Luke 7:29-50


Last time, we studied Jesus’ reassurance of the imprisoned John the Baptist, when he sent messengers to ask whether Jesus is the promised Messiah. We saw Jesus’ words of praise for John, and we considered whether John the Baptist and Elijah the prophet are the same person, or whether John merely came in the spirit and power of Elijah.
Now, as we continue our study of Luke 7, we see the people’s reaction to Jesus’ teaching about John the Baptist…

Luke 7:29-30
29And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

Recall that tax collectors were often held up as exemplifying the worst of sinners, while lawyers and Pharisees were examples of righteousness – albeit self-righteousness. Upon first examination, it might seem that these two verses attribute to John’s baptism the power of salvation for sinners, and condemnation for the self-righteous. But the deeper and more subtle truth is that it wasn’t John’s baptism, but acceptance of the Gospel of repentance that he preached which made the difference.
There is another very subtle aspect to these verses. Jesus Himself was preaching to them the same Gospel of repentance that John had preached. At this time, Jesus had not yet been crucified and resurrected. Thus His audience on this day, were among the last of the so-called “Old Testament saints.” These Old Testament believers were saved by their faith in the Messiah to come. Today believers are saved by faith in the Messiah who hascome, given His life for the forgiveness of our sin, and risen from the dead by the power of His Spirit. The Word of God is clear that those who believed in the Word of God prior to Jesus resurrection are also saved, and have eternal life…

Matthew 8:11
“And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 22:31-32
31But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ ? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Just as accepting this pre-resurrection Gospel in repentance had the power to save, so did rejection of it have the power to condemn. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus makes this clear…

Luke 16:19-31
19“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

27“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”

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Luke 7:31-32
31And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:

‘We played the flute for you,

And you did not dance;

We mourned to you,

And you did not weep.’

This is a strange teaching, but not difficult to understand. The men of this generation Jesus is speaking of are the Pharisees from verse 29 who had rejected the will of God for themselves. Jesus is talking here about their delusional works-based concept of salvation, thinking they could impress God with their piousness. One can almost hear the sorrow in Jesus’ voice as in…

Matthew 23:37
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Furthermore, Jesus decries them, not only for their self-righteousness and their foolish reliance on their works for salvation, but also for their silly idea that they could shape God into the image of their own imagination. How often, in response to hearing the Gospel does someone say something like, “Well I can’t believe in a God who would condemn someone to Hell, and allows war, pain, disease, and injustice?” Of course the Biblical counter-argument is that God gives us the choice to love and serve Him or not, and isn’t willing that any should perish, but will judge sin righteously, and nobody will get “a pass.” Furthermore, the Bible clearly teaches that all of the evil in the world arose from the sin of mankind in the Garden of Eden which brought death itself into God’s hitherto perfect creation along with pain, sorrow, disease, hatred, war, and all the other ugly attributes of the fallen world in which we now live.
That’s all sound doctrine, but the point Jesus is making here is a little more subtle. It is patently arrogant and foolish for anyone to say or even think, “I don’t believe in a God who would…” God doesgive us the amazing gift of free choice, in the hope we will choose to love and honor Him. But He does not give us the power to shape Him into some other God than He is, always was, and will be forever. We know and trust that our God is good, and just, and righteous, and loving, and perfect in every way, but even if that weren’t so, He certainly is what He is, unchanging, and all-powerful.
He calls us to accept and love Him as He is. He even gives us His Word, so we don’t need to rely on our own emotions and imaginations to discern His nature. How different our personal, unchangeable God is from the capricious, imaginary gods of Islam, Hinduism, or the ancient Romans and Greeks. How wonderful that He is intimately knowable and personal, unlike the god of the pantheists and animists.
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Luke 7:33-35
33For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Jesus sums up this teaching with another shot at hypocrisy, in essence saying that there’s no pleasing some people – particularly when it comes to the way they view the preachers of the Gospel under whom they are taught.
The self-righteous who had rejected John’s preaching of repentance (whom John, recall, had called a “brood of vipers”) had justified and rationalized continuing in their sins by declaring that John was insane due to being demon possessed.
Then when Jesus came after John, rather than being in awe at Jesus’ miracles, and stirred with compassion at Jesus’ mercies and forgiveness toward the undeserving, chose instead to harden their hearts, and condemn Jesus for not following their own self-righteous traditions. Recall from our earlier studies in Luke, they had condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath rather than being overjoyed at the healings themselves. Then when Jesus healed a paralytic in their presence, they accused Him of blasphemy for declaring His forgiveness of the man’s sins, rather than falling at His feet seeking mercy and forgiveness for their own sins.
Jesus finishes in verse 35 with a sarcastic paraphrase of Forrest Gump, saying in essence – “Stupid is as stupid does!” Or in Jesus’ own words…

