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Jesus anointed in Bethany

Scripture: Matthew 26:1-13

Aim: To show how Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus before He was crucified and buried.

Golden Text: “Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matthew 26:13).

This passage presents two distinct groups of people. The leaders of the Jews had become determined that Jesus had to be killed. Then, there was a group gathered in Bethany to honor the Lord Jesus Christ at a special supper.

This is always the case. There is no middle ground between acceptance and rejection of Jesus Christ. There is no fence that may be straddled.

Jesus stated this truth in the Sermon on the Mount: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

Again, Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30). That truth is plain enough for anyone.

I. The Jewish leaders sought a way to capture and destroy Jesus (Matthew 26:1-5). These same men had determined early in the ministry of Jesus that He was dangerous to their position and control over the Jewish people. Early in His ministry, Jesus healed a man at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath day. The man told the Jews that Jesus had healed him.

“And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these thing on the Sabbath day” (John 5:16). They began to carefully watch and challenge Jesus in order to find some way to accuse Him of wrong doing. Of course, they could find “no fault in Him,” as Pilate later was to testify.

At this time Jesus was preparing for the arrest, trials and crucifixion. The arrest would take place in Gethsemane in a matter of several hours.

II. A group of friends held a supper for Jesus in Bethany (Matthew 26:6-13). Some have tried to make this supper and one recorded in Luke 7:36-50. The difference is readily seen when the two incidents are compared. There a sinful woman anointed Jesus’ feet in Galilee. Here the setting is Bethany, near Jerusalem (vs. 6). The woman is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

Mary had an expensive box of precious ointment, which she lovingly poured over the head of Jesus (vs. 7) while He was having a meal.

The disciples, true to form, began to complain among themselves that the ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor (vs. 8-9).

Jesus understood their complaining, which they had probably voiced to Mary. He confronted them with their unkind action against the woman and her deed (vs. 10). Jesus commended the deed of the woman (vs. 6) by saying, “she hath wrought a good work upon me.”

Jesus explained that the poor are always present (vs. 11), but that He is going to be die soon. He said, “She hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial” (vs. 12).

Finally, Mary would be honored and remembered where ever the Gospel would be preached because of her love and devotion to the Savior (vs. 13, see Golden Text above).

Did Mary understand that Jesus was about to die?

We have no way to know, but one thing is certain, Mary loved Jesus and was not ashamed to acknowledge it publicly.

How about us? Many things we may not understand, but we certainly can declare our love and devotedly serve Him.