Woman with perfume – what did Mary think?

Bible base:

Luke 7:36-50

Teaching objectives:

To show that the Bible says that Jesus does not judge by appearances but accepts anyone who genuinely comes to him because they love him.

You will need:

  • The following objects wrapped up separately to look like gifts:
  1. A bar of chocolate
  2. A large box with some rubbish in it
  3. A sweet
  • A piece of wrapping paper with a £5 note inside, scrunched up into a ball.
  • Two acetates or posters with the words, ‘What did Mary think?’ and ‘What do you think?’
  • Another large cardboard box covered in expensive-looking paper
  • A small matchbox with two pieces of paper inside saying: ‘Mary wept at Jesus’ feet’, ‘Mary poured perfume at Jesus’ feet’
  • The following phrases written on separate pieces of card: ‘Simon invited Jesus for dinner’, ‘Simon was religious’, ‘Simon did good things’, ‘Simon was well-liked’

Introductory activity:

Choose a volunteer to come to the front and show them the three parcels and the piece of wrapping paper. You may wish to say that they are presents left over from your birthday or from Christmas if doing the assembly in January.

Explain that they can have one of the four items. Allow them to pick them up and rattle or squeeze them, but not open them. As they are doing that, ask the rest of the assembly which one they would choose. Ask the volunteer for their decision.

When they have opened their chosen present, reveal the contents of the other three (if they have not picked the bar of chocolate, it might be nice to give it to them at the end to thank them for their help, if the head teacher agrees).

Most of us judged these presents by their appearance. Not many people would choose an old piece of paper instead of the big box or a bar of chocolate, but actually, it was not what it seemed on the outside. It was actually something special.

Today’s story in the Bible is about someone who did not seem very special, but who had something very special to offer to Jesus. In today’s story, Jesus met two people.

The first person he met was called Simon, and he was very rich and important.

Show the pupils the large expensive –looking box.

Let’s imagine that this box represents all the good things Simon has ever done. Clearly he was quite a good person!

Start to stick the cards about Simon on the box while you explain what sort of a person he was.

Simon was a religious man. He was a Pharisee, which meant that he was quite an important person. He had invited Jesus for dinner. He did good things and was well-liked by the people. Sounds like a pretty good guy!

However, while Jesus was at his house for dinner, someone else arrived. The Bible isn’t clear about what her name was, but some people think she was called Mary, so that’s what we will call her.

Show the matchbox to the assembly.

Let’s imagine that the matchbox represents all the good things Mary has done. It doesn’t look very impressive!

People described her as a ‘sinful woman’, meaning that she did a lot of things that were wrong.

She couldn’t offer Jesus a nice meal. People didn’t think she was a very nice person.

But Mary did offer Jesus something very special.

Open the matchbox. Take out and read the two pieces of paper inside (“Mary wept at Jesus’ feet’, ‘Mary poured perfume at Jesus’ feet’).

That sounds a bit strange to us, but in those days it would have been a sign of great respect and love, and would have been a welcome treat for hot, tired feet!

When Simon saw what was happening, he was very surprised. “If Jesus were really sent from God, he would know what sort of a woman this is and he wouldn’t let her touch him,” thought Simon.

Jesus, however, did not tell the woman to go away. It did not seem like she had much to offer, but Jesus did not just look on the outside. He was interested in what was really in a person’s heart. He knew that Mary was weeping and pouring perfume on his feet because she loved him. He showed that he loved her by accepting her gift.

Display the acetate or poster, ‘What did Mary think?’

Mary thought that Jesus was someone special, and although she didn’t have much to offer, she wanted Jesus to know she loved him.

Display the acetate or poster, ‘What do you think?’

What would have thought if you had been there? Would you have thought that what Mary did was strange?

Optional prayer time:

Give thanks that Jesus does not judge by appearances, but came to earth to show his love to all people.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *