What is the point of the Anointing at Bethany?
What is the significance of this nameless lady anointing Jesus in Mark 14:1-8?Even if it is not uncommon for a lady to present an oil to a distinguished visitor, this is an excessive gesture on her behalf.The oil has been described as a ″alabaster flask of scent.″ According to the version of the narrative found in John 12, the scented oil might have been sold for 300 denarii, which is about equivalent to a year’s income.According to Pliny the Elder, the greatest fragrances were contained in alabaster flasks, the necks of which were cracked to allow the scent to be released into the atmosphere.Nothing could be held back, and the entire amount of oil was used to anoint Christ.Alternatively, it might just be an honor bestowed upon a particular guest during a pre-Passover event.
- However, it is possible that the relationship with Passover has more to do with the symbolic of a sacrificial lamb during the holiday.
- Numerous animal sacrifices in the Hebrew Bible are accompanied with oil (e.g., daily offerings in Exodus 29:38–42; the guilt offering in Leviticus 14:12–13).
- This is especially true for the guilt offering.
- This anointing, on the other hand, may be a prelude to the arrival of Jesus as king.
When kings first assumed their positions, they were anointed.One especially significant occurrence is seen in 1 Chronicles 29:22, when Solomon is anointed as ″prince of the people″ by Zadok, the high priest, following his accession to the position.As a king, Jesus will be insulted and even crowned with thorns, as recorded in Mark 15:2-12, and will be dressed in a regal garment (Mark 15:16-20).The allegations against Jesus on the crucifixion would refer to him as the ″King of the Jews″ (Mark 15:26).
At the end of the day, this anointing foreshadows Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.According to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 26:12, the deed has a specific goal, however the aim of the action is left more ambiguous in the Gospel of Mark.However, in Luke’s account, the narrative has nothing to do with Jesus’ death and burial.This activity foreshadows the actions of the women who visit Jesus’ tomb in Mark 16:1 and anoint his corpse, as spices and oils (including myrrh) were used to adorn the bodies of the dead at that time.
- In the gospels of Mark and Matthew, a disciple criticizes the woman’s charity, claiming that the perfume should have been sold and the proceeds given to the needy instead.
- While Judas is the disciple who raises his voice against the practice in John 12, he also exemplifies the general practice of almsgiving at feasts and festivals.
- For example, the virtuous Tobit is described in the intertestamental book Tobit as risking his life to bury the dead at the festival of Pentecost.
- In Sirach and other Second Temple literature, almsgiving is commended as a noble act.
- It is true that a lavish donation such as this might have raised enough money to provide care for a large number of needy individuals.
The fact that the bottle cost a year’s income is significant—this is more than a token gesture in Jesus’ honor!Instead of spending money on a costly, non-essential item such as a bottle of perfume, the money would be better spent on ministry!What exactly is the problem with this objection?I do not believe that the objection itself is incorrect, despite the fact that Judas’ motivation was erroneous.At the time of the Passover, Judas appears to symbolize the thinking of a good Jewish person who wishes to honor God by making good use of whatever money that the perfume could bring him.
Mark 14:3-9 – The Anointing at Bethany
In Mark 14:3-9, a lady anoints Jesus at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany, and the incident is recorded.Because the account is prefaced by Judas’ treachery, it seems probable that Mark is attempting to draw a contrast between the woman’s faith and Judas’ conduct.Source crucial concerns arise in this passage because it is a tale that is very similar to those in Luke 7:36-50 and John 12:1-8, to the point that the stories are sometimes considered to be reflections of a single event.There are some parallels in the names of the hosts in both stories.However, there are some significant variances.Unlike Simon in Luke’s gospel, who is a Pharisee in Galilee, Simon here is a leper in Bethany, a Jerusalem suburb.
- The lady’s name is unclear in both Mark and Luke, but she is referred to as a wicked woman in Luke, although there is no such suggestion in Mark’s account.
- Additional challenges to the anointing came from Simon the Pharisee in Luke, who questioned whether Jesus could be a prophet and so called the anointing into doubt.
- While the opposition to the anointing comes from ″someone,″ the complaint comes from one of Jesus’ followers, Matthew, and Judas in John 12.
- Judas planned to sell the perfume so that he could take from the proceeds.
According to me, we have two tales that are comparable yet unique.It is possible that this woman’s anointing had nothing to do with the upcoming Passover (maybe it was based on Psalm 23:5, 141:5), but it is possible that her anointing had anything to do with it.If Jesus is ready to begin his messianic function (the word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word meaning ″anointed one,″) the anointing might be a sign that this is the case.On the other hand, it is likely that the anointing has more to do with Jesus’ death and burial than with anything else.
Jesus is anointed before his burial in this part because, in Mark 16, his body is buried without the proper anointing of the body (Evans, Mark 8:27-16:20, 359).The alabaster vial of perfume is perhaps the most striking resemblance between the account in Luke and the story in Mark.According to Pliny the Elder, the greatest fragrances were contained in alabaster flasks, the necks of which were cracked to allow the scent to be released into the atmosphere.Everything was utilized to anoint Jesus, with nothing being kept back.
- This is an expensive gesture, given the high cost of the perfume and the fact that it was utilized solely on the Lord.
- According to the disciple who opposed, the money may have been used to help the impoverished instead.
- It is customary for Jews to donate to the less fortunate on the holiday of Passover.
- When Jesus says, ″You will always have the poor…″, his words are harsh: However, while there may be a reference to Deuteronomy 15:11, the crucial point to remember is that Jesus is foretelling his own demise and informing his followers that they have only a short period of time left to serve their master before he is murdered.
- One striking aspect of their behavior is that when the time comes for them to serve (in the Garden, during the trials), they are either falling asleep or escaping from the temple guards.
While they will have many more years to devote to the destitute, their time dedicated to their Lord is coming to an end quickly.That Jesus refers to this act of devotion as a ″lovely thing″ is something I find particularly moving.It is only through her selfless act of sacrifice that the Anointed one really obtains anointing in the book of Mark.But what is the objective of Mark include this incident in his Gospel at this particular point in time?Obviously, there are some foreshadowings of Jesus’ suffering in the next chapters, but are there any additional implications of this woman’s conduct that justify the great praise Jesus offers her?
What is the significance of Jesus being anointed by a woman with expensive perfume?
Answer to the question All four gospels have a description of Jesus being anointed by a woman with an expensive jar of perfume (Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–50; John 12:1–8), which is consistent with the tradition.While Matthew and Mark both recount the same story, they do not identify the lady; Luke recounts a different woman, who is likewise unnamed, on a separate occasion; and John, in yet another instance, identifies the woman as Mary of Bethany (John 11:2), the sister of Martha and Lazarus.In order to comprehend the significance of Jesus being anointed on these three times, we will examine each tale independently and then compare and contrast them at the end.″Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at the table,″ Matthew 26:6–7 narrates the anointing of Jesus in the town of Bethany at Simon the leper’s home two days before the Passover holiday.As a teaching lesson for the disciples, Matthew emphasizes the anointing of Jesus, which causes them to get enraged as a result of the woman’s extravagant wastefulness.In response to this, Christ defends her by declaring, ″She has done something lovely in my eyes″ (Matthew 26:10).
- During the anointing, Christ reveals that it is to prepare His corpse for burial and that the woman’s gesture of love would be remembered eternally everywhere the good news is broadcast across the world.
- An unknown lady with an alabaster box interrupts a lunch in Simon the leper’s home to anoint the head of Jesus with costly perfume, according to Mark, who tells a version of the same incident in identical words.
- As they have done in the past, the woman’s detractors accuse her of giving an exorbitant present, claiming that it could have been sold for more than a year’s pay (Mark 14:5).
- However, Jesus views the woman’s gift as a selfless gesture of love and devotion, and as such, it is a fitting way to commemorate the Messiah.
Jesus informs them that He will not be among them for a lengthy period of time, an allusion to His coming death and interment.Both Matthew’s and Mark’s versions place emphasis on the prophetic importance of Jesus’ anointing, referring to His death and burial as a result of the event.There may also be an inference of Jesus’ monarchy, because the anointing of the head was frequently related with the consecration of kings in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 9:15–10:1; 16:12–13; 1 Kings 1:38–40; 1 Kings 1:38–40).As a result, Jesus uses the occasion of being anointed to relate a parable on forgiveness (Luke 7:39–50), which is close to but not the same as the one recorded by Matthew.
Anoint Jesus’ feet with a sinful woman’s love and gratitude while she dines in the home of Simon the Pharisee, who had arrogantly omitted to give the traditional respect and hospitality to his visitor.When Jesus is anointed with a costly perfume during a banquet in Bethany, according to John’s gospel, it is Lazarus’ sister Mary who does the honors.The tale is identical to those told in the other gospels, with the exception that this anointing takes place six days before Passover and that Judas is identified as the disciple who complains to the ″wasted″ oil.Then ″Mary grabbed a twelve-ounce vial of costly perfume made from nard essential oil and anointed Jesus’ feet with it, washing his feet with her hair″ as she did on this particular occasion (John 12:3, NLT).
- When Judas criticizes Mary, Jesus responds by emphasizing the unique chance that Mary had: ″You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me″ (Matthew 25:34-35).
- (John 12:8).
