Conflict and Argument

Anointing at Bethany

Describe the story :-

·      Jesus was at the house of Simon the leper and this made Jesus ritually unclean as he was spending time with the ill people.

·      A woman broke a jar of very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head.

·      Some people became very angry and rebuked her. Jesus defended the woman’s generosity and her understanding (“She poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial”) that he would not always be on earth.

·      People could help the poor anytime (“You will always have poor people with you.”)

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Anointing at Bethany

Explain why the anointing at Bethany might have led to conflict.

·      Jesus was in a leper’s house and this made him unclean.

·      V.3: “A woman came with an alabaster jar full of expensive perfume.”

 - Followers of Jesus may wonder why the woman poured perfume on Jesus’ head and showing such closeness to Jesus.

 - No rabbi would allow this.

·      V.5: “Sold for more than 300 silver coins”

 - It seems that money is being wasted that could have been spent on helping the poor


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Anointing at Bethany

 - Jesus’ response is to dismiss their concern (“You will always have poor people with you.”) Jesus has so far taught that the poor should be helped, e.g. The Rich Young Man.

· V.8: “She poured perfume on my body to prepare it…for burial.”

 -  The story also includes a prediction of Jesus’ death. 

 - The smashing of the jar was part of the Jewish burial ritual.

 - Here Jesus again highlights that the authorities seek to kill him.

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Anointing at Bethany

Explain why the anointing at Bethany might have led to conflict :-

·      Jesus eats with outcasts and accepts woman at the table

 - Teaches Christians that they shouldn’t separate themselves from outcasts and emphasises community cohesion

·      V.6, 7: “She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me.”, “You will always have the poor…but you will not always have me.”

 -  Some see this as justifying ornate Churches that give glory to God as they house the Blessed Sacrament.

 -  Others might argue that the money should be spent on the poor, not Churches. What Jesus says only refer to this action.

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Anointing at Bethany

·      The preparation of Jesus’ body for burial fulfils the Jewish rituals which couldn’t happen after crucifixion.

 Jesus could prophecy his own death. This emphasises his identity as the Son of God and reassures Christians that his death is part of God’s plan

·      Importance of women – serve Jesus in a way the other disciples did not

 V.9: “What she had done will be told in memory of her.”

 “Wherever the Gospel is preached all over the world” àreminds Christians that they have a duty to preach the Gospel.

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Disagreements about the Law

How Disagreements about the Law led to conflict:  Ritual Cleanliness :- 

  •       They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their food with hands that were ritually unclean” In the minds of Pharisees – Jesus is disobeying the food laws – disrespectful to Jewish law and to God.
  •       “Why is it that your disciples do not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors?” The Jewish people went through extreme trials and hardships before they could receive the Commandments from God; and Jesus ignoring all this. The Jewish authorities think that this is very disrespectful to both them and God.
  •      "How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites.”  Jesus called the Jewish authorities hypocrites who pretended to be better than they really were – showing how they had taken the rules to the extreme and forgotten why they should follow God’s law.
  •       "These people, says God, honour me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me.”  Jesus quoted the OT prophet, to suggest that the Pharisees simply paid lip-service to God as they worshipped him only superficially.  This would have been particularly insulting to the Jews as the Pharisees were meant to be experts in the law and teach it to others.
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Disagreements about the Law

How Disagreements about the Law led to conflict: Corban

Jesus incurred the wrath of the Pharisees in this passage because:-

• “But you teach that if people have something they could use to help their father or mother, but say, "This is Corban' (which means, it belongs to God), 12 they are excused from helping their father or mother.” Pharisees putting their own tradition above the Law of Moses. Pharisees would think somebody very holy if they had given such a large amount of corban in the Temple that they had nothing left to help their parents out. But in fact, 10 Commandments states honour thy parents.

• Don't you understand? Nothing that goes into you from the outside can really make you unclean, 19 because it does not go into your heart but into your stomach and then goes on out of the body." Jesus challenged the kosher rules that tell Jews which foods can and can’t be eaten for religious reasons.

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