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Loving the Unlovable

Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8; The Desire of Ages, pp. 557-568


The Message

God wants me to include those who get left out.

Memory Verse

“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers” (1 Peter 2:17).

When Rafael and his family moved to a new neighborhood, he felt lost. He felt lonely at his new school.

Then one day a student came up to him in the hall and said, “Hi! I’m Karin. I’ve seen you, but I don’t know you yet. Come sit with me and my friends during lunch!”

Someone else included people who were left out—Jesus. He was friends with everyone.


The dinner party at Simon’s house was the place to be. Simon was one of the leading Jewish rulers, and Jesus had healed his leprosy. To show his thanks, Simon planned a huge feast for Jesus. Everybody who was anybody came.

Mary was there too. She was the kind of person people talked about, not to. Everyone knew she was a sinner. Everyone knew Jesus had ordered seven demons out of her. She probably hadn’t even been invited to the party. But since she followed Jesus everywhere, no one stopped her. They just wanted her to stay quietly in the background.

Mary knew about her reputation. She knew she was not accepted in “polite” company. But she wanted to show Jesus how thankful she was. She had with her a small alabaster jar of perfumed ointment. When no one was looking, she poured the ointment over Jesus’ head and feet. Her tears of love and thanks flowed into the ointment. Quietly she knelt down and wiped Jesus’ feet with her long, flowing hair.

Probably no one would have noticed if it weren’t for the fragrance. It smelled so good and it quickly filled the whole room. People started talking. “That stuff is expensive!” they whispered to each other. “It cost what a man earns in a whole year! If she had sold it, the money could have been given to the poor. What a waste!”

Simon had a different thought. If Jesus really were a prophet, He wouldn’t let that woman touch Him. She’s a terrible sinner!

Mary was caught; and she was embarrassed.

Jesus knew what Simon was thinking. He also knew what Mary was feeling. “Leave her alone,” He told the whisperers. “You’ll always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have Me. She has done a beautiful thing for Me.”

And then Jesus turned to Simon. “Two men owed money to the same moneylender,” He said. “One man owed 500 denari. The other owed 50 denari. The money-lender knew neither man could pay him back, so he canceled their debts. Which one do you think loved him more?”

“I suppose the one who had the bigger debt,” said Simon.

“You’re right,” said Jesus. “When I came into your house, you didn’t wash My feet. You didn’t pour oil on My head. You didn’t even give Me a kiss of peace. But this woman did all that and more. She has been forgiven for a lot, and she loves Me a lot.”

Jesus showed respect for Mary, the least-acceptable person at the party. He had even praised her efforts above Simon’s. The last person anyone would have expected became a good example. That kind of respect took Mary by surprise. She was used to being unloved and left out. Now she was being appreciated.

We all know people like Mary—people who get ignored or picked on. Jesus treated Mary kindly. He made her feel wanted and respected. He wants to include every person in His family just as He included Mary. And He wants us to treat one another the same way He treats us.