The Anointed One (The Sense of Smell) – by Erik York

Preparation
Prior to the communion, the congregation should sing “King of my life I crown Thee now” (aka Lest I Forget Gethsemane). The congregation should be instructed to focus on the idea of crowning Jesus their king.

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Mary annointing JesusIntroduction
Today’s communion message focuses on Jesus’ anointing the week before his death – and how this annointing was a constant reminder to him during his suffering that he truly was the king.

Scripture
John 12:1-8
1Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  4But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.  7“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. ” It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”  9Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

Communion Lesson - Jesus being annointed King by MaryJesus’ Annointing
What was Mary thinking? The Bible doesn’t really offer any explanation, although in Matthew 26:12 Jesus claims that she intended to prepare him for his burial.

But this was no ordinary anointing, as one of his disciples was quick to point out. “Hey that’s stuff’s expensive, what are you doing wasting it?” Nard is a flowering root that grows in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India. The root is rich in fragrant oil. It would have made its way to Israel by way of the Persian trade routes. Because of the cost of this fragrance this would have been no ordinary burial preparation.

Mary's Alabaster Jar - for annointing JesusLuke 7:46 makes mention that oil on the head of your guests along with washing of their feet was a common practice and considered hospitable.

Mary makes a statement with her anointing that Jesus is the Messiah, in Hebrew “The Anointed One

In Hebrew culture, kings were anointed rather than crowned during their coronation. These expensive oils were sacred and used for special religious ceremonies with the temple for the anointing of kings. The scent left behind would act as an “invisible” crown conferring holiness to everyone that walked by. Spangler points out from Psalm 45 that a king was known by his royal “aroma” [1]:

 

Psalms 45:7-8
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
from palaces adorned with ivory
the music of the strings makes you glad.

David’s robes were anointed with fragrant oil to set him apart, a symbol of God’s blessing.

Song of Solomon 3:6-7
Who is this coming up from the desert
like a column of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and incense
made from all the spices of the merchant?
Look! It is Solomon’s carriage,
escorted by sixty warriors,
the noblest of Israel

In this Song, King Solomon is described to be smelling of fragrance and spices

I Kings 1:38-40
So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and put Solomon on King David’s mule and escorted him to Gihon. Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people went up after him, playing flutes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.

This passage reveals that during Solomon’s coronation as King, he is placed on his father’s mule and anointed with oil.

From where does the priest retrieve the oil? …the sacred tent.

Here he is newly anointed and processing through the crowds from the spring of Gihon just outside of city gates into Jerusalem passing the crowd on a mule. During this royal procession the expensive oils would inform the crowds that the king was passing by.

Who else made a similar journey? For the answer, turn back to the gospel of John.

Jesus' triumphant entryJohn 12:12-15
The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 
     “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

On the previous day, Jesus was in Bethany having dinner with Mary, Martha, Lazarus and his disciples. God, through Mary, had now indirectly anointed Jesus as king, and he enters the city in a procession, seated on a mule. He was anointed the week before his death. And please don’t miss the point:

Everywhere he went, he carried the “aroma” of a king with him.

It is likely that this fragrance stayed with himeven in the garden – as the soldiers who approached would have wondered who this really was that they came to arrest and then before the chief priests and before the crowds as he was beaten and forced to carry his cross.

God’s Reminder
And now consider Jesus as he endures every phase of the humiliation, the beatings, the trials, the disrobing, the mocking, the bleeding, the betrayel, the loneliness, the nails, the asphixiation, the temptations to become bitter and even question God. Now, keep in mind that thoughout all of these experiences, Jesus smells like a king. This is God’s gentle reminder to Jesus of his annointing. “You ARE the king!”

You Are Royalty
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

We now are that fragrant oil of God’s joy, set apart to love righteousness and hate wickedness.

You are royalty. You are the princes and the princesses. Your fragrance is a reminder to the world of the annointed king, the suffering king.

Prayer for the Bread and the Wine

Reference
[1] Spangler, Ann “Sitting at the Feet of the Rabbi Jesus”

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