We are studying Matthew 26:1-13 for Sunday, April 14 – Palm Sunday, or Palm/Passion Sunday, which will lead us into the events of Holy Week. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions we might want to consider before or during class:
In vv1-2, Jesus reminds the disciples of the nearness of the Passover, and what that means for “the Son of Man.” [Jesus has mentioned this to the disciples before; see Matthew 16:21-23; 17:22-23; 20:17-18.] The ancient church seems to have understood Christ’s death and resurrection in light of the meaning of Passover. [See Exodus 12:1-17; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.]
How do we, ourselves, understand the relationship of the festival of Passover and Jesus’ crucifixion? Do we see any Passover symbols operating in this text? Which one(s)? How does that affect the way we read this text?
The disciples have had different reactions to Jesus’ announcements. In Matthew 16:21-23, Peter tells Jesus he shouldn’t talk that way; after his announcement in Matthew 20:17-18, James and John want to sit at his right and left hand in “the kingdom.” Here there’s no reaction from the disciples until v8.
Do we think the disciples understand the meaning of Jesus’ teaching about his death? Why do we think that? (e.g., Something in the text? What? Things we have heard in church? What? Other?)
How do we feel we, ourselves, compare to the disciples in this regard?
Matthew tells us that “a woman” anoints Jesus in v7. He does not give us the woman’s name. What effect does this have on the way we read this story? Why, do we think?
What might this woman symbolize? (e.g., wisdom; The Church; …) Do our thoughts about what the woman symbolizes affect the way read this story? How?
What are the important features of the anointing that we notice? (e.g., it happens at a meal; it involves treasure; it involves the senses) What do those things tell us about the meaning of the woman’s action?
Are those features involved in any of the things we do as Christians? Which ones? Do we see any similarities between things we do and the action of the anointing woman? Any differences? What are our thoughts about what we observe here?
How are the disciples and the anointing woman (v7) similar? How are they different?
In vv8-9, the disciples are angry about “the waste” involved in the woman’s action; they offer a choice between helping the poor and … whatever the woman’s action represents instead.
What are some things the woman’s action might represent? (e.g., “worship”; “luxury”; “beauty”; “personal connection”; etc.) What does it represent for us? Why, do we think?
Does this “argument” between the anointing woman and the disciples remind us of discussions that take place in our own church, or in “the church” today? Which discussions are those? Does this story give us any insight into the issues involved? How? Why?
What is “this good news” in v13? Is it the same as in Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7 – or does it seem to mean something different here? What? Why do we think this?