I recently started reading a book that has reignited a passion for God’s Word within me. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, has reminded me of the value of understanding the culture and times in which Jesus lived. Knowledge of the Bible’s cultural background opens up the Word and reveals how beautifully personal and relational it really is.
In light of this insight, a well-known story in the Bible became even more meaningful to me. It is the story of Mary pouring her expensive oil over the Lord Jesus. The Gospels have varying information but it is Mary of Bethany who pours this extremely costly oil over Jesus’ head that must have run down to His feet, causing her to wipe them with her hair.
See Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-15 NLT
Here are some personal revelations I had while revisiting this portion of Scripture with an understanding of the Jewish culture. I hope this excites you as much as it did me.
Although not mentioned, the various seekers and followers of Yeshua, present for this beautiful act would have known that a Jewish king was always anointed with oil. David was anointed. Solomon was anointed. Yes, Mary was doing this act in preparation of Christ’s death, but culturally Mary was also proclaiming her Lord’s kingship.
I was moved by the loving details and depth of love shown by Mary. I am now able to envision this story with such personal feelings and devotion. It is more beautiful to me today than it was before I studied the cultural significance & relevance the details within this story would hold for the Jewish people.
Song of Songs 3:6 – 7, Solomon’s wedding day.
1 Samuel 16:12-13, David anointed as future king.
1 Kings 1:38-40, the fragrance of expensive oils would inform the crowds that a king was passing by.
This expensive oil’s fragrance would have lingered for many days. Christ would be put to death that following week, but before that brutal death, He would have entered Jerusalem on a donkey while He heard the people shout, “Hosanna!” (Greek word meaning a praise adapted from a Hebrew expression that means, “save now.”), all the while, smelling of this prized oil.
Can you imagine? Jesus smelled like a King for days. The expensive oil saturated itself deep within His hair, His beard (because He most likely had one), and His skin. Pause for a moment and think about this.
Mary wanted her LORD to have this honor and for everyone to know who He really was. She not only wanted to bless Him, and prepare Him for His burial, but she wanted to honor Him as her King and for everyone to know it!
I encourage you to take some time to study the Jewish culture and the 1st century AD ruled by Romans. You may find some hidden treasure as I did and it just may be the fire you need to keep seeking His Word.
Have you asked the Holy Spirit to teach you something new in Scripture?
Are you giving Jesus Christ the place of honor, as King in your life and heart?
What costly gift can you offer to King Jesus?
For further study and a beautiful song about the story mentioned above, check out these sites: