1. Anoint | Sealed: An Easter Devotion
‘While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly.’ - Mark 14:3-5
Anointings are costly. Every time the Lord called a new leader to deliver God’s voice to the nations, their reign was sealed with an anointing. The anointing signaled the beginning of great cost as the person outworked the will of God. Why do you think anointings, and doing the will of God, are so costly? Scholars point out that Jesus was anointed on three separate occasions in the Bible. Each time the anointing was by a woman, and each time the opposition from the men around them increased.
The first anointing
The first anointing of Jesus occurs in Luke 7:36-50. Some call this an anointing of thanksgiving. Read the scripture, then reflect: What kind of attitude did this woman approach Jesus with? What was she doing as she poured the perfume? What part of his body did she anoint? What did she use? How did people respond?
Simon the Pharisee grumbled in his spirit about the woman being a ‘sinner’, doubting Jesus’ credibility as a prophet as she touched him without rebuke.
What point do you think Simon was really making as the ‘sinful woman’ touched Jesus? Jesus rebuked Simon, contrasting all the ways this ‘sinful’ woman had shown the love and hospitality that Simon, the supposedly righteous Pharisee, lacked. Her offering sealed a new future for the woman as she took Christ at his word. Her faith had saved her. Peace was hers.
The second anointing
The second anointing of Jesus occurs in John 12:1-8, just before Christ’s Triumphal Entry. Read the scripture, then reflect: What time of year was it? What connection did Jesus have to this household? Who anointed Jesus while the rest reclined? What was different between this anointing and the first woman’s? What was the same?
We read that Judas Iscariot protested aloud against this anointing out of selfish ambition because he was a thief. This anointing was costly, as Judas called into question Mary’s wisdom and integrity, while being thoroughly wicked himself. What does Jesus say to him? What was the perfume for? Have you obeyed God and had your wisdom or integrity questioned because of it? What did that make you feel? What did God tell you?
‘Do you want to know what the anointing will cost? Do you really want to know? It will cost you everything.’ - Kathryn Kuhlman (1907-1976)
The third anointing
The third anointing of Jesus occurs in Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9, after the Triumphal Entry and a few days before Passover and Christ’s crucifixion. This anointing was in Simon the Leper’s home in Bethany. Commentators say this is a different Simon than in Luke’s account as a leper could not be a Pharisee. This is also the only account where it is Jesus’ head that’s anointed.
The anointing was rebuked openly now—it had escalated from Simon’s angry thoughts to Judas’ aggressive words and, now, to an outraged mob. ‘Why this waste?’, raged the disciples. Read the Matthew and Mark scriptures, then reflect: How do you think the woman felt as the disciples turned on her? What did Jesus respond with? Why do you think it was women who anointed Christ’s body for burial in life, sealing his reign as King of our salvation?
Prophets would anoint kings as a sign of God’s blessing and will. Three women anointed Christ as a sign of his eternal Kingship and reign over death. Their anointing sealed God’s proclamation about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. In this time of great trial, the ministry of women blessed and kept our Saviour as he tied up all he needed to before being tied up and offered for our sake as the Holy Lamb. Blessed be the Lamb who was slain.
Prayer: God, will you renew my vision and help me to seek your continued anointing in every area of my life. Help me to see where you are at work, and continue to endure, persevere and persist even when I am tired or tiring. God, comfort us and help us to see your will at work. Please give me courage and strength to go to places overcome by loveless religion and show them Christ.
‘Determining that whatever it costs you, though it should be friends, church associations, reputation, money, ease, comfort, all you have in this world . . . that this salvation is for you.’ - Catherine Booth (Holiness)
A reflection on the first anointing at Simon the Pharisee’s house in Luke 7:36-50; the anointing of thanksgiving by the nameless woman. by Heather Rodwell
The night is balmy and warm. A lovely evening for a dinner party in the courtyard.
All day the house up the street has been preparing for a dinner party.
The housekeeper has been busy ordering the servants to ensure that everything is ready. I’m going to take this opportunity.
It’s a risk, but the way Jesus has accepted me, and not condemned me like so many others have, makes me want to do something in return.
The jar of anointing perfume sits in waiting for when my time comes, but today I’m going to give it a better purpose.
I am grateful for the shadows that enable me to enter the courtyard unnoticed.
While my heart beats furiously, the sight of Jesus laughing alongside the other guests gives me courage.
My hair creates a curtain of privacy so others cannot see my tears—tears of joy and tears of sadness.
I cannot hold them back and I know He can feel them. My tears wash his dirty feet. My hair acts as a towel to dry his feet.
Around me I’m aware that the volume of talk is diminishing.
But my job is not done.
Breaking open the jar, the fragrance of its contents fills the air.
A heady aroma, intoxicating to the senses; my willing gift—extravagant, yes—but what can match the way I have been loved by Him?
Oh, the pleasure and the urgency of this task!
Without needing to look up, I know that many eyes are on me.
I hold my breath, listening for the words of objection and rebuke that must surely come.
Jesus breaks the silence...
Reflect. Finish this in your own words.