March 26, 2024

Woman Anoints Jesus' Feet with Oil - Morning Devotion on Mar. 22, 2024

 A Woman Anoints Jesus' Feet with Oil

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper; a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor"

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

Matthew 26:6-13

Why is Mary remembered in Christianity? Why is it that her name has been passed down through many generations in memory? Jesus said it should be so. At that time, who would have tolerated a lowly woman pouring 300 denarii worth of aromatic oil on the feet of a bachelor and wiping it with her hair? Why did Jesus say that the name of Mary would be remembered wherever the Gospel was taught? The disciples laughed at him, Judas Iscariot protested, and everyone opposed him on this. He spoke these words because, more than his beloved disciples or countless other people, the actions of Mary in that hour set the condition of having offered all of her heart and effort.

To Whom Do You Belong?

March 16, 1958

Judas Iscariot chastised Mary... as she knelt and poured three hundred denarii worth of oil on the feet of Jesus and washed them with her hair. When Judas chastised her, Jesus defended her. Mary was not acting unreasonably because she was concerned for the heart of Jesus, who was to be killed; an aspect of God's pained and indignant heart was reflected through her. Therefore Jesus predicted that her name would remain wherever the words of the Gospel spread.

The Father and I

July 12, 1959

Unnamed, Unknown but Not UnLoved

The Gospels are not clear about the identity of the woman who poured oil or perfume on Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. 

John 11: 1 – 2 says it was Mary of Bethany: “This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.” 

They were all at a dinner. Lazarus was there. 

Martha (as usual) was serving.

Mary (as usual) was devoting herself to attending Jesus personally: “Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3). 

Judas objected and said the money should have been given to the poor (John 12:4-5). 

Maybe practical Martha objected too. 

But Jesus defended Mary: “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12: 7 – 8).

As we have seen, Matthew 26: 6-13 tells of a similar incident, but Matthew does not name the woman. 

He also adds in Jesus saying, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:13). 

Mark 14: 3 - 9 tells the story almost exactly the same way as Matthew. 

Due to the similarity of the three stories, it is likely that this was Mary of Bethany. 

However, in Luke 7: 37 – 50, the situation is very different. 

Jesus was again dining in someone’s home in Bethany, but this homeowner was a Pharisee. 

Something very socially awkward happened.  

“A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them.”

When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is.’” 

Jesus seemed to read the Pharisee’s thoughts, because he asked him who would love a moneylender more—someone who was forgiven a debt of 50 denarii or someone who was forgiven a debt of 500 denarii? 

The Pharisee answered correctly that it would be the one who had the bigger debt forgiven. 

Then Jesus talked about the woman’s care for him in contrast to the Pharisee’s. 

Israel was dry and dusty, and it was customary for the servants of a house to wash the guests’ feet. Yet the Pharisee didn’t give Jesus any water for his feet. 

The Pharisee had not kissed him in greeting, as was customary.

Yet the woman had not stopped kissing Jesus’ feet since he had entered. 

The Pharisee did not greet Jesus with oil for his head, but the woman had poured perfume on him. 

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven . . . Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

This unnamed woman went into someone else’s house, uninvited. 

She was so overcome by the love that Jesus radiated, it made her sorry for what she had done in her life. 

She cried uncontrollably the whole time she was there. 

Jesus must have been the only man she had ever met who gazed at her without desire, without wanting anything from her but only wanting something for her—the love of God. 

Tradition has it that the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet was Mary Magdalene. 

Yet none of the Gospels identify Mary Magdalene that way. 

Mary Magdalene was a follower of Jesus who, along with other women, helped support Jesus and the disciples with their own money (Mark 15:40 – 41, Matthew 27:55). 

Mary Magdalene is described by Luke 8: 1 – 3 and Mark 16: 9 as a woman out of whom came seven demons. This probably meant she had psychological problems before she met Jesus. 

History may have done a great injustice to Mary Magdalene by assuming she was a prostitute. 

History has also done an injustice to the woman who loved Jesus so much, she wept over his feet and dried them with her own hair. 

We don’t even know her name. 

We do, however, know her heart. 

No comments:

Post a Comment