Matthew 7:20

“Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

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We now take up a remarkable and familiar story of Jesus’ mercy and grace which is a favorite among believers everywhere. This story is reported in all four gospels, but as we shall see, Luke’s account has quite a different focus than the other three.
Before we delve into this passage, we need to remember that Luke was reporting the events recorded in his gospel some 30 years or more after they actually took place. Furthermore, Luke was not an eyewitness to them, but recorded them as they were told to him by those who didwitness them personally, and by those (like Paul) who passed on stories to Luke that they had heard from others. In fact, of the four gospel writers, only John and Matthew were eyewitnesses to any of the events they record, and even they are not likely to have actually witnessed all of the events they report.
Finally, we need to keep in mind the fact we have mentioned before, that in the ancient Jewish tradition, purely chronological reporting was not considered a priority in comparison with the importance of relating the principles and concepts of a narrative. We must bear these facts in mind as we compare Luke’s account with those found in the other gospel accounts in John 12:1-8, Matthew 26:6-13, and Mark 14:3-9.
In order to properly understand this story, we must look at all four accounts together…

Luke 7:36-50
36Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

40And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

41“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

43Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

48Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
John 12:1-8
1Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

4But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5“Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

7But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
Matthew 26:6-13
6And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

10But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Mark 14:3-9
3And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.

6But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Although these four accounts differ significantly from one another, with only Luke recording Jesus’ teaching to Simon the Pharisee, it seems clear that the same event is being reported, even though Matthew, Mark, and John do not mention Jesus’ teaching for Simon, focusing instead on Jesus’ rebuke of Judas Iscariot and the other disciples. It seems extremely unlikely that this remarkable anointing of Jesus’ feet with oil by a woman who then dried His feet with her own hair, happened on more than one occasion. We will therefore assume that all four gospels are reporting the same event, with each giving a slightly different emphasis.
The Word of God mentions 8 men named Simon…
1.     Simon Peter, the fisherman apostle.
2.     Simon the Zealot, (called the Cananite in Matthew and Mark) one of the twelve.
3.     Simon the half-brother of Jesus.
4.     Simon of Cyrene, who was compelled to carry Jesus’ cross.
5.     Simon the sorcerer, who tried to buy the Holy Spirit from the apostles.
6.     Simon the tanner, with whom Peter stayed in Joppa.
7.     Simon the father of Judas Iscariot.
8.     Simon the leper, a Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner (Luke 7:36-50, John 12:1-8, Matthew 26:6-13, and Mark 14:3-9)
These last two Simons on the list are mentioned in this story. Simon, the Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner in this story was also apparently a leper, whom Jesus had likely healed on some previous occasion. Unfortunately, we have no report of this previous healing, and Simon the leper is only mentioned in association with this story of the anointing of Jesus at Bethany.
Simon lived in Bethany, a village on the Mount of Olives about 2 miles east of Jerusalem (John 11:18). Bethany was also the site of Jesus’ ascension into Heaven (Luke 24:50-51). Jesus usually stayed in Bethany during His visits to Jerusalem, and it was from Bethany that He dispatched His disciples to find the donkey’s colt upon which He rode into the city on Palm Sunday (Mark 11:1, Luke 19:29). The name, Bethany, means “house of dates” or “house of misery.”
On this occasion, Jesus had come to Bethany on His way from Galilee to Jerusalem for the annual Passover feast (John 12:1). John reports three Passovers during Jesus’ ministry. The Passover which took place six days after this story of the anointing of Jesus’ feet was the last of these. This story took place the day before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before Good Friday. Thus Jesus’ statement in Mark 14:8 is all the more poignant…

Mark 14:8
She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.

Having now set the scene, let’s take a closer look at Luke’s account of the story, then finish with a brief look at Jesus’ rebuke of Judas Iscariot and the other disciples that we find in the other three accounts…

Luke 7:36
Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.

