Oh, That Sweet Smell

Today Reading: Mark 14

This is Lynden this week. I am blessed to have a great wife that was able to post for me last week while I was ill. I am truly blessed and fortunate. Today, I have the privilege to dive into Mark 14. Upon first reading this chapter, I felt overwhelmed and awed. In these verses Mark has given us the snapshot of the days before the crucifixion and Passover. I have prayed about what to reflect on this week and I chose: the preparation of the body for burial.

Mark14: 3- 7

 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,[a] as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.  There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?  For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.  But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.  And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

As I have researched this passage this week many things are coming more in-focus for me.

  • The place that Jesus has come is the home of Simon the Leper. During the week before he is to be sacrificed and put to death he is eating at a home of a person who is on the fringes or margins of society, a person with Leprosy. This is a “unclean” person and outside of the proper lines of the Jewish society, as sen in last week’s post.  He is willing to be doing His Father’s work until the last moment.
  • Simon was also a friend of Jesus. He was a close friend, this Simon was also known as Lazarus of Bethany. The same Lazarus that was raised from the dead. In John 12:2-3, the same scene is witnessed where Jesus and the Twelve are at the house of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Some have thought his name is Simon Lazarus, similar to John Mark, whose gospel we are reading.   Mary is the woman whom poured the oil on Jesus. Is it interesting that the place that Jesus is prepared for his burial is at the home of the one he resurrected?
  • The main point that I was focused on ordeal with the perfume. Many people were arguing about the price of the perfume and what the proceeds could buy the poor and needy. But to look at this as from the point of view of Mary is one to sit in awe. This man, Jesus, has been with this family for a large portion of their life. This man love the family and the siblings.  This man has brought back their brother from a 4-day death.  This is the family in which “Jesus wept”. This is the family in which so much has happened to and happened with. This is the equivalent to their brother. Mary has been there with him and has witnessed many things and this is her manner to bless him before the end.   The amount of money that was used to purchase this oil would be about $30,000 to $50,000 in today’s economy, approximately one year’s wages.  This was a major sacrifice.

Ok so the stage is set and we know the outcome: death, burial, and resurrection. But take a moment and imagine: The supper at Bethany, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, The trial, The flogging and beatings, The crucifixion, The burial, and The resurrection; in all of these stations this aroma is filling the air, the person, the being of Christ. It is truly anointing him.

I can only image the moment when Mary, his mother, held him in her arms that last time off of the cross and could smell this oil on him.

I think of my children and the smell of the newborn, something that is only there for a short time, but can bring back memories as if it was yesterday. Oh, that sweet smell.

Now, the question and prayer I have for you is: Would a year’s worth of your salary be enough to anoint Christ and who would see the effects? Would you make that sacrifice?

Dear Heavenly Father, allow us to be unselfish and generous with our possessions to glorify you now as Mary of Bethany did for you before you were glorified. Amen