Matthew 26:01-13 “She Has Done A Good Thing”

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church Manhattan, KS, 29 Sept 2013

Greyed-out text was omitted in the mp3 recording for brevity.


26:01 And so it was, when Jesus concluded all these words, He said to His disciples,

26:02 “Y’all realize that in two days

it will be the Passover, and the Son of Man will[1] be betrayed in order to be crucified?”


26:03 At that time, the chief priests and the elders of the people

were gathered together in the courtyard of the high priest named Caiaphas,

26:04 and they brainstormed together how they might grab and kill Jesus, using a trick.

26:05 And they were saying, “Not during the holiday, lest a riot develop among the people.”


26:06 Now, after Jesus arrived in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,

26:07 a woman holding a very expensive alabaster container of perfume

approached Him and poured it down upon His head while He was seated [for dinner].

26:08 Then His disciples, having seen [this] became indignant, saying, “What was this waste for?

26:09 I mean, it had the potential to be sold for a mint and to be given to destitute persons!”

26:10 But Jesus, in an understanding manner said to them,

“Why are y’all harboring insults toward this woman?

for she did a good deed toward me,

26:11 for y’all always have the destitute with yourselves, but you don’t always have me,

26:12 for this woman, having cast out this perfume upon my body,

did it toward my embalmment.

26:13 Really, I’m telling y’all, wherever this good news happens to be announced

in the entirety of the world, it will also be articulated what this woman did

for a way of remembering her.”


I want to share a page from Joyce Landorf’s historical fiction book, I Came to Love You Late:

“…none of them understood why Mary had used her burial ointment. Martha’s heart constricted a little at the sight of the box. Of all the treasured things her father had provided for his children, the three alabaster boxes filled with rare and costly perfumes, to be used at the time of their deaths, were among the most precious. Lazarus’s box is empty, and now so is Mary’s, thought Martha, but, like the other guests, she remained silent and watchful, unable to comprehend the significance… Mary deftly undid her hair… the silken red tresses spilled out and over her shoulders, catching all the dancing lights of the lamps and candles in the room… there were heard gasps… Mary seemed oblivious to everyone’s presence save Jesus’, for in one exquisite moment of self-abandonment she bent her head and with her long flowing hair dried his feet. Mingling her tears with the precious spikenard, Mary was unaware of the others, her family, or the genuine treasure of fragrance which was now filling the entire house. Years later they would say… that the feast was memorable not because of the large number of Jews who thronged to witness it, nor primarily because of Jesus’ visit, or the newly returned-to-life Lazarus, but because of a woman’s prophetic act of loving sorrow…”


·         Matthew 26 is a transition from the Olivet Discourse on Jesus’ coming in judgment in the future back to what was going on around Jesus in Jerusalem. It’s almost Passover, almost time to be crucified, and He needs to turn His disciples’ minds from the glorious day when He comes in power to remove evil, to the symbolic sacrifice of the Passover lamb and the ultimate sacrifice of the Son of Man – which would be necessary to make the day of judgment a good day and not a bad day for His followers!


26:01 And so it was, when Jesus concluded all these words, He said to His disciples,

Και εγενετο ‘οτε ετελεσεν[2] ‘ο Ιησους παντας τους λογους τουτους ειπεν τοις μαθηταις αυτου


26:02 “Y’all realize that in two days it will be the Passover, and the Son of Man will[3] be betrayed in order to be crucified?”

Οιδατε ‘οτι μετα δυο ‘ημερας το πασχα γινεται και ‘ο ‘υιος του ανθρωπου παραδιδοται εις το σταυρωθηναι

·         The disciples were, of course, aware that it was two days until Passover. Not counting down the days to Passover would be like someone in our day not knowing that it would be Christmas in two days. Of course they knew that.

·         But Jesus annexes to what everybody knew something only He could know was coming: that he would be betrayedKJV/ delivered upNKJ,ESV/ handed overNAS,NIV in two days and that it would result in Him being crucified.

