“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.”
– John 12:1,2
Jesus spent a lot of time with his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but we don’t often think about where they were from. The Bible tells us that the three siblings lived in Bethany, which in Hebrew means “house of affliction.” Since we know that Simon the Leper was also from this region, it’s possible that this town was actually a leper colony, or had been at one time. Perhaps Mary and Martha suffered from the illness or maybe they were nurses who took care of the infected. Whatever the case, in those days, because of strict Levitical law, a person who exhibited something as minor as dandruff or eczema could be outcast to these designated regions and labeled a leper. Though the law said that no clean person should get near someone with leprosy in order to avoid becoming unclean, Jesus did the opposite. Instead of shrinking away from sickness and oppression, He entered Simon’s home and ate there. He did not ostracize but walked straight into a “danger zone” to let even the most vulnerable people know that they were seen and loved.
My friend, no one is outside the bounds of the depths of Christ’s tenderness and mercy. He was fearless in bringing dignity to the shunned and ostracized, and He wants you to be the same. In a world that is consumed by self-preservation, He invites you to trust Him, take up your cross, and lay your life in His Hands. Go forth with compassion to help the afflicted, and resist the urge to pull back in fear. Your God will protect you, provide for you, and fill your heart with inexpressible joy as you bring love to the ones who are least deserving in the eyes of the world!
Jesus, help me to resist the urge to ostracize others because of my own fear and discomfort.
Who can you show radical love and unconditional dignity to today?