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We have all experienced rejection.
Maybe you got turned down for a job at some point.
Maybe it was in a relationship, after bearing your soul to someone, they turned you down or broke it off.
Maybe it was with a family member after a disagreement.
Maybe you took a moral stand and were rejected by your friends.
These are a taste of what so many feel as they question their own self-worth.
This questioning causes many to seek acceptance from whoever they can receive it.
For some, this takes place in the context of a relationship, for others they try to find their acceptance in a job well done.
Yet, something is still missing.
Those worldly pleasures and possessions and power can never fill that need for acceptance.
We find Jesus at a dinner party where he encounters a central figure who is looking for acceptance, and she is in a room full of people with that same need.
Dinner Party - A lot of people gathered, Pharisees, Lazarus, Martha, Mary, Simon the Leper, Jesus and His disciples.
A single conversation rule.
The opening of Mark’s telling of these events begin with an interesting fact - they were in the home of a guy named Simon who was a leper.
Leprosy - not quite like what today’s leprosy is (Hansen’s disease), but was a catch-all for any variety of skin diseases.
Quarantined outside of the city to prevent communal spread.
Anytime someone came close to them, they were to call out, “unclean, unclean!” Social outcasts.
Simon was only the first person who would be considered “rejected” at this party.
The second was a party-crasher.
Women weren’t necessarily unclean, but in their culture, they were looked down upon.
Rejecting what God had revealed in Genesis, they were perceived as less important than men.
In Luke’s telling of these same events (Luke 7), she is described as “a woman of the city, a sinner.”
Probably a prostitute.
Again, those who would be looked down upon by many in their culture.
And as they are both there, the leper and the prostitute, notice that Jesus doesn’t leave, he doesn’t berate them, he doesn’t yell in their faces.
He allows them to be there.
Why would Jesus, the holy Son of God, allow them to be there in His presence?
Jesus cares for the rejected.
He saw them as image bearers of God, yet broken by their sinful condition.
For Simon, the affect of sin ravaged his health.
For this woman, sin had effected her soul.
And here is Jesus, caring for them both.
Not only did Jesus care for them, but also...
Jesus accepts the rejected.
Who you ate with mattered.
It showed an acceptance of them.
Partially because of the social construct.
Also, because of the way meals were shared.
The Paddlesteamer, a restaurant in a predominantly Somali neighborhood in Cardiff, a big plate of food.
Mixed lamb and beef on rice.
A stack of na’an, flatbread.
And you’d just dig in.
Sounds strange, even before Covid!
But that’s how you would eat in this restaurant.
By sharing this meal, this experience, this shows Jesus goes beyond just tolerating their presence to accepting them.
When you look across the four Gospels, several named individuals.
Jesus and Peter.
Simon the leper.
Mary, who, according to John 12, is the woman who has entered.
And then there’s people who are not named: the Pharisees.
This indicates the importance that they hold in this event.
He has a place for them in His story of redemption.
Examine the actual act of this sinful woman, Mary.
First, Luke tells us that she begins this by weeping tears onto the feet of Jesus and then wiping his feet with her hair.
Foot washing, if we think also about the last supper, was an act performed by the lowest of the servants.
Leather sandals in a hot environment - gross, dirty, sweaty, smelly.
But, the refreshment you feel when your feet have been cooled and cleansed!
Jesus indicates in the Luke version that no one had offered water to wash His feet.
This woman humbles herself before Jesus and performs this act.
She undoes her hair, again an act of humility, and uses her hair to clean his feet.
She is showing herself to be completely humbled before the Christ.
After she has wiped his feet clean, she brings out this bottle of fragrance.
Spikenard is a plant grown in India, so this was an imported fragrance.
We find out its value equaling that of a year’s wages (300 denarii).
Breaking the flask, a permanent unsealing of the opening, requiring she use the entire bottle.
This fragrance that was probably the most valuable thing she owned.
Possibly she had earned enough and considered it an investment for her immoral work.
It has also been suggested it was an heirloom passed along to her.
Regardless of how she got it, it was the best of who she was.
And she poured the entirety of it onto Jesus.
John tells us that the smell of the fragrance filled the entire house.
Of course there were those who didn’t like what she did (vv.
John is willing to name names: Judas Iscariot; He even going as far as telling why he did it: he was a thief.
Yet, Jesus shows that this act of love was accepted by Him.
Regardless of who brings their worship, what they’ve done, what their reputation is, Jesus accepts their acts of worship.
Here Jesus points them to the fact that He is going to die soon (v.
Matthew and John tell us this happened just a few days before His arrest.
Jesus knew He was going to die, He was not surprised.
Then why go to Jerusalem?
Why go willingly?
Because His death meant something:
Jesus died for the rejected.
This is the primary reason Jesus came - to save sinners.
His perfect life to not just fix, but to perfectly forgive.
This work of redemption required Him to give up His life.
Just as He gave up His life for this woman who had lived a life of sin, so He has done it for you.
But, just as his care included acceptance, so He offers this to you today.
Because Jesus didn’t just die for this woman, but he honored her.
Jesus honors the rejected.
V. 9 - wherever the Gospel goes, the story of this woman goes.
The birth of Jesus?
Matthew and Luke only.
The healing of the paralytic, not in John.
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