·         Jesus speaks as a prophet here, knowing that He will be betrayed – even knowing who would betray Him, and knowing God’s will that God the Son be crucified on Passover to fulfill the meaning of Passover once and for all.

·         At Passover, families slaughtered a lamb and applied its blood to their homes so that the death angel would not claim their lives. But now, Jesus, the Lamb of God would be slaughtered – hung on a cross to die – and His blood applied in God’s record-book to His people in order that they would not be punished with eternal death despite their rebellion against God.

·         Now the scene changes for three verses to inform us of who would be the characters (the human ones, anyway) behind the crucifixion of Jesus:


26:03 At that time, the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the courtyard of the high priest named Caiaphas,

Τοτε συνηχθησαν ‘οι αρχιερεις και ‘οι πρεσβυτεροι του λαου εις την αυλην του αρχιερεως του λεγομενου Καιαφα


26:04 and they brainstormed together how they might grab and kill Jesus, using a trick.

και συνεβουλευσαντο ‘ινα τον Ιησουν δολῳ[4] κρατησωσιν και αποκτεινωσιν

·         The KJV adds the scribes to this list of adversaries because “‘οι γραμματεις και” is in the majority of Greek manuscripts,

o       but it’s not in any known manuscripts dated older than 900 AD, and there’s about a hundred of those older Greek manuscripts that don’t have the scribes in the list, so I’m kinda skeptical about it being in Matthew’s original manuscript.

o       It doesn’t really make a difference, though, because both Mark and Luke, in their Gospel accounts, mention that the scribes were also involved.

o       It was common discipline for monks to memorize all four gospels (I’ve mentioned John Chrysostom before, and he is one who is said to have achieved this feat of memorization), and so I think that sometimes when they made their hand copies of any particular Gospel, they sometimes interpolated other information that they had memorized from the other Gospels. I’ve noticed that this could explain a lot of the variants in the Greek manuscripts, so that’s not false information, it’s actually convenient to get a harmony of the Gospels without having to go buy an extra book!

·         Anyway, these guys had been Gathered/assembled together at Caiphas’ house, which may have been like a “palace.” However, I prefer the translation of the NASB, “court,” because the primary meaning of this Greek word aule is a developed place in the open air.

·         In fact, this same word is used later on when Peter spends the night in the high priest’s courtyard, warming his hands by the fire and fretting over what they’re doing with Jesus. The plot that the Jewish leaders hatch in Caiphas’ courtyard results in them takingKJV/ seizingNAS/ arrestingNIV,ESV Jesus and bringing Him back to that same courtyard. (There was apparently another outer courtyard, and that’s where Peter stayed while Jesus was held in the inner courtyard.)

·         But at this point, they Jewish leaders are still trying to come up with a plan.

·         They realize it must be done subtilyKJV/ by stealthNKJ,ESV/ in some sly wayNIV/ using trickeryNKJ. These religious leaders are wanting to use deception – outright fraud – to nab Jesus and murder Him. This makes them the bad guys.

·         It’s interesting to think about how Matthew got this information. It appears that he had an inside source who was on the Sanhedrin at that meeting, perhaps Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus. At any rate, we are allowed in on what was said during this clandestine meeting:


26:05 And they were saying, “Not during the holiday, lest a riot develop among the people.”

ελεγον δε Μη εν τη ‘εορτη[5] ‘ινα μη θορυβος γενηται εν τω λαω.

·         Jesus, of course, intended it to be over the Passover that He was killed, and His will won out over the plans of the chief priests.

·         And indeed there was a riot among the people, recorded later on in Matt. 27:24, this time created by the same chief priests and elders who had earlier wanted to avoid a riot. Pilate’s fear of an uproarKJV,ESV led him hastily to let Jesus be crucified. If you are afraid of what people will think of you, you will be easily manipulated, just like Pilate was.

