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greatest possible benefits from him, both in respect of this life and of another; who acknowledged his authority from God, as Saviour of the world and a teacher sent by him; and, to show their respect, they had made a supper for him, and (probably) joined in the expense; inviting his twelve disciples, and other guests most likely, whom they might wish to give an opportunity of seeing, and hearing the conversation of so extraordinary a person, and receiving advantage from it; so that the company would be very numerous. And the presence of Lazarus, in particular, must affect them all with sacred awe, and fill them with reverence for him who had recently restored him alive from the

grave. Simon, at whose house they were, was a friend and neighbour, and is conjectured to have been a kinsman of Lazarus and his sisters. He is called Simon the leper ; not that he had now the leprosy upon him; for if so, according to the Jewish law, he must have lived by himself without the town, and apart from all society. But he had formerly been infected with this deplorable disorder, and in all probability healed of it by our Lord. This account is supported by the testimony of Je


rom, an ancient christian writer, who, in his commentary on this passage, says; “Not that Simon was at this time a leper : but having formerly had the leprosy, and been miraculously cured of it by our Saviour, he still went by the name, that the divine power of him that healed him might be more manifested.”

Martha, one of Lazarus's sisters, we are told, serv

erved, or waited on the guests; as Peter's wife's mother is recounted to have done, (Matth. viii. 15.) after he had cured her of a fever by a word's speaking. Women did not commonly sit with men at their feasts where the company was large, in those times and countries ; nor do they to this day. But they did not wait at table if there were servants; which may make it probable that the family of Lazarus and his sisters, and our Saviour's friends at Bethany, were not rich, though in decent circumstances and well respected ; as we find many of the Jews from Jerusalem coming to condole with the sisters when Lazarus was dead. (John xi.)

We now come to an incident of a singular kind that happened during the entertainment, on which account alone the sacred historians seem to have mentioned it, and which gave


occasion to the part in the conversation which our Lord took. The two other evangelists, Matthew and Mark, relate it, but the apostle John enters more particularly into it.

Ver. 3. “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped them with her hair : and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment."

It is well known, that in those hot climates anointing with oil was anciently much used for refreshment and health after being wearied.

It was customary also to pour perfumed oils on the heads of their guests whom they intended to honour most at great entertainments; and also, after washing, to anoint the feet.

Excepting, therefore, the article of putting herself to so great expense, there was nothing unusual or improper in Mary's showing her respect for our Lord in such a manner; and especially if he was the guest of one of her own relations, as is most likely.

It may not be passed by, that there is a narrative (Luke vii.) of another anointing of Christ at a feast to which he was invited, in token of great honour and respect for him; which some

have very erroneously taken to be the same with this, through want of attention to the very different circumstances of the two stories.

For that was at the house of Simon, a Pharisee in Galilee ; this, at the house of Simon the leper, in Bethany, a town near Jerusalem. And the woman who there anointed our Lord, is expressly named as one that had been a sinner, i. e. of a bad life, a prostitute, one of the lowest of human beings; but who, nevertheless, this heavenly teacher encouraged with an assurance of the pardon of her sins, upon the marks which he perceived of a true and genuine repentance in her.

But Mary, who here anointed him, with her brother Lazarus and sister Martha, are represented uniformly as persons of unblemished character and true piety; nay, were so eminent for it as to be distinguished as a family that Jesus (John xi. 5.) loved ; his particular friends, at whose house he was wont to lodge when he came into those

parts. But this he would not have done, if there had been such an unhappy blot as the want of virtue in

any of the family. For if so, what would not his malicious enemies have reported of him, when we find them so ready to cen


sure him for admitting occasionally into his company persons whose former life had been faulty, though he did it merely with a view to their reformation?

After Mary had paid this extraordinary testimony of respect to Christ, we are told; (Mark xiv. 4, 5.) “ 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 denarii, and have been given tothepoor. And they murmured against her.” The apostle. John says, that this was said only by Judas, who was prompted to it by avaricious motives, as he was the person intrusted with what little our Lord had to support himself and his disciples, and made a bad use of the trust reposed in him. But as Matthew

reprea sents the disciples in general as displeased with it, it is probable that Judas only distinguished himself more, and was more vehement in blaming what had been done, than the rest of them.

Candour requires us to put the most charitable construction upon every action of others, and to look not so much to the thing itself, as to the intention with which it is done. These


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