the town and waited her turn to fill the jar with the day's supply of water. As she lingered, her friends who also waited spoke excitedly in hushed tones of the day's excitement.
"Jesus is coming Jesus is coming!" Her friend Ruth grabbed Anonymous' arm. "Are you going to hear Him?" she asked. "He heals, you know."
Anonymous' heart leapt at the thought. If only she COULD go, but she had young children to tend and a husband who needed her help as he eked out their meager living with his leather work.
"No, I won't be going," she replied. Then she added in haste, "But Jonathan is going. I'm sure his father will let him go this once."
She had to stay at home...but their oldest son could go! Usually he helped his father in the shop, but Anonymous could persuade her husband to let the boy go with some of his friends. Just this once. She was sure about that...if she stayed home instead.
Hurrying to the house with her pot full of cool water, she uncovered live coals in the fire pit in the center of the room and added twigs, then sticks to encourage a flame. Working in the shadows of daybreak, she ground some barley kernels between two stones to a fine flour and made little cakes she baked on the hot granite stones at the side of the pit.
As soon as the meal was ready, she wakened Jonathan from a sound sleep and told him today was the day he would see Jesus. Hesitant at first, he warmed to the idea and put on his tunic. Anonymous saw his long legs showing below the hem of his garment and realized he was growing out of his clothes! No wonder his appetite was ravenous.
She took a cloth, wrapped some lunch in it securely, and handed it to her son. "Here is something for you to eat. I don't want you coming home too soon just because you're hungry," she whispered to not waken his sleeping sisters.
Jonathan hesitated. "But the shop...?"
"I'll help your father today. Now hurry!" She pressed the package into his hand.
Jonathan tucked the bundle within his tunic above the sash and pecked his mother's cheek. "Thank you, Mother!" Then he was gone.
With a leap he was out the door, racing down the narrow street to join other boys already headed outside of the town limits where Jesus would be passing.
Anonymous' heart swelled with pride. What a fine young man he was! At 13 he already possessed a maturity and soberness that made him trustworthy, but he was still a boy lacking the experience of adulthood. And he was growing! She hoped the packet she had given him would hold his appetite well enough to keep him in Jesus' hearing all day.
The girls stirred and Anonymous turned to prepare their breakfast. She doled out the rest of the browned cakes carefully. Her husband, Seth, was already hard at work making harnesses for a camel train camped outside the village.
"Where is Jonathan?" he asked as he gulped down the hot bread and cool water she set in front of him. "He should have been in the shop by now."
"Jesus is coming this way and I sent him along to hear Him. I hear such good things about Jesus, and Jonathan needs good teaching in his life. I can work with you today!"
"You always come to the boy's defense," Seth muttered. "But you're good help." He smiled. "We must hurry to finish this job. The travelers are anxious to move on."
All day she worked alongside her husband, nursed the baby and tried to entertain the young girls. She was almost as skilled as Seth was with the leather, though her hands weren't as strong and couldn't move quite as deftly as his. She and Seth had worked together until Jonathan was old enough to assume more and more responsibility. He had learned quickly and gave Anonymous time to mother the babies when they came along.
Noon came and went. The shadows lengthened. Late in the afternoon when she ventured to the well to fill her jug again, word was that no one had yet returned from their venturing to hear Jesus. Given the hour, Anonymous thought that was strange, but was glad Jonathan was among them. He must be having a good time.
The evening meal was scant, but she made sure Seth and the girls had the greater portions. Her own she set aside for Jonathan. He would be ravenous!
Seth had already nodded off and the girls were asleep before she heard her son's footsteps on the sill. She was anxious to hear his tale about the day. As Jonathan crossed the threshold into the dimly-lit room, her eyes fastened on the large basket cradled in his arms.
"What do you have there?" She was puzzled.
Though barely visible in the last light of evening, a huge grin covered Jonathan's face. "Oh, Mother! It was glorious! Look what I brought home for you! You can't even imagine what happened today!" He thrust the basket into her arms. It was filled almost to overflowing with pieces of bread and fish.
Anonymous nibbled a piece of the bread warily. It tasted familiar, just like her recipe!
"It's from the lunch you fixed for me, Mother!" Jonathan's words tumbled from his lips. "Jesus prayed over it and then fed all the people who followed Him today. It was a huge crowd, too. We even had enough to eat until we were full!" His excitement stirred Seth, who roused to stare in amazement at all the food.
"And this is only some of what was left over!" he exclaimed. "We have plenty to eat right now and more for tomorrow, too!"
Anonymous just smiled and banked the fire.