- It is Mary’s anointing that once again draws attention to Christ’s identification as Messiah-King, but it also draws attention to His lowly position as Servant-King.
- During the anointing and wiping away of Jesus’ feet by his mother Mary, she is foreshadowing Jesus’ activities at the future Last Supper, when the Lord washes the disciples’ feet and teaches them how to love one another through selfless, humble service (John 13:1–20).
- In each of the accounts, a woman performs an elaborate act of devotion by pouring forth a rare and expensive perfume.
Because they realized Christ’s unrivaled worth, the three ladies who anointed Jesus were able to show their thankfulness to him with unreserved love and devotion.Two anointings of Jesus take place during the week of Passover, both of which are connected to His impending death and burial on the cross.The earlier anointing, according to Luke’s narrative, occurs in the midst of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and draws a different lesson on forgiveness and love from the experience of Jesus.In each instance, the woman’s behaviors communicate more than she is aware of.Even though she did not completely know the messianic significance of her anointing, each lady had learned to value Christ’s worth more than anybody else at the table, despite her lack of understanding.Jesus Christ is God’s appointed Messiah, and he is the Son of God.
The term Messiah literally translates as ″anointed one,″ and it stems straight from the Hebrew word for ″anointed″ (meshiach).Christ is derived from the Greek word Christos, which means ″anointed one″ as well.As a result, Christ is the Greek counterpart of the term Messiah.
When Jesus is baptized and receives the Holy Spirit, he is ″anointed″ by God in preparation for the job that he will do throughout his life (Luke 3:22; cf.Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18).During His mission as the Savior and King of heaven, Jesus is anointed with fragrant ointment on three consecutive occasions, as He prepares to die in order to redeem His people.
- Return to the previous page: Questions regarding Jesus Christ In what way does Jesus being anointed by a lady with costly perfume signify anything?
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Jesus Anointed at Bethany (Mark 14:3-9) Analysis
3 And when he was in Bethany, at the house of Simon the leper, he was eating dinner when a lady approached him, carrying an alabaster box containing a costly ointment of spikenard; she broke the box open and poured the ointment on his head.Moreover, there were those who were enraged and said, ″Why was such a waste of ointment created?″ 5 After all, it could have been sold for more than three hundred pence and the proceeds distributed to the less fortunate.They also made disparaging remarks about her.6 And Jesus answered to them, ″Leave her alone; why are you bothering her?″ She has done me a favor by doing this for me.Seventh, ye always have the poor with you, and you may do good to them whenever you choose; but ye do not always have me with you.8 She has done what she could: she has arrived ahead of time to anoint my body before it is laid to rest.
- 9 I swear unto you that wherever this gospel is taught throughout the entire globe, this also will be mentioned as a memorial to her in the same way.
Jesus, the Anointed One
It is one of the most fascinating chapters in Mark’s passion tale to see Jesus being anointed with oil by an anonymous woman.What motivates her to go through with it?What do Jesus’ words on the poor and needy reveal about his final thoughts for them?Other gospels claim that this woman is Mary, Simon’s sister, but the identity of this woman is uncertain (which would make sense, if they were in his house).What was the source of the priceless oil she was given, and what was the original plan for it?Jesus’ anointing is accomplished in line with the traditional anointing of kings, which is acceptable if one thinks that Jesus was the king of the Jews, as is often believed.
- Jesus entered Jerusalem in regal splendor, and he would later be insulted as a king in the days leading up to his death.
- Although Jesus himself offers an alternate reading at the conclusion of the chapter, when he notices that Mary is anointing his corpse before ″the burying,″ he does not elaborate more.
- At the very least, this would have been seen as a prediction of Jesus’ execution by Mark’s audience.
- Researchers believe the worth of this oil, 300 denarii, was comparable to the amount earned by a well-paid laborer over the course of a year’s work in the Roman Empire.
When it appears that Jesus’ followers (were they just the apostles present, or were there others?) have learned their lessons about the poor, they complain bitterly that the oil has been wasted when it could have been sold and the proceeds used to help those in need.This appears to be a reference to the widow from the end of chapter 12 who appears to have donated the last of her own funds to the Temple.But what these people don’t know is that it isn’t about the poor at all; rather, it is all about Jesus: he is at the center of all attention, is the main attraction, and is the entire reason they are there.If it’s all about Jesus, then spending money on something that would normally be considered frivolous is not out of line.
This is in stark contrast to the attitude demonstrated toward the impoverished, which has been exploited by numerous Christian leaders to explain their own horrible actions.Granted, it is certainly impossible to totally eradicate poverty from society; yet, what kind of justification is there for treating the poor in such a purely utilitarian manner?While it is true that Jesus only expects to be on the earth for a limited amount of time, what justification is there for refusing to assist needy people whose lives are wretched due to no fault of their own?