As we have already seen, it is clear from the other accounts that this Pharisee who invited Jesus to eat at his home was Simon the (presumably healed) leper, whose home was in Bethany just east of Jerusalem. It says here that Simon was a Pharisee. Throughout the New Testament, the Pharisees were universally held up as examples of self-righteousness, who were in deception, vainly pursuing salvation by their works. In our modern perception, we think of Pharisees as being entrenched, well-to-do members of the Judean establishment under the Roman occupation, who hypocritically colluded with the Romans even to the point of conspiring to crucify Jesus.
This perception is incomplete, if not outright wrong. The sect of the Pharisees made up the large majority of the Jewish society in the Roman-occupied Israel of the day. Many were poor, and many were sincere believers in the Old Testament scriptures, who diligently and piously sought to obey the Law, and anxiously awaited the coming of the promised Messiah. Most were in no way associated with the Jewish ruling class or priesthood. Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee. So were Nicodemus, Gamaliel, and Joseph of Arimathea. They weren’t all villains, but the vast majority missed the boat of Jesus’ Gospel, as do most people – religious and irreligious – even today.
We also know from John 12:1-2 that Jesus’ dearly beloved friends Lazarus – whom Jesus had raised from the dead – and his sisters Martha and Mary were also present on this occasion in Simon the leper’s house, and that Martha was serving the meal.
Interestingly, Luke never reports on the raising of Lazarus, although he does report both of the other occasions when Jesus raised someone from the dead. In fact only John reports on the raising of Lazarus. This Lazarus should also not be confused with Lazarus the beggar in Jesus’ parable (which only Luke records).

Luke 7:37-38
37And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.

John’s account makes it clear that this woman was none other than Mary – the sister of Lazarus. Another minor difference in the accounts is that while Luke and John say that Mary anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair (an act of abject humility in ancient Hebrew culture and in Middle Eastern cultures today), Matthew and Mark report that she poured the oil over Jesus’ head.
Alabaster is a light-colored, slightly translucent, soft, limestone which is easily worked, and was very commonly used to make containers for various oils, and other liquids which would be held in glass bottles in the modern world. Alabaster dissolves (albeit slowly) in water, so could not be used to contain water or wine, or in outdoor applications. Alabaster is also known as onyx-marble.
From Mark and John’s accounts we learn that the oil with which Mary anointed Jesus was spikenard – a fragrant oil squeezed from plants native to the Himalayas, which was used throughout ancient Asia and Europe as a perfume and medicine. The disciples’ protest (which we’ll look at a little later) that this pound of spikenard could have been sold for 300 denarii – nearly a year’s common wages at the time – is no exaggeration, considering the oil came from the region of India and Nepal!

Luke 7:39
39Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

Luke’s account now takes a sharp departure from the other three. Luke chose to focus his account on Simon, while Matthew, Mark, and John focus on Mary and Jesus’ disciples. There is another strange aspect of Luke’s account. Recall that Simon had been a leper (assuming that all four gospel accounts are relating the same event). We have no way of knowing Biblically, but we can reasonably assume that Simon had been healed of his leprosy by Jesus Himself. Why, then, would Simon doubt Jesus’ supernatural abilities as we see here in Luke 7:39? Indeed, Mary was a sinner, and indeed her sins were apparently many, as Jesus will say in the next few verses. Clearly Jesus knew Mary’s heart (as He knows us all). Yet we see here that Simon doubted Jesus’ discernment. Clearly, we see that even those whom Jesus has healed (like Simon and ourselves) can bear a hard heart lacking compassion toward our fellows.
But lest we’re tempted to consider Simon’s attitude and response too harshly, remember that Simon was a Pharisee. Under the Law which the Pharisees worshiped above all, Jesus – a rabbi – allowing anywoman other than his own mother, wife, or young sisters and daughters (children) to touch Him physically was absolutely scandalous. Jesus understood this societal more, and had compassion on Simon’s lack of charity toward Mary.

Luke 7:40-47
40And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

41“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

43Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”

44Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

In this teaching, Jesus proved to Simon that not only was He aware of Mary’s past, He was also able to discern Simon’s own uncharitable thoughts toward her (and toward Jesus Himself). Not only that, in His mercy and grace, Jesus proved that He is both willing and able to forgive and cleanse all of our sins, including Simon’s lack of compassion, and ours.
Notice that Simon was open to the teaching. He acknowledged Jesus as one who taught with authority, and carefully considered the question that Jesus posed to him. Notice, also, what’s not said here. In ancient Middle Eastern culture, and even today, hospitality toward guests in the home is a point of great pride, and Jesus’ rebuke at Simon’s lack of hospitality in failing to offer water for cleansing prior to the meal, was deeply insulting, even if it was true. In fact, since we assume Jesus would not have raised this accusation falsely, it would have been quite humiliating for Simon, who would have been ashamed not only to have had this oversight pointed out to him, but that he had failed in his hospitality in the first place. Nevertheless, Luke does not record Simon protesting against Jesus’ chastisement. Therefore, we can safely assume that Simon accepted it gracefully.
The main point of this teaching, though, is for us as well as Simon. It is built into our nature to love those who do not hold our transgressions against us, but offer us full and sincere forgiveness when we don’t deserve it. Recall the beatitude…

Matthew 5:7
Blessed are the merciful,

For they shall obtain mercy.

