- Isaiah 53:16-21
- Psalm 126
- Philippians 3:4b-14
- John 12:1-18
We hear the story of Jesus being anointed by a woman in all four gospel accounts. In today’s account from John’s Gospel, Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus) anoints Jesus at their home in Bethany. It occurs after the raising of Lazarus and six days before the Passover. The scene is set for the last days of Christ.
Anointing is an important act that occurs repeatedly in scripture. Kings were anointed as they ascended to the throne, or in anticipation of their future role in leadership (such as David). For Mary, the anointing is an act of loving extravagance toward Jesus. It is also a prophetic act anticipating his death and burial. His body would later be anointed again by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus following the crucifixion (John 19:38-42), but that would be done in secret. Mary openly proclaims her love for Jesus for all to see while he still lives.
The act of anointing changes things. Those who “do” the anointing and those who are anointed are changed forever. It points to a future of something new. Second Isaiah shares this “new thing” as a new Exodus is promised to God’s people living in Babylonian exile. God gives water in the wilderness and rivers in the desert so that God’s people may drink and live.
We are anointed at our baptism – called forth, reborn and renewed by water and the Holy Spirit into new life. We are signed and sealed as Christ’s own forever. As we approach Jerusalem, today we are reminded to forget the old things and look forward to the new. There is a path through the wilderness for us to follow and we are assured of “rivers in the desert” of our lives if we pay attention. While our lives may often “reap tears” (from Psalm 126), we will “reap with shouts of joy” every time we acknowledge the gift that has been given to us in Christ.
- What do you think is the significance of Mary’s anointing Jesus’ feet?
- What does Jesus ask of us in terms of identification with his ministry in the world? What must we surrender in order to be one with him?
- How will you prepare for the end of this Lenten season and the coming joy of Easter?
- When have you been “anointed” by someone? What did it feel like? How were you changed? Have you ever “anointed” someone? What gave you cause to do so?
- How can we show our love for Jesus openly, as Mary did, by our actions in the world?
- On Jesus & David… (andreaskoutsoudis3.com)