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4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.
5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
6. Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
c Mark xiv. 3; John xi. 1.
had long enjoyed that dignity. From Acts they give for not apprehending Christ being v. 17, it appears that Caiaphas was of the equally forcible throughout the whole sect of the Sadducees
duration of the festival. The plan was Verses 4, 5. That they might take Jesus changed by the offer of Judas to betray by subtilty, &c.—Ordinarily great crimi. him, and the whole was overruled by nals, and especially false prophets and heaven to accomplish its own purposes ; raisers of sedition, were reserved for exe- which were, not that Christ should be put cution till the time of their great feasts, to death privately by assassination, or because the concourse of people at Jeru. even by regular trial, when there should salem being so great on those occasions, be comparatively few to witness his death, it was thought that the example would and the strange signs which accompabe more influential. But in the case of nied it; but that there should be multiour Lord they were anxious to dispense tudes of witnesses of this event, that it with this custom, and to put him to death should take place when many thousands by stratagem. But they said, Not on the of Jews and proselytes from all parts feast, lest there should be an uproar, a po- were assembled at Jerusalem, and that pular tumult, among the people. At these the account both of his crucifixion and festivals it appears from Josephus that resurrection should be transmitted by tumults of a formidable kind often took these means to distant places, and finally, place, a seditious and restless spirit har. as one has well observed, that infidelity ing long been nursed by the peculiar po- should never have it to allege, that these litical circumstances of the nation. And capital events, which constitute the very doubtless had our Lord designed to pro- basis of our religion, were “done in a claim himself a king, and to assume the earthly attributes with which they invest- Verse 6. Now when Jesus was in Bethed the Messiah, and which probably they any, &c.—The time when this transaction feared, and had he laid any plans for that took place is not particularly marked by purpose, vast numbers of the people, as St. Matthew, and appears to have been especially those from Galilee, would have mentioned here in connexion, as an indeclared in his favour. His enemies troduction to the treachery of Judas, betherefore appear to have designed to leave cause he was the first and loudest to the matter until the festival of the pass- murmur at the waste of the costly uncover and unleavened bread, which to- tion by which our Lord was anointed. gether occupied a space of eight daysIn this, St. Mark follows St. Matthew; had terminated, and the mass of the peo- but St. John fixes the time six days beple had dispersed. Our translators have fore the passover, and manifestly derendered, un ev Ty eopt”, not on the feast scribes the same transaction. The prinday; thereby confining it to the day of cipal apparent discrepancy is, that the the passover merely; whereas it ought to other evangelists say, that it took place be extended to the seven succeeding days in the house of Simon the Leper, that is, of unleavened bread, and have been sim- Simon who had been a leper ; whereas in ply rendered the feast, the reason which the narrative of John, Martha is repre
7 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.
sented as serving," from which it has has narrated the event more copiously been concluded that the entertainment and elaborately; since from the general was made for him in the house of Laza- style of composition in this passage of
But St. John only says, that “he Matthew, it is plain that he is hastening came to Bethany," and that “they made to describe the treachery of Judas, and him a supper,” without mentioning the the last fate of his Master ; since morehouse in which it was provided. That it over Mark, especially when hastening to was not in the house of Lazarus, appears any other subject, is accustomed to write almost certain from the remark of the concisely, omit various circumstances, same evangelist, that “ Lazarus was one and neglect the order of time; therefore of them that sat at the table with him ;” I apprehend that respecting the order of words which designate him as a guest ra- time, John is to be rather attended to, ther than as the host. And as this Simon who seems to have supplied what Matwas evidently a friend of our Lord, and thew had omitted, in order to indicate neighbour to the family that “Jesus the motive which impelled Judas to the loved,” or perhaps a relation also, there is deed ; namely, avarice." The anointing no improbability that Martha should serve of our Lord in the house of Simon the in honour of such a guest, and that her Pharisee, as recorded in Luke vii. 37, is sister Mary should anoint him. That St. quite a distinct transaction, done at a Matthew and St. Mark should not men- distant place, and at a much earlier petion Mary by name, arose probably from riod, and by another person. their having omitted all account of the Verse 7. An alabaster box of very raising of Lazarus, which appears to have precious ointment. — The alabaster is been designed by the Holy Spirit to be thought to have been a species of onyx, related by one of the four only, that we of which vessels for holding the more might possess it in that more extended precious kind of perfumes were at first form and interesting particularity in made, and the name was retained when which it appears in the affecting narrative afterwards they were made of gold, or of John, who was an eye-witness. Some any other substance.
