I originally wrote this little study yesterday for a pastor friend of mine, using the KJV.
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 sat at meat. 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, 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. Matthew 26:6-13
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. Mark 14:3-9
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. Luke 7:36-50
Then Jesus six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which 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 odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 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. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. John 12:1-8
Matthew, Mark, and John all record the story of this woman anointing Jesus at a house in Bethany, but while Matthew and Mark made very clear whose house it was ( 'the house of Simon the leper' ); John is not so clear, merely saying that He 'came to Bethany, where Lazarus was', which needn't imply that it was Lazarus' house, simply that this house was in Bethany, where Lazarus lived. Other than some easily noted similarities between these accounts and Luke's account; there does not seem to be much reason to think that the Gospel writers all wrote of the same woman.
Let's note a few of the similarities first; Matthew, Mark, and Luke all have the woman bringing an alabaster box of ointment. Matthew and Mark both said that it was 'very precious', but Luke simply recorded that she 'brought an alabaster box of ointment'. John tells us that this woman was Lazarus' sister Mary, and that she took a 'pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly'. Matthew and Mark record that this woman 'poured it on his head', but Luke wrote that she 'kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment' and John that Mary took the oil and 'anointed the feet of Jesus'. Luke was the only Gospel writer that said that the woman 'stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head', but John also reported that Mary 'wiped his feet with her hair'. As we noted before; Matthew and Mark both report that it was 'the house of Simon the leper', and while Luke implied ( strongly ) that it was Simon's house, he recorded that Simon was a Pharisee, rather than leper ( could a leper be a Pharisee? ( Leviticus 22:4, Numbers 5:2 ), and interestingly enough, John makes the notating that Judas Iscariot was the son of Simon. Are we to believe that this is just a coincidence? Matthew and Mark recorded the indignation of some of the disciples at this frivolous use ( as they observed ) of this expensive ointment, saying in Mark's account that it could have been sold for 'more than three hundred pence', with which John's basically agrees, except that he reports that Judas asked 'Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?' Luke's Gospel is silent as to anyone complaining about the waste, but when Jesus began His parable of the two debtors; He told Simon ( the leprous Pharisee? ) 'There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty'.
Interestingly enough; the context of Luke's account is the Pharisee's and lawyers rejection of the truth that Jesus brought ( v. 30 ), for which reason Jesus told them ( Simon in particular ), 'to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little' ( the Pharisees thought they were righteous, and owed little to God, and therefore rejected the Righteousness that Jesus brought ( 'I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'- Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17 ( Luke 5:32 ). I believe that too many similarities exist here for these accounts to be speaking of two different occurrences. In Matthew, Mark, and John; Jesus answers the disciple's complaint by telling them that she had done it to prepare His body for burial, that they had the poor with them always, to leave her alone, and in Matthew and Mark only, that this story would be told of her for a memorial. In Luke's Gospel, He simply forgave her sins when He saw her tears of repentance!
While the first three accounts do not give the woman a name, we can very easily guess that this woman was Mary of Bethany, the woman that John names in his account. Was the woman in Luke's story the same as in the other Gospels? Personally; I believe so, but from other stories that have Mary in them, it would seem not, but then Paul was a persecutor of the Church, a great sinner himself! Was Mary of Bethany this 'sinner' that Simon was all aghast about? Stranger things happened during the earthly ministry of Jesus!
In the love of Christ ( God ),