·         The chief priests and elders were also afraid of the people (Luke 22:2), which also made them the bad guys. Good guys only fear God.

·         Now the scene switches back to Jesus and His disciples. It is evening, and they have made their way about a mile down the north side of the Mount of Olives to the village of Bethany for supper.

·         They stop at the home of a man named Simon the Leper. What do we know about Simon?

o       All we know for sure is that he had experienced the terrible disease of leprosy which destroys the physical body bit-by-bit.

o       I wonder if he was one of the nine Jewish lepers whom Jesus healed on the way to Jerusalem in Luke 17:11ff?

o       Most scholars think that Luke did not provide an account of this event – only Matthew, Mark, and John did. But Luke (7:36ff) does provide an account of a woman who poured an alabaster container of perfume over Jesus while He was eating in the house of a man named Simon, so it is either a curious coincidence during Jesus’ earlier ministry in Capernaum or it is a fourth parallel account of the dinner in Bethany.

o       If Luke’s is a parallel account, then we could also say that this Simon was a Pharisee and that he did not treat Jesus very honorably. I don’t see anything in Luke’s account that rules out the possibility of it being recorded out-of-sequence with the events before and after it, and it would be fitting for all four Gospel writers to tell this story, since Jesus says that “wherever the Gospel is preached her story will be told” (v.13). But many Bible commentators insist that it is a different event. So, although I think it is the same event, I will not be dogmatic about it.


26:06 Now, after Jesus arrived in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,

Του δε Ιησου γενομενου εν βηθανια εν οικια Σιμωνος του λεπρου


26:07 a woman holding a very expensive alabaster container of perfume approached Him
and poured it down upon His head while He was seated [for dinner].

προσηλθεν αυτω γυνη αλαβαστρον μυρου εχουσα βαρυτιμου[6] και κατεχεεν επι την κεφαλην[7] αυτου ανακειμενου

·         Jesus was sitting at the dinner table (literally “reclining,” as is the custom of that culture for meals),

·         when this woman comes up.

o       John’s parallel account (12:1-3) identifies her as Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, who also lived there in Bethany and were at this meal (Martha was serving food).

o       This Mary would be different from Jesus’ mother. Is this Mary the same as Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus cast out seven evil spirits (Luke 8:2) and who shows up frequently around Jesus’ death and resurrection? Maybe, although it’s hard to tell for sure, because the name “Mary” was a popular name for girls at the time, and the Bible doesn’t ever say whether or not Mary Magdalene was the sister of Lazarus and Martha. It is certainly a debated point among Bible scholars.

o       If Luke 7:37 is indeed a parallel account of what happened here, then this Mary must have had a bad reputation, for Luke and Simon called her a notorious “sinner,” and Jesus Himself remarked that her sins “are many.[8]

·         The important part of this story is that this woman performed an extravagant act of honor on Jesus – so extravagant that it made everybody stop and think – some with admiration, some with indignation.

·         The exact nature of what she used to anoint Jesus is somewhat obscure:

o       The container in which it was kept is called a “box,” a “flask,” a “vial,” a “cruse,” or a “jar,” depending on what translation you’re looking at.

o       In Greek, the word is alabastron, which sounds like “alabaster,” the old name for calcium carbonate, the kind of white rock of which stalactites in caves are made.

o       The only other place in the Greek Bible this word occurs is in 2 Kings 21:13[9], which indicates that serving containers for food and drink were commonly made of this stuff, maybe something like china or porcelain.

o       Anyway, according to Mark 14:3, she then breaks (συντριψασα) this container to open it.

o       Inside is what John 12:3 calls “a pound of muru of pure spikenard,” or a “pint” of liquid measure, according to the NIV translation.

o       Murou may be what we call myrrh, or it may just mean a variety of aromatic essential oils – the parallel accounts in John and Mark mention that this muru was either made of – or mixed with – nard, another fragrant essential oil.

