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7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”



But Jesus said, “Let her alone;

Jesus defended Mary’s anointing Him with oil as a proper act. There is no attempt here by Jesus to explain the purpose of anointing as He did in the synoptic gospels. Mary may not have known that He was going to die shortly.

she has kept this for the day of My burial.

The Greek here is elliptical: “Leave her alone. [She has done this] in order to keep it for the day of my burial” (D.A. Carson). Mary did not do this for a prefiguring of Jesus’ burial, because no one knew before the cross that Jesus had to die. Her simple purpose was devotion.

Nard was often used for burial of dead bodies to cover the odor of death. Jesus anticipated the anointing by Mary as something He deemed for His burial. Mary gave her dowry for Jesus. It was an anointing proper for the Messiah. Her economic sacrifice indicated the level of her value of who Jesus was. Mary seized her opportunity to honor her Lord.

Mary owed her salvation and the resuscitation of her brother from the dead to Jesus. She might not have another opportunity to anoint Him, so she seized this occasion to do it at this time (Mt 26:12; Mr 14:8). Jesus’ actual burial was six days away at this point. He had predicted His approaching death several times, but the disciples never fully grasped it.


For the poor you have with you always,

Jesus did not endorse neglecting the poor by this statement. His point was that the poor were a constant issue, but His anointing was a special issue that people at the dinner needed to take into consideration. There would be many occasions to help the poor (Mark 14:7).

but Me you do not have always.”

Jesus indicated that He would die soon. He was not long for this earth. His death and burial should be their focus now. His presence on earth was something time limited and special (Jn 12:35; 13:33; 14:3-4).


We should seize occasions to worship the Lord.


We need to seize the opportunity to worship the Lord while we have it. There will always be those who resist anything that opposes the status quo. Jesus indicated that what Mary did in worship would stand as a memorial to her for years to come (Mt 26:13; Mr 14:9).

Christ’s coming to die was no accident. All three synoptic gospels and the gospel of John show clearly that Christ’s coming to earth was to die for the sins of man. It was planned from eternity. Mary’s preparation for Jesus’ burial shows this.