Alfred Place Baptist Church

14:1-11 The Woman Who Will Never Be Forgotten

Mark 14:1-11 “Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. ‘But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or the people may riot.’ While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly. ‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.’ Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”

The Lord Jesus Christ is not a mythical figure like Santa Claus. He is not a collective name for everything that is right and good. He doesn’t stand for all the best longings and ambitions that lie in the human heart. Jesus Christ is not a symbol. He is not a logo for ‘good people’ or ‘people who needs our help.’ Christ is not a combination of the Tsunami victim, and the person injured by the suicide bomber, and those who suffer in prison for their faith, and the men and women who were bereaved in Rwanda. That amalgam must not be mistaken for the Saviour. The Lord Jesus is one special living person. He is a unique man who lived and died and rose in this world almost two thousand years ago, and he is set at the very heart of the Christian faith. True religion in God’s sight is measured in terms of how a person entrusts himself to the accomplished redemption of Jesus Christ. The sinner shows that he does by loving and serving God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ. You can be terrific people in my eyes, caring, competent, full of integrity, patience and kindness; I do greatly admire you as men and women, but if you have no love for Jesus Christ you are also a lost sinner on your way to destruction.

Imagine a man treating his wife merely as a symbol of all that is lovely in womanhood. He lets her live in splendid isolation in their beautiful house, but he goes out on the town with his mates and picks up other women, and is often talking on the phone with them, flirting with this one and that one. But he won’t let anyone speak a bad word about his wife. He becomes very serious when he refers to her; “She is everything that is best in women, her example, the way she keeps the house, and cares for the children. She is careful with the housekeeping money. What gifts she has, and her taste is impeccable. She does nothing wrong. Don’t let anyone say a word about my missus,” he says reverently. Yes, he is everything to her but a husband. She may as well be a robot wife! He is not treating her as his own beloved sweetheart and darling, and he is breaking her heart by his life. She is not a symbol of womanhood; she is one flesh with him until death parts them. So it is with the Lord Christ. If you think that the word ‘Jesus’ is a mere composite of people in need everywhere then you don’t know him! If you think he is a figure who stands for all that is best in every founder of every religion then you don’t know Jesus Christ. Christianity is Jesus Christ. It centres on a person, trusting in him as one’s personal Saviour, and saying what Paul said, “He loved me and gave himself for me.” Salvation is turning from sin and casting yourself upon him alone, upon a person who did something redemptive by his life and death. He is not a symbol. A symbol did not die for us on Calvary. A symbol did not lie in the grave and rise again on the third day. It is one living person who actually is with us at this moment.

On the occasion before us the Lord Jesus said these striking words, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me” (v.7). We won’t and don’t always have Jesus with us. People foolishly think he will always be there like an invisible servant hovering at our elbows, coming at our beck and call. No. There are places where he is, for example, where some of his people gather in his name to meet with him, there he is in grace. Again, ass his servants go off to work for him he with them particularly. There are other places in which the occupants delude themselves that he is with them but he is not. He is outside, standing at the door and knocking. There were many places in Judah where Jesus was not present. He was not amidst the counsels of the Pharisees as they planned the murder of the Messiah. He was not with the Roman soldiers in the barracks with their ribaldry and cruelty. Rather, he was with the twelve; he was in houses where he was invited as an honoured guest, and here he is in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper. Simon had him – in his home, in his life, at his table. It was into that home that a certain anonymous woman could enter, and go right up to him and pour very expensive perfume made of pure spikenard over his head. He was not ‘everywhere’ as a man, and he was not somewhere else in Jerusalem or Samaria but he was precisely there in the same room as she was. Though there were many people in that room her loving devotion was focused on just one person there – him! She might have performed a similar act on her husband or on her children when they came in hot and burned after being in the sun for hours, but that would have been to them, it would not have been the same as doing it to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am killing the snake that says if anyone does anything kind to anybody in spite of themselves they are doing it to Jesus. Do not delude yourselves!

