Matthew 26:1-13


“And it came to pass, 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 betrayed to be crucified.  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 subtilty, and kill him.  But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.  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.  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 Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman?  for she hath wrought a good work upon me.  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.”


The spirit of Judas verses the heart of Mary


“And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples”---now, all of these sayings, this is a long answer to their question about the end of the age, the sign of his coming, which had been going on for two chapters (Matthew 24-25).  Next to the sermon on the Mount, it’s the longest teaching that he gave, and it’s in regards to his 2nd Coming.  “After he had finished all of these things he says, ‘You know, after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.’”  Now Matthew of course, giving us a picture of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, we see Jesus now in charge of the whole flow of events.  He is the King.  He is not the victim.  He is the Victor in all of these things.  And he is orchestrating.  ‘Go over to the  village there, you’ll find a colt tied, foal of an ass, bring him to me, if anybody says What are you doing?, say The Lord has need of him’---‘Go follow a man with a vase on his head, he’ll lead you to an upper room, that’s where we’re going to celebrate the Passover.’  He is orchestrating now, he is stepping into all of this.  “The Son of man is going to be crucified.”  “Then”, in contrast to that “assembled together the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,” whose been kind of a joint high priest with Annas who was the people’s choice, but a scoundrel.  This is evidently his son-in-law, Caiaphas, whose a Roman appointee, who came on the scene on 18AD and would be high priest to 36AD, “and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty and kill him.”  Now that’s an interesting word, you know, Simon the sorcerer in the Book of Acts, “filled with all subtilty” it says.  You know, it’s an evil, sneaky kind of subtilty, very interesting word that Matthew uses here.  “They consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty”, by evil craft, “and kill him.”  “But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people” (verses 3-5).  So, they’re tied enough in with Rome, with politics, they know that Pontius Pilate is not a guy you want to mess with on a bad day, if he gets up on the wrong side of bed.  The Passover was a time of tension.  During the Passover extra troops always came to Jerusalem, because this was the feast of their deliverance from Egypt.  And it was like, it’s not a Levitical feast, because it was given long before the book of Leviticus, it was established when they came out of Egypt, it’s pre-Law, this feast, pre-Levitical, their most ancient of feasts.  And of course it looks towards Christ, the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world, the blood being on the doorpost and the lentil of the house, on the doorpost and on the lentil, two crosses, the lamb slain in the sopth, interesting word, it was a trough between the two doors, when the Nile flooded, to keep water from coming in, you have the lamb slain there in the sopth, the blood drained out in the sopth, and then taken, you have a cross on either side with the lamb in the center, remarkable pictures, remarkable feast.  But it was a time of tension in Jerusalem, because the Jews remembering how God had delivered them from Egypt, were hoping he was going to do the same thing, now delivering them from Rome.  And when they looked for a Messiah, they’re looking for someone to overthrow the Roman bondage, and give them all a right to sit beneath their vine and their fig tree.  They’re not looking for someone to overthrow death and the grave and sin.  And that’s what Christ had come to do.  So it’s a time of great tension.  Caiaphas is smart enough to say ‘We’ve got to get him, we’ve got to kill him, but not during the feast, because if it starts a riot, you saw the way they acted when he rode into Jerusalem the other day in his triumphal entry, he moved the whole city, they’re all crying Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.  If we kill him during the feast, everybody here is excited about him, we’ll start a riot, they’ll be after us, Pontius Pilate will call out the troops---so we can’t do it during the feast.’  But they weren’t in charge, were they?  Because that’s exactly when Jesus is going to be crucified, and there isn’t anything they can do about that at all. 


