Faithlife Sermons

The Anointing of Christ.

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The account of Christ’s passion has begun; in this opening passage we see the sovereign plan of God for redemption and one of the most beautiful acts of worship in preparing Christ for His burial.
There is no offering so great, it cannot be poured out to Christ.
Introduction of the Text:
Reading of the Text:
Now it happened that when Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples,2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be delivered over for crucifixion.”3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas;4 and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him.5 But they were saying, “Not during the festival, lest a riot occur among the people.”
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper,7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster jar of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table.8 But when the disciples saw this, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?9 For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good work to Me.11 For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.12 For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial.13 Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”
14 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me to deliver Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.16 And from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.
Behold the Word of God. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but these words will not pass away. Let’s Pray.

Jesus Prophesies His Crucifixion.

Explanation: (Christ was not surprised by what was coming. In His deity, He was omnipotent. Christ knew the plan of God the Father. Christ knew where, when, and how redemption would be fulfilled. Nothing could change it.)
Argumentation: (The sovereignty of God is a beautiful attribute. Acts 2:23. God sent His Son at the perfect time, to fulfil His perfect plan. There was no aspect of the crucifixion that was outside of God’s determined plan.
Acts 2:23 “23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”

The Religious Leaders Plot Jesus’ Death.

Explanation: (As Jesus is telling the disciples what He will face, the ones who will cause it are plotting it. WE must not miss who is plotting this murder. The religious leaders all the way up to the high priest. These men were set aside for the worship of God and for the benefit of the people.)
Argumentation: (Here again we must notice the sovereignty of God and the corruption of the Jewish system of the day. And yet we know that all this was according to the pre-determined plan of God.)

Jesus Returns to Bethany.

Explanation: Jesus spent a lot of time in Bethany. This was the home town of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Some commentators wonder if Simon the leper was the father of Lazarus. It is debated if the account found in the gospel of John where Mary anoints the feet of Jesus is the same event as recorded here in Matthew and Mark.
It is entirely possible that John is recording the same event, or it is also possible that it is a different event. The differences are that John says it was six days until passover. John could have been pointing to the middle of passover. John says it was Mary the sister of Lazarus. John says she anointed His feet. It is possible she anointed both head and feet.
The similarities are rather convincing. It is a very similar event and phrased in a very similar way. It is so similar that Jesus uses the same exact words when He speaks. So it is possible that these two events are separate. But I very loosely think they are probably the same event.
Argumentation: One of the greatly encouraging things in Scripture is that Jesus is recorded as having rested. Jesus has just gone through much, and is about to be crucified. Yet, He returns to the safe haven of Bethany. Here, He was welcomed and loved.

A Woman Anoints Jesus’ Head With Costly Perfume.

Explanation: This is one of the most beautiful acts of worship in Scripture. Likely this was Myrrh. This costly perfume was used in several ways. It was used in preparation of bodies for burial. It was also used in anointing some of the instruments used in sacrifice in the temple. It was also symbolic that Jesus is the King. Royalty was anointed this way.
Argumentation: Jesus says that she has done this to prepare Him for burial. Jesus was buried in a rush because the Sabbath was approaching. But it is interesting to note that Jesus is anointed with this perfume just as some of the symbolic instruments in the Temple were. Jesus was the fulfilment of these items and has now been anointed.
This woman has poured out a very costly perfume. This was an act of pure worship. In Jesus’ last parable, He told that showing love for brothers in Christ is loving Him. While loving and worshipping Christ often looks like loving the brothers, here, we see that there are also acts of love and worship that are purely aimed at Christ.

The Disciples Are Angry.

Explanation: In John’s account, it is only Judas who was recorded as being angry. Perhaps Judas stirred up the other disciples to anger. But either way, they missed what was happening. They express a good use for that costly perfume. They are concerned with a social good. God has given many commands that we are to care for the poor. But this is not the best.
Argumentation: We cannot sacrifice the best for the good. We cannot do everything that is good. So we must do what is best rather than what is merely good.
A perennial temptation within the church is to trade the best for the good. We are tempted to trade worship of God for social good. This is a massive problem in the church today. The current church culture is very susceptible to this because our world is very obsessed with the concept of what is known as social justice.
Illustration: Groups that help poor animals versus groups that save the lives of children. End abortion now vs. an animal shelter..
There is a good kind and a bad kind of social justice. Let’s think of the good kind. There are people who are genuinely in need. There are many good things that genuinely help people. How many organizations help the poor? More than we can count. How many groups do good things? There are more groups than we can count. We obviously cannot support all of them. We must judge and do what is better.
Let’s compare two groups. Let’s say you have $100 to give and you have two groups asking you for help. One is to an animal shelter. They rescue animals from animal abuse and find them loving homes. They do relatively good work to care for pets. It’s not a bad thing to spend money to feed animals. God calls us to be good and kind stewards. We are to oppose those who abuse animals.
The second group asking for money is a group like end abortion now. They rescue children. They provide help for struggling mothers. They fight to adopt babies. They offer to pay for the full medical expenses of pregnancy and birth to help keep babies from being aborted. So you have two groups. One feeds needy animals, one literally saves the lives of children and mothers. You have to choose where the money goes. This is an obvious choice. The greater good is to care for the babies and mothers. That does not mean the other option is bad, it just means the latter is better.
Continued argumentation: It is not wrong to sell expensive perfume and give money to the poor. That is a good thing. But we must not sacrifice the best for the good. There was a better thing.