St. Mark says, critics, however, think that St. John does she brake it ; but this is to be understood not assert that this unction of our Lord of breaking the seal by which the mouth occurred “six days before the passover,” was stopped, in order to pour out the but only asserts, that at that time “he contents. It is the custom in eastern came to Bethany,” where he was after- countries still to stop the bottles which wards anointed two days before the pass- contain essences, with cotton, and to seal over, as it is most natural to infer from them with wax; in which form that costly the narrative of St. Matthew. To this it perfume, the attar of roses, is still immay be answered, that the note of time ported into this country. To anoint the in St. John, “ six days before the pass- head and the feet of guests was a mark over,” appears to be introduced for no
of respect at considerable entertainments. purpose except to mark the period of the It was done frequently in honour of the entertainment given to Christ at Bethany. Rabbins ; but in this case the action was On this often controverted point, the ob- remarkable as done, not by the host, but servations of Koinoel appear most satis- by Mary the sister of Lazarus one of the factory: “ Since Matthew himself has not guests, and also from the very valuable noted the time explicitly, but has used a kind of unction made use of, and the phrase not indicative of definite time, abundance which she poured not only on του δε Ιησου γενομενου εν Βηθανια ; Since John our Lord's sacred head, but also, as ad.
8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
11 For ye have the poor always with you ; but me ye have not always.
12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for
d Deut. xv. 11.
pears from St. John, on his feet The It was a work of love, and therefore dewhole was the result of Mary's fervent termined by our Lord to be a good work. affection for her Lord and Master. The benevolence of our Lord's character
Verses 8, 9. They had indignation, &c.— here also shines forth: he would not They all strongly exclaimed against what suffer this excellent woman to be troubled appeared to be an unnecessary waste of by the objections of his disciples, as tendso precious an oil, and the profusion with ing to render it doubtful to her conscience which it was expended. All were sincere whether she had done right or wrong; in objecting that its value might have and he hastens therefore to give her the been given to the poor as a more pious grateful assurance of his acceptance of work, except Judas. He, indeed, appears her deed. But the wisdom of his defence to have been foremost and loudest in ex- of her conduct is as conspicuous as its pressing this sentiment, and therefore he kindness. He defends it as a singular act is represented, by St. John, as speaking performed in peculiar circumstances, but for the rest ; but we have in this the key not so as to relax the obligation of the of his character, and of that act of trca- great duty of caring for the poor : for ye cherous folly and wickedness which he have the poor always with you ; but me ye was now meditating to commit. “ This have not always. “These words,” as Whithe said, not that he cared for the poor, by acutely remarks, "wholly destroy the but because he was a thief, and had the doctrine of transubstantiation,” and the bag, and bare what was put therein.” corporal presence of Christ in the sacraJudas fell therefore by the blinding and ment; for, in that case, indeed, Christ infatuating sin of covetousness, which led would be always with them, and they him first to fraud, then to treason. The might pay him marks of respect. disciples, in Mark, estimate the value at Verse 12. She did it for my burial.“three hundred pence,” or denarii, up- Not intentionally on the part of Mary; wards of nine pounds of our money. This but as the anointing was so profuse and is not incredible, although the vessel costly, it might well appear to be a funemight not be of large size; for a very small ral rite, in which great expense was phial of attar of roses is sold at Constan- allowed by custom in the case of distintinople for six pounds; and this "oil of guished persons. “And they buried him Gard,” if not the same, appears to have in his own sepulchres, which he had made been highly concentrated and equally pre- for himself in the city of David, and laid cious. See note on Mark xiv. 3.
him in the bed which was filled with Verse 10. Why trouble ye the woman ? sweet odours and divers kinds of spices she hath wrought a good work upon me.- prepared by the apothecaries' art; and
13 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.
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
e Mark xiv. 10; Luke xxii. 3.
they made a very great burning" of odori- living ministry was never intended to esferous substances “for him.” 2 Chron. clude the inspired writings. xvi. 14. So, also, in the case of our A memorial of her.—The meaning is, an Lord, “they returned, and prepared honourable memorial. It brings to mind spices and ointments, and rested the sah- the amiable and devout character of Mary, bath-day according to the commandment.” who sat at Jesus's eet, and beard his Luke xxiii. 56. Our Lord's death being words with an attention which absorbed so near, he speaks of it as already come : every other care; as one of a family spe“Let her alone : against the day of my cially honoured by our Saviour's friendburying hath she kept this,” John xii. 7 ; ship, and who, in this instance, from the thus representing the act of Mary as the fulness of her grateful love, paid him speembalming of a deceased friend, and jus- cial honour in acknowledgment of his tifying its profusion by their own customs. dignity as the true Messiah, and for the So affectingly present and certain was his spiritual benefits which she had received. approaching death to his mind, and with Hers was in truth an “everlasting deed,” such calm dignity and resignation did he bound up in the immortality and unadvert to it, although as he knew the time changing endurance of the imperishable so he knew all its circumstances of pain, record in which it is commemorated, not ignominy, and desertion !
