It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.
Comment: To the Jews, that very important annual Passover Feast was only two days away. This was, however, the passover season when Jesus was crucified. Note that there would be a huge crowd in Jerusalem for the passover and the leaders knew of the triumphal entry that Jesus had made a few days previously. Many of the crowd were on Jesus’ side. For the moment He had a large, even if not deeply committed, following and the leaders, planning murder, didn’t want to disrupt this important religious ceremony.
Simon was one of the lepers whose healing had, no doubt, been at the hands of Jesus. This lady, whose name John tells us in his gospel was Mary, pours a very expensive special perfume over Jesus. It would have a cost about a year’s wages for an average paid worker. Who is the ‘they’ who scolded her? Her accusers considered it a waste and, if sold, might have been used to help the poor – of whom there were many!
This passage raises two issues about which Jesus comments. i) If you really want to help, there are always plenty of the poor needing such help. But ii) ‘I’m about to be buried’, (where nard is spread over the dead body to cover the smell of rotting flesh),and I am leaving soon. She at least has heard what I’ve been teaching and loves me!’ Maybe her story was to be mentioned wherever the gospel is preached to make the hearers/readers question how much they/we think Jesus is worth,
Prayer: Help me to ‘value’ You correctly, Lord.