The Women Who Anointed Jesus
The title ″the ladies″ (plural) refers to the four different ways in which the four gospels describe the account of Jesus’ anointing of the apostles. Let’s take a look at each of the four stories.
The gospel of John
- Living in the Story, which is included in this week’s readings, focuses on John’s method of recounting the story in chapter 12: Mary of Bethany is the lady in question, and she is the sister of Martha and Lazarus.
- Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with fine nard, ″a costly perfume,″ and then cleaned them with her hair, a provocatively personal deed.
- The anointing acted as a catalyst for Judas’ treachery, propelling the story forward to that point.
- According to John’s narrative, the story is set immediately after the death of Lazarus, which is described in chapter 11. Included in his account is Jesus’ interaction with this same Mary, as well as her sister Martha’s powerful statement of resurrection faith.
- Because the tale takes place right before Jesus’ crucifixion, John’s Jesus specifically states that the anointing has something to do with ″the day of his burial.″
- The narrative continues with the following strange tidbit of information:
…the chief priests also intended to put Lazarus to death, because it was because of him that many Jews were deserting and coming to believe in Jesus, according to the Scriptures.
The gospel of Luke
- There is another narrative about Mary and Martha that Luke gives us, but it is not a story about anointing. Take, for example, Luke 10:38-42, where Jesus gently chastised Martha for her ″worries and diversions,″ while the master complimented Mary for ″sitting at his feet and listening,″ and promised them that such a decision ″will not be taken away from her.″ However, when Luke narrates the narrative of Jesus’ anointing, he makes no mention of Mary of Bethany or her role in the event. Instead, this woman is a sinner who has broken into the home of Simon the Pharisee to seek refuge. It is not clear where the narrative takes place, however it does not appear to take place in Bethany.
- The nameless lady brought an alabaster container of ointment, which she mixed with the anointing of her own tears before bringing it to the altar.
- In the same way as John did, she dried his feet with her hair, but she also kissed Jesus’ feet, making her account much more personal than John’s.
- By the way, Luke gives us a glimpse inside Simon’s thoughts: ″If this guy were to be a prophet, he would know what type of woman she is — a sinner.″
- In response to the occurrence, a parable about a creditor who forgives his debts is triggered. ″So, who do you think would be more in love? What is more important: being forgiven a huge debt or being forgiven a minor debt?″
- Like many parables, the answer raises further questions: is it the mourning widow or the judgemental guy in this narrative who owes the ″larger debt″?
- who is the ″bigger debtor″ in this story?
- After the lady has confessed her sins, Jesus speaks words of forgiveness and blessing to her: ″Your sins are forgiven.″ Your faith has saved you
- you may now depart in peace.″
- In contrast to the other three gospels, Luke situates the event early in Jesus’ career on the earth. His depiction of additional female companions who accompanied Jesus and provided for him as he traveled and taught follows immediately after.
The gospel of Mark
- In Mark’s tale, an anonymous lady came to Simon’s house to anoint Jesus’ feet, but in this version, Simon is referred to as ″the leper.″ Taking place in Bethany, at the conclusion of Jesus’ mission, the story begins with a lady bringing ″an alabaster jar of extremely expensive ointment of nard.″
- It is the lady who anoints Jesus’ head in Mark’s account
- however, Mark does not refer to her as ″a sinner.″
- Mark does not specifically identify Judas as the one who was enraged, but rather ″those who were there″ were the ones who expressed displeasure with the action’s wastefulness.
- Jesus makes a direct connection between her anointing and his own burial.
- And then there are these well-known grace words from Jesus:
Truly, I tell you, wherever the good news is spread across the world, the story of what she has accomplished will be shared in her honor.
The gospel of Matthew
- When a lady from Bethany comes to the house of Simon the leper, the Gospel of Matthew follows Mark’s account pretty closely: ″She presented him with an alabaster jar containing a very expensive ointment,″ she says.
- When the lady anointed Jesus’ head, the ones who complained ″the waste″ were really Jesus’ own followers
- Jesus rebuked them, saying, ″Why are you bothering the woman?″ The assistance she has provided me has been excellent.″
- This anointing was connected to Jesus’ burial
- the blessing was repeated in the Gospel of Matthew: ″wherever the good news is broadcast throughout the entire globe, what she has done will be remembered in remembrance of her.″
- Following Mark’s example, Matthew immediately transitioned into the tale of Judas’ intention to betray Jesus.
As we read through the Bible as part of our Living in the Story initiative, we frequently notice these types of contrasts.
Different versions of the same story are not to be taken as contradictions.
