In the Fulness of Time/Part 144
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2011|
|Christ had repeatedly tried to prepare His disciples for His crucifixion, but they just did not understand. He had used various allusions to His death; in 9:15 the bridegroom being taken away; in 10:35 taking up the cross and following Him; in 12:40 the comparison with Jonah being three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish; and in 21:37-40 in the parable of the tenant farmers who killed many servants sent to them and then finally killed the son.|
The Betrayal and Trials of the King. Matthew 26:1-27:32
Prediction of His Betrayal and Death. Matthew 26:1-2
- Mt. 26:1-2 “And it came to pass that, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is to be betrayed to be crucified.”
Christ had repeatedly tried to prepare His disciples for His crucifixion, but they just did not understand. He had used various allusions to His death; in 9:15 the bridegroom being taken away; in 10:35 taking up the cross and following Him; in 12:40 the comparison with Jonah being three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish; and in 21:37-40 in the parable of the tenant farmers who killed many servants sent to them and then finally killed the son. In addition there were three direct prophetic statements outlining His betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection in 16:21, 17:22-23 and 20:17-19. But now, having completed His answers to their questions, Jesus gives a final prophecy of His betrayal and crucifixion¸ actually stating the time, “after two days.” It would be during the Passover, thus fulfilling John 1:29: “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.” Moreover, His death would be by crucifixion, fulfilling John 3:14: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”
Plot of the Jews to Kill Jesus. Matthew 26:3-5
- Mt. 26:3-5 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him, But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
Not knowing the divine plan outlined by the Lord, that in two days He would be betrayed to be crucified, the officials of Israel, members of the Sanhedrin, planned to wait until after the feast to avoid causing a riot among the people. Jerusalem was crowded during the feast days, and many of those who had followed Jesus and had seen His miracles, were there. Luke 22:2 clearly indicates that: “they feared the people.” However, Jesus had already provided them with the answer to their dilemma; he would be betrayed by one of His own disciples, and this would give the officials their chance to exercise their “subtlety” (from dolor, meaning “cunning”) and take Jesus by night when they were not visible to the crowds. From the divine standpoint, this was another instance when God used the wrath of man to praise Him. The Lamb of God would not wait until after the Passover to be slain; He would truly become our Passover Lamb!
Pouring of the Ointment. Matthew 26:6-13
- The Place: In Bethany, at the house of Simon the leper. Mt. 26:6
- Mt. 26:6 “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon, the leper.”
This section is an insertion of an incident which happened “six days before the Passover” according to John 12:1. Matthew 26:8 indicates that His disciples must have been invited to this supper which was made for Jesus in the house of Simon, the man who had been cleansed of leprosy by Jesus.
- The Person: Mary of Bethany. Mt. 26:7
- Mt. 26:7 “There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head as He was eating.”
Though all four Gospels give an account of an anointing it is evident, by comparison, that Matthew, Mark and John record the same anointing, and that Luke 7:36-39 is a separate, different incident. Luke tells of an invitation to the house of a Pharisee, not a cleansed leper, even though the name in both cases is Simon. The woman in Luke is specifically called a “sinner,” whose sins were “many,” whereas in John 12:1-3 it is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, all of whom were at the meal.
The alabaster “box” is defined by Vine as a cruse: “The breaking refers to the seal, not to the box, or cruse” (Vine, W. E. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Reprint, Scripture Truth Book Company, Fincastle, VA. n.d. Vol. 1, p. 144) Arndt and Gingrich insist that it was “an alabaster flask for ointment, a vessel with a rather long neck which was broken off when the contents were used” (Arndt, W. F. and F. W. Gingrich A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1957. p. 33). Mary “poured it on His head,” and as John 12:3 adds: and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair.”
- The Price: Three Hundred Denarii. Mt. 26:8-9
- Mt. 26:8-9 “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.”
This “very precious ointment” (verse 7) is identified as “a pound of ointment of spikenard” (or nardou pistikes) which is pure, unadulterated nard, worth “three hundred denarii” (John 12:3). The Roman “pound” (litra) has been estimated between 10-12 ounces, its worth approaching a year’s salary of a laboring man, who was paid one denarius a day. It is possible that Mary poured the entire flask of such costly perfume as she anointed the head and feet of Jesus, seeing she had a legitimate purpose for its use. However, from a practical point of view, Vine’s statement that only the seal was broken, not the neck of the flask, is much more plausible in light of the value and amount of the contents. It does not seem logical that 10-12 ounces of very costly perfume would ordinarily be used all at once, as several commentaries infer from the necessity of breaking the neck of the flask to get to the contents inside.
It was Judas who was the source of the “indignation of the disciples” (John 12:4-6). The Apostle John is careful to note that it was: “not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief” (John 12:6).
- The Praise:“She hath wrought a good work on me” Mt. 26:10-11
- Mt. 26:10-11 “When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor always with you, but me ye have not always.”
Judas started the troubling, but the other disciples were indignant also, for Jesus addressed “them” concerning the action of Mary. The work she had wrought on Jesus was a work of love, a work of worship and a work of preparation (verse 12). To give of all your goods “to feed the poor… and have not love… profiteth… nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Furthermore, there will always be opportunities to feed the poor. As far back as Deuteronomy 15:11 the Jews were taught this: “For the poor never cease out of the and; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shall open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy in thy land.” But they would not always be able to honor Jesus with their means, for He was about to leave them.
- The Purpose: To Anoint Jesus for His Burial. Mt. 26:12
- Mt. 26:12 “For that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.”
How did Mary know of His burial, when all the other disciples still seemed to be expecting the earthly Messianic Kingdom? The answer is found in Mary’s desire to sit at His feet and learn of Him. It is significant that Mary of Bethany was not at His tomb to anoint His body for burial; she had already done her part! Just as at the dinner in Luke 10:39-42, so here, Mary had chosen the good part.
- The Promise: A Memorial of Mary. Mt. 26:13
- Mt. 26:13 “Verily I say unto you, Wherever 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.”
Erdman gives as fitting conclusion to this paragraph: “The influence of an act of Christian sacrifice will never cease. The example of Mary is still filling the earth with the fragrance of loving service.” (Erdman, Charles. The Gospel of Matthew. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1966, p. 233).This fragrance will last until “the fulness of time,” when Jesus comes again!