§         In the Song of Solomon, it is listed along with cinnamon as a fragrance for perfuming (4:14, 1:3-4).

§         It’s also used to describe the kind of oil that was specially made by the priests in the temple (1 Chron. 9:30 – which included myrrh σμύρνα - Ex. 30:23) for special anointings to consecrate priests and holy things (Ex. 30:25, Ps. 133:2).

§         And it was one of the treasures that Hezekiah showed off to the delegates from Babylon who visited Jerusalem in Isaiah 39:2.

§         This myrrh-fragrant-ointment was the special treasure of kings and priests and was used for the anointing of both kings and priests, so, while it might have been used by a wealthy man without having any ceremonial significance (Amos 6:6), it seems to me more than coincidental that this stuff is being used to anoint Jesus, who is the ultimate king and priest, and whose title “Christ” means “the Anointed One.”

o       But this oil was not just used for anointing kings and priests, it was also used in burial.

§         It is mentioned among the spices used at King Asa’s funeral (2 Chron. 16:14) and was one of the things the women brought to Jesus’ tomb after His burial (John 12:5, cf. the smurna - myrrh and aloe Nicodemus used for the burial in John 19:39).

§         Jesus attaches special significance to this, saying that she has prepared Him for burial.

§         Maybe Mary had heard what Jesus said back in verse 2, that He was going to be crucified in two days, so she ran home and grabbed this embalming oil, thinking that if He was going to be crucified, that meant He would be treated like a criminal under the custody of the Roman army, and she might not be allowed to get close to Him again, and He might never get a decent burial. This might be her last chance to give some dignity to His death!

§         So, this perfume was used to anoint priests and kings for their special roles, but it was also used to add dignity to the funeral of an important person. There is a third point about this stuff that bears mentioning as well:

o       It was “very expensive,” “very costly,” and thus “very precious.”

§         Ezekiel 27:17 and Rev. 18:13 suggest that it was expensive because it had to be imported from far away.

§         Joseph Thayer, the author of a classic New Testament Greek lexicon, backs this up, saying that it came from South India[10].

§         In the parallel account in John 12:5, Judas Iscariot estimates this perfume to be worth 300 denarii, which would be about a year’s wages[11].

§         Think about it. How much does the main wage-earner in your home make in an entire year? How long would it take to save that much money? What would you think of spending that much money on a bottle of high-end perfume and then dumping it out all at once at a dinner party?

§         Whether or not this was symbolic of the Messiah-ship of Jesus, it certainly indicated that He was very, very special! Does Mary’s evaluation of Jesus match the way you value Him?

·         This precious perfume Mary poured down over Jesus’ head (cf. Psalm 133) – and also over Jesus’ feet, according to the parallel passage in John 12:3, wiping His feet with her hair. This is also what the woman did in Luke 7, sobbing as she knelt at Jesus’ feet out of heartfelt gratitude that He had forgiven her of all of her sin. The rich smell of the perfume filled all the house and probably stayed with Jesus right through His crucifixion.

o       When we sacrifice something that is precious to honor Jesus, we add value to His reputation.

o       Most of Jesus’ followers made great sacrifices:

§         James and John left their father and their fishing business,

§         Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea risked their prestigious positions on the Sanhedrin supreme court to associate themselves with Jesus,

§         John the Baptizer suffered prison and martyrdom, as did many other followers of Jesus.

§         What do you have that is of great value that you could spend extravagantly on Jesus?

