Q. Can you help me understand an apparent discrepancy in the four different accounts of when the Lord had dinner in the house of Simon the Pharisee? I’m not sure if the same event is being recorded all four times because in one case the woman washes the Lord’s feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair. In other accounts she pours the expensive ointment on his head.
A. Reading the four texts and comparing the details makes it clear that 2 different events are being described.
Matt 26:6-13 tells us Jesus was at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany. He was most likely the father of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. The same event was recorded in Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:1-8. From John 12:3 we learn the woman who anointed the Lord was Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus who were also there. She obviously anointed both His head and His feet. It was a few days before the crucifixion.
Luke 7:36-50 took place in the home of Simon the Pharisee, a different man. Some scholars believe the woman who anointed Him there was Mary Magdalene, although the text doesn’t make that clear. This was a different dinner with different guests that took place much earlier in the Lord’s ministry.