Good Friday April 2, 2021
Hair products have always been very personal and cultural as well as specific to hair type and style. While living in S. Asia, I saw the benefits of coconut oil for friends with thick dark hair. And I enjoy hair humor, especially the fuss over Dapper Dan’s greasy pomade hair oil in the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou.” Even so, I still find it surprising and humbling to read that a flask of pure nard, an expensive essential oil, was poured over the head of Jesus:
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. Mark 14:3
Anointing in this story represents Jesus being set apart for his mission of obedience to death on the cross of salvation. In John’s account of this anointing, Jesus was at his friends’ Lazarus, Martha and Mary’s house in Bethany for dinner when Mary, “took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.”
IMAGINE. Try to visualize the dinner party scene where guests in the first century reclined on floor mats or sofas around a central low table while eating. Their feet would be out behind them making it easy for Mary to anoint Jesus’ feet with oil. In your reflection, see Mary come up behind Jesus and pour the precious oil over his head and hair. This act would have stopped everyone in mid-bite as she broke the expensive perfume, filling the place with fragrance and surprise. Think about not only the boldness of this act, but the humility Mary demonstrates to worship Jesus after understanding who is and committing her life to serve him.
What emotions or responses to Jesus does this bring up in you? How can you surprise Jesus with your humility and service?
Giving personal care to a bed-bound patient or loved one is an amazing and loving gift of touch. For someone who is unable to take care of their own body, using fragrant and soothing lotion to massage their feet is a gift of compassionate love. For the dying, the oil is a precious preparation honoring life well lived and loved.
Reflect for a moment on how you might physically serve someone who is sick, tired, or needing a special anointing.
YOU ANOINT MY HEAD WITH OIL. In Psalm 23, The Shepherd “anoints” the sheep’s head with oil. A mixture of linseed oil, sulphur, and tar is needed in the summer to protect sheep from the constant torture of flies, mosquitoes, and gnats. Nose flies deposit their eggs on the damp, mucous membranes of the sheep’s nose. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will work their way up the nasal passages into the sheep’s head. Sheep will deliberately beat their heads against trees or rocks to stop the agony. Eyes and ears are susceptible as well and the sheep become restless, have trouble grazing, and don’t produce enough milk. Another use of oil is during rutting season. The rams will crash into each other, causing injury to themselves or the other one. The shepherd catches his rams and smears their heads with grease. They glide off one another with little harm done. The Shepherd loving balm protects the sheep from outside dangers and from hurting themselves.
What “flies” or anxious irritations, or relationship “clashes” are annoying you? Do you find yourself “beating your head” against a wall as you can’t stop thinking or worrying? How has your sleep or productivity been affected by fear, anger, jealousy, selfishness?
PRAY. Stop now and simply pray: “Anoint Me.” Allow the Shepherd Lord to minister to you completely: mind, body, and spirit. Pray over yourself and visualize being healed and ministered to by the Spirit’s anointing. Allow the goodness to fill your cup and run over.
PRAISE. Read Psalm 22 on Good Friday, as it shows us the both the human and the divine Jesus, forsaken for us, once for all, so that we can find our way home. The Psalmist and Jesus look ahead to the healing, salvation, and freedom from the afflictions of this world. So we “proclaim his righteousness,” declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it! (Ps 22:31)
It is finished! (John 19:30)
Psalm 23 – Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy – by Shane & Shane (Lyric Video)