·         Now, when we abandon ourselves to honor Jesus, we must not do it with an eye to impress anybody else here on earth, because often when we honor the Lord with true abandon, we will be misunderstood and criticized. And when we have to endure those harsh, judgmental attitudes of other people, only the knowledge that we honestly did it out of love for Jesus will get us through the pain of those dreadful accusing fingers pointed at us.

o       Think of David, whose own wife despised him for abandoning himself in celebration of God’s special presence coming to his city.

o       Think of great missionaries like Patrick, the evangelizer of Ireland who was accused of bilking money from poor widows, and C.T. Studd, pioneer missionary to central Africa who was accused of harming his family.

o       You can probably think of a time when you yourself were misunderstood and unjustly accused by others.

o       Accusation, by the way is one of the primary tactics of Satan. That’s what the name “Satan” means; it means “Accuser.” And it is a common strategy for Satan to plant accusing thoughts in people’s heads, helping them to think the worst of other people, construing their motives in the least-favorable light, and then giving expression to those thoughts.

o       Oh how Satan delights when we point indignant fingers at each other and dredge up bitter old grievances against one another and accuse each other of things we think are true, yet we have not really proved conclusively and objectively. When we say things like, “How dare you…” or “Why did you…” or “How could you…,” Satan rubs his hands with glee.

·         The situation at Simon the Leper’s house was ripe now for this very work of Satan (Luke 22:3):


26:08 Then His disciples, having seen [this] became indignant, saying, “What was this waste for?

ιδοντες δε ‘οι μαθηται [αυτου[12]] ηγανακτησαν λεγοντες Εις τί ‘η απωλεια ‘αυτη;


26:09 I mean, it had the potential to be sold for a mint and to be given to destitute persons!”

ηδυνατο γαρ τουτο [13] πραθηναι πολλου και δοθηναι [14] πτωχοις

·         We’ve seen this indignation before in the Pharisees who couldn’t stand hearing children in the temple praising Jesus! Be ever so careful to scrutinize yourself whenever you feel indignation begin to rise.

·         The Gospel of John tells us it was Judas Iscariot who voiced the objection, but Matthew and Mark make it clear that Judas wasn’t the only disciple thinking this thought:

·         “What a waste! We have just witnessed the irretrievable loss of something valuable! A year’s salary shot to hell!” (I know that’s strong language, but that’s the connotation of the Greek word apwleia in verse 8 Mt. 7:13, John 17:12.)

·         The Imperfect tense of the first verb in verse 9 connotes that, up until the point it was wasted, the perfume carried the potential to be sold for muchKJV/a large sumESV/a high priceNAS,NIV, but now that chance was shot.

·         Jesus, of course had encouraged the rich young ruler back in chapter 19 to give to the poor and destitute, so it was a good thing to do, and, perhaps there were disciples who honestly felt that it would have been a wiser use of this valuable item to sell it off and donate the proceeds to the needy. So be it. Different people are going to have different opinions about how you should invest your God-given resources, but those resources are not theirs to decide how to invest. God gave them to you, and thus to you the decision for how to invest them. Of course it’s wise to gather good advice, but once you have done what you believe is the best course, nobody has any business criticizing you.

·         Now, the Gospel of John, reveals why Judas, in particular, leveled his criticism: he wanted these valuable financial gifts to be handled through his own accounting as Jesus’ treasurer because he wanted to embezzle the money for his own personal use.


26:10 But Jesus, in an understanding manner, said to them, “Why are y’all harboring insults toward this woman? For she did a good deed toward me,

γνους δε ‘ο Ιησους ειπεν αυτοις Τί κοπους παρεχετε τη γυναικι; εργον γαρ καλον ειργασατο εις εμε

·         Jesus “knew” – He was “aware” of – what was going on, both in the grateful heart of the adoring Mary and in the hearts of His disciples practically concerned for the poor, and in the heart of Judas, craving mammon, and Jesus says what is best for all concerned.

·         First He points out to His disciples – the future leadership of His church, that from here on out, it’s a no-no to criticize what people do as an act of devotion to God. “Don’t bother her; don’t trouble her heart any further with your cutting remarks.”

·         “If you stop and think about why it is that you are harboring those insults, you will realize that it comes from your own sinful heart which is selfishly thinking of your interests and uncharitably assigning the worst possible motives to her when you don’t really know her heart.”

