There is confusion about the story of the women who takes and expensive perfume and pours it over Jesus head and feet. The story is told in all the Gospels in such a way that it seems to be two different women and two different times. John says it happened 6 days before the Passover, and yet there is a tradition that maintains the event took place on the Wednesday after Palm Sunday. I am more interested in the tradition than the controversy so this Wednesday has been known as “Spy Thursday”. The idea is that the act so enraged Judas that he consented to spy on Jesus and find a good time to betray him to arrest.
The women in Matthew is unnamed. Whoever she was she gives us the juxtaposition of the disciple who had been with Jesus for three years and how they failed Him. Here is a women who does an act of costly devotion in recognition of the fact that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Messiah, and that He is on His way to die. She gets it in a moment of stupendous faith, (the perfume according to some was probably her life savings and might have been her dowry), and her profligate waste in the eyes of the disciples shows the depressing reality that after all the teaching and talk of His death in Jerusalem the disciples still don’t get it. It is not just Judas who utterly fails his Lord it is all the disciples. Matthew says they “troubled” the women. The word is interesting. Paul uses it for the mental fatigue and the physical beatings he took for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus asks these disciples why they are beating up on a women who is doing something beautiful and memorializing Him before His death and what she has done will be a memorial to her wherever the Gospel is preached.
Martin Franzmann has said that “the reckless splendor of this gift by one who acted so well though she knew so little was lost on men who knew so much and acted not at all”. *
“Follow Me. Discipleship According to Matthew” . Martin Franzmann CPH 1961