1 ¶ Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 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 odour of the ointment. 4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. 9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
At this supper to which Jesus was invited, Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead, sat next to Him. Mary poured a pound of expensive ointment on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. This act of devotion, only possible when Christ was physically on the earth, was referred to in chapter 11, verse 2.
Judas Iscariot pointed out that this ointment cost 300 pence. In Biblical terms that would be equal almost to a year’s wages as a penny is the standard set for a day’s wages. See Matthew 20. Translated originally from the word, denarius, using penny and pence is more understandable to us for the smallest unit of money than it would leaving denarius in the text.
Judas was not expressing concern for the poor but was upset because he was stealing from the bag of money. Notice that Jesus and His disciples were not collecting money to build a church gym or take the group on a cruise of the Greek islands. The money was for the poor. Of course, Judas’ statement is also the same excuse every theological liberal makes when he wants to avoid preaching the undiluted gospel to the world, as well.
Jesus makes a point that should be well-noted by interpreters of the Bible, by pastors and teachers. Verses 7 and 8 reveal to us that there were certain conditions that were only met by Jesus Christ actually being on the earth physically walking about. For instance, it was only possible to commit the unpardonable sin by attributing Jesus Christ’s work to an unclean spirit thus blaspheming the Holy Ghost, the third part of the three parts of God, while Jesus walked on the earth.
Mark 3:28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: 30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.
Jesus’ statement here in “The Gospel According to John” does not give Christians a pass when it comes to caring for the poor in the church so they can buy gospel tracts. If that were so there would be a contradiction with other verses in the New Testament about helping those in the church who were suffering. So, in the little time that God walked the earth His friends and disciples did well by acts of devotion to His person. In a brief time He would be physically gone from them. But, the risen Christ, through His words and the words of His ministers would never accept neglect of the poor in the church. As one example read Ephesians 4:28, Paul’s admonition to Gentile Christians.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Many of the Jews believed on Jesus because of Lazarus and they were fascinated to see the man who had been plucked out of the arms of death. Because of this the chief priests wanted to murder Lazarus because of the threat Lazarus’ new life represented much as a person in many a church today becoming born again is a threat to that church organization. Their sole concern was not truth but how Jesus’ very existence might threaten their power over the people. Like Judas they were really concerned about someone interfering with their scam, their con job. How evil the religious elite were. They were not to be trusted then and are not to be trusted now.