Sunday, May 05, 2024

Sunday Scripture


Here's another in our ongoing series for Sunday Scripture!  You may recall me mentioning that back in 2018, I did a simple study from Rachel Wojo called Everything Beautiful.  You can read about the plan here if you are interested in it for yourself: Everything Beautiful Bible reading plan. My answers and input on this series are a combination of what I learned back then, and what I found in looking over the Scriptures now, six years later.  I'm going to attempt to SOAP the passages too, though some of them are longer. [Quick reminder that S stands for Scripture; O stands for observation; A stands for application, and P stands for prayer.]  The passage for this week is Matthew 26:6-13.

S= "Now, when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon, the leper,
"There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head, as He was eating.
"But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
"For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
"When Jesus understood it, He said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman?  For she hath wrought a good work upon Me.
"For ye have the poor always with you, but Me ye have not always.
"For in that she hath poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial.
"Verily I say unto you, Wherever 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."  (Matthew 26:6-13)

O= In the Scofield study Bible, C.I. Scofield titles this section "Jesus anointed for His burial by Mary of Bethany."  This incident is also recorded in Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:1-8.  

John 12:1-3 gives us a clearer picture of the scene:

"Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.
"There they made Him a supper, and Martha served; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.
"Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment."

Scofield writes of these verses: "As Martha served the Lord, and Lazarus had communion with Him, so Mary offered the worship of a grateful heart.  Others before Mary had come to the Lord's feet to have their need met; she came to give Him His due.  Although the two other evangelists, Matthew and Mark, record Mary's act, John alone gives her name."

I was curious about Simon the leper, so looked him up in a Bible dictionary.  Here's what I found:

"A former leper in whose house Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointed Jesus' feet [and head] with a precious ointment.  Martha and Lazarus were present when this happened, and Martha took an active part in serving the dinner.  This has led to speculation that Simon was a member of the family or at least was a very close friend." -- Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Cross-references for "leper"(v.6) -- "And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean."  (Matthew 8:2)

"And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."  (Luke 15:2)

A marginal note tells us that "a woman" (v.7) was Mary of Bethany.

Cross-reference for "ye have the poor always with you" (v.11) -- "For the poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor,  and to thy needy, in thy land."  (Deuteronomy 15:11)

Cross-references for "Me ye have not always" (v.11) -- "And He said unto them, Can ye make the sons of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?  But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days."  (Luke 5:34-35)

"Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more; but ye see Me.  Because I live, ye shall live also."  (John 14:19)

"I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father."  (John 16:28)

The phrase "for My burial" (v.12) literally means "to prepare Me for My burial".  

Cross-references for "burial" -- "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him."  (Mark 16:1)

"And there came also Nicodemus, who at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 
"Then took they [Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, referenced in v. 38] the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
"Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher, in which was never man yet laid.  There laid they Jesus ...".  (John 19:39-42)

Cross-references for "gospel" (v.13) -- "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people."  (Revelation 14:6)

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come."  (Matthew 24:14)

"The word 'gospel' means good news.  As used in the NT, the word deals with different aspects of divine revelation.  Absolutely essential to man's salvation is the Gospel of the grace of God.  This is the good news that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, that He was raised from the dead ... and that by Him all who believe are justified from all things." -- Scofield

A cross-reference for "memorial" (v.13) is Acts 10:4, where an angel tells Cornelius, "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God."

This leads us to Hebrews 6:10 -- "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shows toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." 

A = Warren Wiersbe notes in With the Word: "Life presents us with many opportunities; how we respond to them depends on what we love and what we look for in life.  Mary used the opportunity she had for expressing her devotion to Christ, but Judas used that same opportunity to criticize her.  Nothing given in love to Jesus is ever wasted.  Judas was the one who ended up wasting his life."

For this Scripture, there were a number of ways to apply it as prompted in the journal.  

"True beauty is often misunderstood." -- Rachel Wojo

The above quote from Rachel makes me think.  The beauty and symbolism of Mary's loving, heartfelt act was misunderstood by the disciples, who thought it was a waste of expensive ointment that could have been sold and the money distributed to the poor.  In the same way, I might think that a time of rest is a waste of time, when actually there is potential beauty in such a time.

The question was asked: Which of my own words have blocked the beauty of God's Word?

