Today, we continue in our Holy Week series, as we explore the road to the cross.
Yesterday, we heard of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He was praised for being their king right now, but as we will see it takes a dramatic turn for the worst very quickly.
After the praise and adoration subsided, Jesus and the disciples head back to the town of Bethany where they enjoy a time of fellowship together, perhaps unaware of the turbulent times that lie ahead.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry of approximately three years, He had healed many people and done some amazing miracles.
Many scholars believe that Simon, who’s home Jesus was dining in, in Matthew’s account, was one of the hundreds of people Jesus healed during this ministry years.
It says in Matthew 26:6,
“Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy.”
Imagine how Simon must have felt…for many years, he had probably been shunned, forced to live in isolation or with a community of lepers, as was the custom of the day.
Now…he was sitting with Jesus and others, having been healed by the Great Physician. It is unclear from scripture if Simon was healed recently or it had been some time since his healing.
Regardless, Simon was hosting his redeemer in his home.
Matthew goes on to share,
“While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. ‘What a waste!’ they said. ‘It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.’” (Matthew 26:7-9)
Many of the disciples were fishermen, former tax collectors, and the like – money was a commodity and people had to work hard to get it. They could not understand why this woman, who was unnamed in this account, chose to “waste” it on pouring it on Jesus’ head.
One commentary shares the significance of this action by saying,
“In an act of extravagant worship, she poured it on his head. This “anointing” was an appropriate way to honor the Messiah. It was often done for special guests or rabbinical figures. The anointing oil used on Jesus was very valuable, worth perhaps a year’s wages.”1
A year’s worth of wages. Consider for a moment your yearly income, would you be willing to pour that out on Jesus? Would you be willing to give that money away if Jesus asked you to?
The answer requires some soul searching.
For the unnamed woman,
- What prompted her to have this expensive perfume?
- Did she already have it?
- Did she purchase it for this particular occasion?
- How did she know Jesus would be there?
So many questions, we don’t have answers to, but her act of sacrifice and anointing of Jesus became a testimony of her love and devotion to her King.
Jesus then replied,
“Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” (Matthew 26:10-13)
Unbelievable – this unnamed woman has stood the test of time, and as Jesus said and predicted, we continue to share this woman’s sacrificial story throughout history.
She was not looking for accolades, but I imagine, she was following the prompting of the Lord. I wonder if she had turned her heart to Jesus during His ministry?
I have so many questions about her presence in this house, but whatever or whoever led her to that house, her sacrificial act laid the groundwork for the Christ’s death symbolically.
If we jump back a little bit in the narrative, while the disciples were chastising this woman for using her expensive perfume to anoint Jesus, they totally miss the fact that Jesus was going to die.
Do you think the disciples heard that and skipped over it or did they not understand the significance of Jesus’ words?
Judas Sets The Stage For His Betrayal of Jesus
For some time, the religious leaders wanted to get rid of Jesus. He was a problem that needed remediation. However, they could not figure out how to get rid of him.
Jesus represented a clear and present danger to their rule and power over the Jewish people. He was ushering in a new way of thinking that scared them to death.
The religious leaders were familiar with writings of Isaiah that spoke of a Christ child being born.
Simeon, a servant of the Lord, proclaimed when Jesus was just a boy,
“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32)
The religious leaders challenged Jesus at every chance and were defeated each time. They had many opportunities to hurt Jesus, but feared the people and did not act.
Then a solution presented itself – Judas Iscariot – would sell out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Many scholars believe that Judas never put his faith in Jesus, and lived a life contrary to Jesus’ teaching while being one of the chosen twelve by Jesus.
“From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.” (Matthew 26:16)
Judas had Jesus right in front of him, day after day, and yet his actions would betray Christ.
The road to the cross went through a triumphant entry into Jerusalem, a man named Simon’s generosity of a meal of gratitude for his healing, an unnamed woman who anointed Jesus for his death, and Judas’ preparation of betrayal.
This week, as we explore the road to the cross, I encourage you to read Matthew’s account found in chapter 26, and think about how grateful you are for Christ’s sacrifice.
Lord, thank you for showing us the gratitude of those who have been healed by you and the power of your anointing for your death. Please guide us to see how our lives have been transformed by birth, death, and resurrection. Amen!
- Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 436). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers. ↩︎
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