·         Now, in verses 10-12, Jesus gives three reasons why they should not have bothered her, each reason starting with the Greek word gar translated “for” in most English translations (unfortunately omitted from the NIV). The three reasons are:

    1. She’s done a beautiful thing/a good deed to me,
    2. She’s making the most of a limited-time opportunity, and
    3. She’s preparing me for my burial.
  • So, looking at the first reason at the end of verse 10, “She has done a good deed:”
    • There is no law against anointing people with essential oils. It was a “beautiful” thing. There was nothing morally wrong with Mary’s action.
    • In such a case, we have to extend the benefit of the doubt.
    • When somebody does something you don’t like, yet is not wrong according to God’s word, and they’re doing it out of respect for Jesus, don’t discourage them!
    • In my former occupations as a student and as a foreign missions consultant, I had the opportunity to observe how hundreds of different local churches conducted their worship services. Many of them were very different from the way I grew up worshipping.
      • I didn’t grow up hearing people speaking or praying in tongues, so when I heard that kind of stuff going on, I had to struggle with prejudices, although sometimes I felt like I was seeing scriptural guidelines ignored.
      • When I first saw a woman wearing a headcovering, I thought, “What a weird style!”
      • When I saw people waving their hands in worship or serving the Lord’s Supper differently or preaching differently, I was faced with the choice of blowing them off as wrong-headed, or thinking the best of them and considering if there might be some Biblical basis for what they were doing and whether there was something in it I could learn to practice too.
      • I hope that has helped me be more gracious in recognizing the value of a range of ways people can honor Jesus, but pride is a tricky thing and it can trip me up when I’m not expecting it.
  • But Jesus said, “She has done a good thing for me.” Notice, by the way, that “good” does not stand without reference to Jesus. Without the words, “to me,” the judgment of the disciples that she did a bad thing would be just as valid as anybody else’s opinion of whether it was good or bad. But Jesus is not just anybody else. Jesus is God, so He has the unique ability to authoritatively decide good from bad for all of us, and, since He declares “she has done a good thing,” therefore she has done right, and no one has any right to question His judgment.
  • Now in v.11, Jesus gives His second reason why the disciples should lay off their criticism:


26:11 for y’all always have the destitute with yourselves, but you don’t always have me,

παντοτε γαρ τους πτωχους εχετε μεθ’ ‘εαυτων εμε δε ου παντοτε εχετε

  • Mary made the most of a limited-time opportunity. Jesus had just said that He would be crucified in two days. Then, fourty-some days later, He would ascend into heaven. Jesus would not be around much longer.
  • The poor, on the other hand, will always be around. The way Jesus says this implies not only that it will be impossible to eradicate poverty in this age, but also that it will continue to be His will to show consideration to the needy in this age. Mark recorded these additional words in his gospel, “you can do good things for them whenever you want” (Mark 14:7, NAW).

·         Now, we no longer have the opportunity that Mary had to physically present anything to Jesus. But we do have the opportunity to present things to Him by proxy, using the principle He mentioned a few verses back in Matthew 25:40 “Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my brothers you did it unto me.”

·         Galatians 6 draws that principle out clearly: “2. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ… 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (NASB)

·         Look around you. Sitting all around you are Jesus’ “brothers” – and sisters, those “of the household of faith;” every one of them has needs.

·         And God has given you some resource that you can share to meet one of those needs – maybe more than one. It may be money; it may be time; it may be some task you have the skill and connections to pull off; it may be a hug or an encouraging word, but the opportunity to help the needy is all around each one of us. Let us make the most of the opportunity!

·         So, 1) She has done a good thing for me, 2) She is acting just in time, and 3)…


26:12 for this woman, having cast this perfume upon my body, did it toward my embalmment.

βαλουσα γαρ ‘αυτη το μυρον τουτο επι του σωματος μου προς το ενταφιασαι με εποιησεν.