We naturally admire the quality of mercy, and covet the mercy of others for ourselves. Furthermore, the more heinous our transgressions are, the more we value their being forgiven. This is the depth of mercy we crave from our Savior, and He commands the same from us toward our fellow sinners. This is the thrust of what Jesus was trying to impart to Simon.

Luke 7:48-50
48Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

The story concludes with Jesus associating Mary’s faith with His own response of forgiving her sins. This concept is critically important, and is the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In order to be forgiven of our sins, we must first believe on Jesus Christ.
Once again, we see in verse 49 the response of the bystanders to Jesus proclaiming His forgiveness of Mary’s sins. These dinner guests knew, as we do, that only God can forgive sin. Thus they were confronted once again (as we are) point blank with the question of Jesus’ deity. If only God can forgive sins, and Jesus repeatedly claimed to be empowered to forgive sins, the only conclusion that we can logically infer is that Jesus is God Himself!
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Before we press on, let’s reconsider this story as it is reported in the other gospels. As we noted earlier, the other accounts focus not on Jesus’ teaching for Simon the leper, but on His rebuke of His disciples. We’ll focus on Mark’s account which is quite similar to the others…

Mark 14:3-9
3And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.

6But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

John’s account makes it clear that it was Judas Iscariot in particular who objected to Mary’s anointing of Jesus with the oil…

John 12:4-6
4But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5“Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

This is quite a serious allegation that John makes here, and it is found only in John’s gospel. In pointing this out, it is not intended to apologize for Judas’ actions in any way. John apparently felt that it was important to mention Judas in this story so that we might better understand Judas’ own despicable motivations in eventually betraying Jesus to His executioners.
Another interesting point to be gleaned from John’s account is that Jesus had entrusted the group’s finances to the one He knew would betray Him – Judas Iscariot. It is clear from other passages that Jesus knew who would betray Him beforehand, so we can therefore gain an insight into how insignificant Jesus considered the little worldly wealth His band of disciples possessed, since He was willing to place it into the hands of one He knew was untrustworthy to manage it.
Finally, remember the timeline. The anointing at Bethany took place less than a week before the crucifixion. Judas must have made his decision to betray Jesus either on this occasion, or the next day after he’d stewed about it overnight. Given that, we can imagine that Jesus might have assuaged Judas’ discontent with a gentle word of affirmation when Judas protested about the oil being poured out. Instead, Jesus chose to give Judas a stern rebuke, no doubt knowing it would embitter Judas, and drive him to betray Jesus.
Jesus’ rebuke is also a lesson for us…

Mark 14:7-8
7For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8She has done what she could.

Just as Mary did for Jesus what she could, so should we do what we are able for the poor. As we know, the greatest thing we can do for the poor is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them, bearing in mind James’ admonition that without practical help along with it, our best wishes are not useful to them…

James 2:15-16
15If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

Jesus reminds us here in Mark 14:7, that we may pass on His blessings to the poor surrounding us at any time. Of course, the implication is that He desires that we would do so.
Jesus follows this admonition with a word of encouragement to Mary. He could see from her tears that she was in deep distress. He also implies that she was aware of the coming betrayal, torture, and execution that awaited Jesus in the city over the next few days. We have no way of knowing how much of Jesus’ previous teaching on this subject Mary was aware of…

Mark 8:31
And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Mark 9:31-32
31For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” 32But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.

Jesus seems to imply, though, that Mary was fully aware of what was about to happen. Indeed, she may have considered it more deeply than the others, and realized what the coming week would bring, although the apostles seem to have been almost totally oblivious, despite Jesus’ having told them clearly before the fact. But, like the other disciples, Mary had not fully grasped the concept of Jesus’ coming resurrection. Recall that as the women approached the tomb on the first Easter morning, they had all expected to find the tomb still sealed by the stone with the body of Jesus still inside.
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