Summary: The tru test of worship is a willingness to give God our very best.
Verses 1 and 2 constructs a tapestry of sorts to draw the reader into the events that were taking place in the backdrop of setting of the little house in Bethany. For if ancient Jews had hanging in their kitchens calendars, then highlighted in red would be the day of Passover. Passover to the ancient Jews is what Thanksgiving is to patriotic Americans. It was a day of celebration; a week of festivities; where lanterns were lit; torches were burned; and horns bled; and over 250,000 lambs were slain, some 2 million persons converged upon the city of Jerusalem during this time. People as far 90 day journeys, back on their calendars planning to attend some of the festivities surrounding the Passover. It was a moment where the people reflected upon God’s divine intervention in human history; more specifically—it was a moment when the ancient Jews retold the story of God emancipating His people out of the bondage of Egypt. The night when the death angel lurked the streets and crossed over homes whose portals had been painted by the blood of the lamb. How they ate in haste, making ready to make their pilgrimage out of Egypt across the desert to the new promise land. How when they were at Bael-Zephon (no way out), God breathed and exhaled and the waters divided. Stacked up like a wall, historians have written that the children of Israel crossed over on dry ground. Can you only imagine the excitement that must have taken place while they re-told the events of God in the life of their families?
Not everybody was happy. Verse 2 tells us that there were officials and powers that be—who were concocting a plan on how they could arrest, accost, and kill Jesus. This would have been a good time. But the Galileans were in town and they didn’t want to incite a riot. But when the right time comes to arrest this Jesus, they say, we will get Him. Because since this Jesus has come on the scene He’s been causing a whole lot of trouble. He’s been performing miracles…etc.
‘At the right time, we’re going to get Him and lynch Him as fast as we can.’
And now a few miles southeast of Jerusalem in a little hut, house, maybe a hamlet in Bethany—where 15 men and 2 women were invited to come to a meeting. They’ve been invited to the house of Simon the Leper, whose nickname was Scaly.
And I can only imagine how they were rehashing stories of how he used to be before he met Jesus. For no decent people would sit at the table with a man like Simon the Leper. Nobody would go sit at the house of a leper—because He had been ostracized by the community. Of course He is no longer a leper; he’s just still identified by his condition.
• It is terrible and tragic that even after your healing you can still be identified by your previous condition. But how God works what is terrible and tragic to some can be a testimony and talk point for others—but that’s another message.
Simon the leper had been castigated; and he may have been the man that Jesus met early on who He hid. But at the table of conversation was not only Scaly but another man by the name of Lazarus. And they were exchanging stories of how they were before Christ dramatically broke in on their life.
I can only imagine how the conversation at the table must have been going. Lazarus must have said to Simon, ‘Man, thank you for allowing me to come to your house. I can’t think of any other place I would rather be—but to be here with you. And since I’m here Scaly I want to ask you a question, tell me—how was life before you met Christ?’ Simon the Leper must have said, ‘Let me tell you, nobody would talk to me. In fact, my life was on the edge. I have no relationships or reputation with other people. I only hung around with other people who were just like me. And then one day I heard that this Wonder Worker was coming through town and that He worked the night shift and that He made house calls—and all I know is that He spoke to me and my skin began to transform like the skin into a newborn baby….You’ve asked me about MY dramatic encounter, Lazarus, what about you? How did it feel being dead, sleeping in the grave? How did that feel.’
Lazarus said, ‘Let me tell you, I was dying and at the point of death. I wanted my friend Jesus to come and He never arrived. And all I remember was them wrapping my hands and feet, preparing me for the customary burial. And there I was in a no man’s land, sitting down talking with the patriarchs who had gone on before—all I remember was Him calling my name, ‘Lazarus’. Some people tell my story and say He said, ‘Lazarus, Lazarus, Lazarus.’ But He only said it one time. Because when He called me, if He would have kept calling I’m sure some other folk would have gotten up. He just called me one time and told death, ‘Loose Him and let Him go.’