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A Dinner Party to Remember

Key References: Luke 7:36-47; The Desire of Ages, chap. 62, pp. 557-568; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 9, pp. 28-32; Our Beliefs, nos. 3, 11, 4

power text

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” “We love Him because He  rst loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19).

power point

God’s overflowing love motivates us to be loving.

Have you ever been at an event during which someone has done something very unexpected? Everyone stops and stares. Everything becomes very quiet, and afterward nobody can stop talking about it. Simon held a dinner party, and 2,000 years later people are still talking about what happened.

During the week before the Passover on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus stopped in Bethany and visited the home of His friend Lazarus. Many people who were headed to the Passover came to see Jesus. Some were curious to see the man whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Lazarus was living evidence of Jesus’ divine power to raise the dead. To these people Lazarus declared that Jesus was the Son of God. Through these events the infl uence of Jesus spread among the people who went to Jerusalem for the Passover. These occurrences stirred the priests to envy and anger. They started to plot to destroy Jesus as well as Lazarus, whose powerful resurrection story had attracted so much attention.

Meanwhile in Bethany, Jesus and His disciples were invited to participate at a feast in the house of Simon. Besides his usual prosperous friends, Simon had invited Jesus, His disci ples, and Lazarus to the dinner. He hoped to introduce to his friends, Jesus, who had healed him of leprosy, and Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead. As expected, this celebration attracted many Jews to Simon’s house.

Martha, the sister of Lazarus, was invited to cater the dinner. She was effi cient, and her food was delicious.

Lazarus, Jesus, and His disciples walked into Simon’s home, where Simon was busy welcoming his guests. The servants ushered in Jesus, Lazarus, and the disciples. When Simon came to the table, he asked Jesus to bless the food. Then the servants began to serve the meal.

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, entered the room while the guests were feasting from their host’s delicacies. She passed unnoticed until she reached the place where Jesus was seated. Mary was bringing a costly gift for Jesus. Trying not to be obvious, she rejoiced to see that Jesus sat in a place of honor. She heard people say that He was going to be king! She wanted to be the fi rst to honor Him. He had been so good and patient with her. Seven times He had forgiven her and cast out her demons. Mary’s entire focus was on Jesus as she listened intently to every word that He spoke.

Mary didn’t care that she had spent her life’s savings on that alabaster box of perfumed oil. Jesus was worth more to her! She opened the box and poured the perfume on Jesus’ feet. Because she didn’t have a towel, she loosened her long hair and wiped His feet with it.

As the scent of the perfume filled the air, people began to search for the source. Soon all eyes were fixed on Mary.

How dare she touch Him! Simon thought, trying not to show his anger and embarrassment. But Jesus read his thoughts and began to tell a story.

“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

“I suppose the one whom he forgave more,” answered Simon.

“You have rightly judged,” Jesus replied.

Turning toward Mary, Jesus continued to speak to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

As Jesus spoke these words, the people looked startled. But Jesus spoke to the woman once again, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Luke 7:41-50).

In the end not only Mary was touched by Jesus’ words, but Simon’s life was also changed forever. He finally understood that in response to Jesus’ forgiveness we are to love Him and others as He has taught us.