Mary anoints Jesus with costly Spikenard


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 the table” (verse 7). This is, of course, a very interesting feast.  This is the house of Simon the leper, this is not Simon the Pharisee.  Luke’s Gospel tells us, earlier in his earthly ministry, that he was at the house of one called Simon the Pharisee, and a woman who was famous for immorality in the town, came in, she wept and she wiped his feet with her tears and her hair.  This is not Simon the Pharisee, this is Simon the leper, and of course when it says Simon the leper, it’s “Simon used to be a leper.”  Because if it was Simon who was still a leper, nobody would be at his house.  Early Church tradition tells us that this Simon is the father of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, and that Jesus had cured him of leprosy.  Now we all assume that much, that Jesus had cured him of leprosy.  And there’s a feast in his house.  We know that there’s at least seventeen, eighteen people there.  We know that the 12 disciples are there, and Jesus, that’s thirteen.  We know that Mary, Martha, Simon and Lazarus are there.  That’s seventeen.  We wonder if Blind Bartemeus got in, I’m sure he’s following Christ through these days.  I mean, this is an interesting crew, imagine what dinner conversation’s like.  And it tells us in the other Gospels that many people from the area came and looked in the windows, not just because they heard Jesus was there, but they wanted to see Lazarus, who they knew was dead, was resurrected again, and a lot of them are saying ‘Get out, I’ve got to see this for myself!’.  Because he was dead four days, ok.  This wasn’t a quick stop, wasn’t a near-death experience, wasn’t somebody we could have brought back with a defibulator.  You know, “Clear!  Babump!” and bring him back.  No, you’re going four days, John rightly says “He stinketh”, nobody’s bringing you back but a miracle after four days, you’re gone.  Your body’s disintegrated, your eyes have sunk down, your blood’s separated into serum and corpuscles, the back of your body is blue, the front is yellow, your organs have melted.  It takes a miracle after four days to say “Come out of there.”  Just like it will take a miracle when he comes down for us, and calls our friends and relatives and raises them, just as much a miracle.  Again, Mary and Martha never read the 11th chapter of John, so they cried through the whole experience.  It wasn’t like Mary and Martha said ‘Wait till you see this, it’ll blow your mind.’  ‘He stinks, but roll the stone away, wait till you see this, this chapter’s a great chapter.’  They didn’t say that.  If Mary and Martha had known John chapter 11, you know their attitude would have been different.  They would have said, “Wait till you see this!”  They wouldn’t have been falling apart, because they’d have known the chapter.  What about instead of four days it was two weeks?  How do you think Mary and Martha would have been?  If they know, ‘Hey, two weeks from now, calling him out of there.’  I think they’d have been pretty good.  ‘Wait till you see this, this is great.’  What if it was two years?  What if it was ten years?  What if it was twenty years?  You see, you do know the last chapter.  And you do know what Mary and Martha now know, and you know that all that are in their graves are going to hear the voice of the Son of man, and they’re going to come forth to everlasting life (cf. John 5:28-29).  You do know the chapter.  Your wait is longer, that’s all.  We’re going to see our grandma’s and grandpa’s, our parents, brother’s and sisters that died in the faith, we’re gonna see them.  They’re going to sit at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Lazarus, and Mary, and Martha.  Interesting crew at this table.  Simon who used to be a leper, Lazarus who used to be dead, there’s a lot of used-to-be’s here, Jesus and the guys, people looking in the window.  Martha’s no longer complaining, she’s serving (‘whistling while she works’).  You know, before she had said, ‘Master!  Look at me, I’m serving, my sister Mary, she’s a Hippie, she’s sitting in front of you and I’m doing all the work myself,’ and he said, ‘No, she’s chosen the better part.  Martha, you’re distracted and worried about many things, that which she has chosen shall not be taken away from her.’  Martha’s learned the lesson, but it was the lesson learned in light of Jesus calling her brother out of the tomb, she’s got no problems now, serving.  And Mary comes, and she has this cruz of spikenard, we’re told in the other Gospels, very expensive.  It says three hundred denarii, a year’s wage.  So imagine something worth $30,000.  It came from the Himalayas, nard, it was expensive, it was sealed in an alabaster cruz with a thin neck.  And it was expensive beyond what we can imagine.  And it was usually used, that young girl would keep that like in a hope chest, and she might break it open on her wedding day.  She might break it open when someone she loved died.  She hadn’t broken it open for Lazarus though.  And we don’t see Lazarus sitting at the table saying ‘You wouldn’t break it open for me, you broke it open for him.’  No, he got called back from the dead, he’s saying ‘Pour anything on him you want, it’s fine with me.’  It may have been saved by a young girl too, if she was never married, and at some point in the future to sell and be able to survive financially.  The cost is unimaginable in one sense.  And Mary comes and breaks that open and pours it on Jesus.  The other Gospels tell us that the fragrance filled the entire room where they were gathered.  And it fills this room tonight. 


Do you know that griping is contagious?---It’s the Vulcan Mind-Meld of Criticalness---it’s the spirit of Judas