They are also not illustrations of distinct geographical perspectives.(This is the story of the famous four persons who stood on four corners and described the same accident.) For example, the well-known blind guys who describe the elephant from various angles (truck, tail, legs, and so on).Each of the four gospels reveals theological disagreements and a wide range of interpretations supplied by knowledgeable, serious scholars of Scripture who are contemplating the timeless mystery of the birth of Christ.Theological viewpoints such as these are comparable to the experience of the Church in our own day.As an example, have a look at the theological and Christological differences that exist between Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox; Southern and American Baptists; United Methodists and Pentecostals.This is a broad range that is totally comprehensible.)
One More Thing
It seems to me that some Christians claim that our society’s acceptance of poverty and homelessness is justified by referencing Jesus’ comments from this short story: ″You always have the poor with you…″ 12:8 (John 12:8 NASB) (also Mark 14:7 and Matthew 26:11) They see these comments as an endorsement of the current state of poverty.They claim that poverty is unavoidable, that it is a natural element of the world’s structure, and that it is an insurmountable reality.Some even argue that Jesus’ comments demonstrate that poverty is God’s will since he said it is.
It’s a bizarre perspective.
Part of this view is derived from a long-standing tradition that has its roots in a warped prosperity gospel, which is discussed more below.According to this line of thinking, ″God helps those who assist themselves,″ and a person’s poverty merely ″proves″ that they are lazy and have a lack of will strength and character.In American Christianity, the argument is frequently made that charity is the obligation of the Church and of individuals, rather than the responsibility of the state or the government.However, this approach ignores the cultural structures and governmental policies that are often responsible for the creation and perpetuation of poverty.This approach emphasizes the importance of individuals while downplaying the importance of group power and accountability.We have done significant harm to the real message of the Bible because we have read the Bible from the standpoint of community rather than from the perspective of individual rights and privileges as we have done in the contemporary day.
These women in our story are poor and yet their gift to Jesus is an opulent gesture.
- Traditionally, it has been characterized as ″wasteful,″ ″frivolous,″ and ″senseless.″ However, in God’s economy, abundant astonishing grace is never a waste of time or resources. It is with wild abandon that the ladies pour out their anointing. They sanctify the moment with their generous love. They worship Jesus with their extravagant display of generosity.
- It is the act of giving that brings about grace. It is to the act of giving that we have been called. We have no influence over how the donation is accepted.
- We have no way of knowing how the donation will be used.
- We must not make the assumption that someone is deserving of our consideration.
We are just obligated to contribute.To show grace in abundance is to be generous.In the same way as God does.It is God who causes his sun to rise in both places: on the bad and on the good, and on the righteous and on the unjust.5:45 (Matthew 5:45) In this manner, our contributions to God – and now to others in Christ’s name – should mirror something of God’s own rich and luxurious method of gift-giving.Indeed, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of them, you have now done the same thing to me as well.
- Matthew 25:40 (KJV) Week 32’s readings from Living in the Story are now available.
- 1 Kings 1-11; 2 Chronicles 1-9; 3 Kings 1-11 Scripture: Psalm 1; Psalm 48; Psalm 49 1 Timothy 12:1 John 12:1 Charlotte currently resides in Paris, Texas, where she blogs.
- It was while working on her PhD degree at Brite Divinity School in Ft.
- Worth that she came up with the idea for Living in the Story.
She is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).Charlotte also maintains a blog at CharlotteVaughanCoyle.com, where she writes about the intersections of faith, politics, and culture.View all of Charlotte Vaughan Coyle’s blog entries.
Understanding the significance of Jesus being anointed by oil
Those of you who have been reading through the Gospels may be familiar with the accounts of Jesus being anointed with oil.Reading the narratives in the separate books may easily lead one to believe that they all refer to the same event, but deeper examination reveals that there are three different instances when this occurred that have been documented.Interestingly, two of the situations in which Jesus is anointed with oil occur in the days leading up to His crucifixion.Are there any special reasons why he was anointed at this particular time?
The two occasions
- When you look closely at the accounts of Jesus being anointed with oil before entering Jerusalem, you will notice that there are two distinct occasions mentioned.
- We learn about this event in the book of John, which took place six days before Passover.
- As a result, six days before the Passover, Jesus traveled to Bethany, where Lazarus was recuperating after being raised from the dead by Jesus.
- As a result, they hosted a dinner for him there.
- Martha was the one who served, and Lazarus was one of the people who sat at the table with him.
- Mary, in response, took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping his feet with her hair as she did so.
