Some of the few people that Jesus met before His crucifixion were a leper and a redeemed woman. While many sought to take His life, He found solace with a leper and a previously sinful woman. As Jesus, ‘was reclining at the table in the home of a man known as 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). The woman was Mary ‘(called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out’ (Luke 7:2), thanks to Jesus. Mary was among ‘some of the women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases’ (v2), and so whenever Jesus would go with His disciples, the women would also follow and even ‘were helping support them out of their means’ (v3). And so when Jesus was in Simon the Leper’s house with His disciples, Mary was also there.
When those present saw what Mary was doing, they strongly rebuked her, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could be sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor’ (Mark 14: 4-5). Jesus responds by saying, ‘Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me . . . You will not always have me. She has done what she could’ (v6,7,8). Jesus recognizes her willing effort and actually ties it to a heavenly mandate. ‘She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial’ (v8). In doing what she could, Jesus does even greater for her, more than she could ever do for herself. He says, ‘I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her’ (v9). A simple act was not unnoticed before Jesus, and He in turn offered her a lasting continuity for her name.
Simon the Leper also did what he could for Jesus. According to the Jewish regulations, a ‘person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, uncover his head, put a covering upon his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’. As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the Camp’ (Leviticus 13:45-46). As a leper, Simon could not freely mingle with others and hear Jesus speak in the Synagogue or among crowds. However, he did what he could. He opened his house for Jesus. Jesus seeing his open heart for Him even reclines at his table, signalling that He made Himself comfortable. As a result, Simon, labelled a leper, enjoyed God’s one-on-one communion and companionship, even in his degraded state.
Another man who had the privilege of communing with Jesus was Zacchaeus. When the Tax Collector wanted to catch a glimpse of Jesus, he climbed a tree. Upon seeing him, Jesus tells him to, ‘come down immediately. I must stay at your house today’ (Luke 19:5). Although Jesus was only ‘passing through’ (v1) Jericho, He stayed a night because of one simple occurrence. In desiring ‘to see who Jesus was’ (v3), Zacchaeus did what he could and climbed a tree to see Him. Although he was ‘a chief tax collector and was wealthy’ (v2), his position or wealth did not bring him closer to Christ. Instead, in his struggle of ‘being a short man’ (v3), he climbed a tree to see Jesus. At that time, he cared less about his reputation. By doing what he could, Jesus says to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house’ (v9). A simple act led to salvation, because when Jesus sees our willing hearts, He goes before us.
Are you making excuses out of your deficiencies? Are your possessions, conditions, or attributes keeping you from seeing Jesus? While our deficiencies seem to be magnified before our eyes that they become a stumbling block to clearly seeing Jesus, He cares less about them, and does not even consider or take them into account. Paul writes, ‘Brethren, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him’ (1 Corinthians 1:26).
When we, out of our weakness and deficiencies, take a step of faith towards God and for His cause, the impact touches His heart, causing an explosion of all His graces towards us. He then magnifies our impact, to shadow our weaknesses and deficiencies. He takes countless more steps to direct us further, and give us a lasting blessing. When four lepers took steps of faith to go to the enemy camp of the Arameans to look for food during a time of famine, ‘the Lord caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!’ So they got up and fled’ (2 Kings 6:6-7). Little did they know that it was God who magnified dainty footsteps of four lepers who only did what they could. The lepers did not only find food, but found ‘gold, silver, and clothes’ (v8), and more than that, liberated the City from siege. In the same way, when we do what we can, and take a step of faith, God does ‘exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us’ (Ephesians 3:20), because ‘his strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
‘Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their abundance; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything- all she had to live on’’ ~ Mark 12:43-44