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t serve in every way the people who love Jesus Christ, and that we could all improve our service, loving them with pure hearts fervently. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t love our neighbours as ourselves. We all need to be good Samaritans, and when we come across a neighbour in need of a sweet scented balm poured into his wounds that we should go ahead and do it and not wait for someone else to do it; we should deny ourselves for his sake. I was preaching in Derbyshire in August and a Chinese Christian doctor from Sheffield had heard I had been unwell a few months earlier and she thought that I had fallen which in fact I had not. She brought be a little orange-coloured container full of ointment from China, and she told me how to apply it to my bruises, not to wash it off for 24 hours, and I did so, exactly as she told me. She gave me that little jar in Christ’s name, and I believe she did it to Jesus, and that he will acknowledge that in the day of judgment: “I was bruised and you gave ointment to me.” “When, Lord?” she will say. “You did it to one of my servant and so you did it me.” The true Christian religion shows itself in a concern for people in need. Let us not neglect serving others. You cannot be a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ and walk by on the other side of the road leaving people hurting, lonely and hungry. Indeed, shouldn’t you do that sort of thing more earnestly if you are in a living loving relationship with Jesus Christ? He is your Saviour, your number one teacher, the lamb of God who has taken away your sin, and your good Shepherd who cares for you, protecting and providing for you.

A great tragedy occurred in that tragic country of Iran on Friday (March 4, 2005). An Italian journalist named Giuliana Sgrena had been kidnapped and held hostage for a month. She had been released, I don’t know how. She was on her way to the airport with the man who had worked for her deliverance. The car did not stop at a check point and the American soldiers opened fire and killed this man Nicola Calipari who threw himself across her to save her Giuliana was hit but not seriously injured. She was distraught, saying, “The man who rescued me gave his life to save me.” This what Jesus Christ has done for us; he has loved us and laid down his own life in order to redeem us, and our lives have been transformed by that love, we so worthless and he so high and good and great. What love he has shown us. It demands our soul, our life and our all. We want to live like him, reaching out to others, loving others because he has loved us, forgiving others because he has forgiven us.

In the light of the cross work of this great man Christ Jesus, the Son of God, my question to some of you is this: Do you think real religion is about supporting Oxfam and Christian Aid and Tearfund? Do you think that that is all God desires from you? No, no, men and women! To care for others in their loneliness and need may be essential. This is a proof that he is our Lord and Saviour. We won’t neglect these things, but there are more important things which we’re determined not to neglect. We won’t forget the secret place, bending our knees and bowing before this Jesus Christ who is God the Son. And in that quiet place we won’t just be thinking of what we are doing and need to do, but we’ll survey the wondrous cross. We will look unto him, what he has done, and what this living Saviour is doing now. We’ll meet with him there, and kneel at his feet there. Who couldn’t fail to keep such company and treasure the privilege of meeting with him?

In America seventy years ago J. Gresham Machen was wonderfully resisting that so called social gospel which in fact was no gospel and which helped to destroy the Welsh pulpit in the 20th century. He saw ministers turning to ecumenism and social action, and called them back to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. He found help in his opposition to that from the example of this woman pouring oil over the head of Jesus, and the Saviour’s acceptance. Many were given strength by his writings. A new seminary in Philadelphia was started when modernism came into Princeton Seminary where he had taught for years. In a famous sermon on the verses of our text called, “The Claims of Love” he ended with these words, “It sounds so strange sometimes, this word of the Cross! There is much opposition to the movement. But pray God that it may make its way! It is very pleasant to discuss merely ways and means and business methods and keep dangerous doctrinal questions in the background. Great, truly, in our day is the offense of the Cross, but there are those whose hearts have been touched. The dear Lord died for them upon the cross, and even amid all the machinery of ecclesiastical business they cannot forget what he has done. The bystanders murmur at their unconventional acts; the bystanders talk of efficiency and of “constructive work.” But what says the Lord himself? There, my friends, is the real question. He commended the woman at Bethany, despite her inefficiency and her waste, when she proclaimed his death afore. Perhaps he may commend you, if, in our day, despite sins and imperfection, yet out of a heart overflowing with love, you seek amid committees and machinery and boards to put back into its rightful place the wondrous Cross of Jesus our dear Saviour and Lord” (J. Gresham Machen, “God Transcendent,” Eerdmans, 1949, p.69.)

This incident is not here in Mark’s gospel as some lyrical interlude while Jesus is on his way to the cross. This is not some pleasant pause on the Via Dolorosa to divert out attention for a moment from the whipping and the blood and sweat, the nails and mockery. Mark’s gospel is not a novel, nor even a short story. It is a record of God’s work in Christ Jesus in our salvation. This woman is anonymous and Mark spends one verse only in tell us what she did: “a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head” (v 3). That is all. We don’t know anything about her, how long she had known the Saviour, what a difference he had wrought in her. We can only guess at all of that. Maybe for weeks or months she had a premonition of his death. Maybe not, but the Lord did say, “She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial” (v.8). That may have been the very first time she had heard the word ‘burial’ about Jesus. It might have come as a terrible shock to her – that the Prince of Life would ever die! I am saying this, that this narrative is not about her; it is about him – this one glorious and mighty Redeemer, the Son of God. We read this incident and we say to one another, what manner of man is this that he could accept a woman pouring perfume over his head? Would a modest and holy man, conscious of his own sinfulness, allow a woman to do this?

What we see on the house of Simon the leper is Jesus Christ in his great offices as the church’s prophet and priest and king.

1. JESUS CHRIST IS OUR PROPHET.

Christ has been living until this moment by the words of Moses and the prophets. He knows the Scriptures and loves them. When Satan came to him in the wilderness he overcame him by the truth of the words of the prophet Moses. Jesus had absorbed into his being the light of God. He had drunk at the spring of divine revelation. He who said that man does not live by bread alone himself lived by the words that God speaks. He ate and drank God’s truth. He received it from God. He saturated his life with his Bible. He knew that he must become the sacrificial lamb of Leviticus, the burnt offering, consumed by the magnificent rectitude of a sin-hating God. He knew that he was the suffering servant of whom the prophet Isaiah had spoken. He knew every jot and tittle of Isaiah 53; he was aware that this was God’s eternal purpose for him, that he will fulfil in his body all that is spoken of him there. He will bear the sorrows of all men, yes, but more, he shall also “sprinkle many nations,” and “see his seed,” as one to whom gifts will be brought, all the treasures of heaven and earth are going to be his. “He will be raised, and lifted up and highly exalted” (Isa. 52:13). Jesus knew that that was his ultimate destination – the throne of heaven. So those two things, humiliation and exultation, will both be his. Jesus knew it because God had revealed it. The way to the throne was by the cross. The prophet Isaiah says those two contrasting truths nowhere in closer juxtaposition than in these words, “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death” (Isa. 53:9).

The government – Roman and Jewish – would sentence him to a murderer’s death and a grave with the most despicable and wicked of men. They would take the bodies down from the cross and toss them onto the rubbish heap with the manure and dead donkeys to be picked at and torn by vultures. But God says, “No!”. “I assign him a grave with the rich in his death!” There would be luxury, and extravagance, and distinction about his grave. Christ would be buried in a freshly cut sepulchre with no odour of dead men’s bones, and no rats skulking in the corners because this was a righteous man. This was God’s beloved Son in whom the Father was pleased, and all this Jesus was assured of. His own self-consciousness was completely molded by the Bible.

So when this woman modestly and holily came up to him, and when he saw her snap the neck of the bottle full of the costliest perfume and, standing over him as he reclined at the table, begin to pour it over his head, he made no protest; he showed no signs of disapproval; he did not stiffen in tension, rather he accepted the homage and worship she brought to him. It represented the savings of a lifetime and she gave it all away to him, and when Jesus came to speak he linked the action with his burial. “She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial” (v.8). He knew that his cruel death and this luxury were appropriate to one another. There in Bethany he was seeing what Isaiah had written that God would assign him a grave with the rich. Men would treat him as a monster and drive nails through his hands and feet, but God was assuring him that everything was under control. God had drawn lines across which the greatest powers on earth could not go. They would have dishonoured his body in death, but God was going to show his love for his dear Son’s obedience even to the death of the cross by giving him the most splendid of burying places. As Isaiah had prophesied, he will be “with the rich in his death” (Isaiah 53:9).

