John 12:1-11

Talks for Growing Christians

The Lord is Anointed by Mary of Bethany, A Great Act of Worship & The Great Hate of the Jewish Religious Leaders

John 12:1-11

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Lesson Number 55

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The human heart responds to the obvious work of the Lord in various ways: a) in worship, service and communion (the response of the believer) b) the selfish response of an unbeliever c) in the response of curiosity d) in the response of hate

Practical Application

  1. When was the last time you gave a year’s wages to the Lord?


  1. In Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9, parallel accounts, what other details do we learn about the supper celebration of John 12:2?
  2. What was usual about the anointing? What was unusual about the anointing?
  3. In what ways does the human heart respond to the obvious work of the Lord?
  4. From this portion of Scripture, how did specific people respond to the work of the Lord?


  1. This supper was held in the home of Simon the leper (probably one of the healed lepers, and likely a close relative of Martha and the others). It was during this supper that Mary took some very costly oil and anointed the Lord’s feet and head.
  2. Usually olive oil was used in anointing, and it was not an unusual custom in that dry and dusty climate. This was a very costly oil, worth a lifetime of savings. It was unusual that Mary used her hair to wipe Jesus’ feet. Normally, a woman in that day did not unbraid her hair in public.
  3. There is the response of a. worship, service and communion b. continued hardening of the heart of unbelief c. curiosity d. hate
  4. a. Mary, Martha and Lazarus responded in worship, service, and communion b. Judas responded selfishly as an unbeliever c. Others responded out of curiosity, and were more interested in seeing a miracle than in hearing the teaching of the Lord Himself d. Some wanted to put Jesus to death. The work of the Lord was so obvious that they wanted to destroy Him and His works.


  1. Review the various heart responses to the work of the Lord. Have you seen current examples of this?
  2. What is your heart response to the work of the Lord? Is it consistent?


  1. Mary’s act of worship involved giving a year’s wages. True worship involves sacrifice. What do your acts of worship cost you? Is your house filled with fragrance because of your outpouring love for the Lord?

Key Verses

  • “Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” John 12:3
  • “Judas Iscariot, who would betray Him, said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold… and given to the poor?’ This he said not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box…” John 12:4-6
  • “Many of the Jews came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.” John 12:9

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