Bible Study - Jesus Dines At Simon's

Jesus Dines With Lazarus

Previously…
John 11:55-57

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. (56) They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, "What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?" (57) Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

John 12:1-11

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."

Parallel Passage

Matthew 26:6-13

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, (7) a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. (8) And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? (9) For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor." (10) But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. (11) For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. (12) In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. (13) Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her."

Mark 14:3-9

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. (4) There were some who said to themselves indignantly, "Why was the ointment wasted like that? (5) For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they scolded her. (6) But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. (7) For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. (8) She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. (9) And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."

Verses

12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

  • Again, Bethany is about 2 miles from Jerusalem.
  • He and His disciples came back despite a standing order to notify the authorities.
  • Will come to Jerusalem later in chapter.
  • Probably 4 days elapse between now and verse 2.

12:2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.

  • Jesus was reclining at the table when this happened (not seated at a table like we might think of).
  • Jesus came to a special dinner that was in His honor at Simon the Leper's house, another person whom Jesus probably healed.
  • Notice that Martha is still serving, and Mary is still spending time with Jesus. However, no complaining this time.

12:3 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.

  • Mary "broke" open the alabaster flask according to Mark. This could show it was the kind of flask that had a thin neck and that was sealed.
  • Alabaster was a kind of delicate limestone mined from Egypt.
  • Mary anointed Jesus' feet, as was customary for guests, and also his head.

12:4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said,

  • Not much to say here, just notice that John is the only one who puts a name to the one complaining.

12:5 (den'air-ee) "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?"

  • Ancient writer Pliny gives us an idea of the range of value of this type of perfume… The cheapest would be around 10 denarii, the "most expensive" around 300. (Calvin)
  • Secular history agrees with Biblical history, this ointment was "very costly" and "most expensive."
  • Judas seems callous, but we say the same thing.
    • hesitate to put money in the offering = "Why are we giving money to God when we could be using this to put new siding on the house!"
    • Part of you wants to get up early to read your Bible, but the other part of you says you'll be more productive if you use that time to get some work done around the house.
  • Caring for the poor is a very Christian attitude. James says, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." in James 1:27. Outwardly, Judas displayed this, but not inwardly.

12:6 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.

  • “Temptation commonly comes through that for which we are naturally fitted” (Westcott)
  • Judas's seemingly small sin gave Satan an "in" as Satan bought Jesus life for 30 pieces of silver, probably less than half the value of Mary's oil.

12:7 Jesus said, "Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.

  • Had Mary understood Jesus' teachings that He would soon give His life?
  • "She is giving him the flowers before the funeral." (Robertson).
  • Is it possible Mary understood Jesus' teachings that He was to die soon?

12:8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."

  • Again, Mary is praised for choosing to devote her time and money to Christ, even in the face of other worthy pursuits. Being a servant… Giving to the poor… Good things, but more important is devotion to Jesus.
  • Jesus knew the time was coming. "You do not always have me." The stage was getting set for the rapid spread of Christianity.
    • He was back in the public eye defiant of a standing order to arrest him and now Lazarus
    • unprecedented numbers of people were starting to believe in him after seeing Lazarus raised from the dead
    • Judas's sin and bitterness was coming to a head
    • The pharisees were becoming more and more desperate…
    • Next week we'll see the next desperate power play of the pharisees.

Next Week - John 12:9-19
The Pharisees Plan Goes Out of Control

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