Anointing of Christ as Prophetic Rehearsal of the Burial rites

Eight days after his birth Jesus was anointed for the first time at his circumcision, the traditional Jewish celebration to take up the child in the community of the Jewish people, Israel, the People of God.

Jesus Anointing
Jesus Anointing - 1874 Source WCG Author Alexander Bida
Six days before the Pascha /Pesach or Passover when the “crucifixion” was to take place we find Jesus with his disciples in Bethany at the house of the risen Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha (John 11:1,2) This time we do not find a mention of an alabaster jar or tears as by the second anointing, but a drying with the hair and anointing of Jesus‘ feet with costly ointment of nard, of which Judas complains about wastefulness.
Jesus refers to this anointing to his coming death and burial, by which usually also the dead bodies are embalmed. Here we will find the sign of anointing and embalming the Anointed Dead as well as the detention of earthly dissolution or destruction.

“Accordingly יהושע, six days before the Passover, came to Bĕyth Anyah, where Elʽazar was, who had died, whom He raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha served, while Elʽazar was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Miryam took a pound of costly perfume of nard, anointed the feet of יהושע, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Then one of His taught ones, Yehuḏah from Qerioth, son of Shimʽon, who was about to deliver Him up, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred pieces of silver and given to the poor?” And he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and he used to take what was put in it. יהושע then said, “Let her alone, she has kept this for the day of My burial. “For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.” Then a great crowd of the Yehuḏim learned that He was there. And they came, not on account of יהושע only, but also to see Elʽazar, whom He had raised from the dead. And the chief priests resolved to kill Elʽazar as well, because on account of him many of the Yehuḏim went away and believed in יהושע. ” (John 12:1-11 The Scriptures 1998+)

The lady in Bethany did not want to seek to please and honour herself. When Mary, having taken a litra [about 12 ounces or 340 grams] of very valuable, pure spikenard ointment, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair she acted as she wanted to be a servant and clean her Master, honouring him. At the same time perhaps to become pure in heart like him who did not need a cleansing because he was without fault, but to repel all anxiety, all discontent, all discouragement.

Judas Iscariot son of Simon, the one about to betray his master Jesus asked why this ointment was not sold for three hundred denarii [i.e., 300 days’ wages or a whole year’s salary or a Roman legionary sixteen months’ pay] and given to poor people. But Mary found her friend who raised Lazarus from the dead worth so much if not more. Also we should be aware of the costly price of Jesus, being more than the 10 months or more wages.

For them Jesus was still with them, but they had to know they would not have Jesus always around any more. “For the poor you always have with yourselves, but Me you do not always have.”  (John 12:8)  This is what Mary perceived with her delicate woman’s intuition and what the apostles failed to understand though repeatedly and plainly told by Jesus. For her actions this deed and woman would be remembered. For we got here a prophetic rehearsal of the burial rites.

“Truly, I say to you, wherever this Good News is proclaimed in all the world, what this woman did shall also be spoken of, to her remembrance.”
(Mark 14:9 & Matthew 26:13 The Scriptures 1998+)

Though it would have bought bread for thousands here the living bread has been prepared. And that bread would be for billions of people. And “two hundred pieces of silver worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for every one of them to receive a little. (John 6:7 The Scriptures 1998+)

The generous tone of Jesus his prediction, remarkably fulfilled, is in sharp contrast to the mean protest of the disciples. The disciples criticized this lavish praise. Then for one of the twelve, called Yehuḏah from Qerioth or Judas Iscariot it was clear that nothing material was to be gained from associating with this man he followed for several months and considered being the Messiah. The evangel his master heralded for the whole world preached sacrifice, humility, peace and absence from wealth.  This Jesus had so little appreciation of the value of money.  Judas had no love of the poor, (John 12:6.10-11). Jesus is far from opposing efforts to conquer pauperism; he simply remarks a fact: the disciples will have ample opportunity after he has gone to care for the poor.

While Mary sacrificed a large sum of money to show her love to Jesus, Judas sold Him for the hire of a slave and got for his treachery the equivalent of 120 denarii. The thirty pieces of silver are staters. The sum was a natural one for the priests to choose because the Law laid it down as the price for a human person (a slave; Exodus 21:32).

By this anointing of Jesus, once more the world could find in the sign of anointing that he was the promised Christ (= the anointed) or Messiah.

At the Last Supper, before his death, Jesus washes also the feet of his pupils

Later when Jesus at an other meal, his Last Supper, would take the bread to bless it we shall get the end of the Mosaic dispensation. The true Paschal Lamb was Jesus Christ, and he was now ready for the sacrifice. Yet at the very hour he was offered, unbelieving Jews were sacrificing useless blood in the temple. The Lord’s supper which takes the place of the Old Testament ceremonies, is a memorial of Christ as a gift and sacrifice, a parable of the true nature of Christianity — Christ becoming a part of us, and a prophecy of his future coming and glory.

The priests didn’t want to put Jesus to death during the Passover feast, but they will anyway. The Passover as a sacred feast, remembered the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, which was the central act of redemption in the Old Testament. Now Jesus will provide a new centre of redemption. In him we can find the most sublime Lamb and offer for God. This time not an animal and not an innocent child who can not dispute (as Isaac), but an adult man who has a free will and enough understanding to be aware of his actions and with enough insight to what is going to happen.


