114. Mary Anoints Jesus
2At the house of Simon in Bethany they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him.
3Marya took an alabaster flask of costly ointment of pure nard and poured it over his head, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.
4But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment thus wasted?”
5And they reproached her.
4Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. 8She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying.b 9And truly, I say to you, whenever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
( Jn. 12:2–3; Mk. 14:4–5; Jn. 12:4–5; Mk. 14:6–9)
a “Mary”—the sister of Lazarus.
b “she has anointed my body beforehand for burying.”—By this act Mary demonstrates her faith in Jesus and his teaching that he would be given over into the hands of the gentiles, be condemned and killed, and on the third day rise. (See Ch. 109.) Few of his followers are willing to accept or believe that this could really happen. But Mary does believe Jesus. She is anointing him before his death with ointment that was intended to be used after his death.
This ointment was quite expensive—equal in value to a year's labor (300 denarii). Judas and others object to what appears to them to be an extravagance and a waste. But Jesus rebukes them and honors Mary's act. And just as he prophesied this story of Mary is "told in memory of her."
Jn. 12:2 At the house of Simon in Bethany they (Mk. 14:3) / There they (RSV)
Jn. 12:3 took an alabaster flask of (Mk. 14:3) / took a pound of (RSV) • nard and poured it over his head, and (Mk. 14:3) / nard and (RSV)
Mk. 14:4 Judas / But Judas (RSV) (172:1/1879)