·         The Greek word ενταφιασαι – “burial” in most English translations – only occurs two other times in the Greek Bible, once referring to the embalming of Jacob’s body in Egypt (Gen. 50:2), and once referring to Nicodemus embalming Jesus’ body with 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes and linen wrappings (John 19:40).

·         This outpouring upon Jesus’ live body of a fragrant oil used on dead bodies was a sort of premonition of – or down-payment toward – the embalming that would be done on Him after He died in a couple of days. The Gospel of John records Jesus as saying, “Leave her alone so that she might keep it until the day of my embalmment” (John 12:14, NAW).

·         Jesus is saying, in effect, “This woman understands that I’m about to die. That’s what I came to do, so this symbol of death is entirely appropriate.”

·         Do you understand this central event in Jesus’ life? Why was He crucified? Was it because He failed or did something wrong? No! It is because the only way He could save us from dying and going to hell for our offenses against God was for God to die and suffer the penalty for sin Himself for us, thus He can be perfectly just when He says our sin is paid for and we are right with Him. That is the “gospel,” the “good news” in Jesus’ conclusion in verse 13!


26:13 Really, I’m telling y’all, wherever this good news happens to be announced in the entirety of the world, it will also be articulated what this woman did for a way of remembering her.”

Αμην λεγω ‘υμιν ‘οπου εαν κηρυχθη το ευαγγελιον τουτο εν ‘ολω τω κοσμω λαληθησεται και ὃ εποιησεν ‘αυτη εις μνημοσυνον αυτης.

·         This woman got it right! She did something good, she did it at the right time, and she appropriately prepared Jesus for His mission to die!

·         Instead of being shamed for her abandoned act of worship, she is accorded a great honor. Jesus says that her story must be included in the gospel wherever it is preached – and, by the way, He expects it to be proclaimed throughout the whole world.

·         I think that’s why all four Gospel writers included this story. That also means you need to learn this story so you can tell it to other people. Will you find somebody you can tell this story to this week?


·         Remember this woman who “did what she was able” to do to honor Jesus, and that was to spend on Him a special treasure worth something on the order of what your home is worth.

·         She had it to spend, and she sized up that it was a good and appropriate act and an appropriate time, so she went for it.

·         She risked being humiliated for the extravagance of her act.

o       What if Jesus wasn’t really the Messiah?

o       What if He rejected her?

o       What if her friends made fun of her and talked about her behind their hands?

o       Mary laid her reputation on the line and staked her claim that Jesus is the Messiah and He is worthy of the most extravagant acts of devotion. And her faith was rewarded.

·         What treasures do you have that you could give to the kingdom of God to demonstrate the incalculable worth of being forgiven of your sins, and the infinite worth of Jesus to you?

o       For some of us parents, we are preparing the precious gift of our children to send away as missionaries.

o       For some of us, it may be a family heirloom that can be given without real harm to the family, that God has prepared for such a time as this.

o       For some it may be a special task you can volunteer for.

o       For all of us, there is the precious gift of ourselves. Will you “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow” Jesus too?

[1] The original Greek is Present tense, not Future tense, for both the “coming” of Passover and the “betrayal” of Jesus. I changed it to Future tense to reflect contemporary patterns of speech in my language with the understanding that it would indeed be Present tense two days after Jesus spoke it.

[2] Although this is Aorist tense, all the standard English versions translate it in the Perfect tense.

[3] The original Greek is Present tense, not Future tense, for both the “coming” of Passover and the “betrayal” of Jesus. I changed it to Future tense to reflect contemporary patterns of speech in my language with the understanding that it would indeed be Present tense two days after Jesus spoke it.

[4] Zephaniah chapter 1 has some interesting parallels to Matt. 26, with several key Greek words in common, speaking of God’s judgment on those who use trickery and weigh out silver, but also of a sacrifice and a feast prepared for His guests.

