Monday, March 19, 2007

This one came in by e-mail

God afternoon Pastor Marty,

With the reading in John 12:1-11, I just realized that the Mary who anointed Jesus' feet wasn't Mary Magdelene, but Lazarus' sister Mary who knew Jesus. I think all the movies, even the Jesus film depicts a desperately thankful woman coming off the street as if it were Mary Magdelene (who Jesus had demons cast from) to pour perfume on his feet.

In Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14: 3-9 Mary is pouring it on His head. The setting in these two gospels are very cool, as opposed to John's, where it is more of a warm, intimate party of friends.

Is it just me, or is there a large misconception of this issue?

No, its not just you, there is a large misconception. Many people. whose knowledge of the Bible is informed more by Hollywood film than it is the Bible, get this wrong.

But it is not all Holloywood's fault. Part of the problem is that the gospels themselves seem to give different details at points. For example, Matthew Mark and Luke definitely place the party in the house of Simon a Pharasee and the anointing oil on Jesus' head (Mt. 26; Mk. 14). John "seems" to place the party at Lazarus's and the anointing oil, along with Luke 7, on the feet of Jesus.

In Luke 7:37 we learn that the woman was a "sinner" (ἁμαρτωλός, hamartolos) and in John 12:3 we learn that the woman's name was Mary. Matthew, Mark and Luke all just call her "a woman." For Luke to use the word harmartolos to describe the Mary in question is significant. It could mean that prior the change that Jesus wrought in her life, Mary, the relative of Martha and Lazarus, must have lived a life that was a scandal to the whole family. Hollywood seems to have picked up on this meaning in most of its film depictions, for obvious reasons. But it might also mean that Mary was a "sinner" in the eyes of the Pharasees simply because she didn't keep the extra-biblical rules and regulations that the Pharisees had set up.

Back to the issue of the oil and it being poured over Jesus' head in Matthew and Mark and his feet in Luke and John. Which is it and is this a discrepancy in the Bible?

Short answer: No, I don't think that it is a discrepancy but it certainly is a difference. So how do we explain the difference? How can the difference be harmonized?

Try this: If you look closely at the accounts in Matthew and Mark, you will see Jesus take the disciples to task for questioning the propriety of her anointing of him. Both times he says that she anointed his "body" for burial (Matt. 26:12; Mark 14:8). Notice, he doesn't say either hands or feet, but his body.

So I would explain it this way. Matthew and Mark emphasize the anointing the head, Luke and John emphazise the anointing of the feet. But Jesus says that it is his body that is being anointed for burial. I suspect that she started to anoint his head, began to weep, wet his feet with her tears, then dried them with her hair and began to anoint his feet also with the perfume. In fact, if you look closely at the text in Luke 7:38, it seems to imply that is is exactly what happened. She is described as "standing at his feet ..." I think that requires her to be in a postion where she is anointing his head (Standing) as he is reclining.

Hope this helps. I haven't looked at any commentaries to see how they would deal with it but that is my best quick shot. Keep searching the Scripture.


cr said...

Hi Pastor,

As I'm going online, the welcome screen comes up and this book title pops up. "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne is drawing a list of disciples. Oprah Winfrey is one of it's "disciples". There are many who watch her even in the Christian community. What a scary book.

And have you heard about "Jose de Jesus"? He claims and believes he is the second coming of Jesus, that he himself is Jesus. His followers are calling him God the Father. And get this, he has a tatoo of the mark "666".

It only continues to prove how much of a FALLEN world we live in and how desperately we need Jesus, our Saviour, the Son of the living God! (the real One!)

Here's the link to the book:

Link for Jose;

ChosenRebel said...

There's is a lot of strange stuff out there. Unfortunately, many Christians who ought to know better, are being sucked into the insanity because they simply have not taken the time to study their Bibles.

They trusted in Christ somewhere along the line and then simply added or attached Jesus to their peresnt worldview. Jesus can't be simply added or attached to anything. He is the Lord of the universe and means to radically overturn and change everything that we previously believed

Craver Vii said...

Yeah, I got sucked into the case of Mary's mistaken identity, too. And then there's James...