When hearing the story of Lazarus [El’azar in Hebrew] and his 2 sisters, Mary [Miryam in Hebrew] and Martha, I believe the 2 things that usually come to our minds is about his dying and being raised from the dead by JESUS/YAHSHUA and about how JESUS/YAHSHUA chided Martha concerning how she was spending her time vs her sister – by serving instead of being at HIS Feet.
The first part of the story is in Luke 10:38-42, where Martha welcomed JESUS/YAHSHUA into her home. This is where the verses go into the detail about Martha serving while her sister sat at JESUS’S/YAHSHUA’S Feet. The second part of the story is found in Yochanan/John 11:1-46. These are the verses that describe the time of Lazarus being ill and dying and JESUS/YAHSHUA coming to see Lazarus and raising him from the dead. Please see the link below to the study on this passage which contains something surprising. Martha was the one who had belief in HIM, Mary did not. In fact, Mary and the Yehudim/Jews around her who did not believe in JESUS/YAHSHUA actually caused HIM to feel troubled and angry!
The third part of the story is found in Yochanan/John 12:1-11, Mark 14:1-9, Mattityahu/Matthew 26:6-13, and Luke 7:36-50. They all go into the story about the woman who poured costly ointment of spikenard on JESUS/YAHSHUA which HE said was in preparation for HIS burial. This woman is Mary/Miryam, Martha and Lazarus’s/El’azar’s sister. We know this because of Yochanan/John 11:2.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
This Maryam was the one who had anointed the feet of Yeshua and wiped them with her hair, whose brother Lazar was sick. [The names here are Aramaic spellings, a sister language to Hebrew and the language JESUS/YAHSHUA spoke during HIS life in a body of flesh.]
When looking over all 4 accounts of the story and comparing and contrasting what is said, we find some interesting details.
John/Yochanan: Supper is before Passover in Bethany, Lazarus/Martha/Mary are mentioned by name, they made HIM a supper and Martha served, Mary took expensive nard – alabaster not mentioned – and put it on JESUS/YAHSHUA’S Feet and wiped it with her hair – no mention of Head, HE remarked about it being for HIS day of burial, Judas mentioned by name as one who complained, Mary is not mentioned as a sinner.
Mark: Supper is before Passover in Bethany, House of Simon the leper, Mary/Martha/Lazarus not mentioned by name, the woman took costly nard in alabaster and put it on HIS Head – no mention of HIS Feet, it being for HIS burial mentioned, some complained but no names mentioned, JESUS/YAHSHUA said that what she did would be told in the Gospels world wide in memory of her, no mention of her being a sinner.
Matthew/Mattityahu: Supper is before Passover in Bethany [from verse 2], House of Simon the leper, Mary/Martha/Lazarus not mentioned by name, the woman took expensive ointment in alabaster [nard not mentioned] and put on HIS Head – no mention of HIS Feet, said disciples indignant but no names mentioned, said for HIS burial, said that what she did would be told in the Gospels world wide in memory of her, no mention of her being a sinner.
Luke: Supper at Simon the Pharisee’s House, no mention of Passover or of Bethany, no mention of Mary/Martha/Lazarus by name, the woman took ointment [nard not mentioned nor it being expensive] in alabaster and put it on HIS Feet and wiped it with her hair – no mention of HIS Head, no mention of people indignant over the money wasted, no mention of it being for JESUS/YAHSHUA’S burial, woman is mentioned as a sinner and told that her faith had saved her.
Reviewing the above, I believe that enough information is consistent to show that the same supper is being talked about. While it is not impossible for there to have been 2 different suppers with similar events [like the sermons HE gave and then multiplied bread and fish for differing numbers of people to eat with different amounts leftover], I still believe it unlikely that at 2 suppers by a man named Simon, a woman poured ointment from an alabaster container on JESUS/YAHSHUA’S Feet and wiped them with her hair [looking at the similar events that took place]. The story in Luke is the most different while the other 3 have more in common. While Luke does not give a time or place for where the supper is located, where it is placed among other stories in Luke gives the impression that it is not near Passover and JESUS/YAHSHUA’S death while the other 3 place it right before Passover and HIS death. Luke places it earlier with other stories after it that are prior to the supper in other Gospels. For example the woman with the issue of blood comes after the supper in Luke but she is spoken of before the supper in Matthew and Mark and not mentioned in John. I have not examined the story lines of all the Gospels to see if accounts of the same events in each are placed in order or out of order so I will have to examine that. Keeping things in order of timing might not have been important to all or some of the writers or if they did not witness the events, they might not know the proper time of each and the one who told them might not have given that detail. In fact, the whole Bible is not all in date order but Bibles have been written that put the books/verses of it in numerical sequence by date.
