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Week One | Joining Mary at the Feet of Jesus

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Welcome + Week One | Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus Online Book Study
Reading Assignment – Ch. 1 & 2
Scripture Passage: John 12:3, NIV
๐ŸŽ™Listen to the Audio version | Read time 7.5-minutes

Many years ago, my family and I were blessed to go to England and visit family.  We took a trip to visit our family homestead, the place where my great grandfather grew up before he traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and settled in Wheeling, WV.  Not far from his hometown there is the town called York, which has a long and rich history.

One rainy day we decided to take the Jorvik Viking tour to learn more about the townโ€™s past.  Little did we know that weโ€™d had an opportunity to explore the regionโ€™s history through the sights, sounds, and even smells of the Viking-Age York!

It was quite the experience.

Can you imagine if reading the Bible came with smell-o-vision just as the Jorvik tour did?

Joining Mary at the Feet of Jesus

Just think of stepping into a room as a woman, kneeling next to a man, pours an earthy, musky perfume on his feet and wipes them with her hair.  The perfume floods your senses and you just know that this scent will linger, both in your mind and on your clothing for quite some time.

“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
John 12:3, NIV

Most modern-day believers in Jesus Christ forget that โ€œthe Bible—from Genesis through Revelation—is essentially a Jewish documentโ€, so thereโ€™s no wonder many of us have overlooked the significance of this event.

This generous act of Maryโ€™s took place six days before Passover.  It was the same day that Jews would select their Passover lambs for sacrifice.  After a thorough inspection, to be certain they were without blemish, their ankles and feet would be anointed with oil.

By anointing him with expensive fragrances, Mary may have been making a statement about who she believed Jesus was, proclaiming him as Messiah.  In fact, the Hebrew word for Messiah is Mashiach, which literally means ‘the Anointed One’.

Ann Spangler & Lois Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (Pg. 20)

Now think of the events of Holy Week.  Maryโ€™s anointing would have taken place just days before Jesusโ€™ triumphant arrival into Jerusalem.

The fragrance of his perfume-soaked skin would have wafted through the crowd as the donkey made its way into through the streets, packed with Jews, in town for Passover.

Instead of being crowned during a coronation, Hebrew kings were anointed with sacred oil perfumed with extremely expensive spices.

Ann Spangler & Lois Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (Pg. 20)

Scripture tells us that nearly a pint of perfume was used to anoint Jesus.  If we continued reading in John 12, Judas cries out at the scene, thinking only of the expense poured out, approximately 300 denari.  The equivalent is a yearโ€™s wages.

It seems likely that the smell of the perfume with which Mary anointed Jesus would have lingers for days.  God may have used Maryโ€™s act of devotion to telegraph a subtle but powerful message.  Everywhere Jesus went during his final days of his life, he had the fragrance of royalty.  Jesus smelled like a king.

Ann Spangler & Lois Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (Pg. 22)

The King Anointed

But this isnโ€™t the only time that Jesus was anointed.

Remember the gifts of the Magi.  They brought with them, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  From the straw of the stable, the air around him would have smelled of royalty.

And just two days before Passover, Jesus was anointed again.  This time with oil poured on his head. (Mark 14:1-9, NIV)

Now, like the Westerner that I am, I always considered that these two Passover events were actually singular.  But now knowing the Jewish context, I can see that these two events were certainly separate and much more symbolic in nature than I ever could imagine!

The Passover lamb, previously inspected and its feet anointed, would be brought into the home and observed for several days before being inspected again.

Then two days before Passover, the lamb would be anointed a second time, this time on their head, which confirmed that they were free of any blemish.

Jesus was anointed like the sacrificial lamb.
Jesus was anointed like the Hebrew kings.

Even if the aroma of the perfume of His feet had begun to diminish, the scent of His second anointing would have still hung heavy in the air as He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.

It would have been evident in the courtyard at twilight as they beat Him and pressed a crown of thorns into his forehead.

The Roman guards who nailed Him to the cross and placed the sign above his head, โ€œKing of the Jews,โ€ Jesus would have smelled the irony.

And Jesusโ€™ last gasping breath on the cross, may have been tinted with the scent of the ultimate sacrifice.

Today we learned:
– The significance of the anointing that Jesus received from his disciple, Mary.
– The symbolism of Jesus as the Lamb of God.
– The symbolism of Jesus as the King of kings.

How does the cultural context of Scripture change the way that you see Jesus and relate to Him?

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Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus | Lois Tverberg

A 7-week study to change the way you read Scripture and deepen your understanding of the life of Jesus, by taking a fascinating tour of the Jewish world of Jesus, offering inspirational insights that can
transform your faith.

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