Let us also turn to another prophet, Zechariah and the light his life casts on what was happening in the house of Simon the leper. This is what Zechariah says about his flock, “The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them and said, ‘I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.’ Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. It was revoked on that day, and so the afflicted of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the LORD. I told them ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’ – the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter” (Zech. 11:8-13). Zechariah had been the servant of the Lord pastoring and preaching to these people, and they detested him. So he symbolically marks the end of this relationship by breaking his pastor’s staff. “If it be good in your eyes,” Zechariah says, “give me my severance pay, my redundancy money. Let us officially end these duties of mine to you. But if you decide not to give me anything, it will not trouble me – keep it!” They chose to pay him 30 pieces of silver. According to Exodus 21:32 that was the sum to be paid for a slave who had been gored by an ox. It was not even the price of a free man but an outcast. They considered God’s prophet Zechariah to be in the league of a common servant. God had taken such pains to send them this brilliant preacher; he had faithfully brought this message to them with these wonderful visions, but they esteemed him so little – someone below stairs, to hire and fire at will. God says to Zechariah, “Don’t keep that money. Throw that ‘handsome price’ to the potter.” Do you see the irony? That is probably a proverb; clay pots were so cheap, mud shaped and dried in the sun, two a penny, and a sum given to the potter for one or two was almost worthless. A wife might say on her birthday when her husband gave her something trivial, “Do you think I’m the potter?”

Jesus Christ is the greatest of the prophets, greater than Zechariah, and he accepts this price the women puts on him without hesitation, here in the house of Simon the leper, but immediately there are the voices of protest, indignation and rebuke. This was too high a price to give to Jesus. He wasn’t worth all that, and we are told in the account in John 12:4 that it was Judas who complained and asked why this ointment wasn’t sold and the money given to the poor. He was willing to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver but this woman had paid many times that for this costly perfume. It was a year’s wages (v.5). What would be a year’s wages today? 15,000 pounds maybe, and all poured over Jesus’ head. The bottle was not unscrewed so that you could keep some for later. Its stem was broken, and the entire contents bestowed on him while God’s great prophet accepted the love of the woman’s heart. It was all his; it was his exclusively; she loved him more than anyone else; he was her supreme love; she kept nothing back from him. What is he doing? Laying his claim to our devotion, to the love of every one of his people, to our adoration, and our sacrifice, and our gifts, and our dedication, and your service, and our self-denial, and our worship. Henceforth we love him more than anyone else in the world.

Jesus’ disciples must have been astonished. He has just been teaching them about suffering for him, laying down their lives for his sake, fleeing to the mountains to survive. “Tighten your belts, boys,” he’s said. “Count to cost boys,” and then an hour or so later he accepts this luxury, expensive oil running down his hair and onto his beard and onto his clothes – without any demur! He has repeatedly told them that he must go to Jerusalem and be betrayed and arrested and condemned and crucified and buried as one despised by the elders and the people. You would think that that would mean facing up to an end like the end of an old donkey, hauling it away and throwing on the dump for rats and vultures to tear away at. Why wasn’t Jesus steeling himself for that? What is all this, accepting such extravagance? Isn’t it hard to follow Jesus? Doesn’t he give us riddles in his teaching and in his actions? “He is telling us of cross-bearing and self denial, and then the next moment he is accepting something entirely different for himself? What pointless extravagance!” That is how Christ the prophet must have appeared to these disciples living as they did in the days before his resurrection and ascension and enthronement in glory. His authority from the midst of the throne will explain the luxury, but here in Simon’s house they could only see the looming horror.

2. JESUS CHRIST IS OUR PRIEST.

Notice that it is he who makes mention of his death. She doesn’t come and say, “I am doing this as a symbol of the frankincense and myrrh with which your precious body will be embalmed in two days’ time.” She is ignorant of that but he knows that as God’s great High Priest he is going to offer his own blood as the sacrifice, and die as the Lamb of God. He is gripped by that conviction. The Son of man must suffer; he must go to Jerusalem and die There is no other possible destiny than the cross, and so here, in this holy happy scene of devotion and love, he speaks. The light is shining from the woman’s eyes. Love is beaming from her face. The whole house is full of the intoxicating aroma of this perfume. What a moment, but he shatters its beauty by peering into the pit. She is bringing a pearl of great price to Christ; all her love is focused on him, but already he sees himself clothed in a shroud, covered with embalming spices buried in a tomb. How sensitive he is to the plan of God. It is his will to do whatever his Father desires. He did not come to Jerusalem to bring about a revolution, or to nail Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Temple to start a reformation. He went there to make the great sacrifice for the sin of the world.

