By: Maggie Leonard
Reflection—v. 3, ‘She anointed Jesus’ feet…’
In ancient times, anointing with oil or perfume had many purposes: the consecration of kings and priests, for rituals of healing for the sick, and in preparation for burial. Throughout John’s Gospel, people eagerly refer to Jesus as ‘King of Israel’ or ‘King of the Jews.’ Jesus’ anointing by Mary is both a sign and the enactment of Jesus’ kingship, so emphasized by Pilate in the following chapters. Jesus, however, takes this act and turns it on its head, declaring it to be a funeral rite instead of the anointing of a king. Salvation for humankind comes not from power and political savvy, but from humility, surrender, and death. Judas stands in this scene in direct opposition to this truth, clinging to power and hiding behind lies. If only he could surrender and acknowledge the fears that drive him, perhaps he would meet a different fate. May we not make excuses for our greed, love of power, and hurtful actions, but rather find salvation in humility and surrender.
Prayer Jesus, our King, you throw off privilege in order to draw us more deeply into the subversive and counter-intuitive way of love; in our surrender and humility, save us.