Walking in Truth Devotional Update
Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus
This is number 100 in this series
Jesus is very close to finishing His work on earth. It is six days before the Passover. Jesus had come to be the Passover Lamb for the sins of mankind. Jesus had gone to Bethany again where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived. Lazarus, just a chapter ago in John’s gospel, was dead and buried in a tomb. Martha, Mary and their Jewish community were grieving. Jesus had lingered in his travels, and his friend Lazarus had died. Both sisters tell Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” As if to say, “Jesus, where were you?” Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. And here is Lazarus, newly resuscitated, eating a meal. This was probably a meal given in celebration of Jesus. Several people are mentioned but the focus in on Jesus. The divine record tells us that Martha is serving as always, Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Jesus. John doesn’t tell us that this is the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. But, it was someone’s home and a great time was being enjoyed by all.
Some think that this incident is the same as in Luke 7:36-50. But this would make Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany the same person. The Mary of Luke 7 was an adulteress and there is no indication that the Mary of Bethany was an adulteress. It is my opinion they were not the same person and that you have two separate events. Clearly, both loved Jesus dearly and expressed their appreciation for Him in the act of anointing Him with a precious ointment.
Anointing with oil is typically a ritual fit for a king. An anointing often takes place in the Hebrew Scriptures to declare God’s choice of the new ruler—picture the prophet Samuel pouring oil over a young David’s head (1 Sam. 16:1-13). Typically anointing involves the head, not the feet, therefore, Mary seems to be doing more than just anointing Jesus. This anointing was not during His labors, but in view of the Lord’s impending departure, even as He says in Matthew 26:12, “For in pouring out this ointment on my body, she has done it for my burying.”
The Holy Word of God informs us that “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” An alabaster box of ointment: ointment was put in vessels made of “alabaster”, which kept it pure and incorrupt; and this stone was found about Damascus, so that there may have been plenty of it in Judea. The word “spikenard” comes from the Greek word nardos, which describes one of the most expensive perfumes that existed at that time. Spikenard was so expensive that few people could buy it; most had to buy one of the many cheap imitations available. But the word used in John 12:3 tells us that Mary didn’t bring Jesus a cheap imitation; she brought Jesus the real thing — an ointment so valuable that it was normally reserved and used only as gifts for kings and nobility. This was the gift Mary brought to Jesus. So, when Judas announced that the spikenard could have been sold for three hundred pence, he was saying that Mary’s perfume was worth three hundred days of salary.
Isaiah 52:7 describes why Mary felt this way: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
Mary believed that Jesus had changed her life by raising her brother from the dead (John 11:32-44). Jesus had brought new meaning into her family. To Mary, Jesus was precious, honored, and greatly valued. In total humility, Mary dried the feet of Jesus with her hair (her glory and honor, I Cor. 11:15).
Judas looked at what had just happened and thought, “What a waste!” You wasted that fragrant perfume. Notice that Judas presents his criticism in the form a righteous sounding criticism. Verse 6 makes it clear that Judas did not care about the poor at all. Rather, he was a thief and he oversaw the money bag. The point is that Judas wanted this ointment sold for the $30,000-40,000 so that he could steal some of that money for himself. He helped himself to the money given to Jesus. What a scene: you have the dishonest, greedy heart condemning the one with the true, loving heart. There’s the greatest contrast imaginable here between Judas and Mary. One is given over to the devotion of Jesus, the other is given over to the gratification of self.
Each scene is beautiful and touching, and delightful to the heart of Jesus. Whether it be the gratitude of the repentant sinner or the adoration of the heart of the admiring saint, it brings pleasure to the blessed Lord, and calls forth His approbation. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
How much do we appreciate the Lord?
By Guy Roberson
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