After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. 2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people. Mark 14:1-2 (KJV)
You will notice the season of the year. It was the time of the Passover when the Hebrews would remember the deliverance of the nation from Egypt by the hand and will of God. It was also the time for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. These two events took place during the same week each year. You could even say they took place simultaneously.
The Passover was instituted when God commanded – through Moses – for each home to sacrifice a lamb and spread its blood on the door post and lintel of their home. Exodus chapter 12 gives the details of this event. It even tells us that this was to be the beginning of their year (EX. 12:2).
This conspiracy to kill Jesus has a political, popularity angle to it. These “Religious” leaders want it to be done after all the multitudes of people have gone. They know that with a lot of the people Jesus is very popular. These “Leaders” see Him as a threat to their positions and to their religion.
In the heart and mind of God the Father the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread was the perfect time for His Lamb to die for the sins of mankind. These “Religious leaders” plotted and planned the death of Jesus, but to no avail in getting it done in their time slot. God rules in the affairs of men, and if men think not to let God rule, He overrules. Psalm 2:1-4 helps us better understand the minds and workings of man against God, and how God overrules their plans.
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. 4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. 6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. 7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. 8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. 9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. Mark 14:3-9 (KJV)
In the minds of some who were at this gathering with Jesus the anointing of Jesus with this oil was an extravagant waste. Matthew 26:8 tells us, “But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, To what purpose is this waste? “. John wrote,
” Then said one of His disciples (Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who was to betray Him) Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
The murmuring of it must have come from the disciples, but Judas was the only one who spoke, and it was not because he cared for the poor, but “because he was a thief, and held the money bag” (John 12:6).
The value of this ointment was around a years wages. It was quite valuable, but we must ask the question, “Of how much worth is Jesus?” This woman, Mary, who was probably not a wealthy woman, did “All she could” for Jesus. How many of us could honestly say “We have done all we could for Jesus”? How many of us could have Jesus say of us “She has done what she could”?
Who was this woman? John identifies her as Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus [whom Jesus raised from death after four days in the tomb]. It seems she and others knew of Jesus’ approaching death. That is how Jesus describes her anointing His feet, “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for the burying.” (v. 8).
“Spikenard” according to John MacArthur Study Bible, quote,
“This actually represents two words in the Greek that could be translated ‘pure nard’. The oil was derived from the nard plant, which was native to India. That it was pure meant it was genuine and unadulterated, which is what made it so costly”.
The “Flask” – again from John MacArthur Study Bible –
“This long-necked bottle was made out of a special variety of marble, a material which proved to be the best container for preserving expensive perfumes and oils”. (Page 1493).
The flask being made from marble which was mined in Egypt would be very expensive itself. Thus, Mary’s breaking of the flask made the offering that much more expensive.
In our daily lives we spend and spend and spend on things which really do not matter for eternity. What have we really sacrificed for our Lord and Savior who gave His life for us? We may not have much, but we must surrender it all to Him. He bought us with the price of His blood.
In Luke chapter 7 there is another incident of a woman having an alabaster box and washing Jesus’s feet with her tears, wiping them with the hairs of her head, then anointing His feet with the oil. This must be a completely different occasion. It takes place in a Pharisees home, the woman is evidently a woman of disrepute, and the Pharisee’s comment sets it apart too. The time, also, is earlier in the ministry of Jesus.
As born again children of the King of kings it is in our hearts to do all we can for His name and glory. If it cost nothing it is not a sacrifice.
-Tim A. Blankenship