The perfume filled the room, filling it with a pleasant fragrance.Then there was Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (and the man who was about to betray him), who asked, ″Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and distributed to the poor?″ His motivation for saying this was not because he cared about the poor, but rather because, as the thief in charge of the moneybag, he was free to take whatever was placed in it as he pleased.As Jesus instructed, ″Leave her alone so that she may keep it until the day of my burial.″ ″You always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me,″ says the author.John 12:1-8 is a biblical passage.According to Mark’s account, the anointing with oil takes place four days later, just two days before the Passover holiday is celebrated.At this point in time, the action takes place at the home of Simon the leper.
It was now two days before Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was approaching quickly.As he was reclining at the table at Simon the leper’s house in Bethany, a woman approached him and broke an alabaster flask of expensive pure nard ointment and poured it over his head.The chief priests and the scribes were scrambling to figure out how to arrest him and kill him without causing an uproar among the people, because they were concerned that an uproar would result from the people.But Jesus told them to ″leave her alone.″ What is it about you that makes her feel uncomfortable?She has done something truly wonderful for me.
- Due to the fact that you always have the poor with you, you have the opportunity to do good for them whenever you want.
- However, you will not always have me at your disposal.
- She has done what she could; she has anointed my body in preparation for burial before she passed away.
- And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has accomplished will be remembered in her honor.″ Mark 14:1-9 is a biblical passage.
So what’s happening
- We can observe that the same pure nard perfume is being used in both instances (see footnote), but the application is different in each instance.
- Both of these rituals include rubbing oil into the soles of Jesus’ feet, and both involve pouring oil over the top of his head.
- It’s a subtle, but crucial, distinction.
- Some of those in attendance were dissatisfied with the fact that luxury perfume costing more than a year’s salary was being squandered rather than sold and distributed to the impoverished.
- As a result, they were quite critical of her.
- Following her response, Jesus instructed them to leave her alone and declared that she had performed a lovely act for him.
You will always have the poor with you, and you will be able to aid them whenever you desire, but you will not always have Me with you.She did the best she could, putting perfume on Jesus’ corpse the night before his burial to prepare him for his burial.When Jesus was rubbed on his feet or had oil poured on his head containing this pure nard, his defense was that the person doing it was preparing him for his burial, which was true in both instances.
Understanding the culture
- There is something going on here that is more clear to the Hebrews than it is to the rest of the world.
- Providing water in a dish for guests to wash their feet after walking through the dusty byways of Israel was considered welcoming in that culture.
- You would add a few drops of perfume to the water to give it a lovely scent, but you would be careful not to add too much because you were told not to squander any of the perfume according to the Torah.
- The rabbis had determined that while you are celebrating someone coming to your house, it is OK to use perfume, but that it is not permissible to use 100% nard.
- Because this was considered a waste, and if you were wasting resources, you were in violation of a commandment of the Torah, according to tradition.
What does Jesus say in both cases to defend himself?He claims that they are not putting pure nard on My feet and pouring it on My head in celebration of Me, but rather that they are doing it as an expression of sadness in preparation for My burial.As a result, He defends them by stating that this is not an occasion for celebration and joy.The fact that this is an act of grief complies with the law, and because it is an act of grieving, As a Master of Haggadah, Jesus was described as a teacher who used parables and other stories to convey his message.As with all of Jesus’ stories, this one contains facts about kingdom people, and as a result, we will recognize ourselves in it.
Choosing the Passover lamb
- The lambs for Passover were picked six days in advance.
- Consequently, they were able to be brought in, frequently into the family home, and examined for a period of five days.
- These animals were thoroughly inspected to ensure that they were free of blemishes, particularly on their lower bodies and feet (which are often harmed or marked on the steep slopes).
- At this time, they would take the anointing oil and rub it into the ankles and feet, after which they would be subjected to additional inspection for a further five days.
- Jesus arrives at someone’s house in Bethany six days before the Passover, and He is anointed for burial by rubbing pure nard on His feet and ankles, as is customary at the time.
- That was His first anointing, which took place just before His crucifixion.
The second anointing takes place two days before the festival of Passover.The Passover lamb was anointed on their heads for the second time, signaling that they were free of illness and blemish.This is in contrast to the first time, when they were on their feet only six days prior to this.The anointing of Jesus’ head took place two days before He was crucified, and it served as a symbol that He was healthy and free of illness or defect.The first anointing of the Passover lambs took place on the feet six days before Passover; the second anointing took place on the head two days before Passover; and finally, the Passover lambs were slain on Passover (which is Nissan 14) starting at the ninth hour, beginning with the feet.Following His second anointing, we are told that Jesus and the twelve disciples travel to Jerusalem from Bethany the following day in order to partake in the Passover supper with the people.
This was followed by His arrest, trial, and crucifixion the next day, when Jesus died in the ninth hour, about 3 p.m., the same day that the Passover lambs were slaughtered, according to tradition.
