There are many people mentioned in the margins of Bible stories… some by name.
There is the Gentile-convert-to-Judaism-convert-to-Christianity called Nicolas of Antioch, chosen as one of the seven stewards in Acts chapter seven- along with Stephen, the first martyr. Nick from Antioch- what was his story then? Spiritual gypsy perhaps? A bit of a hippy? But considered trustworthy enough to be given a role as a servant of the embryonic church, and mentioned by name for thousands of years to come…
Later recorded though (By Irenaeus- see here) as starting another Gnostic sect and getting his doctrine all Hippy-shaken.
Then there is Simon the Leper. Mentioned a few times, including as providing a feast for Jesus in his house in Bethany (Mark chapter 14)- you may remember this as the time when a woman broke an alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it on the head of Jesus- almost as if she had some idea that soon he would be anointed for burial… who was she- and what motivated her towards this act of excess- what had she seen in Jesus- how had he touched her life?
But back to Simon the Leper. How did he get his name? Was it because he was an extremely spotty kid and the cruel nickname stuck?
Or perhaps he really had been a leper?
If so, why was he mingling with people and not away in a leper colony with the other unclean people, outcasts, not party throwing?
Could it be that Jesus healed him? And after he showed himself to the priests, and was declared clean, he returned home, and his story was known far and wide?
We know that Jesus had some other friends in Bethany, whose story is more well known- the wonderful story of Lazarus, perhaps the most hen-pecked of people in the Bible, sandwiched between Mary the starry eyed dreamer, and Martha the houseproud (if grumpy) hostess.
It is the stories behind the stories that are fascinating- the filling out in three dimensions of these half glimpsed characterisations. Mary, who in many traditions was the same woman who broke the jar of perfume, and was known as Magdelene, from whence she had returned to live with her brother, under some kind of shameful cloud.
And after the events of the story- what happened to these people? Did they make the journey to Jerusalem to watch the triumph and tragedy and then glory of what we now know of as the Easter story?
Were they in the upper room when the Spirit came in power?
Was Lazarus the same man who went as a missionary to what is now Cypress, and whose bones still lie in a shrine there? Did his sisters go with him? Did Martha give those Cypriots what for when they trod dirt onto her clean floors?
So here is something I stumbled on that retells some of Lazarus’ story again- enjoy!