[5] This word for holiday/festival/feast is only used in the Bible to describe the main annual Jewish holidays.

[6] Here the Critical editions side with the Patriarchal and Textus Receptus (T.R.)editions of the Greek New Testament against four of the oldest Greek manuscripts (א, A, D, L, and Θ) which use the synonymous Greek prefix poly- (“much”) instead of barus- (“weighty”).

[7] Here Critical editions side with a subset of the abovementioned old Greek manuscripts (א, B, D, Θ, and 089, with corroboration in f1 and f13) by rendering this object in the Accusative case (της κεφαλης) against the Patriarchal and T.R.’s Genitive case (supported by the majority of Greek manuscripts, including P45 and A). Either case is proper Greek grammar, and it makes no difference in translation.

[8] This is certainly debated. Bible commentators Adam Clark and John Gill weigh in for three different anointings, combining only Matthew and Mark’s account. John Chrysostom wrote that Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s accounts (“the three”) were all the same event and that John’s was a different event and therefore that this was not Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Lightfoot believed that it was Mary Magdalene, but A.T. Robertson, in his Harmony of the Gospels insisted, “…it is absurd to represent the two anointings as the same, an outrage on such slender ground to cast reproach on Mary of Bethany.” Kenneth Bailey, author of Jesus Through Middle-Eastern Eyes, seems to agree with Clark and Gill that this woman was a social outcast whose name Jesus did not know, but who had found forgiveness through Jesus’ teachings. and was huddled with other poor people against the outer wall hoping to get some of the leftovers after the meal was over (for the Scribes taught that one must always leave his door open during a meal and feed the hungry afterward). Bailey suggests that this woman became insensed at Simon’s rudeness to Jesus for not offering the standard courtesies of greeting and washing, so she decided to take matters into her own hands and provide these honors herself to Jesus as best she could.

[9] “And I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measure of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Achaab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a jar is wiped, and turned upside down in the wiping.” (Brenton)

[10] “1) nard, the head or spike of a fragrant East Indian plant belonging to the genus Valerianna, which yields a juice of delicious odour which the ancients used (either pure or mixed) in the preparation of a most precious ointment.” ~Thayer

[11] Compare with the 30 pieces of silver for which Judas betrayed Christ, estimated by A.T. Robertson at 120 denarii.

[12] Not in Critical editions of the GNT because there are half a dozen ancient Greek uncial manuscripts without it, and a couple of papyri that also appear to be without it. However, it’s in some other uncials dating back just as far, and is supported by the majority of Greek manuscripts. This kind of variant is common in Matthew, with the KJV reading “His disciples” and other versions reading “the disciples.” The “His” is in the parallel passage in John 12:5. At any rate, the context of this passage leaves no doubt whose these disciples were, so it doesn’t affect the meaning whether or not the word “His” is published here.

[13] According to the critical apparatus of Nestle-Aland’s critical edition, somewhere around the 9th century, Greek manuscripts started including the additional phrase το μυρον “the ointment/perfume” to describe the word “this,” and so the longer phrase became what the majority of copies quoted, even though modern Critical editors of the Greek New Testament do not consider it to be original to Matthew’s gospel. It is undisputedly in the parallel account in John’s gospel, however, so, once again, it comes down to whether or not it was recorded by Matthew, not whether or not it was said. Additionally, the context makes clear what is being referred to, and even the NASB and NIV (which follow the Critical text) add the word “perfume” to help make the meaning clear.

[14] The Critical editions and the T.R. omit the definite article here on the basis of the majority of Greek manuscripts (including א, B, L, Θ, 089, 0133, f1 and f13), thus the italicized “the” in the NKJV. The sizeable minority which the Patriarchal editions follow - and which includes this word - includes manuscripts A, D, K, W, Γ, Δ, and 0255. This word appears indisputably in all the Greek manuscripts of the parallel account in Mark 14, but it makes no significant difference in translation; the word “the” appears here in most English versions anyway.