Summary: Taking a look at the attendees at the dinner given in Jesus' honor in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper. Which character(s) would you be if you had been there? Many had good attitudes and thankful hearts.
This is the fifth week of the Lenten season and today we’ll be taking a look at an event in the life of Jesus that revealed true love.
So, let’s take a look at the passage starting in the 12th chapter of John, verses 1 through 8
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him.
“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
“But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’
“He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of My burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me.”
Wow! What a story! Now, we need to remember that in this passage Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem, as in all of the passages we have looked at in this Lenten season. He knows that in Jerusalem He will be handed over to the Jewish rulers for trial and finally to the Romans to be put to death.
This is something that He has explained to His disciples but the understanding of His words were hidden from them.
As it says in Luke 10:31-34
“Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.’
“He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him, insult Him and spit on Him; they will flog Him and kill Him. On the third day He will rise again.”
“The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what He was talking about.”
So, here they are, on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. And, on their way they are passing through Bethany and are invited to a dinner in honor of Jesus. Jesus is the guest of honor.
So, let’s take a look at the guests and their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, we’ve got Simon the leper. It doesn’t state explicitly in the text that Simon the leper is there but he is the host of the party! We know that the dinner was held at the home of Simon the leper because says in Mark 14:3
“While He was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.”
Now, we also know that Simon the leper is no longer a leper because if he were still a leper he would need to live outside the town of Bethany. If he were still a leper no one but Jesus would most likely even go into his home. And, if he were still a leper it would be a very noisy dinner because Simon would need to constantly be yelling at the top of his voice, “Unclean, unclean!”
This would make normal conversation very difficult indeed.
So, why is Simon the leper no longer a leper? Because Jesus had healed him. Consequently, Simon is grateful for his deliverance from a dreaded disease and to show his gratitude he throws a dinner party with Jesus as the guest of honor!
Now, healing a leper was impossible back then. We only see it in the Old Testament with the healing of Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram (2 Kings 5). We also see the healing from leprosy in the incident with Miriam, the sister of Moses, after she repented of her sin of pride. But, the healing was always because of the hand of God moving in a miraculous way. So, this healing of Simon the leper was certainly a big deal!
Then, we’ve got Lazarus! Now, Lazarus had been dead and buried! Now, there’s not a sentence you hear very often is it? Lazarus had been dead and buried, so, that was the end of him, right? But … he’s at the dinner! And, not only is he at the dinner but he’s pushed right up to the table. So, how could he be at the dinner with Jesus? Lazarus doesn’t have any recollection of this but Jesus brought him back to life after he’d been in the tomb for four days!