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Anointing the Feet of Jesus

“Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”

John 12:1-8


We have in these verses the account of a wonderful act performed by a woman who loved Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Mary had previously sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word:


“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.”

Luke 10:39


Mary had decided to choose “that good part” (spending time with Jesus and hearing his word) and was commended by Jesus for this:


“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:42


Mary understood that Jesus was going to die for her sins and the sins of the entire world, for she had kept the spikenard for Jesus’ burial.


She anointed his feet with a substance that was very costly. Spikenard is a very aromatic plant that is native to Nepal and grows at very high elevations. There are different varieties of Spikenard but the picture below may be representative of that which was used to create the ointment that Mary used that day. It is said that the aroma of the ointment has an emotionally calming effect.


The ointment that Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with that day was apparently worth about 300 pence. A pence was a silver coin in that day. 300 pence would have been approximately an entire years’ wages for a laborer. There was more than one type of pence, but that which is pictured below is one of them that was in circulation during the first century A.D..


A woman’s long hair is a glory to her, and yet Mary used her glory to wipe the feet of Jesus.


“But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” I

Corinthians 11:15

Mary’s worship of her Savior that day is a wonderful example of true worship. It was associated with spending time with Jesus and his word. It was costly, it was humble, and it pleased her Saviour. It was motivated by a heart-understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice, and it was a great blessing to others.

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