There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. — Matthew 26:7
“O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.” Thus ends the refrain of a well-known Christmas carol. Since I had not gone to church as a child, my earliest introduction to God and His plan of salvation occurred in elementary school, where we learned Christmas carols.
What does it mean to “adore” Christ? The definition of adore is “to regard with the utmost esteem, love, and respect.” Worship is a related word that means to offer “reverent honor and homage.” That was what Mary was doing when she poured out the ointment.
How can we adore and worship Christ today? One minister tells that the year he graduated from high school, he was looking forward to getting a job. As one of a large family during the 1930s, he wanted to buy some of the “luxuries” of life that were not available to him while growing up. At camp meeting that summer, a preacher challenged everyone, “If you really want God’s best, give Him something that costs you!”
This man prayed, “Lord, what can I give You that costs me something?” Almost immediately, God spoke to his heart, “What about giving Me your life in fulltime service?” The man thought of all his hopes for a job and the things that he wanted to buy. He was sure that those opportunities would not happen if he gave his full time to the Lord. However, in a few days, he knew there was no alternative: either he would give his life completely and experience the fullness of God’s love, or he would withhold his best from God and live with the hope of a much lesser reward. The man promised to serve God in any capacity He chose. He has been a faithful Christian now for over seventy years, and has never regretted that decision.
All of us have something we can give the Lord to show our adoration. When we tell Him that we love Him with all our hearts and that we want to live in a way that pleases Him, we will be worshiping Him. He in turn will amply bless us.
During the time of Christ, the high priests were appointed by the Roman government. Caiaphas, a Sadducee, followed his father-in-law Annas, and held the position for eighteen years, which probably meant that he worked well with the Romans. The religious leaders made a deliberate plan to have Jesus put to death. They were the instigators who turned the public opinion against Jesus.
These were burdensome days for Jesus. Within a short time, He would be facing betrayal, rejection, and the anguish of the cross. Although He was the Son of God, He had to endure these atrocities as a man. Think of the comfort it must have given Him to have one of His followers perform the act of kindness that Mary did. It is not certain whether or not Mary understood clearly the events that were soon to take place, but she was open to the promptings of God, and her loving act was at just the right time.
Mary was sister to Lazarus and Martha. (See John 12:1-3.) The ointment she poured out probably cost the equivalent of a year’s salary. Notice the similarities between this act of worship and the time when she had been sitting at Jesus’ feet, learning from Him, with her sister in the background chiding her for not helping to serve the meal. Notice what Christ said about her on these two occasions: first that she had chosen the better part, and here that her deed was so special that it would be remembered of her for the ages to come.
Chronologically, this incident took place before Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Jesus went through Jericho to Bethany, where Mary lived, then to Bethphage and on to Jerusalem. Perhaps Matthew recounted Mary’s act of adoration here to contrast it with Judas’ betrayal and plotting with the religious leaders. For his treachery, Judas received thirty pieces of silver — the cost of a common slave.
Passover was the annual commemoration of Israel’s escape from Egypt. As Jesus ate with His disciples, He said one of them would betray Him. They were shocked! Their question, “Lord, is it I?” could be translated, “It is not I, is it?” The original language indicates that they thought He would answer, “No.”(1)
Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper that night. When He said, “This is my body,” He did not mean that the bread was literally transformed. As part of the Passover feast, the head of the Jewish household took bread and said, “This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.” When instead Jesus said, “This is my body,” He referred to His coming death as the true sacrifice for every soul.
Jesus’ comment, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom,” was yet another reassurance for His disciples that eternal life was ahead, even though He would die a physical death first. The Lord’s Supper looks back to Calvary and forward to Christ’s return.
Traditionally, Psalms 115-118 were sung during the Passover, and this could have been the hymn that was mentioned in verse 30.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VI. The official presentation and rejection of the King
E. The sufferings and death of the King
1. The preparation of the King
a. The prediction of death (26:1-2)
b. The plot of the Priests and Elders (26:3-5)
c. The preparation for burial (26:6-13)
d. The plans for betrayal (26:14-16)
e. The Passover supper (26:17-30)
(1) The preparation for the supper (26:17-19)
(2) The partaking of the supper (26:20-25)
(3) The institution of the Lord’s Supper (26:26-30)
Mary chose to worship and Judas chose to betray, and their choices have been proclaimed down through the centuries. We also make choices, and ours will be recorded in eternity. Will we choose to worship and adore Christ in our lives today?
1. Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Loyal: Following the King of Kings, pg. 191 and King James Bible Commentary, pg. 1226.v