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Matthew 21:1-11; Matthew 26:6-13; Listen
Mark 11:1-10; Mark 14:3-9;
Luke 19:29-40; John 12:1-19
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
|6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
|3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
|1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
It is interesting to note here that John's gospel specifically identifies this event to have taken place six days before the passover. Matthew and Mark do not specifically address the exact time of this Bethany experience. Though similar in circumstances, this event is different from the earlier occasion reported only by Luke in Luke 7:36-50 (see notes). While Matthew and Mark report that the meal took place at the house of Simon the leper, John reports that one of the guests was Lazarus, the one having been raised from the dead by Jesus in John 11 (see notes). John does mention Simon down in verse 4. Perhaps the meal was in his honor, having been resurrected from the dead. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that it was the two sisters of Lazarus (Martha and Mary) who prepared the meal; they are mentioned by name in John's account. Likewise, the woman who anointed Jesus' feet with her hair is Mary according to John, presumably the sister of Lazarus. Mary and Martha had hosted a gathering on a previous occasion back in Luke 10:38-42 (see notes).
It is interesting that Matthew and Mark only mention the ointment being poured upon the "head" of Jesus. John is the only one who reports the feet/hair ritual. Obviously she poured the ointment on his head and feet, but John gives more detail in his account. It is interesting to me, though perhaps not significant, that John, on the eve of Jesus' crucifixion, reports that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and does not mention the communion service at all (John 13:4-20, see notes). Both Matthew and Luke quote Jesus as commenting that Mary anointed his "body" for his burial.
Judas estimates the value of the ointment at 300 pence (aka "penny" which is translated from the Greek: denarion). Back in Matthew 20:2 (see notes) we see that one denarion (penny/pence) was the wage given for one day's work in the vineyard. That would make the ointment used worth $18,000-$24,000 or so by 2009 wage standards in the United States. While Matthew and Mark do not indicate which disciple complained about the waste of ointment, John clearly identifies Judas Iscariot as one of the culprits here, and he goes on to give us an insight into Judas' motivation for his criticism in John 12:6, "This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." Moreover, it would appear that perhaps Matthew and Mark are relating this instance to some justification in Judas' mind for betraying Jesus, since they include this occasion just prior to their reporting of the betrayal (see notes on Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6). Matthew and Mark report that other disciples, in addition to Judas, were unhappy about this waste of ointment also.
All three Gospel accounts quote Jesus as having said that this anointing was in preparation for his burial. So, just how much did the Jewish leadership care about the truth? I think it is obvious when you read their reaction in John 12:10-11 "But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus." They conspired to have Lazarus put to death simply to destroy the evidence of his resurrection. When Jesus told them that they were of their father the devil back in John 8:44 (see notes), you must admit that these were, indeed, evil men; yet, they were considered to be the most religious men of their day.
By the way, going through life with a a name like "Simon the leper" has to be tough. Apparently he had been cured of leprosy, and the name just stuck. There's only one thing that I can think of that would be worse. Since Judas Iscariot was Simon's son (John 12:4), he would later be known as Simon, father of Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus.
Incidentally, if this story looks familiar, perhaps it is because a similar event took place earlier in Jesus' ministry, recorded in Luke 7:36-50 (see notes). In that passage, the woman is not identified and the timeframe is one to two years earlier.
|1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
|1 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,
2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.
3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.
4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?
6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.
7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.
8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
|29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,
30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.
31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.
32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.
33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?
34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him.
35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
|12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.
16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.
18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.
19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.
Here's the big moment of reckoning for Israel to which we've been building throughout the Gospels. What are you Jews going to do with the Messiah during the course of the week? In this passage Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey - the luxury vehicle of kings.
Now here's the really exciting part: This entry was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 (see notes), "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." And the people fully recognize the implications here when they cry out in verse 9, "Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest." This word "Hosanna" is a transliterated Aramaic expression which literally means "help, I pray" or "save, I pray," "King of Israel" - alarming words to the Jewish leaders. Luke translates additional Aramaic as, "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest." So, what brought out this big, exuberant crowd? John alludes to it in John 12:17-18; they had heard about the four-day-dead Lazarus being raised from the dead (John 11:1-17, see notes).
Make no mistake about it; the people were acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah while Jesus rode into Jerusalem as royalty - even spreading branches and garments in his way to make a clean path for royalty. Furthermore, thousands of visiting Jews were there that day in anticipation of celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem. Jesus had been preaching about the Kingdom of God through his entire ministry. That Kingdom of God was the message of the Messianic rule prophesied by the Old Testament prophets.
In Luke's account (Luke 19:39) we see that the Pharisees call upon Jesus to rebuke these people who are welcoming him into Jerusalem as the Messiah. Of course Jesus does no such thing, but perhaps uses a few words from Habakkuk 2:11 (see notes) instead, likely alluding to the fact that just as the stones could cry out regarding Babylonian atrocities, so could these stones cry out regarding the true identity of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Incidentally, their reference to Jesus as "master" in verse 39 comes from the Greek word, "didaskalos." It's the word used to identify a rabbi or master teacher. Thus the command from the Pharisees here is literally, "Teacher! Rebuke your pupils!"