Truth Quest Update: Jesus Was Anointed
This week in Truth Quest, our journey took us to Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; and John 12:1-8. Each of these accounts notes Jesus’ anointing six days before Passover. (We had taken a break to study the events of Easter and have now jumped back into Jesus' ministry before the cross.)
Jesus was in Bethany, eating supper at Simon the leper’s house. Since lepers were social outcasts, Simon may have been healed from his leprosy by Jesus. Jesus and His disciples attended the supper, as did Jesus’ friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.
While Jesus was reclining at the table, Mary broke open an expensive alabaster jar of pure nard, a fragrance imported from India. Alabaster was an expensive form of marble. Alabaster jars were intricately crafted and sealed so that to open the jar, the owner would have to break it, and the perfumes or oils within the jar would be used immediately. Mary could not pour out a little bit of the nard and keep the rest for herself. Out of sincere and total devotion, Mary poured all of the nard onto Jesus.
In stark contrast to Mary’s display of love, Judas Iscariot reacted with indignation. In Matthew’s account, the other disciples also wondered why Mary had not sold the nard - worth about a worker’s yearly wage - and given it to the poor. John states that Judas was not altruistic; Judas was in fact pilfering money from Jesus’ ministry. (See John 12:6.)
“Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “She has kept it for the day of My burial” (John 12:7). The disciples would have plenty of time to minister to the poor, but Jesus would die in less than a week. Mary probably had no way of knowing what her offering of love and devotion would have signified, but Jesus said that from that moment on, people would remember what she had done for Him.
Unlike the rich young ruler who thought the cost of following Christ was too high (Mark 10:22), Mary believed that Jesus holds more value than costly perfume. Mary’s actions were not wasteful but worshipful. By allowing Mary to anoint Him, Jesus showed that He is more valuable than anything. Jesus knew He would soon die for sinners, be buried, and rise from the dead on the third day. Those who trust in His death and resurrection will receive eternal life.