6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
This incident became a big issue because her sacrifice seems to contradict ministry to the poor taught by Jesus.
Remember Jesus instructed a rich young man to sell everything, give to the poor, and follow Him in ministering to the poor.
That ointment poured out on Jesus was worth a lot of money, about a year’s wages of hard labor, and the recipient this sacrifice was none other than Jesus who preached about giving to the poor.
What Jesus said in defense and approval of her action, we need to pay attention to the details and circumstances, because He is revealing to us important truths about the gospel ministry and those who seek salvation in God.
Three important truths Jesus declared about this incident
1) – She did something beautiful for Jesus
2) – She prepared Jesus for burial
3) – Jesus endorsed what she did to be told in memory of her wherever the gospel is to be preached worldwide
First we must consider the act of pouring oil over a person’s head in Israel society because that was the very act that caught the attention of all who were present in the house.
The environment and culture where it happened and the timing must not be overlooked
This incident happened in a Jewish setting among people who were waiting for their Messiah, the Son of God prophesied in Psalm 2, who will establish the Messianic kingdom of God and save the nation of Israel from her enemies
In the history of Israel, kings were anointed with oil in public recognition and acceptance of their position
Israel is the only nation who has an established covenant with God and the Jewish people were waiting for their redemption as promised by God through His chosen anointed King
The word Messiah or Christ means the Anointed one chosen of God to be KING and in Jewish history many kings since the time of David had been anointed with oil when they sat on the throne to begin their official rule
In the days of the gospels many people knew Jesus was born King of Israel
In Gospel of John 6 a group of Jews intended to forcefully install Jesus as King to repel the Romans.
In Gospel Luke 19:38 a large crowd was shouting and cheering Jesus “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
But who poured oil on Jesus to honor Him as King?
This woman did and she exalted Jesus by giving Him the honor He deserve in public
In Jewish society men are head of households and for leadership position in community affairs. Therefore if Jesus was to be honored in public as KING the men should do it not a woman, but why no man did what she did?
JESUS IS THE KING CHOSEN OF GOD BUT REJECTED BY MAN AND SOCIETY
There was something about Jesus, His appearance, social status, and His message that did not fit people’s expectation of a king
Isaiah prophesied about the public rejection of Jesus more than 700 years before the coming of the Messiah
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
If we had been there at that time we would had walked passed Jesus as we walk pass any common folks out in the street and we may not even wanted to get close to Him because of His perceived sadness.
A lot of people went to Jesus not because He was popular and attractive like a celebrity but for the miracles He did and the expectation their Messiah should set them free from Roman rule.
This woman who poured the ointment on Jesus did what was written in Song of Solomon
Song of Solomon 1:12
As the king reclines at table, my nard gives forth its perfume:
Song of Solomon is love poem between God and His chosen people
Song of Solomon expounded the idea of union between the KING and His bride, and between God and His chosen people
The second matter we need to consider is Jesus said something about preparing Him for burial and that indicated death and that was the reason she was justified for not giving to the poor at that moment
Jesus had on many occasions warned His disciples of His rejection, sufferings, and death
Remember that incident when Jesus cleansed the Temple, after which the people of Israel knew He had been targeted for punishment by the Sanhedrin.
Death as punishment was expected and those who wanted Jesus dead were plotting when and how.
Jesus throughout that few years of public ministry had made deliberate scheduled trips to Jerusalem with His disciples during Passover knowing He will die on that occasion.
This woman who anointed Jesus knew of His inevitable death penalty and this incident happened just days before Passover
John the Baptist had publicly identified Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and Jesus in one particular recorded figure of speech in Gospel of John 6 revealed Himself as the Lamb of God
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
What Jesus said was so shocking people walked away from Him.
But Jewish people who observe the Passover would know from their own history that when the nation of Israel was delivered from Egypt they were instructed by God through Moses to kill innocent lambs and use the blood to protect them from death. And they were to roast and eat the same lamb with unleavened bread in preparing for the beginning of their journey to leave Egypt and towards the Promised Land.
These people who walked away from Jesus did so not because they don’t know what was written by Moses but cannot accept how this living person named Jesus right in front of them can be the lamb to be sacrifice to save them.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who will deliver us from sin and death, and provide us the gift of eternal life in the kingdom of God and that moment in human history had arrived for the Lamb of God to be sacrificed
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
The blood sacrifice of Jesus is the ultimate once for all perfect sin atonement that will provide us forgiveness of sin, deliverance from death, and reconciliation with God with blessing of eternal life
Jesus sacrificed His life and died but was resurrected back to life and He lives forever never to die ever again.
The resurrection of Jesus is infallible proof of the promises of God for eternal life and ultimate redemption for those waiting for the Messiah.
The third point we need to look into is Jesus after His resurrection appeared to His disciples in His resurrected body and commissioned them to go make disciples of all nations and that involves preaching of the gospel
The woman who poured oil on Jesus, what she did was to be told in memory of her wherever the gospel is to be preached, and we need to know the similar context between what she did and the gospel
The gospel is to exalt Jesus as KING as she did
The gospel called for union with God as she demonstrated through her sacrifice for Jesus
The intended result of gospel ministry is the congregation of people whom Jesus redeemed from sin and death with His own blood and made us people of God.
If we do not have this union with Jesus, we are not together with Him, not His people, and have no inheritance in the kingdom of God.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Making disciples involve preaching the gospel and the gospel Jesus wanted us to preach is about union with God and to magnify Jesus as KING
The gospel Jesus wanted us to preach demonstrated our dependency on Jesus as our sin atonement to receive forgiveness and eternal life in God
The gospel Jesus wanted us to preach taught us our duty and responsibility to follow His example of trust and obedience in God in hope of eternal life
Jesus said, “I AM the Way — and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.
The gospel invites us to embark on a journey of faith, a daily practice of trust and obedience, to walk with Jesus together in union with our Father in heaven
The woman who anointed Jesus with oil acted in trust and obedience to exalt the Messiah chosen of God but rejected by men and society
She may not recover her material sacrifices but the kingdom of God welcomes her