The disciples, “But when the 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” (verses 8-9).  Now, the other Gospels tell us it was Judas who started complaining.  And it says that Judas said this.  Now it’s the first recorded words that we have from Judas.  ‘Why was this waste made?   You could have sold that and got a lot of money, a year’s wage, and given it to the poor.’  And John says he said that not because he cared for the poor, but because he kept the purse, it’s poor Judas he was worried about.  He just saw Thirty Grand get dumped out on the floor.  But the interesting thing is, under the veil of ‘We could have given this to the poor’, he sucks all of the other disciples into his complaining.  Do you know that griping is contagious?  We see it all the time.  Do you know that?  ‘Do you believe they did that?  You know, they bought that new car, you know what they could have done, they could have supported five missionaries.’  And then other Christians go, ‘Yeah, why did they do that?’  You know, it’s like we get this Vulkan mind-meld of criticalness, you know, or something.  Isn’t it interesting to see how this spreads through the disciples?  It’s one guy saying the wrong thing.  That’s why your speech should always be seasoned with salt, it should be filled with grace.  Because a critical spirit is contagious, and the Holy Spirit is working in the Body of Christ to produce unity.  (So analyze, whose comments during services are always so critical, where some people have to critique everything anyone else says?  That person is being divisive, could have the spirit of Judas.  Not necessarily does, but could have.)  And it’s why the Lord says, you know, there’s four things I hate, yea, six are an abomination, and one who sows discord between brethren.  [see Proverbs 6:16-19.]  Because he’s working to make us one.  The Spirit of Christ, look around this room, don’t be afraid, go ahead [laughter].  Look at the people in this room.  If we hadn’t got saved we’d have never hung out together.  [Comment:  there are approximately 30,000 brethren in Pastor Joe’s congregation, from the tough city of Philly, the city of brotherly love (hehe).]  Because there’s old people, young people, there’s hairy people and bald people, fat people, thin people, Black people, White people, Oriental people, Hispanic people, we’d have never been in the same club.  We’d have never hung out together.  Look at this room.  Look at what he’s done.  The power of Christ, the power of the Spirit, he’s made us one.  He’s made us one family, tearing down things that culture and society has built between us, we’re all made of the same stuff, and we’re all sinners saved by grace, we have one Father, one older Brother, one destiny, one Lord, one Spirit, one Baptism.  What a work.  And people who do this, tear it down.  Good old Judas, he gets the ball rolling, and the other disciples hop right on.  They don’t mind about whose going to be the greatest in the kingdom, but ‘Oh yea, she could have sold that and given it to the poor.’ 


Nothing we give to Jesus is a waste


Nothing we give to Jesus is a waste.  It tells us in 1st Corinthians 13 that love does not keep an account.  Love knows no cost.  This was the most expensive thing in her life.  Other people may have mansions, may have all kinds of resources.  To her, and you have in your life somewhere, the thing that’s most precious to you.  It was nothing for her to take the thing that was most precious in her life and pour it out on her Master.  It was an act of devotion unlike anything else that had happened.  Now evidently she’s the only one who knows what the real story is.  Let me read through it real fast.  “This ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.’  And when Jesus understood it, he said unto them, (when he understands that they’re griping) Why trouble ye the woman?”  I like that, he jumps right in and sticks up for her.  “for she hath wrought a good work upon me.  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” (verses 9-13).  Now isn’t it interesting, this is the only memorial of its kind in the New Testament.  The guys sitting at the table, even the disciples just heard the gospel, this gospel of the kingdom, is going to be preached in the whole world.  They’re thinking, ‘The whole world?’, they’re not thinking Gentiles, they’re thinking ‘She’s done this for my burial.’  Then he says ‘this good news’, they’re thinking ‘burial, what good news?’  Evidently, Mary, she’s not an apostle, she’s never done a miracle, she hasn’t followed in as close a proximity physically, but she has sat and mused over the fact that Jesus has said that he’s going to be crucified, he’s going to be killed, and he’s going to rise again on the third day.  And she is closer to him, and closer to the truth than anybody else in this room.  And you know what?  When we watch Jesus’ crucifixion, I’m sure in Gethsemane this nard, I’m sure when he hung on that cross and he was brutalized, beaten beyond human recognition, in his nostrils he could still smell that nard.  And when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus come and bring aloes and myrrh, about a hundred pounds in weight, unimaginable cost, nobody says to them ‘Why’s this waste being made?’.  Mary’s not there because she’s already given hers.  She’s already made her contribution, she didn’t need to be there.  When Joseph of Arimathea gives his tomb, unimaginable cost, to Christ.  And you say, ‘Well it was only for the weekend.’  Well he didn’t know that.  [laughter]  Nobody said to him, ‘What a waste.’  In fact, Joseph and Nicodemus coming publicly like that, they were cut off from the Synagogue, they were ex-communicated, they were cut off, from their wealth, from their standing, everything they put at stake, for a dead Christ.  She’s giving everything to a living Christ.  The other guys are missing their opportunity, she sees it and understands it. 


The Gospel is not to be a “social gospel”