for her sake only, but to show in how beFor my burial.—The word evtapıage nign and condescending a manner our includes all the rites and customs which blessed Lord accepts every thing which is usually preceded or attended the actual done from an affectionate regard to him burial, as washing, anointing, embalming, as our Teacher and Redeemer, and to bo. &c. St. Mark has it, “She hath done nour him in the presence of the world. what she could,” she hath in this act put The lovely picture of simple and elevated forth the utmost strength of her affection; piety in Mary stands for ever in the re“she is come aforehand to anoint my body cord, for the imitation of all. Docility, to the burying.”
attention, spirituality, and affection, are Verse 13. This gospel.-By the gospel its characteristics. our Lord doubtless means his doctrine or Verse 14. Then one of the twelve.—The religion; and when he declares that the adverb of time, tore, is of indefinite signihistory of this particular event should be fication. Here it is not certainly to be made known wherever that should be understood as indicating, that, immepreached, a tacit intimation is given that diately after the anointing of Jesus by a written record of his life, embracing Mary, the traitor departed upon his unthis incident, should also accompany it; holy errand; for we have seen that this for the memory of this transaction could account is introduced chiefly to afford a only thus be preserved. From this we may key to his character, and that it took conclude that it was always in his inten- place in fact some days before. The TOTE tion that a body of sacred scriptures rather connects what follows with verse 3, should accompany the oral proclamation where the chief priests, &c., are said to of his doctrine in every place; and that as have assembled in the palace of Caiaphas, the inspired writings were not designed to consult how they might hy stratagem to render preaching unnecessary, so the put Christ to death. To this assembly,
15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
it would seem, Judas went, and made the the Messiah he once believed him to be. offer of betraying his Master into their With all this there was the busy agency hands. That which rendered this over- of Satan. “ The unclean spirit had gone ture acceptable to them was, that by his out” of this man; but finding “the house means they would be able to discover his from which he had gone out swept and retirement, and so apprehend him whilst garnished” by this worldliness of temper, the people remained ignorant of it. Hence avarice of gain, and indulgence of a petty St. Mark observes, “they were glad, and dishonesty, he again entered, and his “last promised to give him money ;” and St. state became worse than the first.” Of the Luke,
that he sought opportunity to truth of this parable the wretched Judas betray him to them in the absence of the was an awful instance, and warns all against multitude.”
returning again to the dominion of any Verse 15. What will ye give me ? &c.— one guilty passion." Then entered Satan Everything here is in keeping with the into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of character of Judas. Avarice was his lead- the number of the twelve. And he went ing passion ; and he is anxious to make his way, and communed with the chief a good and secure bargain before he ven- priests and captains, how he might betray tures upon his villany. What will ye give him unto them,” Luke xxii. 3, 4. Several me? And however strange and inexplica- conjectures, as to the motive by which ble his conduct may at first sight appear, Judas was influenced, have been indulged the fact of his being under the dominion in by commentators; as, that he thought of this absorbing passion will sufficiently that Jesus would deliver himself by miraaccount for it. His state was probably cle, and so he should cheat the priests at first that of a sincere and teachable out of their money, and his Master susdisciple; or it is difficult to conceive that tain no injury; or that he might compel our Lord would have called him into the his blaster, by putting him into the hands number of his apostles. But his carrying of his enemies, to show forth his power the bag which contained the common and disclare himself a king. But the fair stock of money for themselves and the inference, from the account of the evanpoor, and which appears to have been gelists, is, that he entered upon an act of replenished from time to time by the offer- deliberate treachery towards Christ himings of a few more opulent disciples, who self, under the influence of his own covetministered to our Lord of their substance, ousness and the agency of Satan. became, it is likely, the first cause of his Thirty pieces of silver. These were fall. As he is called “ a thief,” he pro- shekels, of the value of about four drachbably began by applying part of this com- mas, or about two shillings and sixpence. mon stock to his own private use; and The whole sum would therefore be about his natural avarice being thus awakened three pounds fifteen shillings. Some mss. and fed, his heart became obdurate, his instead of
but the conscience seared, and his judgment value of the shekel and the stater was the blinded. The very circumstance of our same. Thirty pieces of silver, or shekels, Lord's declining to avail himself of so was the usual price of a slave. Hence it many favourable opportunities of declar- was enacted, Exodus xxi. 32, “If an ox ing himself a king, and turning the tide shall push a man-servant or maid-servant, of popular feeling in his favour, might he shall give unto their master thirty shealso operate upon his earthly and disap- kels of silver.” But as so small a sum pointed mind, and lead him greatly to appears to have been too inconsiderable doubt or utterly to disbelieve that he was to induce Judas to this act, and such as