Brief synopsis of the three anointings
- Early in Jesus’ career, an unidentified lady at the home of Simon, a wealthy Pharisee, anointed His feet with oil and cleaned His feet with her hair. This happened at the beginning of Jesus’ mission. On the ninth day of Nisan, according to Luke 7:36-38, Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus’ feet with oil and wiped His feet with her hair. A woman anointed Jesus’ head at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany two days before the Passover, on the 13th day of Nisan (Matthew 26:1-16
- Mark 14:1-11)
- Jesus rode into Jerusalem the next day, on the 10th of Nisan, the day on which the sacrificial lambs were to be chosen (Exodus 12:3), and there for all to see and judge His perfection (Jn 12:1-3)
- Jesus was
- Spikenard, also known as nard, nardin, and muskroot, is a family of fragrant, amber-colored essential oils extracted from flowering plants, the identity of which is difficult to determine.
- Since ancient times, the oil has been utilized as a perfume, as a medicinal, and in religious contexts throughout a vast expanse of area, extending from India to western Europe.
- While it is not known which plants were used in the production of historic spikenard, several candidates have been suggested, including Nardostachys jatamansi from Asia (which is the modern definition of ″spikenard″), lavender from the Middle East, Alpine spikenard from Europe, and possibly lemongrass.
- It is likely that different plants were used in different places and at different times.
- The spikenard is mentioned multiple times in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and it is used to symbolise Saint Joseph in Catholic iconography.
- The spikenard has been incorporated in Pope Francis’ coat of arms in order to convey this message.
Women of the Passion, Part 1: The Woman at Bethany Anoints Jesus
- When writing about Jesus’ first followers, the Gospel authors frequently allude to two distinct groups of disciples: the Twelve and the Women of the Community.
- The Twelve are the twelve Jewish men who were selected by Jesus to be his closest associates and first apostles.
- They are symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel, and they were chosen by Jesus to be his closest companions and first apostles.
- An indeterminate number of female followers also followed Jesus, inviting him into their homes, providing financial support for him, and frequently educating the Twelve by their actions of commitment and love to him and to others.
- As Jesus had foreseen, the most of the Twelve turned their backs on him at his death (John 16:32).
- The ladies, on the other hand, remained at his side throughout his life, including death, burial, and resurrection.
This is the first article in a four-part series on the women who accompanied Jesus during his crucifixion and resurrection.Last but not least, the last part will air on Easter Sunday.They claim that smell is the most powerful sense for bringing back memories.It has something to do with the olfactory bulb in the limbic system of the brain and how it permanently ties the aroma of freshly-cut lavender to the safety of your grandmother’s guest room, according to legend.Scent, more than anything else, has the ability to bring us back.Scent brings together the senses of taste, touch, sight, and sound, allowing us to be transported back in time, if only for a little period.
As a result, it is puzzling that our collective memory fails us in one of the most fragrant of the Passion episodes.We are aware that there is a woman present.We are aware that there is an anointing.We are aware that there is pricey, scented oil available.We are aware that there is a protest.
- However, when it comes to the specifics of the woman’s anointing of Jesus, the versions are contradictory.
- A lady from Bethany is described in Matthew and Mark as anointing Jesus’ head with costly ointment when he is dining in the home of Simon the Leper just days before his death, much to the disgust of the disciples at the table, who complain that her offering would be better spent on the needy.
- The lady, according to John, is Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who bathes Jesus’ feet in perfume and washes them with her hair before kissing him on the cheek.
- According to John’s version, it is Judas who reprimands Mary for her squandering.
- A ″woman of the city, who was a sinner,″ according to Luke, bathes Jesus’ feet in a mixture of perfume and tears, wiping his feet with her hair and kissing them with her lips while she does so.
When a Pharisee sees her, he criticizes her, saying, ″If this guy were a prophet, he would have recognized who and what type of lady this was who is touching him, for she is a sinner.″ For decades, historians have debated whether these tales describe a single event or two, or even three, events, or a combination of events.One might easily become upset with the writers of Scripture, who are so careful to name and separate the Twelve, but who often lump the Women together as if they were all one group.Mark 14:3-9 is annotated in the Scholars Version with the following statement: ″…It must be an accidental irony when Mark has Jesus anticipate that this narrative would always be repeated in remembrance of a lady whose exact name escapes him.″ However, the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, and John are the ones that are most frequently associated with the Passion: Jesus and his followers were eating at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany, only a few days before he was betrayed and killed by the Jewish leaders.While they were sitting at the table, a lady, whom John names as Mary of Bethany, approached Jesus and presented him with an alabaster jar of precious perfume, which was valued at around a year’s pay.