So this woman breaks the jar and pours it over his head, and this was the reaction: “Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly” (vv. 4&5). Immediately he leaps to her defence. He shields her from this censorship. He protects the dove from the vulture – he always does that – and gladly accepts her loving gift. It was terrible for her to hear him speak of being buried. He doesn’t refer to his ‘home call,’ or ‘passing away ‘ or his ‘elevation to higher service,’ but his burial. “They are going to bury me.” It was a sword thrust into her heart, but to help her he says, “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (v.6). Then he tells her something else, quite extraordinary, that “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (v.9). The perfume of her spikenard is going to escape through the door and the windows of that room and the winds are going to take it to the four corners of the earth. The world is going to be permeated by it. In almost 2,000 years’ time far away in a little town on the edge of the Irish Sea people will talk there of her love and what she did to our Saviour. Do you see the confidence of Christ our Priest?

“Dear dying Lamb Thy precious blood
Will never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.” (William Cowper)

There would be a people “throughout the world” – everywhere in the world – he affirmed, to whom his death would not be in vain. Men would be speaking of the last week of the life of our great High Priest and what had happened to him on the way to his death. What is Jesus telling us here? That whatever in love is given to Jesus is going to last for ever and ever. On the day of judgment it will not be forgotten. Your labours for him are not in vain; your costliest devotion rendered to him is not in vain. Your weariness and heartache gained in serving him is not in vain. It will be told. The day will reveal it! Our Lord Jesus here shows he is a great High Priest.

3. JESUS CHRIST IS OUR KING.

Who but some extraordinary king would say, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me” (v.7). On the one hand he sets the poor, the masses in Calcutta, the street children of Rio, and Manila, and Thailand, the unemployed of Zimbabwe and the townships of Africa, those who struggle to survive in eastern Europe – the poor, decimated by hunger and disease, AIDS and tuberculosis, with little opportunity to better themselves. There are many millions in the world who struggle to get food for one meal in a day. What a picture, utterly heartbreaking, with no end in sight to their poverty; they are always with us. They are there on the one hand, and then on the other hand he sets himself. Jesus only. No one else with him. This man Jesus Christ, not hungry, reclining at a table, eating the very best food that Simon the leper can provide. He is eating a delicious meal, and he sets all the poor of the world after himself. He comes first. Always he has the priority.

Once Elijah visited a place called Zarephath and approached a poor widow. He said to her, “Bring me a piece of bread.” Then there is an interesting dialogue; “‘As surely as the LORD your God lives,’ she replied, ‘I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it – and die.’ Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.'” (I Kings 17:12&13). The king’s ambassador comes first. Elijah tests her faith; what is her priority in life. Is God the first thing the last thing, the only thing to her?

Again, think of Jesus’ words in the parable of the servant: “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty'” (Lk. 17:7-10). You see this hungry servant who all day has been working in the fields entering the house ravenously hungry, but before he can make something for himself first he is constrained to obey his master. He roasts the lamb, he prepares the gravy in a hot jug, then a bowl of green peas with a knob of melting butter on the top, he mashes and whips the potatoes and takes the whole meal out to his master, setting it before him with his napkin, and as his master is dining the servant sets to work to make a Lemon Meringue pudding. Then he grinds the coffee beans and gets the percolator going finally taking the desert and coffee and After Eights to his master. Only when all that is done can he begin to prepare his own meal. His feelings are telling him to think of himself, to forget about his master and enjoy his own food, but he is under his master’s authority and has to do his will. It is hard to be a servant. Who ever said it was going to be easy following Christ? Every week ought to have far too many demands on time and energy; every task is too great to do it well for God’s glory. You see what Jesus says? “When you have done everything you were told to do, you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty'” (Luke 17:10). We go against our feelings and we make sure we are serving first the King of Kings.

