Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Anointment Appointment

Well, folks, it's that time of year again.

Easter. A chance to buy some chocolate bunnies, meet new faces making their annual liturgical appearance...and experience the wonder that is the 'spring Thanksgiving' equinox.

Okay, okay...so I'm being sarcastic. 

I guess in short, I just can't help help but wonder why Easter is so culturally abused, let alone how it keeps sneaking up on me. I mean...one minute I'm taking my wife out for a nice, romantic Valentine's Day dinner; the next, it's Daylight Savings...Palm Sunday...Good Friday. Sheesh...by the time I arrive at Easter, it's like I'm already out of breath! 

Thankfully, I've lived long enough to recognize both the trend...and the need to soak in specific Easter Bible passages during Holy Week...the most recent being John 12.

In this passage, Jesus is chilling and dining with Mary, Martha and Lazarus(having recently been raised from the dead), when in vs. 3, we find Mary pouring out a pound of premium ointment made from pure nard and anointing Jesus' feet with her hair and tears.

Now, there are a couple things that stand out to me as I dive into this.

First off, pure nard was freakin' expensive back then...which makes sense considering it was an aromatic essential oil derived from flowering plants found in Nepal, China, and India.

Secondly, Mary anointed Jesus' feet with almost a whole pound of perfume (~11.5 ounces to be exact)...pretty voluminous for one occasion/for the time. I mean...it's not like Mary got a can of Axe, bent over, and shot out two little squirts at Jesus' phalanges. Instead, she deluges Jesus feet with an amount equivalent to roughly 300 days of wages (v. 5)...an offensive amount had it not been anyone other than Jesus' feet. 

Thirdly, Mary understood Jesus' identity as well as the time she was in. In her mind, she wasn't simply a friend of the Messiah; she was at the feet of the lamb to be slain! Her act of submission wasn't simply motivated by the proximity of Passover. Rather, she realized Jesus' hour (vs. 1) was at hand. See the difference?

So while some may think the anointing was nothing more than a kind gesture - a sort of 'thank you' for reviving Lazarus + 'oh yeah, his tomb still stinks', the fact is Mary purchased the perfume with the intent of anointing his body at his burial (v. 7). Thus, it's very likely Mary knew full well what was about to happen...hence her decision to 'pre-anoint' while he was still alive in her midst3..even if she didn't understand the full scale of what was to come.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the wiping of Jesus' feet foreshadowed the time when he would wipe the feet of his disciples (v. 5), a model reflective of his command and expressive of our unity with him.4

Honestly, I can't help but get giddy here. Mary's posture alone resonates profound intimacy, but to trace his feet with fragrance long enough for it to permeate the entire house at the risk of raised eyebrows? I mean...you gotta give Mary props for catching the significance of what she was doing.

'Cause truth is: All that mattered to Mary was 'simply Jesus'...her identity as being loved by him...and her devotion sealed through extreme extravagance. 

I don't know about you, but I want to be more like Mary in the sense I live an intentional and consecrated life passionately on my knees...always wanting more of him (and want to want more of him) regardless of the cost or how it looks...with the cross firmly in mind.

After all, when we celebrate Easter, we're not only celebrating the cross + grave conquered, but also the everlasting life we have through/with Christ which daily empowers us to victory over sin and the things in this world that try to keep us from living a godly life (Romans 8:37).

So as you engage your Easter festivities this year, I encourage you to reflect on Mary's attitude and heart posture in light of Jesus' descent unto the cross...and to take internal inventory of anything that may be hindering you from walking in your anointing as one anointed by the Anointer. 

‘Til then, I wish you all a wonderful Easter…and encourage you to find peace and rest as you reflect on the ultimate sacrifice.

He is Risen!



Footnotes

1) An important observation to behold considering Lazarus' presence symbolizes/emphasizes life in Christ being triumphant over death
2) If my geology is correct, Bethany would be...what...like 3,000-4,000 miles away? That's a lot of camelback hours
3) Again, we see another episode of Mary living out her own anointing by consecrating  at the feet of Jesus...and being ready (a posture I'm sure gave Jesus great comfort at this point in time)
4) Commentary by Matt Skinner

Photo creds: Pinterest; modesheart.blogspot 

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