What would you do if you had one week to live?
We are walking with Jesus during his last week. This is Wednesday. What Jesus did on Wednesday is what I’d like to do. He had a dinner party with his friends. That is one of the best things in life.
Sharing a meal with people we love,
laughing over a shared glass of wine,
sharing old memories,
creating new ones.
I’m thinking now of people with whom I’d like to share a dinner on a night of my last week.
At this party, something extraordinary happened: “Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house” (John 12:3).
Every one of the Gospels has an “anointing” story. But it doesn’t seem as though all of the accounts refer to the same event. Luke’s account (Luke 7:36-50) doesn’t seem to be the same event as the one recorded by the others (John 12:1-8; Mark 14:3-9; Matthew 26:6-13).
If you read the above passages you might notice some different details about the same event. For example, John says the dinner party happened six days before Passover (John 12:1). Matthew says the party happened two days before Passover (Matthew 26:1). John writes that Mary anointed Jesus’ feet. Matthew and Mark report that the woman of Bethany anointed Jesus’ head.
Why don’t they agree with each other?
It’s important to know:
*The writers of Jesus’ story had their own understanding of who Jesus was and what message their story needed to convey. So, each writer shaped the story to get his message across. *”Recorded history” was not quite as precise as it may be in our world today. As a result, some of the details of these accounts differ from each other.
What do you think of these contradictory accounts?
Do the discrepancies distract you from the main points of the story?
What is the take-away?
Yes, I love the audacity of Mary. In that time and place it was taboo for a man to be touched by a woman. And letting her hair down?! “Hussy!” “Whore!” is what people would think.
She didn’t care. Neither did Jesus. He didn’t see her that way. She didn’t see herself that way.
I love the elevation of women I see in this story.
To anoint someone’s head was the role of a priest or prophet. Mary, a woman, a priest? A prophet?
Not for Jesus. In the upside down Kingdom of Jesus, it makes perfect sense.
To wipe Jesus’ feet foreshadows the time when he will wipe the feet of his disciples (John 13:5). Mary, a woman, is a model disciple.
I love her over-the-top extravagance. Mary doesn’t pour out a little, being careful not to use too much. Nope. She breaks the jar and lets it all pour out. She’s all-in.
But here’s my favorite take-away - the sweet smell of love.
“The fragrance of the oils filled the house.”
When Denise and I started dating (we still are!), she wore Obsession Cologne. I remember to this day the fragrance of her cologne lingering in my Toyota Celica as I drove from Tyler, TX to Ft. Worth to attend class at seminary after spending the weekend with her. Her fragrance filled the car. Thoughts of her filled my mind. I took her with me.
As Jesus hung on the cross, I wonder, “Did he detect the fragrance on his skin?”
In the midst of the hatred and hurt of hanging on a cross, did he have with him a reminder of Mary’s love?
Let’s follow Mary’s example.
Let’s leave the fragrance of Jesus’ love wherever we go.
With the lonely person whose spouse just died.
With the homeless friend just trying to get by.
With the fatherless child in your neighborhood.
With the person under your own roof.