1 After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. 2 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.” 3 And 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. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 “For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 “Assuredly, 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.” 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him.
The plot to kill Jesus
It is the time of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. At Passover, Jews remember their escape from Egyptian captivity and tyranny. As God moved to judge the Egyptians, He told His people to kill a lamb—the Passover lamb—and apply as protection its blood to the lintel of the door. Anyone sheltering in a protected house escaped God’s judgement. Where blood was on the lintel, God’s judgement passed over that house. Passover pictures a guilty sinner escaping God’s righteous judgement against his sin by sheltering under the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, by whose death on the cross he is saved. The Feast of Unleavened Bread recalls the Israelites’ flight from Egypt to the promised land, with bread containing no yeast (or ‘leaven’). In the Bible, yeast often speaks of sin’s spreading influence. Anyone saved by Christ’s blood must live a new life, by God’s strength, marked by constantly turning from the ‘yeast’ of sin.
Ironically, at this time of remembering God’s deliverance, religious Jewish leaders plot to take Jesus by trickery to kill Him. In God’s sovereignty their rebellion against Him will speed Christ’s fulfilling the picture of the Passover Lamb of God. His blood will soon be shed to save sinners, captive to and oppressed by their sins. Trusting in His shed blood and receiving new life, they will cease to live under sin’s dominion.
The chief priests and scribes decide not to take Jesus during the feast. That would cause a big uproar amongst the people.
Mary’s costly flask of fragrant oil
Jesus eats in Bethany at Simon’s house. Simon was probably formerly healed of leprosy by Jesus and is now back in society. A woman—identified in John’s Gospel as Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ sister—breaks her flask of oil worth an average working man’s yearly wages. She pours it over Jesus’ head. Some criticise her sharply for wasting what could have been turned into cash for the poor. Judas is the disciples’ (crooked) treasurer. Did he engineer criticism because an opportunity of dishonest gain disappears? Jesus defends Mary: the poor will always be there, but His time with them is now short. Mary’s oil provides anointing of His body for burial in advance. Jesus’ prediction, that Mary’s generous loving respect for Him will be remembered worldwide, is true today. Mary now has her place in Scripture and challenges us to loving and generous sacrifice for Christ.
The betrayer’s wicked reaction
Is this the final straw for Judas Iscariot, who seeks prosperity by following Jesus (as treasurer!) He arranges to betray Jesus to the chief priests after the Feast. They gladly promise to pay him. He will soon betray the Prince of Life to death. How can someone so near to Christ for so long fail to trust and love the only One who can save him? Beware!
 . The account of Passover is in Exodus 12:1-
 . 1 Corinthians 5:6-
 . John 11:2.
 . John 13:29 tells us that Judas held the ‘money box’.
Questions on Chapter 42
11 Remembering — in advance!
A. How do the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread picture the salvation from sin that Jesus Christ will bring? Exodus 12:1-
B. Why is the woman (Mary) such a wonderful example and a challenge to us about how we should give to the Lord? John 12:1-
C. Contrast Mary’s attitude with that of Judas Iscariot. How are they each now remembered? Mark 14:8, 10-