home speaking schedule bookstore contact

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Anointing of Jesus in the Four Gospels -- Matthew

        Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany to share a dinner given in His honor by Martha, Mary and Lazarus. John 12:1 Lazarus, whom Jesus had resurrected, is now reclining at table with Jesus. The Passover Lamb, Unleavened Bread and Resurrection and the Life will break bread at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Lazarus means “God has given help.” Jesus who is God helped Lazarus rise from death to life.
         Previously, at the death of Lazarus, everyone was weeping. Mary showed her love for Jesus and her brother through her tears. She wept. The Jews with Mary wept. Deeply moved by their sorrow, Jesus too wept. Jesus shared in their sorrow. The weeping of Jesus made the Jews say, “See how He loved him (Lazarus). Jesus also wept over unbelieving Jerusalem because He knew that their unbelief would bring Jerusalem to destruction and scatter the people He loved. This is the heart of God and Jesus. God nor Jesus rejoice over our demise.  If we insist in our own way contrary to God, we will suffer the consequences.  God and Jesus love us with an everlasting love. Both David in the Older Testament and Peter in the New Testament failed God through sin. They had no way back except for the unfailing love and mercy of God. David pleaded to God's mercy and unfailing love in Psalm 51:1-2. David also recognized his need for cleansing. Jesus also showed His and the Father's love to Peter by reversing Peter's denial of Him by asking Peter three times if he loved Him. 
           In John 12, Lazarus is now sitting at table with Jesus.  Just before the passion of Jesus, Mary will show her passion and great love and devotion to Jesus by giving her most expensive oil (perfume) to prepare Him for burial. I will expound on this later in this teaching. First, I want to show the variance of the accounts of Jesus' anointing with the perfume in the four gospels.


         The accounts of the woman pouring perfume over Jesus vary in the other three gospels. It is not known whether these three accounts are the same woman who is identified as Mary of Bethany in the gospel of John or three different events involving three different women.

Matthew 26:6-13

          In the account in Matthew, Jesus is eating at the home of Simon the leper. In order for you to fully understand the significance of this, I must teach you about leprosy and the cleansing of a leper according to the Law in the Older Testament.  A Jewish Rabbi in Jesus' day would never sit and eat at the same table with a leper. Lepers were considered unclean. Just touching a leper or his/her garment made you unclean according to the Law. By association, you too could become unclean. Again, what is excluded in the Law, Jesus includes. All humans are “lepers” – unclean sinners. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are cleansed by His sinless blood and can eat at His table -- His Word.  The name Simon means "hearing."  Simon is now hearing the Truth through the mouth of Jesus, and fellowshipping with Him.

Leviticus 13 and 14 regarding lepers:

