1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
“Spices and ointments were quite costly because they had to be imported. Frequently they were used as an investment because they occupied a small space, were portable, and were easily negotiable in the open market. Mary’s offering was valued at three hundred denarii (v. 5) approximately a year’s wages for an ordinary workingman. Perhaps it represented her life savings. […] Wiping his feet with her hair was a gesture of utmost devotion and reverence. The penetrative fragrance of the ointment that filled the house told all present of her sacrificial gift.”
• Reflect on Mary’s outpouring of this expensive perfume. Why was this appropriate in light of what Jesus was about to do (vv. 23-24)?
• What fundamental difference between Mary and Judas was revealed by his objection to what she did?
• With whom can I identify more?
• Think about the progression of Judas’ actions–“used to help himself” to the communal money to “was about to betray [Jesus].”
• How might things have changed for Judas if he had been honest about what was going on in his heart?
• Judas expressed outrage by pretending to care for the poor. Are there some ways in which I use similar means to hide what is really going on in my heart?