Matthew takes time in the Passion Week narrative to reflect on an earlier event. Jesus had stayed in Bethany on the way to Jerusalem, and celebrated dinner with a cleansed leper named Simon. During the dinner, Mary scandalizes the crowd by breaking a costly bottle of perfume over the Lord’s head and His feet, and then wiping them with her hair. Judas led the disciples in criticizing her until Jesus rebuked him, shutting him up.
Now, three days later, an angry and bitter Judas comes to the chief priests, offering to deliver Jesus to them, away from the crowds.
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Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11), causing many to believe in him. But this also provoked the anger and jealousy of the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were all united in their plans to kill him (John 11:53).
Jesus had retreated to the town of Ephraim (John 11:54) and stayed there until it was time to come for the Passover. Within a couple weeks of the Passover, He had traveled north from Ephraim through the middle of Samaria and Galilee (Luke 17:11), and joined the bands of Galilean pilgrims as they traveled to Jerusalem .
As the crowds neared Jerusalem on Friday, Jesus had split from the group and spent the Sabbath in the nearby town of Bethany. It was there in Bethany that Simon, a healed leper, had hosted a feast for Jesus and his disciples on…
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