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Mark 220 - Broken and Poured

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. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Mark 14:3

As hard as it is to believe, I wasn’t one of the cool kids growing up. I didn’t have cool cloths, or even a cool name. While everyone else had straight, blond hair, mine looked and felt like a red Brillo®[1] pad. Being from both Polish and Italian heritage didn’t help me either, I was bombarded from both sides of the family with ethnic jokes that would get you banned from any social media platform in a minute.

Yes, I was an outsider. But nothing like these two people.

  • Simon the Leper – leprosy was the absolute worst thing you could have back then. You were run out of town, everyone abandoned you. Your friends, family, and neighbors all ran away. You weren’t only a social outcast, but also a religious one too. You weren’t allowed to worship at all. Leprosy was seen as physical evidence of an internal sin.

  • Woman – this doesn’t seem so bad. What could be so wrong with a woman being part of the story? Well, and I beg forgiveness in advance, women in that day and place were thought of as inferior at best. The morning blessing from their book of prayers puts it rather bluntly.

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast not made me a woman[2].

These two people from the other side of the tracks are both doing the same thing. It may not sound like it, but they are. And what is this one thing that they both are doing?

They are giving to Jesus.

Simon the Leper has opened up his house to Jesus. And while this would have opened up Jesus to criticism, he accepts and goes inside. But Jesus does more than goes inside. Jesus gets down on the floor and eats a meal with Simon in his house. In this culture, this is the ultimate compliment that you can pay someone.

But the woman goes in an entirely different direction. She brings a different gift. Not the gift of friendship or a meal, but the gift of perfume. And not the giant bottles that cost $5 that you bought for your mom from the grocery store. This was rare and expensive perfume from India. It was also in an expensive container. And she doesn’t hold anything back, she cracks it open and pours the whole thing over Jesus’ head.

This isn’t a contest to see who gave the best gift. They both went way above and beyond what would have been expected. They went out of their way and gave their best. They gave their all.

But what did Jesus do with their gifts? He accepted them graciously and quietly. He didn’t run around telling everyone what they did. He didn’t post selfies of him and Simon hanging out while eating. He didn’t make a quick video to share while the woman poured the perfume all over his head.

They were willing to give, and Jesus was willing to receive. He not only accepted their gifts, but he accepted their friendship, their reaching out to him.

He didn’t first ask a lot of questions about Simon’s condition. When was the last time he had been tested for Leprosy? Was it negative? Had his house, furniture, pots, pans, and plates been sanitized recently? He didn’t ask the woman where she had been, where the perfume came from? How did she pay for it? Did she have the receipt?

Jesus received these two memorable people just as they were. He wasn’t afraid to be seen with them. He wasn’t worried about his reputation being damaged by being with them.

Like us, they both were damaged goods. They had been through the ringer of life. They had been chewed up and spit out by their traditions and culture. nd the God of the universe, the one who made them, is glad to be with them.

This is who God is. He’s not looking for a reason to smack us upside of the head. He’s not leaning over the edge of heaven ust waiting for the golden opportunity to swing that big, long, heavenly stick at us. Stinging us with pain.

He’s just the opposite. He’s not just leaning over the edge of heaven to reach out to us, he’s leaning into us so he can get closer to us. So he can become a more intimate part of our lives.

Yes, God is holy. He’s separate. He’s withdrawn and different from us. But his heart is one of not remaining illusive or isolated. He is the God of grace, reaching out to you and me.

He loves it when we break and pour out our lives before him. It’s not about what it is but God is deeply, deeply, deeply concerned about the brokenness of our heart. When we’re broken, he loves to run to us. Reach out to us. Hug us. Remind us that we’re his child. Tell everyone that we’re the one who was dead, but’s not alive.

How can we turn away from this God who love us?

[1] Brillo is a Registered Trademark of Armaly Brands [2] Prayer in the Talmud, Joseph Heinemann, 1977, Page 165

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