Hostility to Jesus had been mounting from the beginning of his ministry. The on-going conflict with the religious leaders leads to this point.
Jesus’ enemies, the chief priests and the elders, met in secret in the house of Caiaphas, the high priest, to make plans to kill Jesus.
Jerusalem was full of Jews who had travelled to celebrate Passover. The religious leaders didn’t want to arrest Jesus during Passover because they were afraid that the people might riot.
Jesus was in Bethany in the house of a cured leper, Simon. His disciples and some others were with him. While Jesus was eating, a woman arrived carrying an alabaster jar filled with very expensive perfume which she poured on Jesus’ head.
The disciples reacted angrily because of the cost of the perfume. They said, “This perfume could have been sold for a large amount and the money given to the poor.”
The woman was used to the criticism of others. Those present did not see the symbolism and importance of her actions. This anointing of Jesus was a symbol of his imminent death. The word Messiah means ‘anointed one’. It was common for the dead to be anointed before they were buried.
Jesus defended the woman’s actions by saying, “It is a fine and beautiful thing that she has done for me.” He was trying to explain to the disciples what was about to happen - his crucifixion.