Mark 14:3-5 (NLT)
3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. 4 Some of those at the table were indignant. �Why waste such expensive perfume?� they asked. 5 �It could have been sold for a year�s wages and the money given to the poor!� So they scolded her harshly.
This story starts in the home of Simon in Bethany. Simon previously was a leper. Leprosy is caused by the organism Mycobacteriumleprae. It is not very contagious and has a long incubation period, which makes it difficult to determine where or when the disease was contracted. Leprosy has two common forms, tuberculoid and lepromatous, and both forms produce sores on the skin, but the lepromatous form is most severe, producing large, disfiguring lumps and bumps. All forms of the disease eventually cause nerve damage in the arms and legs, which causes sensory loss in the skin and muscle weakness. People with long-term leprosy may lose the use of their hands or feet due to repeated injury resulting from lack of sensation. Leprosy was misunderstood for years and people with the disease were placed in isolated leper colonies.
Usually the focus of these verses is on the woman pouring the perfume over the head of Jesus. Many who were there became upset that the perfume could have been sold to help the needy. They forgot or misunderstood Jesus was more than capable of tending to those in need. This woman did a good deed by pouring out her possessions for Her Savior who would pour out His life for her. But we need to remember Simon the leper. Without modern antibiotics leprosy was not curable and yet we find these people sitting and eating with a man who had been a leper. Usually the leper had to announce they were diseased and had to move away from those without the disease. Maybe because Jesus was present these people were not fearful of what they had seen Jesus heal. It is very reminiscent of modern times where HIV was not understood. At first people weren�t sure how it was acquired. Some cast blame on certain groups. People were isolated and separated from friends and families. The medical community has learned a lot more about HIV and AIDs. There are more and more people who are surviving, some who are even symptomatic free. We need to remember God commands us to love all people and care for them. Even while we may not understand a problem we need to trust God and allow Him to take care of the needs of others without imposing our judgment or criticism. We need to act out of love and let those in need know they are loved no matter what the circumstance. May each of us seek to love others as God loves us.