- Mary shattered the jar, allowing the perfume to drip upon Jesus’ body.
- John records that Mary anointed Jesus’ feet by wiping them with her hair, whilst Matthew and Mark record that a lady from Bethany anointed Jesus’ head.
- Both behaviors have a significant symbolic significance.
- In the ancient Near East, the act of anointing was a symbol of selection for a certain duty or responsibility.
- As part of their coronation process, kings were frequently anointed with oil, which was frequently performed by a prophet or a priest.
- A literal translation of the Hebrew term for Messiah, which literally means ″the anointed one,″ is the Greek word Christos, which means Christ.
Consequently, this unnamed lady finds herself in the unorthodox position of priest and prophet in the modern world.It makes perfect sense when viewed from the perspective of the upside-down Kingdom of Jesus.Anointing the feet, on the other hand, serves as a model of service, discipleship, and love.Accordingly, John’s narrative is more intimate and unvarnished than others.When it comes to touching, Mary is brave enough to cradle Jesus’ feet in her hands and spread the oil on his ankles and toes with the ends of her hair, in a culture when it was typically taboo for women to do so.Rather than measuring out a modest amount of oil, Mary cracks the jar open and allows the entire contents to spill out.
- She’s all in, totally dedicated, and she’s not skimping on anything.
- While the oil she may have saved up for her own funeral or the funeral of a loved one has been poured out liberally, she has done it with no consideration for the future.
- The humility with which this task is performed foreshadows the footwashing that is to follow.
- Later, Jesus would follow in Mary’s footsteps by washing the feet of the Twelve, instructing them to do so.
- Nevertheless, in the midst of all of this symbolism and prophecy, Jesus notices something else taking place.
According to him, the woman’s act of adoration serves as a form of preparation for his burial.Whenever the disciples criticize the lady for what they consider to be a waste of money, Jesus answers with the words ″Let her alone; why are you bothering her?″ She has been of great assistance to me in the past.After all, you always have the poor on your side, and you can show charity to them anytime you choose; but, you will not always have me on your side.The most she could do was prepare my body for burial by anointing it beforehand.
″ While Jesus had been hinting at his death for some time, the Twelve were having none of it and refused to believe him.″Get behind me, Satan!″ Jesus scolded Peter when he informed him that ″the Messiah must be rejected, suffer, and die; then he will be risen.″ Peter protested with such a passionate protest that Jesus rebuked him with, ″Get behind me, Satan!″ The disciples reply by arguing who will be the greatest in the coming kingdom when Jesus speaks ominously about his death in another occurrence.In another instance, James and John completely miss the point by reacting to Jesus’ prediction by requesting to sit at his right and left hands, respectively.Clearly, the Twelve were having difficulty conceiving of a kingdom that would begin not with the death of their adversaries, but with the death of a friend of the Twelve.Perhaps this was the reason for their dissatisfaction with the ″waste″ of money demonstrated by the anointing.They were under the impression that their work with Jesus would last for months or maybe years to come.
- When Jesus tells them, yet again, that he will not always be with them, you can hear the grief in his words.
- He is preparing for the most painful days of his life, and you can feel it in his words.
- The lady who anointed Jesus may have seen her acts as a foreshadowing of her teacher’s impending death and burial, but we will never know for certain.
- The fact that a guy who dines at a leper’s house, enables a woman to touch him with her hair, rebukes Pharisees, and befriends prostitutes would not survive for long in the world in which she lived is something I suppose she understood instinctively, in the way that women know these things.
- Surely, a woman in this culture would have a greater understanding of this than a guy.
- Perhaps this explains why the women remained at Jesus’ side after so many of the Twelve had betrayed him, rejected him, and fled from him in dread of the consequences.
- The women were well aware that this was the sequence of events.
- They were determined to see it through to the conclusion.
- Consequently, the lady of Bethany becomes the first of Christ’s disciples to recognize the approaching death of their teacher.
- Jesus praises her in the most eloquent words possible for this.
- True to my word, wherever the good news is preached across the entire globe, what she has done will be remembered in her honor.″ Isn’t it amazing that at every communion ceremony, every Easter service, at every cathedral and at every tent revival around the globe, from Israel to Africa, from Europe to China, this woman’s narrative should be read aloud alongside Christ’s story?
- We rarely pour out the oil, though, since we spend so much time breaking bread and drinking wine.
Jesus wished for us to remember, but we have failed to do so.We aren’t even sure what this woman’s name is at this point.Perhaps we should bring this oil, this expensive perfume, back to life and incorporate it into our Eucharistic celebration.Perhaps, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the aroma of it will serve to jog our recollection.Shareable The year is 2012, and all intellectual property rights are reserved.
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