        As long as leprosy exists, the leper must cry out “unclean, unclean.” No one was to go near or touch a leper. The Pharisees were continually criticizing Jesus for coming close to lepers and even healing them.  A leper according to the Law was an outcast. Leprosy was considered an outward sign of an inward spiritual corruption. Leprosy begins small but spreads gradually until it covers the whole body. This is also true of sinners. Leprosy symbolizes sin. Sin can start small but can eventually affect the whole body. It also affects the whole Body of Christ and must be dealt with.  
      According to the Law, a leper must be taken outside the camp for seven days and then be examined by the high priest or one of his sons (priest) to see if the disease has gone. If the disease is gone, the person must offer a blood sacrifice to God and go through a ceremonial cleansing. The priest orders that two live, clean birds, some cedar wood, scarlet thread and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed. The priest orders that one of the birds be killed over fresh (running) water over a clay pot (earthen vessel). Then the priest orders that the live bird together with the cedar wood, scarlet yarn and the hyssop be dipped in the blood of the sacrificial bird that was killed over the fresh, running (living) water. Seven times the priest will sprinkle the healed leper with the blood mixed with water and then pronounce him clean. After the blood is applied, then the live bird is set free.
         This whole process is a picture of the sacrifice of Jesus when the water and blood poured out of His side.  Jesus is the live bird that was slain in His death on the cross.  He is the live bird that was set free in His resurrection.
  • Jesus is the bird who was slain. He is also the live bird who was set free in His resurrection. The blood of Jesus pronounces us clean and sets us free of sin.
  • We are His clay pots – His earthen vessels. Jesus died so His blood and the water of His Anointed Word could give us new, resurrected life.  Jesus poured out the living water of the Holy Spirit into His earthen vessels (believers).  
  • The fresh water represents the living water of the Word and the anointing of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives to help us be cleansed and remain clean. The blood declares us righteous. The water brings us into His righteousness by walking it out by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • The scarlet thread represents the atonement for sin through Jesus. Jesus was crucified outside the camp even though He was clean (sinless), just as the leper and sacrifice were taken outside the camp of Israel. This scarlet thread is woven throughout scripture symbolizing the atoning blood of Jesus.
  • Cedar wood repels insects that destroy. It is the blood of Jesus that destroys the works of the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy.
  • Hyssop is a plant used by the Jews for purification and cleansing. It is hyssop that was used to spread the blood of the sacrificial lamb over the doors of those who would be saved from the angel of death in Exodus at the first Passover. In Psalm 51:7, David asked the Lord to cleanse him with hyssop and “I shall be clean.” This was written after David's sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. Hyssop represents the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit and Word that bring us to purity.
  • Sprinkling the blood mixed with water seven times over the unclean one represents the blood of salvation and the water of the Anointed Word that was embodied in the Anointed One – Jesus. Jesus not only shed His blood, He sprinkled it seven times to fulfill the Law. (1. His circumcision; 2. His sweat turning to blood in the Garden of Gethsemane; 3. the wound from the crown of thorns; 4. the stripes on His back; 5. the holes in His hands, 6. the holes in His feet, and 7. the wound in His side) Jesus fulfilled all of the requirements of the Law for atonement. His atonement is done once and is perfect and complete symbolized by the number seven.   Just before giving up His spirit to the Father, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  His blood sacrifice is perfect and complete as the atonement for sin for the whole world.
        After the priest of the Older Testament has done all of the requirements for cleansing a leper, the person must wash his clothing and bathe himself. This was the responsibility of the leper who has been cleansed by the blood and water.  All of this must be done before the healed leper could enter the camp of God's people again. God wants His camp clean—a holy nation, a royal priesthood.         Believers are completely washed by the blood of Jesus. Then we must continue to be cleansed because we are still flesh with its sinful nature. Word and Spirit cleansing follows blood cleansing. It is the responsibility of every follower of Christ to allow the water of the Word and Holy Spirit to wash us and help us put on the white garment (righteousness) of Christ. 
         The leper in the Older Testament wanting to be healed and restored comes to the high priest or priest for cleansing. Followers of Christ must also come to our Great High Priest for cleansing. Blood brings life but also flushes out impurities. So, the blood of Jesus, His Truth and the Holy Spirit will wash us clean and make our sins white as snow. With Christ, we will wear the white robes of righteousness spoken of in Revelation.
        Jesus healed the unclean—the lepers. (see Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40; Luke 5:12; Luke 17:12) He was not affected or made unclean by doing so. As humans we are all like the lepers – “unclean, unclean.” But thanks be to God that He sent His Son to restore us to righteousness once again.


      Matthew 26:6-7: While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster box of very expensive perfume, which she poured on His head as He was reclining at the table.
     Here the woman is not named nor are there any tears. There is no mention of the woman breaking the alabaster box either. She has come to Jesus to give her best gift to Him. She is standing by Jesus who was probably reclining on a couch as they did in those days.
       This woman was bold and courageous since in those days only men would be with Rabbi Jesus talking about the scriptures and the kingdom of God. Women were excluded from learning scripture. This was the responsibility of the men.  This woman came to Jesus with her best gift—her alabaster box of expensive perfume—to show her love and devotion to Him. She poured it over His head. The head is the place of authority and wisdom.  In two of the gospels, the woman poured the oil over Jesus' feet.  In other words, Jesus was anointed from head to toe.  
      In the Older Testament, the high priest and priests were anointed for service, and prophets anointed kings to rule. Anointing also set things apart as holy – like the tabernacle, its furniture and vessels, and doors. This woman's act anointed Jesus, God's High Priest and King, who is set apart as holy for God. The Holy Spirit also anoints believers in Jesus to set us apart as holy to God. 
         This woman was also anointing Jesus for burial. The sweet fragrance of this woman's perfume filled the house.  With every lash on Jesus' back, the sweet fragrance of this woman's perfume permeated the air.  As He hung on the cross, the sweet smell of this woman's perfume permeated the air.  Every sacrificial work a believer does in the Name of Jesus is a sweet fragrance to the Lord.
      When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” vv8-9
  • In this account, it is the disciples who complained about the waste.
  • In Mark, some of those present rebuked her harshly for wasting this expensive perfume on Jesus when it could have been sold and the money given to the poor.
  • In Luke, the woman is referred to as a “sinful woman,” but nothing is mentioned about the cost and the poor. The Pharisees in Luke were more concerned that Jesus forgave her sin indicating that He was God.  They considered this blasphemous.
  • In John, the woman is identified as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and only one person speaks up about selling the perfume and giving the money to the poor –Judas. Love motivated the women but greed and thievery motivated Judah.  John later in scripture showed that Judas was not honest as the money keeper.
        Jesus corrected all of the woman’s critics. In Matthew, Jesus said that the woman had done a beautiful thing to Him. “When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.” Then as He did in the other gospels regarding the anointing of the woman, He said that her abundant love and precious gift would be told in memory of her wherever the gospel is preached. Jesus not only defended her action, but also immortalized it.  

                                                                 (to be continued)

No comments:

Post a Comment