Notes: December 21, 2009

Jesus anointed for his burial – in advance

The disciples thought it to be a waste of resources. Jesus considered it a good work.

Matthew 26:6-13

  • In Bethany (v. 6). Jesus spent much time in Bethany, the home of Lazaraus, Martha and Mary. And now we see also the home of Simon the leper. (You would expect that Simon had been a leper, whom Jesus healed).
  • A woman stands beside Jesus as he sat to eat, and she opened a “bottle” of very expensive perfume and poured it all on his head (v. 7).
  • The disciples object that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor (v. 9).
  • Jesus chastises them for troubling the woman with such ideas. She has done good, not evil (v. 10).
  • Her good work was to anoint Jesus for his burial – in advance. His death is coming soon, and there’s not a lot of time left for such anointing. There will always be opportunity to minister to the poor (v. 11-12).
  • So good is what this woman has done, that wherever the gospel is preached, the world will know of her faith (v. 13).

Meditation Points:

  1. A similar, but altogether different anointing occurred 4 days earlier in Jesus’ ministry (John 12). We leave it to you to contrast the two events.
  2. The alabaster box. Perhaps the best understanding is that this was an expensive container worthy of the expensive perfume within. When Mark 14:3 says that she broke the box, it might better be understood that she broke open the seal on the container.
  3. The apostolic objection. Aren’t you glad that the world is not controlled by “bean counters” who are always looking for a better investment? Under their control, we’d rarely enjoy rest and relaxation, art or music, or variety in anything. The communist experiment was 80 years of such control; and anyone familiar with that regime will tell you the problems of attempting to equalize society.
  4. Do we cause trouble for those who wish to do a good work for Jesus?  Why do we bother them?
  5. The divine perspective. Men see it as a sinful waste; Jesus sees it as a good work. Do you always see things as Jesus does?
  6. Does Jesus say that we can never eradicate poverty?  Yes, but he does not say that we shouldn’t help the poor.
  7. The anointing was for his burial which the woman believed would come any day soon. The anointing was an expensive, one-use gift to the Lord. And it was spurred by her faith in his prediction that soon he would be betrayed and crucified.  Why didn’t anyone else understand his message?
  8. Our reading this text is fulfillment of Jesus’ words (v. 13).



  1. According to the reading schedule, this is a parallel passage with John 12. You think it’s not?