A Captive Released

“…Jesus was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper…” Mark 14:3
 
Luke 4:18 tells us that Jesus came “to proclaim freedom for the prisoners,” and Simon would have been painfully familiar with being a prisoner in his own body. Leprosy would have separated him from his family, his home, his community and his worship of God. Once he was declared unclean by the priests, he would have become a social outcast with almost no chance of having his fate changed. We have no way of knowing how long Simon was a leper but he must have been one long enough to earn the title.

The fact that Simon is not referred to here as the ex-leper stirs up all kinds of thoughts. Was the community never going to let Simon forget who he once was, not believing transformation could really occur? Were they going to continue to keep him at a distance rather than rejoice with him in his release from captivity? Jesus had given Simon a new identity but was the community slow to let go of the old one?

What would our modern day equivalent of a social outcast be? Simon the HIV Positive? Simon the Sex Offender (having to declare ‘unclean’ in every community he lives)? Or Simon the Ex-Con? What about Simon the divorcee? How easy would it be for us to become pharisaical in our treatment of those deemed social outcasts and shut the kingdom of God in their face? We may not face these much as a church, but many of you could be in positions where you have contact with those who have become outcasts. How will you respond?

Yes, we live in a dangerous world, but we are Christ’s ambassadors here and we have got to leave room for reclining at the table (as He did) with those the community would not swerve to miss on the highway.
 
Pastor Doug