3. Mark 14:3a

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper….

Simon the Leper. Truth be told, we don’t know much about Simon the Leper. He is mentioned only in Mark and Matthew (26:6-13). There is a Simon the Pharisee in Luke’s story who also hosts Jesus for dinner when a woman anoints Jesus with oil (7:36-50). Some scholars think these two Simons are the same. And Lazarus, from John’s Gospel, also lives in Bethany and played host to Jesus shortly before his crucifixion. So other scholars wonder if Lazarus was also known as Simon. But, truth be told, we don’t really know all that much about him.

Except that he was called “the leper.” We should be clear that biblical leprosy was not the same disease we name leprosy today. It was not as dire, not as deadly. But we should also be clear that there were still severe social repercussions if you were diagnosed with the skin condition called leprosy. You were considered religiously unclean. And so you were an outcast, forced to live with other lepers, forced to cry out your presence – “Outcast, unclean!” – when others approached to warn them of your presence.

This had been Simon’s existence at some point. Was it still? Was Jesus even now staying and eating with a leper? I wouldn’t put it past him. Or was Simon one of those healed by Jesus? Perhaps he had the disease for so long that even though he was now “clean” it was difficult for anyone – maybe including himself – to think of him in any other way. We don’t know.

You see, we really don’t know much about Simon the Leper. Except one thing: whoever he was, whatever his story, Jesus was there with him, accepting his hospitality, blessing him with his presence. Jesus was there, staying with Simon, the one they called “the Leper.” And perhaps that’s enough for us to know.

Dear God, help us to hear and trust that no matter what our past, no matter what names other may call us (or we may call ourselves), yet you consider us worthy and beloved and are eager to stay with us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Post image from the The Brick Testament (which illustrates many scenes from the Bible, all with Legos, and often fairly irreverent).