Of course do not forget the poor, but our focus is first on King Jesus. He wants our best, that we serve him when we are young, that we give our minds to him, and spend and be spent for him, our moments and our days, our silver and our gold, our luxuries too are all reserved for him. It is not that the poor help themselves and he gets the crumbs that fall from the table. He is our Saviour, but he is also our Lord. He has paid the price for his Lordship by agonising for us on Golgotha. So he accepts what is his due in the home of Simon the leper in the wonderful food Simon brings him and in the costly perfume the women pours on his head. Then he imposes his order on his disciples when they fall out and quarrel. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus, “Why are you bothering her?” (v.6). The King orders his subjects to obey. That is the way Christian unity comes, by hearing all that Jesus says and doing it.

The woman’s costly silent worship clashes with the loud rebukes of some of those who were present, who had taken Simon’s food but brought nothing to Jesus. Judawas one of those, and from that scene he walks out and goes to the chief priests to betray Jesus (v.10). You might have thought that if anything could restore a backslider or soundly convert a stony-ground hearer it would have been such an occasion as that, where transparent love and devotion had filled the place. Judas’ eyes had been feasting on the sight, his nostrils filled with the perfume. You would tell me, “Not doctrine; not a summons to repentance; not the familiar gospel, but lives overflowing with love for Jesus Christ, this will bring back the wanderer and break the hating heart,” and I would not demur, but let me point out to you that Judas sees this matchless scene and it only steels his resolve to destroy Christ. He sells the King of love for thirty pieces of silver. Why didn’t this woman’s love bring a sinner back? Because of the power of sin. You remember the great words of Anselm, “You haven’t yet realized the gravity of sin,” or as it is in those six words of Latin, Nondum considerasti quantum ponderis sit peccatum. Like six bullets from a Colt 45 they shoot down all pride in human achievement. If there is no specific reason other than the power of indwelling sin and the activities of Satan for Judas selling Jesus let me watch that I don’t betray him!

There is a struggle in this room between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Amongst this little private party assembled in the home of Simon the leper there is a huge battle taking place with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Coming to Jesus means coming down from the seats in the coliseum and fighting with the beasts in the arena. What a war was taking place in the house of Simon the leper! Who knew it save Jesus only? Should we not take the shoes from off our feet when we stand here and see this woman pouring out her love on Jesus?

Never in history has another scene taken place like this one. Why were prophets and priests and kings anointed with oil during the old covenant? To mark a man as a future king or prophet, and to strengthen him inwardly as the new bearer of this office. Those were all types and foretastes, but now the reality has come so that after Jesus’ days there will no more kings, and no more priests, and no more prophets. Jesus is the Anointed one, the Christ of God. When the women poured the oil onto his head it is a great confirmation of his calling. He is receiving that anointing from God the Father. It is Heaven that directs this women to break the jar and pour out the oil on that blessed body. Christ was doubly anointed, the first was by the Spirit at the beginning of his ministry and here by the symbol of the oil which she poured over him. It is right that he take this name of Messiah the anointed one. What an encouragement it was for Jesus to be anointed in this way.

Today there is no one in all this great world who can anoint him with oil. The world does not bow before him and confess him as Lord and Christ but he has been anointed with the oil of gladness by his blessed Father and seated at God’s right hand. Every other hand that anointed with oil was polluted with sin, and the one being anointed was himself polluted by sin, but here is one who has lived on this earth for thirty years and yet remains holy, harmless, undefiled, free from sin, and now he is higher than the heavens. All heaven is filled with the aroma of the Father’s oil as it runs down Christ’s head and onto his glorious garments and fills all the universe. God has anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows. The joy that was set before him enabling him to endure the cross and despise its shame is now eternally his. Christ takes the oil which the Father has poured out on him and in turn he pours it forth on all his blessed people. We cry, “My oil is found in Thee. Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, the one who is risen from the dead. Thou preparest thine own oil and pourest it forth on me! Even me!”

6th March 2005 GEOFF THOMAS.