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After Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive spikenard, we read in John 12:4-6,
4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 5 Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.
The NASB above implies that Judas was already “intending to betray Him” prior to this incident. But this is not so. The Emphatic Diaglott reads, “that Iscariot who was about to betray Him.” The Concordant Version reads, “who is about to give Him up.” So it appears that this apparent waste of money, along with Jesus’ rebuke in John 12:7, 8, motivated Judas to betray Jesus. He did not like it that Mary had wasted the equivalent of about eleven months’ wages.
John’s brevity leaves us with the impression that Mary anointed Jesus’ feet at the supper that Martha had prepared in celebration of Lazarus’ cleansing. As we showed earlier, this supper took place “six days before the Passover” (John 12:1). But when we look at the parallel account in Mark 14:1-11, we discover that there was a second supper held in honor of Jesus Himself just “two days away” from the feast of Passover (Mark 14:1).
This second supper was held four days later at the house of Simon the leper, at whose house “there came a woman” who anointed Jesus’ head (Mark 14:3). This provided a double witness to Christ’s anointing for burial. (The story is told also in Matthew 26:6-13.)
Simon the Leper
Mark 14:3 says that this second supper was at the home of “Simon the leper,” who also lived in Bethany. He was an ex-leper, one that Jesus had healed earlier, for if he had been a leper at this time, no one would have been able to eat with him. Yet he proudly bore the title of “leper” as a testimony of his healing.
By studying the law of the cleansing of lepers in Leviticus 14:1-7, we find that leprosy was a prophetic type of mortality (or death). To heal and cleanse a leper, then, reveals the manner in which we are brought from death to life, or from mortality to immortality. So this second supper at the home of Simon the leper contributes to the meaning of the sign in which Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
Simon, too, after being healed of leprosy, would have had to go to Bethpage to be inspected by the priest so that he could be pronounced clean on the eighth day. Thus, he and Lazarus had this in common.
The Complaint and the Rebuke
Mark 14:4, 5 tells us that other guests at the house complained, saying, “Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii.” Earlier, Mary’s spikenard cost was just “three hundred denarii” (John 12:5). In other words, the spikenard that anointed Jesus’ head was more expensive than that which anointed His feet. Christ is the Head, prophetically speaking, and, as part of the body, we are the feet.
The number 300, seen in the dimensions of Noah’s ark as well as in Gideon’s army, signifies the overcomers in safety and rest while doing their work of deliverance. Hence, the foot company of Christ’s body is associated with the precise number 300. But Christ, the Head, is given an open-ended number that is “over three hundred,” which is appropriate in that Christ’s value cannot be fixed.
John 12:4, 5 says that Judas was the one who complained when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet six days before the Passover. In John 12:7, 8 Jesus rebuked Judas,
7 Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”
The rebuke at the second anointing four days later (Mark 14:6-9) is similar but is directed toward “some” grumblers (Mark 14:4). Apparently, Judas received support from some of the people.
6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for burial. 9 Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”
Jesus’ comment about the gospel being preached to the whole world should be interpreted in light of John 12:3, where it says, “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” In other words, the anonymous woman’s prophetic act of anointing Him for burial sent the fragrance of the gospel to “the whole world” (Mark 14:9).
The house of the leper, then, represented the mortal world, and the spikenard (“faith oil”) was the gospel of the Kingdom that was to show the path to immortality and aionian life.
After Jesus’ rebuke in Mark 14:6-9, he tells us in the next verse. Mark 14:10 says,
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them.
This suggests that Judas was stung by Jesus’ rebuke and stormed out of the house. It appears that this was Judas’ first contact with the chief priests, for Mark 14:11 says,
11 They were glad when they heard this and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.
That “opportune time” came at another supper—“the last supper”—which took place the evening before Jesus’ arrest later that same night.
Six days before Passover, when Jesus was first anointed, Judas grumbled but did not go out to betray Him. It was the second rebuke that made him angry enough to betray Jesus.