Dutch version / Nederlandse versie:  Zalving van Christus als profetische repetitie van de begrafenisrituelen

Dutch readers can read more on the several anointments Jesus received while he was alive here on earth, in the article: Het begin van Jezus #12 Gezalfd na Johannes de Doper
+ Voor Nederlandstalige lezers wordt er in de reeks over het al of niet voorbestaan van Jezus ook dieper ingegaan op zijn tweede naamgeving, namelijk Christus of de Gezalfde. > Het begin van Jezus #12 Gezalfd na Johannes de Doper

Sequel: Anointing as a sign of Promotion

In Dutch Zalving als teken van verhoging


Please do also find:

  1. Trust in the blood of the Lamb God provides
  2. Genealogy of Mary, mother of Jesus
  3. Preexistence in the Divine purpose and Trinity
  4. A Jewish Theocracy
  5. What Jesus Did – Misleading around the Messiah and the final assessment
  6. Not bounded by labels but liberated in Christ
  7. Written to recognise the Promissed One
  8. Not making a runner


  • The Anointing at Bethany (
    In Luke 7 there is an incident of a penitent woman anointing Jesus which is different.
  • Lent, Holy Week And (Heading For) Easter (
    what happened to the so-called forty days of Lent?
    If we’re lucky, we’ll only jump to Maundy Thursday with the Last Supper and the washing of feet. Some will at least jump to Good Friday. Many, though, take leave of absence until Easter Day itself, missing out the unpleasant, gory parts of the story.
    You feel the discrepancy between Jesus and his disciples. They aren’t picking up all he has warned them about, so much so they are still arguing about status and greatness and looking forward to a good Passover meal. All the time, Jesus knows what is coming.
  • Passion Week (E) Wednesday Events and Judas Iscariot,the suicide of Satan and the Salvation of the World (
    the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people
  • Jesus begotten Son of God #16 Prophet to be heard (
  • Holy Monday: April 2 (
    Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.
    In this act by the sister of Lazarus – from a family of some means – all sorts of images are stirred for us.  But among the many gifts the story has brought to the Church through all the centuries, perhaps one of the most enduring ones is created by the argument of Judas Iscariot.
  • Extravagant love for Jesus (
    What Mary had done brought sweetness not only in the physical sense, but the spiritual sense as well. Her lovely deed shows the extravagance of love – a love that we cannot outmatch. The Lord Jesus showed us the extravagance of his love in giving the best he had by pouring out his own blood for our sake and by anointing us with his Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says thatnothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). Do you allow the love of Christ to rule in all your thoughts and intentions, and in all your words and deeds?
  • The Fragrance of Holy Week (
    Most of our time and attention in Holy Week are given to the triduum and rightly so. The three days of that period encompass Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. They are, perhaps, the most holy days of the year. If they hold that kind of prominence, then maybe we ought to look at what leads us into those days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week. There are Eucharistic propers for each of those days.
  • Holy Week – Part 2 – The Jerusalem Establishment (
    When Jesus was taken to Pilate, seeing that Jesus was a Galilean, Pilate hoped to get out of the middle and sent Him to Herod for judgment. Herod, wanting to see Jesus crucified sent Him right back to Pilate. Apparently Herod could have people stoned or crushed to death but inflicting crucifixion was strictly a Roman right.
  • Anointed with Purpose (
    From the throne of eternity God searches the hearts of men seeking to choose for Himself those who are willing to serve His purpose in their generation. From the throne of His sanctuary God speaks from the realm of heaven into the world He set apart for us to serve Him and connects with us to compel us and prompt us to live with the purpose of aligning our will with His in order to experience the fulfillment of His promises. By the authority of His name, His word and the anointing of His Holy Spirit, God seeks out those who are willing to be conformed to the image of His Son and be filled with the power and grace of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in order to serve Him in their generation to bring glory to the Most High, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
    Everyone who believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God has been chosen by God for His purposes to serve Him in their generation. Like David, we are anointed with the Spirit of Christ so the power and grace and truth of Christ may be manifested in and through us to affect positive change and make the world around us a better place. If you are reading this today, God wants you to embrace His purpose for you, believing you are anointed with purpose to serve Him in this generation, through faith in Christ.
  • Scripture for Holy Week (
    The scriptures for this week are “bookends.” The first reminds us of how we began the season, with Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. The second scripture tells the events of Jesus’ last two days: Jesus’ “anointing for burial,” predictions of coming events, his last supper with his disciples, the lonely last night when his best friends couldn’t even stay awake with him. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, denied, taken through a mockery of a trial, and crucified.
  • Holy Week, day 2, Monday…The anointing and cleansing of Jesus (
    Once resolved to come to Jerusalem, Jesus is fearless. He knows only one thing, and that is to do God’s business. And God’s business and that of the religious authorities in Jerusalem are not the same.
    As Christians we are called to cleanse our lives in the purity of Christ’s teaching. This means we keep our bodies pure as they are the temples of the Holy Spirit.
    Holy Monday therefore demands us to examine our lives to see whether they glow with Christ’s purity and honesty, and to examine whether we live by Christ’s commandments or our own watered down version of them.
  • The Passion Narrative (
    There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.” They were infuriated with her.
  • They paid him thirty pieces of silver … (
    30 pieces of silver
    30 shekels of shame
    Was the price paid for Jesus
    On the cross He was slain

    Betrayed and forsaken
    Unloved and unclaimed
    In anger they pierced Him
    But He died not in vein

  • Lenten Reflections 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 37 (

    During the Passion Week, one incident that prominently stands out among others is Mary anointing Jesus’ feet at Bethany (please read John 12:1-11).
    We have today, in many churches, similar people whose purpose of being around Jesus or inside the church is to somehow keep an eye on the money and to steal from it whenever the opportunity arises.

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