When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
On of the chief wonders of the Gospels, to me, is that Jesus knew not only that He was going to die, but how, and who would kill Him, and even when. And He even told the disciples, more than once! But it was still such a surprise to them. I don’t know if they didn’t understand, or if they just didn’t believe Jesus, or what.
I wonder if, in some way, that’s why Judas decided to betray Jesus. I wonder if he thought, “Well, He’s going to die, and He knows it, so I might as well make some money off it.” Not that it would make what he did right, but I always wish I could understand Judas better. We never get much of anything from his perspective, probably because he died before they could talk to him. Or something.
The story of the oil is important for two symbolic reasons. First, Jesus is the heir of David, and the oil represents Him being anointed King of Israel. Second, it is the sort of oil used on the dead before burial. This woman understand Jesus, who He was, and what was about to happen to Him better than the disciples did. In fact, throughout the gospels many of Jesus’s most faithful and loyal followers are women, often nameless like this one. It show that even though the culture thought of women as second class (nobody even bothered to remember her name), Jesus saw women as faithful followers, equal to men in the areas that matter.