He says, ‘The poor, you have with you always, you can always do good to the poor.’  Social work and humanitarian work are not supposed to be what drives the Church [Body of Christ].  We could empty the coffers of the Church in one day to care for the poor, and not accomplish the Great Commission [see].  The secret is, not to have a purpose driven church, but to have a Holy Spirit driven Church, and a Word driven Church, and to take the resources of Christ and put them specifically where he directs us to put them.  Because that’s where there’s going to be returns unto eternity.  And poverty is not to be in the driver’s seat, because there are organizations out there, churches, that are building orphanages, and I think that’s a great thing to do, I’m not opposed to that.  But there are those that are doing that, and leading no one to Christ.  And they take care of a child and raise him to adulthood, and the child dies and goes to hell.  They build a hospital and bring somebody sick in that wouldn’t survive if it wasn’t for the hospital, they nurse him back to health, and they die and go to hell.  [There is one major Christian ‘social’ arm of the Body of Christ which does it properly, and is an integral part of preaching the Gospel to the world, that is Samaritan’s Purse.  See]  The Great Commission is to go to all the world and ‘preach the Gospel to every living creature, and to teach these things of Jesus, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them all things I have commanded you.’  And in the process of that, yes, then let’s do humanitarian things, in the context of that let’s do those things [which is exactly what Samaritan’s Purse does, humanitarian acts done in the name of Christ].  But that in itself is not ever to be in the driver’s seat, but there’s all kinds of criticism born out of it.  Karl Marx should have read this, “The poor you have with you always.”  He thought he was going to straighten something out.  And we shouldn’t close our eyes.  And all of us in this room have opportunity to give, to use the talents that God has given to us.  And part of that is going to be bringing somebody a dinner, paying somebody’s bill, baking somebody a loaf of bread, buying somebody presents for their kids when they can’t afford them.  That all goes along with sharing the love of Christ, but attached to all of that stuff needs to be “and do you know, Jesus died for you, and has risen from the dead, and if you turn to him and ask forgiveness, you will have eternal life.”  Because that is what bears fruit into infinity, into eternity.  [Comment:  And that is the simple Gospel of Christ, Gospel of Salvation we have been told to preach to the world.  It is not the doctrine of Law & Grace, and it is not all the other things Jesus commanded us to observe.  You are to preach the simple Gospel of Christ, and then for those who accept, and are baptized, receiving the Holy Spirit, THEN you teach those who have responded favorably “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”  People, well meaning Christians, often forget the order of events in this Great Commission commandment, and attempt to teach “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” to those poor unconverted souls they’re busy witnessing to, and that is not what Jesus commanded us to do.  If you do, you’re preaching obedience requirements to folks who don’t yet have the Holy Spirit, who don’t have the ability or internal desire to keep those commandments of Christ.  And even if such people want to accept the Gospel message, you may have stumbled them.  That is just plain stupid, and it is also not following Jesus instructions properly.  The result, your witnessing does not bear fruit.  And don’t forget, without the express empowerment of the Holy Spirit dwelling within a person, there is no power, or even desire for a person to obey God and the commandments of Christ.  So in your witnessing, don’t make the mistake of putting the cart before the horse.  Doctrinal instruction is for members within the church, those who have favorably responded to the Gospel message, it is not for those who need to hear the Gospel message on the outside of the Body of Christ.] 


She just took the most expensive thing she had and poured it out on Christ---the world would say she was mentally ill for wasting her money


Jesus said that which this woman has done is a good work, she’s done it unto my burial, no cost to her at all, she’s not worried about what they’re worried about.  ‘And wherever this gospel is preached in all of the world, that which she’s done.’   She’s not mentally ill.  You have relatives and friends that think that about you.  ‘You do what?!?  You’re going where?  Instead of vacation, you’re going where?  You’re going on the mission field [or you’re observing what?!---the Feast of Tabernacles!?---or this Holy Day, or that Holy Day?]?  You’re doing what?  You’re spending half your money on Christmas presents and the other half on adopting a family from church?  What, are you out of your mind?  What, are you crazy?  Are you mentally ill?’  She just took the most expensive thing in her life and poured it out on Christ.  She’s done a good work, Jesus said, he knows the motive of the heart, he knows why it’s done.  Great challenge to us.  During the movie, The Passion of Christ, those of you who saw it, there was that sense, you looked at him, and because the imagery was so powerful, you thought, you know, he did that for me.  It was my sin that put him there.  He did that, he related to my need, with one hundred and ten percent commitment.  He held nothing back, of himself, nothing.  He gave everything for me.  And Mary somehow saw that in him, even before the cross.  She knew he was going there, and without the light that we have, gave her best.  It’s a rebuke to me.  Because I can be so selfish, I can be worried about my rights, my comfort.  I know you’re all going to go away and never come back to this church again.  I’m just like you, is what I’m trying to say, made of the same stuff you are.  What a great encouragement to us.  The lesson of the talents, take inventory, we can all be faithful over a few things in regards to the kingdom, everyone here.  Don’t minimize it, because it bears fruit unto eternity, the wealth of it is unimaginable and immeasurable.  But we can all be faithful over a few things, because we want to hear that “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”…the dinner, giving our best, not withholding, what a great challenge for all of us, and I know through the Holy Spirit each one of us will do with it severally as the Holy Spirit would have us do with it.  Let’s stand, let’s pray together…[Transcript of a connective expository sermon given on Matthew 26:1-13 by Pastor Joe Focht of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]


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What is the Great Commission and the Gospel?  see:


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