John 12:9-11 is an introduction to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It says,
9 The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.
There was probably no “large crowd” at the home of Lazarus during that first supper, because Jesus had only just arrived. Many people had not yet had time to discover that He was there until at least the next day. But there had been plenty of time (8 days) for word to spread that Lazarus had been raised from the dead. In fact, Lazarus himself probably told the priests at Bethpage the reason why he needed to be purified on the third day and again on the seventh day, and certainly, they would have passed on the news to the chief priests.
So the news had spread far and wide that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. There were many witnesses to this, so the chief priests were unable to deny the miracle. Yet to try to suppress this news, “the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also.” This identified Lazarus with Jesus and showed that Lazarus’ death and resurrection foreshadowed Jesus’ death and resurrection. Just as the story of Lazarus’ death, burial, and resurrection spread far and wide, so also would it be with the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
Mary’s spikenard, then, which filled the whole house, and the other woman’s double witness at Simon’s house prophesied of the sweetness of the gospel message that death and mortality could and would be overcome by resurrection and immortality.
Jesus Enters Jerusalem
John 12:12, 13 says,
12 On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”
This triumphal entry into Jerusalem occurred “the next day” after the first supper at the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. The other gospels speak of this in greater detail. It was as if they were celebrating the feast of Tabernacles at the time of Passover. When we see such incongruity, we must take special notice of it. While the event took place the week of Passover, we must understand that it actually prophesied of another day at the second coming of Christ, when the second set of feasts is fulfilled.
The Order of Events
Lightfoot gives the order of events as follows:
The Sabbath—Six days before Passover, Jesus eats the first supper that was served by Martha.
Sunday—Jesus goes to Jerusalem, sitting on a donkey. He went to the temple, looked around, and toward evening He returns to Bethany (Mark 11:11).
Monday—Jesus goes to Jerusalem early “the next day” (Mark 11:12). Being hungry, He sees a fig tree full of leaves but having no fruit. He curses the fig tree for its lack of fruit (Matthew 21:18; Mark 11:12). He teaches in the temple and then returns to Bethany (Mark 11:19).
Tuesday—Jesus goes to Jerusalem “in the morning,” and on the way they see the fig tree withered (Mark 11:20). When He leaves Jerusalem, a crowd follows Him, and He then stops at the Mount of Olives to foretell the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24 and 25). Upon returning to Bethany, Jesus has supper with Simon the leper, along with a crowd of people. Mary anoints His feet, and Judas contacts the chief priests in order to betray Him (Mark 14:10, 11).
Wednesday—Jesus remains in Bethany. That evening everyone removes all leaven from their houses.
Thursday—Jesus sends two disciples to get ready for the Passover (Mark 14:12-16). He Himself goes into the city in the afternoon, and in the evening is the last supper. During that supper, Judas learns that Jesus intended to go to the Mount of Olives afterward (John 18:1-3). Judas then goes out to betray Him (John 13:30), telling the chief priests where Jesus could be arrested. Judas then arrives with the chief priests and soldiers. Judas gives Jesus a customary kiss, which identified Him so that the soldiers could serve the arrest warrant (Matthew 26:48, 49).
Friday—Jesus is tried throughout the night and crucified (Abib 14). The sun goes dark for three hours from noon until 3 pm. When the sun begins to shine once again, Jesus dies, and everyone kills the lambs, for they were not permitted to kill the lambs while it was dark. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea claim Jesus’ body and bury it just before sundown. An eclipsed moon rises over Jerusalem at 5:10 pm.
Saturday—Jesus keeps the Sabbath rest sleeping in the grave.
Sunday—Jesus rises at 3:00 in the morning. The new course of priests come to the temple at that time, and the great iron doors are opened to let them come into the temple to prepare for the morning sacrifice. At the same time, the stone is rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, and He comes forth as “the King of glory” (Psalm 24:7).
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb first (John 20:1), but upon finding an empty tomb, she ran to fetch Peter and John. They ran to the tomb ahead of her (John 20:2-4), and when they leave, Mary remains. Jesus then appears to her first (John 20:14).
At the third hour of the day, while the high priest waves the barley sheaf in the temple, Jesus ascends to be presented to the Father as the living Son of God. He then returns to manifest Himself to various people, including an appearance to the disciples who were hiding in a house in Jerusalem.