Anointing at Bethany

Matthew 26:6-13

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”  But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.

  • In the House of Simon the Leper, a Woman Anointed Jesus. (v. 6)

Little is known about Simon.  He was probably a leper who had been healed by Jesus.  Tradition says he was the husband of Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus but we have no actual proof. According to Jewish law, Simon would be an outcast if he were still a leper.  In Mark 14:3-9, this same story we see Simon in the house and at the table. He was obviously cured. 

Simon’s house was large enough to entertain Jesus and all His disciples at the same time.  It can be assumed that Simon was a man of means and perhaps because of his healing he wanted to show his gratitude to Jesus and therefore gave a dinner in His honor.  

John 12, tells us the woman was Mary, and Lazarus was at the dinner.   Judas is singled out as making a comment about the use of the oil.   Matthew states “the disciples were indignant” while Mark’s account says “there were those present who were indignant.” 

  • The Anointing was an Act of Love and Faith in the Lord Jesus. (v.7)

Mary’s anointing of Jesus was an act of faith and love, demonstrating her love by giving a very precious thing to Him.   She anointed Jesus to show how much she appreciated, loved, and believed Him to be her Savior, her Lord, her King, the true Messiah.  Should we not also give of ourselves unto the Lord to show our love?

Mt. 6:20 – but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Luke 12:33 – Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.

Philippians 3:8 – Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.  

  • The Anointing was a Sacrificial Gift, a Commitment Beyond Common Sense. (v. 8-9)

The anointing was sacrificial.  It was worth 300 denarii.  A denarius was a small silver coin worth a laborer’s daily wage, (Matthew 20:2) so the value of the perfume was costly, valued at approximately a year’s wage.  Perfume was a precious item to women of the day and Mary was taking a most precious possession and giving it to her Lord.

Imagine the scene.  A bottle of perfume worth a whole year’s wages being broken and poured upon the head of Christ.  Common sense would say “sell it” and give the money to the poor.  There were those that questioned what she did.  Is it any different today when we feel deep within us that we need or want to do something for the Lord?  Others question our motives, our sanity, our ability to deter- mine real values.  Like Mary, it did not matter the comments, she did what she desired to do for the Lord.  He was the most significant person in her life and she desired to honor Him in this way

Matthew. 7:3 – And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

Romans14:4 – Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Romans 14:13 – Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

True love sacrifices self, gives of itself – all that one is and has.  Love is not really shown when we give only what we can afford.  It is when we sacrifice, dig deep into our lives and finances and give of ourselves, all that we are and have, that we really show love.  The more we sacrifice the more we show love.          

There is a strong message in Mary’s act – a strong message on giving much and giving sacrificially.  But note well that the gift and sacrifice were made out of a heart of genuine love and faith in Christ.  This is the most important thing to keep in mind about Mary’s gift:  her heart and life were wholly focused upon Christ.  That is how our giving must be.

Sacrifice is sometimes more important than common sense.  Sometimes sacrifice should take precedence over common sense.  Sometimes common sense must be stretched into sacrifice.  Sacrifice is what brings about enlarged horizons, growth, development, advancement, more and more of whatever we are doing.   In fact the more we sacrifice under God’s care, the more growth, development, and advancement we see.  Name the field, the area, the work – the principle holds truth.  The more we sacrifice under God’s care, the more advancement we witness.  There is a place for common sense, but there is a greater place for sacrifice.

There is one area that we often shrink from and ignore, and do not allow the principle to take effect: the area of giving money or of tithing.  We do not want our easy living and wealth to be touched.  Because of evil hearts, men have allowed money and the power to purchase to become the object and judge of life.  Too often a man’s image, esteem, power, influence, and rights are determined by how much he has.

  • The Anointing was a Grasping of Opportunity.  (v. 10-11)

The disciples in word and thought censored Mary and condemned her act, but Christ defended her.  Mary’s anointing was a good work.  Jesus gave two reasons why her act was justified.

The anointing was a “good work” a work poured out upon Him personally; that is, it was a personal gift.  It was not a gift to an idea or program of His.  This fact, that it was done to Him personally, made the difference.

The opportunity for her to show her love would not always be there.  Christ would soon be gone and ascend to heaven.  He would not be there for her to show her love to Him directly.  The poor would always be there and Mary could minister to them but he would be gone

John 4:34 – Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

John 9:4 – I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.

Ephesians 5:16 – redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Opportunities do pass.  In fact, they pass rapidly.  If we do not act and act immediately, we miss the chance forever.  The privilege of witnessing, of helping, of growing, of advancing, of improving, and discovering – on and on the opportunities arise and if we fail to act, the opportunities pass on never to return, and we lose the chance to ever reach out and help and  improve and change and grow.  The great tragedy to many lives are summed up in two simple words:  missed opportunity.   

What others think, even their condemnation and censorship, should never keep us from showing our love and faith in the Lord Jesus.  Our witness should always be strong for Christ, just as strong as Mary’s was: strong in grace and kindness, in courage and unashamedness.  Our works and gifts should first of all be given to Christ personally.  Our thoughts should be upon Him, concentrating and not wandering as we serve and give.  They should be performed and given as though   they were being laid at His feet.    

  • The Anointing Pointed Toward the Burial of Jesus, His Death.  (v. 12)

Christ stated here “She did it for my burial.”  He said that her love and faith and the anointing of His body pointed toward His death.  In simple terms, Mary’s love and faith, gift and anointing was a witness of anticipation.  She was witnessing to the Lord’s death by looking ahead to it.   Today we witness His death by looking back to His death, the fact that He did die for the sins of the world.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I Corinthians15:3-4 – For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

I Peter 2:24 – who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

I John 2:1-2 – My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

  • The Anointing was an Eternal Memorial.  (v. 13)

Her devotion by the anointing was an eternal memorial.  Christ honored Mary because she had honored Him.  He will memorialize the faith and love of any believer who so sacrifices for Him – throughout all eternity. 

Ps. 112:6 – Surely he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.

Prov. 10:7 – The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot.

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