Summary: When we read of Mary the sister of Lazarus anointing Jesus with that alabaster jar of nard we often focus on who she was, the worth of the perfume, what the disciples said, etc. But we often overlook what Mary was actually doing.
Matthew 26:6-16 (Please open your Bibles so that you can follow along)
Two weeks ago we have took a look at Jesus clearing the temple of the livestock marketplace and currency exchange bank that had been set up in the temple in order to profit from the sacrifices and offerings which would be given during the Passover festival.
At the same time we examined our own lives to see what Jesus might want to clear out of our lives since we are now the temples of the Holy Spirit.
And, last week we took a look at the Jewish leaders questioning Jesus about the source of His authority to do what He did in the temple.
And, last week we examined the authority or lack of authority Jesus has in each of our lives.
Are our homes, minds and hearts cleared of anything that is unpleasing to the Lord?
Does Jesus have the authority to get rid of anything in our home our mind and our heart which He does not find pleasing?
Today we will take a look at someone whose extravagant gift to Jesus was so remarkable that Jesus exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
So, let’s go ahead and read the Scripture for today Matthew 26:6-16
Let’s examine this Scripture and try to put it into the perspective of the culture at that time.
This same event is repeated in Mark and John.
There is a similar event in Luke but the time is different, the location is different and the woman involved is different.
Also, in the event found in Luke the criticism does not come from the disciples but from the host Pharisee (not a leper or former leper) and the woman is described as a sinner and Mary the sister of Lazarus is never described as a sinner elsewhere in the Bible.
“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper”
- During the Jewish festivals leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus we see Him consistently traveling between Jerusalem and Bethany as if Bethany is where His “hotel” or the place He is staying is located.
- On this occasion we see Jesus and His disciples at the home of Simon the Leper. Simon is no longer a leper and most likely was healed by Jesus Himself.
- If Simon were still a leper he would not be in a home in Bethany. Instead he would be living outside the village with other lepers and shouting, “Unclean! Unclean!” whenever a healthy person would get too close.
- Leviticus 13:45 – “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.…”
- Here’s the amazing thing. Simon the Leper doesn’t get involved in the issue at all! If you’ve been healed of leprosy by the Messiah Himself you probably don’t feel that any gift is too extravagant for Him.
“a woman came to Him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on His head as He was reclining at the table.”
- In the account of this dinner in John we finally see the “woman” identified as Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus.
- Matthew and Mark tell that Mary poured the perfume over Jesus’ head while John reports that she poured the perfume over His feet.
- It is estimated that the alabaster jar contained about twelve ounces. That’s the same volume as your average soda can.
- There was plenty in that jar to anoint both Jesus’ head and His feet and actually in verse 12 Jesus says, “When she poured this perfume on My body …”
- With 12 ounces of nard perfume it must have saturated Jesus’ hair and His clothing and His feet.
- I wonder how long that aroma would have lasted on Jesus? Did the guards smell it when they were arresting Jesus and whipping Him and beating Him? Did the high priest and the Jewish council and Herod and Pilate smell it when they were interrogating Him? Did Simon of Cyrene smell it as he helped Jesus carry the cross? Did the soldiers who crucified Jesus and gambled for His clothing smell it as they carried His clothing home with them?
“When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. ‘Why this waste?’ they asked. ‘This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.’”