by Daniel McCabe
Anointing of Jesus
Mark 14:8, “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.”
A Tuesday night westerly breeze gently cooled the fig, olive, almond and carob trees that dotted the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives after another long day under a relentless spring sun. The typically quiet village of Bethany just east of Jerusalem spilled over with excitement as locals and pilgrims alike enjoyed the festivities of Passover Week. Dinner at Simon’s house that night celebrated the recent arrival of Jesus with his disciples, and every guest bore testimony to the amazing ministry of Jesus.
First, there is Simon, the host, who Mark refers to in his gospel as “Simon the leper” (Mark 14:3). His white patchy skin, runny sores and mangled fingers had no doubt been transformed by the touch of Jesus. Where once he lived each day under the death sentence of leprosy, quarantined to a leper’s camp far from the city walls, now, thanks to the healing hand of his honored guest, Simon experienced again the joy of hugs and shared meals with friends.
Then there is Lazarus. Only days before he had been lying in the family tomb, wrapped in burial garments from head to toe, mourned by his family and friends. But thanks to the life-giving command of Jesus, Lazarus now sits at Simon’s table, treasuring every new breath, deeply grateful, fearing nothing.
Moving up behind Jesus is Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Scurrying between the kitchen and the table, Martha served the guests, relishing their compliments and filling the room with her southern charm. But beneath the festive banter, Mary’s soul sensed the heavy heart of Jesus, and she longed to balm his hurt. He had spoken often of his impending death and something in her spirit knew that the time was near. He had taught her from the Scriptures while praising her priorities and restoring her faith in a time of grief. She must honor him tonight. Tomorrow may be too late. But what could she do? Taking her alabaster vial of perfume from around her neck, she emptied it on Jesus’ head and feet. The party chatter halted abruptly as the room filled with the fragrant spice. There, she had done it. The vial, likely containing her wedding dowry, represented all that she had in this life and all that she could possibly hope to give any future suitor. She had poured out all her hopes and dreams in one moment of time without regret. Mark records Jesus’ reply to the shocked guests who rebuked Mary for her reckless action, “She has done a good work for Me…. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:6, 8).
Three days later Roman soldiers nailed Jesus to a wooden cross. By his death and resurrection Jesus would do all he could for you and me. May we never overlook an opportunity to do all we can for him.
Further Reading: Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8
Dr. Daniel McCabe is the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Spring, Texas. He is a contributing editor for The Jerusalem Connection Report. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.