2-MARY OF BETHANY ANOINTS JESUS- The people of Bethany wished Him to be their honoured guest at a banquet, obviously celebrated with the resurrected Lazarus. Jesus had extended to Martha, (owner of the house) Mary, and Lazarus, His friendship. Simon, the leper is identified as the father of the three friends of Jesus. Jesus may have healed Simon or he may have been dead, as Martha was the owner of the dwelling.
Her sister, Mary was a dedicated disciple of Christ and is an example for all others. She was the disciple who sat at the feet of Jesus wanting spiritual truth and understanding. She was not Mary, the prostitute whom Jesus healed nor the adulterous woman who was forgiven.
A significant event in Jesus' life occurred in Bethany at their home. The banquet was prepared in Jesus' honour, and Mary, His friend and disciple anointed His head and feet with costly perfume, the equivalent to a man's yearly salary. The household was filled with the fragrance of the aromatic oil. The anointing of the head of an honoured guest with olive oil was a very common custom.
The anointing with perfumed ointment of Jesus feet was an unusual act for someone to perform other than a household servant. Usually a woman would never let her down her hair in public, and always kept it firmly bound or braided, but Mary washed Jesus' feet and dried them with her hair, in the sight of all, bought a costly alabaster vial of expensive perfume and emptied its contents upon Jesus' head and feet. She seemed to understand better than the other disciples that He was going to die.
This conduct was of humility and of worship that expressed Mary's willingness to serve Him as she anointed her Saviour. The jar of costly perfume was made from the essence of spikenard, which was used also in some cases to anoint royalty. Spikenard is known to be a root of a native plant in India. It was pure, unadulterated, in its genuine form. Lavish spices and perfumes were spent on a body to disguise the smell of corpses and large sums of money were spent on funerals. Some disciples were indignant and thought that the gesture was a wasted expense and disagreed with what she had done. Jesus spoke out that this act was done in preparation for His burial, and made the proclamation that Mary's act of adulation would be told every where that the gospel was preached throughout the world, as an example of costly self-commitment.
Jesus commended Mary because of her special sacrifice she had made for Him. Jesus brought attention to her actions that were consistent with her words and heart. It was a unique deed for a special occasion, thus serving an important confessional function of anticipating Jesus' death.
He had acknowledged the anointing of the perfume by Mary of Bethany as an expectation of His death and well acquainted with His ultimate destiny. Mary gave a treasured possession, the expense is symbolic of the worth and value of Jesus' death, as was his birth with the gifts given by the wise men. Anointing was the first stage of embalming, whether Mary knew it or not, she was anointing Jesus' body, preparing it for burial.
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