Jesus Rebukes the Disciples.

Explanation: Jesus says the woman has done a good work for Him. While the disciples scoff, Jesus says she did the better thing. Jesus says that they will always have the poor, but they will not always have Him. Jesus is saying that there will always be those in need. Poverty will not be eradicated. Jesus also says that this woman did this prophetically to prepare His body for burial.
Verses 10-12 say, “But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good work to Me.11 For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.12 For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial.”
Argumentation: We must define what is best and what is good according to how God defines them. It is a good thing to sell and give to the poor. The best thing is to worship God.
Illustration: Arguing from positivity. Unless you do this, you aren’t loving. We all want to be seen as loving, so we do _____. This is used in our culture to justify sin. “It is hateful to say ______ is sin.” We don’t want to be seen as hateful or mean, so we don’t say _____ is sin. People phrase things in ways it is hard to disagree with. We must view everything through God’s Word.
Argumentation: It is good to have social concern. But we must do so according to how God defines it. Not everything that some say is good, is actually good. Not everything that is truly good is truly best. What defines a Christian is not care for the poor. (Christians will correctly care for the poor.) Christians are defined by worship of God. The Woman got this right.

Jesus Commends The Woman.

Explanation: The woman chose the best thing rather than a good thing. Jesus says she will be remembered for this act everywhere the gospel is proclaimed. This is one of the highest praises Jesus gives to anyone.
Argumentation: Clearly the woman chose the best option. When faced with the challenge of what is better versus what is best, worship God. It would have been a good deed to sell the expensive perfume and give the money to the poor. It was best to pour the oil over Jesus’ head.
J.C. Ryle, “The deeds and titles of many a king, and emperor, and general, are as completely forgotten, as if written in the sand. But the grateful act of one humble Christian woman is recorded in one hundred and fifty different languages, and is known all over the globe.”
One thinks of the poem by Shelly, OZYMANDIAS
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias Ozymandias Pharaoh Rameses II (reigned 1279-1213 BCE). According to the OED, the statue was once 57 feet tall.,
King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Judas Leaves to Betray Christ.

Explanation: This act angered Judas and he leaves to betray Christ. Luke tells us that Judas was possessed by Satan at this time. Judas looked like the other disciples. Judas was a goat amidst the sheep.
Argumentation: We must not forget that this was all according to the plan of God. All this was done as God planned and prophesied. Judas was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a tare amidst the wheat. Judas was more concerned with money than the kingdom of God. Judas was not saved. He was angered by this act of worship and sought evil.
Application: We see much application in this. While the woman did this act prophetically for Christ’s death, it expounds on last weeks passage well. Last Sunday Jesus gave a parable saying that to love fellow Christians is to show Him love. Now we see that this is not the only way to love Christ. There are acts that are purely to worship Christ.

Purely to Worship Christ.

Explanation: While loving each other is worship to Christ, there are things that are purely worship to Christ. The woman benefitted no one else by what she did. It was purely an act of Worship and Christ commended it to the highest degree. We must prioritize worship of God. What does this look like? Broad examples.

Personal Acts of Worship:

Explanation: There are private acts that are purely worship to Christ. We all should do these things.


We all ought to pray privately. This is a private act of submission to Christ as Lord, worthy of making all our requests our known to Him and thanking Him for all our blessings from Him.

Scripture Reading:

God has spoken to us in His Word. We worship Him in our personal life by studying what He has said and obeying it.

Family Worship:

Worship also becomes more corporate but still private to the family. A great act of worship is to worship God together as a family. Read Scripture, pray, and sing together as a family.

Lord’s Day Worship:

Explanation: “We gather together on the Lord’s Day to worship God. While we benefit from this, it is not about us. It is to worship God.” We set aside this day as an offering to worship God. Our service is directed toward God.


When we sing, we do not just sing what we like. We sing to and about our Lord as an act of worship. This is why we care what we sing. It is not worship to sing things that are lies about God. We sing to worship God.

Learning Truths.

We also learn truths about God. This is an act of worship. It is worship to know who God is. Believing the truth about God and what He has said is worship.

Reading God’s Word.

We spend a lot of time reading God’s Word. This is an act of worship. When we read Scripture, we are hearing God speak to us. To hear and obey is pure worship.

Hearing the Preaching of God’s Word.

Beyond just hearing God’s Word read, we hear it expounded upon in the sermon. Hearing the sermon is an active action. Example: Luther, go hear preaching. We worship God by hearing His Word expounded upon and applied to us.

The Offering.

Perhaps this is where the application of what this woman did is most clear. She gave this expensive perfume to Christ. While Christ is not physically here, we have His church, His body. It is worshipful to give above and beyond to His church. We see acts of giving throughout the NT.


Baptism is the public declaration of faith in Christ. It is saying, I am dead to myself and alive in Christ. This is the public declaration of pouring out one’s life for Christ.

The Lord’s Table.

The Lord’s Table is a public declaration that we are not saved through works, but through faith alone in Christ. Christ did all the work and we worship by acknowledging this and worshipping Him for this sacrifice.
Closing: Christ is sovereign. The Woman gave a wonderful act of Worship by pouring the oil on Christ’s head, prophetically preparing Him for His burial. We must not sacrifice the best for the good.
Closing Benediction:
Matthew 26:13 Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”
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