|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:1-11 Christ had formerly blamed Martha for being troubled with much serving. But she did not leave off serving, as some, who when found fault with for going too far in one way, peevishly run too far another way; she still served, but within hearing of Christ's gracious words. Mary gave a token of love to Christ, who had given real tokens of his love to her and her family. God's Anointed should be our Anointed. Has God poured on him the oil of gladness above his fellows, let us pour on him the ointment of our best affections. In Judas a foul sin is gilded over with a plausible pretence. We must not think that those do no acceptable service, who do it not in our way. The reigning love of money is heart-theft. The grace of Christ puts kind comments on pious words and actions, makes the best of what is amiss, and the most of what is good. Opportunities are to be improved; and those first and most vigorously, which are likely to be the shortest. To consult to hinder the further effect of the miracle, by putting Lazarus to death, is such wickedness, malice, and folly, as cannot be explained, except by the desperate enmity of the human heart against God. They resolved that the man should die whom the Lord had raised to life. The success of the gospel often makes wicked men so angry, that they speak and act as if they hoped to obtain a victory over the Almighty himself.
Verses 5, 6. - Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Sinful motive often hides itself under the mask of reverence for another virtue. In Mark's Gospel the same price was put upon the pound of pure nard as that which is mentioned here - about of our money. Christ had given emphatic advice about generosity to the poor, and even during this very week (John 13:29) it is clear that his words were not forgotten, and in his great discourse, probably also delivered during this same week, he identified himself with the poor (Matthew 25:35, etc.), and called for unreserved consideration of them; so that this language was not unnatural. The value of this ointment is another minute indication that there is no connection between the Lazarus of John and the Lazarus of the parable. But John adds that the utter lack of perception on Judas's part of Mary's self-devotion was prompted by the most unworthy motive. The suggestion of Judas is put down by the evangelist to the sheerest covetousness. During the interval that elapsed, Judas had revealed his character, and John did not hesitate to refer the suggestion to the traitor. Now this he said, not because he cared for the poor. He really cared nothing for the poor. He was ambitious, eager for the display of the Master's power, anxious for the rewards which might follow the Master's assumption of supreme authority, turning to his own account all that might happen. But because he was a thief, and having possession of the common purse (the word γλωσσόκομος, which occurs in the sense of a chest (2 Chronicles 24:8), has a curious etymology, which had passed out of recognition; from γλώσσα and κομέω comes γλωσσοκομεῖον, that in which month-pieces of flutes might be kept in safety, and subsequently a chest or box for the safe guardianship of other valuables), he was the bearer - perhaps, bore array (see John 20:15, and Josephus, ' Ant.,' 7:15. 3, for this use of βαστάζω), at all events had at his disposal - of the things which were cast, in generous profusion, into it. Thoma makes the astounding suggestion that "John" here covertly refers to Simon Magus of Acts 8:18, etc. The question is often asked - Why was Judas entrusted with the common purse? Was it not likely to aggravate a disposition to which he was prone? Did not Jesus know what was in man? and had he not discerned the propensity of Judas (see John 6:71)? In reply:
(1) The appointment may have been made by the apostles themselves.
(2) Our Lord may not have interfered with it, deeming confidence more likely to help him than distrust.
(3) It may also show how, if men will yield themselves to sin, God will not and does not promise them immunity from temptation, but sometimes even brings them into it.
(4) The purse might have been a preservative against the vile temptation to sell his Master, and a test and motive for self-con-quest.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence,.... Meaning Roman pence, one of which is, of the value of our money, seven pence halfpenny; so that three hundred pence amount to nine pounds seven shillings and six pence:
and given to the poor? this was his pretence, and with which he covered himself; his uneasiness was, because it was not sold, and the money put into his hands, as appears by what follows.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. three hundred pence—between nine and ten pounds sterling.
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