A Savior Who Serves: Anointing
Topic: Biblical Verse: Mark 14:1–14:9
St. John's Lutheran Church, Alexandria, VA
“A Savior Who Serves: Anointing”
February 29 – it’s a special day! It’s kind of like you’ve received twenty-four bonus hours. Oh, the things that you could do with those 1,440 minutes! How have you been making use of this special day? Has it indeed been a special day, or just another workday in the middle of yet another week? It’s not like you get the day off from work as a holiday, and schools are treating it like a regular Wednesday. You’re probably going about your normal schedule. Except you’ve come to the house of the Lord for worship today in this time of Lent, a season that comes around once each year. Every four years, February 29 comes around to keep our (Gregorian) calendars on track with the universe around us. But today, on this Lenten leap day, Jesus has come to keep us on track with God. It is a special day.
The disciples must have thought it was just another day. They were staying over in Bethany, a couple of miles east of Jerusalem. Jesus is spending time with his disciples, enjoying a meal at his host’s home. The big Passover feast was just a couple of days away, with a few hundred thousand people coming to Jerusalem for the celebration. Many have heard that Jesus is around, so the disciples might have been preoccupied in dealing with the crowds or other such concerns. It probably seemed like just another workday, something to which they’d become accustomed over those past three years. But it is a special day.
A woman – Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, as we learn from the parallel accounts – comes to their meal and astonishes the disciples by pouring out an entire flask of fragrant oil over their Teacher’s head. Taken aback, they scold her for this lavish, wasteful gesture. While we know that Judas Iscariot was upset because the price of that perfume could have gone into his moneybag (John 12:4-6), the other disciples likely thought how that money could have served the poor. But rather than reprimand Mary, Jesus rebukes his disciples for their reproach. She’s done a beautiful thing, not something wasteful, because she has anointed his body for burial. The disciples don’t get it. Burial? This is Jesus, their rabbi and master. Why would he be talking about his burial? He’s the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
Jesus is the Christ, which means “the Anointed (One).” Mary did anoint him with aromatic oil that day at Bethany, but Jesus was the Anointed One long before that meal. As the Savior sent by God, he was set apart for his mission to rescue every soul from sin. That mission was about to be fulfilled. It is a special day, but not just because of Mary’s gesture. It’s a special day because it is one of the last few days that Jesus would have with the disciples before his betrayal and death. And they’re missing it. Those closest to him are so caught up in common, albeit caring, concerns that this unique and fleeting time with their Lord is passing by unnoticed. Is that how it is with you, too?
Are you missing out on your time with Jesus by getting caught up in other things? Think about how you make use of the day. Do you struggle to keep yourself entertained, while neglecting to rest and rejuvenate with time spent in scripture and prayer? It’s pretty easy to get so sidetracked by concerns – even caring concerns – that the sidetrack can seem like the main track. How much are you and I like those disciples today?
Mary’s gift demonstrates her priority, not that she knows the future. Overcome by love for her Teacher, she pours out her costly ointment to anoint him as someone special. Jesus, on the other hand, knows what is to come. He knows of the betrayal that the chief priests are plotting, the suffering and death that lurks only a few days away. And he demonstrates his priority by staying the course, even going to a criminal’s death. He would do what he came to do as God’s Anointed One; overcome by love for you and for me, he would pour out the costly gift of his life’s blood on the cross – for you are God’s priority. You are special to God.
Jesus, the Savior who serves, has followed the course that the Father set out for him. Having laid down his life and taken it up again, he is now here for you. He offers the forgiveness and renewal that you and I need. Jesus calls us back from the sidetracks of life to spend time with him. Coming to know him, we come to know his Father who has created every day, including leap days like this one. This Lent, reconsider how you use the hours you’ve been given. Come, rest and rejuvenate with Christ Jesus, the Anointed One, and sit with your Teacher in God’s Word. Experience time today and in all the days to come with the Lord who has made you His priority for 366 days a year.
It doesn’t matter if it’s February 29, July 1, or October 31 – Jesus, God’s Anointed, is always your Savior who serves. It is a special day.