Going by the belief that the same event is spoken of in all 4 accounts, it is interesting to note that Martha was married to a Pharisee and leper named Simon. We know this because the account from John mentioned “they made him a supper” and that Martha was mentioned as serving. Martha had welcomed JESUS/YAHSHUA into her house in Bethany before, when Mary was at HIS Feet. Mark/Matthew/Luke all say that the house was Simon the leper’s or Simon the Pharisee’s. So we now know who Martha was married to. While Mark and Matthew mention the ointment poured over the Head and do not mention the Feet and Luke and John mention the Feet but not the Head, I believe they both happened at the same event. The writer could be giving details that either he felt was most important or chose for a particular reason or remembered differently then what others remembered. Upset about the waste of an expensive ointment is not mentioned in Luke but it is mentioned in the other 3.
I believe that Mary being the sinner spoken of in Luke fits because of the other 2 parts of the story. While she did sit at JESUS/YAHSHUA’S Feet at the first supper at Martha’s, we also know from when her brother died that she, not Martha, did not believe in JESUS/YAHSHUA yet because of what she said to HIM vs what her sister said to HIM. This fits with what JESUS/YAHSHUA told the sinning woman of Luke, that her faith had saved her, and for her to go in peace. Mary finally had faith in HIM and it took the miracle of her brother being raised from the dead for her to believe this. Being at HIS Feet listening was not enough for her to have faith in HIM but hearing HIM was enough for Martha to believe. Mary obviously felt so bad about this that she bought the expensive ointment [did she spend all her money to do this?] to anoint HIM with and when anointing HIM, she broke down crying. She wept and kissed HIS Feet to try and make up for what she did to HIM, the sin of not believing in HIM which caused HIM to groan and weep.
It is also interesting to note that only in Luke is the woman with the ointment referred to as a sinner and that the other 3 do not mention this. Why is this? Because they did not want to list that about her but Luke was ok doing so? Did they just wanted to focus on the good she did for JESUS/YAHSHUA? Look at the details Luke gave that the other 3 do not mention, about Simon and his thoughts and JESUS’S/YAHSHUA’S reaction. Simon, while thinking about JESUS/YAHSHUA maybe not being a prophet because of the woman sinner touching HIM but not saying anything about it, got to listen to a parable from JESUS/YAHSHUA about love and forgiveness because HE knew what was in Simon’s heart and thoughts without Simon having to say anything. Note that Simon also got to listen to an account of his shortcomings as a host while his GUEST listed all the pleasing things this very sinful woman did for HIM. What Simon was thinking about fits in with his being a Pharisee. JESUS/YAHSHUA showed him that what mattered was not the number of sins but the depth of repentance and love shown [wanting to get right and make up for what they did] when they realized their sins. The depth of love shown by the person is how much forgiveness they were given by GOD/ELOHIM. This fits with the Biblical commands of, “do unto others as you would have done to you” and “unless we forgive GOD does not forgive us”. Perhaps the “he who is forgiven little, loves little” was a reference to Simon.
Another item of interest, note how it is mentioned in some of the Gospels that JESUS/YAHSHUA loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus but Simon is not mentioned. The references to love and forgiveness in Luke may explain why Simon was not loved like the others. If Simon looked on his sister-in-law as a big sinner and looked down on her because of this, I wonder if some of the tension between Martha and Mary could have been because of Simon. Martha would also have to have the mental and emotional ability to deal with a Pharisee husband and one who was or had been a leper, too. What a combination, a Pharisee and a leper and he called his sister-in-law a sinner! Perhaps he was one of the lepers JESUS/YAHSHUA healed. Note also that Martha is more practical and less emotional while her sister is more emotional and, perhaps, less practical.
One last comment. In the Song of Solomon 1:12, we find:
12While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance.
Is this prophecy or did reading the Song of Solomon give Mary an idea? Remember that they reclined on couches while eating. There are other lines in the Song of Solomon that ended up being fulfilled in Scripture. More in another study. Shalom!