My response in 2018: Any of my words that involve doubt and discouragement.  This recovery time is very slow indeed.  I'm just trying to rest and see God's hand in it all.

Answering this same question in 2024:

 Any inaccurate words that cause me to doubt that God is in control or that He doesn't know what's happening in our lives and in our world.  He absolutely does.

This prompt was given, along with a list: Today I will keep my eyes open for God's beauty in one or more of these places.

These are the places I circled: The words I read; the places I go; the music I hear; the people I encounter; the air I breathe; the weather I experience; the rest I receive.

In 2024 I can note that for the music I hear, we recently sang in church the song "Abba, Father" -- a favorite of mine.  In this category I also heard a male cardinal singing at the bird feeder.

For the places I go, I mentioned a drive to a beautiful lake on a sunny spring day.  I also noticed my blue and yellow primroses blooming near the front walkway to our house.

For the rest I receive, I noted it was such a blessing how God provided rest after a tiring day of work.

A journaling prompt was this:List one or two ideas to remind myself to intentionally look for God's beauty throughout the day.

My response in 2018:  Looking out the windows -- it continues to snow.  Sort of annoying for mid-March, but undeniably beautiful.  Go out and walk on the porch; I've not done that for a couple of days.  Understand that a season of rest can be beautiful (like the earth and plants under this blanket of snow) -- preparing for a season of greater productivity.

For my response in 2024, I added:  Now, in late April, noticing spring bulbs, shrubs, and wildflowers beginning to bloom.  Listening to the songs of birds and seeing if I can identify each singer.

*I wanted to note also that the alabaster box and spikenard in the graphic at top are treasures of mine.  They were given to me by my dear friend Pam.  Such thoughtful and meaningful gifts, they have taken on new beauty and luster for me, as Pam was tragically murdered several years ago.*

P= "Lord, I thank You for giving us seasonal insights.  I'm thankful for rest, although sometimes (as in 2018) it may involve physical pain and discomfort.  Although that would not be the type of rest I would choose for myself, sometimes it is the sort of rest that I need. 

Thank You for reminding me that a rest may well be preparing me for a season of productivity.  I praise You for all You are doing, in Jesus' name , Amen."

And there is the Sunday Scripture for this week!  I'd love some more input on this series so far.  I hope more of you will share your thoughts with me!  


  1. I read through all of your notes and comments and was so touched by them, but especially the part about the beautiful "alabaster" box that you showed at the beginning of this post, and the fact that it was a gift to you from a friend named "Pam", which caught my attention since that is also my name, but then I went on to read that your dear friend had been tragically murdered at a time after she gave you that lovely gift. How very sad to have lost a dear friend so tragically, but then, how very wonderful that you have this precious gift from her and that you are using it in such a lovely way to remember her and carry on her name by sharing the significance of her gift with us. I love that you connected her gift with the story of Mary anointing Jesus with the precious ointment, etc. Such a beautiful story. May we always give of our very best gifts to the Lord, for His honor and glory. Nothing precious should be held back...He is worthy of our praise and our very best gifts. This was a very good post. I'm glad I took the time to come here and read it today. Blessings abound. Amen.

    1. Thank you, Pam! Yes, my friend Pam gave me those gifts as a special and very unexpected remembrance at Christmas one year. We used to draw names for a Sunday School gift exchange. She had not drawn my name, but as one of the ladies in the Sunday School class I taught, she wanted to give me something very special with a scriptural significance. She surely succeeded. She was an incredibly gracious and thoughtful person.

  2. Like Pamela, I loved the beautiful picture at the beginning of your post, but was so saddened to read of how it had become so precious to you through the loss of your friend who gave it to you so tragically! And what a reminder of how precious the gift of Mary was to Jesus, she really listened to Him, and understood what He was saying. You did a beautiful study on this passage! I also wanted to let you know that Cheryl, at Homespun Devotions is doing a giveaway for my new cookbook at her blog and it is open until tomorrow! Hopefully you can win a copy :) Many blessings to you dear friend!

    1. Oh, thank you, Marilyn, I was so encouraged by your comments. Sadly, I did not make it over to Cheryl's to enter the giveaway. We've been out of town and life is very busy at our volunteer jobs right now. But I will check out your cookbook on Amazon!


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