Wednesday: Jesus Is Anointed for Burial
Open Your Bible
Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:3-11, Luke 22:3-6, Zechariah 11:12-13
Growing up with two brothers, there were times I felt a little outnumbered. Once, I came home from dance class to find my favorite doll held hostage in a game of cops and robbers. Shrieking, I dodged foam darts to rescue her from the basement war zone. I sulked away, dreaming of ways to avenge my doll’s honor. I was in no mood to share.
As an adult, the things we hold most dear might be our family, time, or resources. But when someone tries to lay a hand on our precious commodities, you’d better believe we can still throw a toddler-sized tantrum. Our fists close tighter and tighter around the stuff that gives our lives meaning, and we lose sight of the only one who can bring true meaning to our lives.
There are many accounts throughout the Bible where God asks people to loosen their grip for the sake of the gospel. One such story is found when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22). We can all immediately recognize the costliness of being asked to give up a child. Abraham obeyed even that most painful instruction because he trusted God. Ultimately the Lord spared Isaac and provided a lamb for sacrifice, painting the illustration of things to come. God would give up His own perfect Son as the Lamb on our behalf. In doing so, God Himself paid the price we deserved.
While many of us struggle to hand over our idols when pressed, there are some followers of Jesus who freely give without even being asked. Mary of Bethany (according to John 12:2–3) was one such saint. Nobody guilted her into an offering, and yet she took what was probably the most expensive thing she owned, a vat of perfume, and lavishly broke it over the head of the Messiah. The Pharisees criticized her generosity, feigning concern for the poor, but Jesus saw through their calculating hearts.
Christ praised Mary’s extravagant gift, saying her act will forever be “told in memory of her” (Mark 14:9). Mary chose to live open-handedly, and it was counted as eternally significant. She gave away treasures on earth to store up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19–21). And in doing so, she built a legacy that mattered. Before Mary even walked the earth, her actions were affirmed in the wisdom writings: “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth” (Ecclesiastes 7:1).
Both Mary and Abraham earned good names for themselves by living as one anointed for death. We, too, are called to live anointed for death. Jesus said that if we want to follow Him, we must die to ourselves and take up our crosses (Matthew 16:24). As Christians, that means we must loosen our grip on earthly things and focus our eyes on heavenly things.
When we think about the impact we want to have in our lifetimes, let’s remember Mary of Bethany, who poured out her gifts for the ultimate gift giver. By dying to ourselves and joining with Christ in His anointing for burial, we are covered in the perfume of grace. Then our legacy will become a fragrant offering of Christ to the world (2 Corinthians 2:15).