Matthew 26:6-13

26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 26:7 a woman came to him having an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. 26:8 But when his disciples saw this, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 26:9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.”

26:10 However, knowing this, Jesus said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? Because she has done a good work for me. 26:11 For you always have the poor with you; but you don’t always have me. 26:12 For in pouring this ointment on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 26:13 Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of as a memorial of her.”


I love this story. There are so many good things about it: a stranger — a woman! — approaches Jesus; annoints his head instead of washing his feet (which the host should have been doing anyway); Jesus’ dismissal of his disciples’ indignation.

When I first read this story I thought the moral was something like, “there’s nothing wrong with a bit of perfume every now and then” (me? A deep thinker?). One week it was the topic at the study group I went to last autumn. Preparing for it with our son, he thought it meant, “Worshipping Jesus is more important than helping the poor.” which I thought was not bad for an 8-year old.

There is so much in it. One of the things I have against John is that he ruins this story just so he can make a dig against Judas (i.e., John 12:1-7).

Oh, I see I’ve already written all this for Mark.

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