-by Pastor Jacob Marshall, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church
Six days before the Jewish Passover, an ironic dinner party began to assemble one evening in a small town on the outskirts of Jerusalem called Bethany. Let’s go join the meal.
The first person we run into is a smiling old man welcoming us into his home with a hug. He introduces himself as Simon, but tells us that for years around here he was known by a little longer name, “Simon the Leper.” Suddenly, that hug doesn’t seem so um… clean, as you wipe off your sleeve.
“But not anymore,” he quickly adds with a tear draining down his cheek. “Not since he touched me,“pointing to a figure inside the home. “Now come in and eat! Make yourself at home!”
As we walk in the home, we see a large feast being served to men reclined around a large table, the room is full of conversations and laughter, when bump.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, my apologies,” says a woman serving. But before we could even offer a reply, she was off! Darting back and forth from guest to guest like a hummingbird, refilling cups, putting fresh bread on the table.
Turning to the man beside us who was also watching the woman with amusement, I whispered, “She’s seems a little busy.” To which nodding and smiling he said, “Yep, that’s Martha for ya.” “She’s my sister.”
“Really” I responded, “So what brings you all here tonight.”
“Well,” he says, “this is our hometown too.” “We just live across the street, and I’m a pretty close friend to the main guest over there,” pointing across the room at a young man. “In fact, he recently did my funeral.”
That last line bumps into you worse than his sister. “Your uh, funeral?”
“Yea, it’s a bit of a long story. I was dying and he came later than expected, but I’m alive today because of him,” gesturing again with his eyes towards the man across the room. “I’ll never forget that moment, when he called my…” He was interrupted by a voice from across the room. “Lazarus! Hey Laz, come sit down.”
“Well, it was nice meeting you all, I’ve got to run,” and with that he turned to go and sit down with the others.
Looking at each other with a blank look, we could only wonder what was going to happen next. A dinner party at a former leper’s house attended by a recently dead man… who but God could ever write a guest list like this. Who was this young man?
Finally, as the party was wrapping up, a woman came in carrying something small and precious in her hands. As she knelt at the feet of the young man (the same one both Simon and Laz had earlier gestured towards), the whole room grew silent. It was obvious from across the room that she was pouring some type of fragrant oil on his feet, because the entire room was filled with an overwhelming scent. The stuff had to be outrageously expensive because you couldn’t hardly breathe.
What made this final act so startling though wasn’t the smell so much as the young man’s response to the act. Instead of condemning it as wasteful, he said it was appropriate and done in preparation for his burial! With that, everyone in the room was at a loss. What on Earth was he talking about? A burial? He looked tired but not terminal. What made him think that he was about to die?
Beginning today and continuing through the next week, we’re going to explore that question as we walk with Jesus each day as he approaches the culmination of his ministry during his first coming to Earth. Will you join us?
Now go and see it yourself in John 11-12:11.