6,7. Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
This is not the woman who anointed Christ’s feet with ointment, but another of the holy women who ministered to him. I believe this was Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who came to Jesus, “having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.”
8,9. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
When you do the best you can do, from the purest motives, and your Lord accepts your service, do not expect that your brethren will approve all your actions. If you do, you will be greatly disappointed. There was never a more beautiful proof of love to Christ than this anointing at Bethany, yet the disciples found fault with it. As they could not object to the thing itself, they objected that there might have been another thing done that would have been better. There is a great deal of that kind of wisdom in the world which can always teach you how you might have done a thing better, but if you wait until you learn that wisdom, you will never do anything for your Lord. If this devoted and enthusiastic woman had waited for the advice of these prudent people, she would neither have sold the ointment, nor poured it out. She did well to take council with her own loving heart, and then to pour the precious oil upon that dear head which was so soon to be crowned with thorns. She thus showed that there was at least one heart in the world that thought nothing was too good for her Lord, and that the best of the best ought to be given to him. May she have many imitators in every age until Jesus comes again!
10. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman?
She had been very happy in the act, probably it was the happiest hour in all her life when she gave this costly gift to the Lord she loved so well. But a cloud passed over her bright face as the whispered complaints reached her ear. She was evidently a tender-hearted soul, so the Saviour said to the disciples, “Why trouble ye the woman?”
10. For she hath wrought a good work upon me.
We cannot do what this woman did; but we can perform good works upon others for Christ’s sake; and he will accept them as though they were done unto himself.
11-13. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 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.
She probably did not know all that her action meant when she anointed her Lord for his burial. We often do much more than we think we do. The consequences of the simplest action done for Christ may be much greater than we suppose. This woman is preparing Christ’s body for his approaching burial. Little dreams she that it is so, but so it is. Go thou my sister, and do what God bids thee; and it shall be seen that thou hast done far more than thou knowest. Obey the holy impulse within thy spirit, my brother; and thou mayest do ten thousand times more than thou hast ever imagined to be possible. This woman’s outburst of affection, this simple-hearted act of love to Christ himself, is one of those things which are to live as long as the gospel lives. The aroma of this loving deed is to abide as long as the world itself endures.
14,15. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?
Out of twelve apostles, one was a Judas Iscariot. Marvel not, therefore, if, among thy friends and kinsfolk, thou hast one who turns against thee, and betrays thee to thine enemies.
15. And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
The price of a slave, thus they were fulfilling the ancient prophecy: “So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.”
16. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
The traitor sold his Master for thirty pieces of dirty silver; yet many have sold Jesus for a less price than Judas received: a smile or a sneer has been sufficient to induce them to betray their Lord.
17,18. Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
How truly royal was Jesus of Nazareth even in his humility! He had only to send two of his disciples “into the city to such a man,” and the guest chamber, furnished and prepared, was at once placed at his disposal. He did not take the room by arbitrary force, as an earthly monarch might have done; but he obtained it by the diviner compulsion of almighty love. Jesus knew something about this man that you and I do not know, so he said to his disciples: Just go and say to him, ‘The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.’” Was he not himself a disciple? I cannot say but this I do know, that the Lord Jesus has a certain number who are willing to help his cause, even though as yet they hardly call themselves his disciples. I should think, however, that after this man had once had the Master and his disciples in his house, there must have been a blessing left behind, and he would want to become one of that goodly company. It is well, dear friend, that thou art willing to have the prayer-meeting in thy house, it is well that thou wilt stand up on the side of truth, even if thou hast no share in it as yet, for maybe, — and I hope the “maybe” will become a certainty, — thou wilt yet be one of Christ’s disciples.
19. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.
They went to this man, delivered Christ’s message, and he showed them a large upper room, furnished and prepared. If Christ’s disciples always loyally did as Jesus appointed them, they would always speed well on his errands. There are many more people in the world ready to yield to Christ than some of us think. The person sitting or standing by your side is quite unknown to you, but, if you will speak to him about the Saviour, he will probably respond to your word. At any rate, try him, and see if it be not so. Whether standing or sitting, there must be someone here not yet a disciple, who only needs for you to speak a kind word, and the deciding work will be done.
20,21. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
“One of you” — and his eyes would glance round the table as he said it, — “one of you shall betray me.”
22. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him Lord, is it I?
No one said, “Lord, is it Judas?” Perhaps no one of the eleven thought that Judas was base enough to betray the Lord who had given him an honourable place among his apostles. It is certainly a mark of grace that “every one” of the apostles put to their Lord the question, “Is it I?”
23,24. And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
We learn from our Lord’s words that divine decrees do not deprive a sinful action of its guilt: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! “The criminality of Judas was just as great as though there had been no “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” even as it was with those to whom Peter spoke so boldly on the day of Pentecost, when he charged them with the murder of Jesus.
20. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
What a chill that answer must have cast over the little band around the table, especially when Judas rose, and started off, to carry out his dreadful purpose of staining his soul with the blood of his Lord!
26-29. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
Thus Jesus took the great Nazarite vow never to drink of the fruit of the vine till he should drink it new with His disciples in His Father’s kingdom. O Lord, thou hast pledged us in this cup, and thou wilt return before long, and then what festivals we will hold with thee, what joy we shall have in thee for ever and ever!
30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out unto the mount of Olives.
Was it not truly brave of our dear Lord to sing under such circumstances? He was going forth to his last dread conflict, to Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha; yet he went with a song on His lips. The door opens, they go downstairs, they are in the open-air, that night of the full moon, and they wend their way to the Mount of Olives. Then came that desperate struggle in which the great Captain of our salvation wrestled even to a bloody sweat, and prevailed.
This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 147, And Mat_26:6-30.