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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney


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Although Jesus’ anointing probably took place on the previous Saturday night (John 12:1-12), Matthew and Mark mix it in with the events of Easter Wednesday. This is because these authors were more interested in the themes than the Chronology. They wanted to contrast her loving devotion with that of Judas and the religious leaders who are seeking to betray and kill Jesus.

The Passover is Two Days Away

‘When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”’ (Matthew 26:1-2)

Let’s remember that the events of Easter were all prophesied and took place according to the plan and love of God. Jesus’ life was given for us, it was not taken!

Scheme to Arrest and Kill

According to Jesus’ predictions, the religious leaders schemed to arrest and kill Jesus.

‘Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”’ (Matthew 26:3-5)

They are intent on Jesus’ murder not because of the evidence against Him, but because of the wickedness in their hearts. They represent all of us before God moves in our lives. Unbelief is the result of sin, it’s not the result of evidence.

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

The hatred of the religious leaders is set in contrast with the love of Mary (John 12:3), who is extravagant in her devotion to Jesus.

‘While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 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.’ (Matthew 26:6-7)

This was an amazing act of faith (this perfume would have acted as a kind of insurance), and generosity – being worth 1 years’ wages (John 12:4)!

Why This Waste?

Judas (in John 12:4) puts on a facade of concern toward the poor.

‘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.” (Matthew 26:8-9)

Judas, on the surface of it, looks more righteous than this ‘wasteful’ woman! However, Jesus knows everyone’s heart. Sacrificial worship is never a waste in Jesus’ eyes.

A Beautiful Thing

Judas, and all the disciples who accuse her of being wasteful, receive a lesson in worship in this event.

‘Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.’ (Matthew 26:10-12)

Jesus calls her act of generous worship a ‘beautiful thing’. God wants us to see in this act the vindication of Jesus; although He is about to be cursed by God as He is ‘hung on a tree’ (Gal. 3:13), He is without sin and is worthy of our worship.

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

‘Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.’ (Matthew 26:14-16)

Jesus is now betrayed for the equivalent of four-month’s wages. Judas and the religious leaders are set in contrast with the Mary who anointed with oil at the cost of a year’s wages.


‘Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:13)

We are to never forget this beautiful act. It’s our pattern of worship as we sacrificially give everything to God in light of how He gave everything for us. This is to be remembered in trying times; When people despise our worship; when it looks like Jesus is weak and being dishonoured; when our faith is being tested for whatever reason; let’s remember her beautiful act, go against the tide, and keep trusting and keep worshipping.



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