Kings in the Ancient Near East were anointed with specially prepared fragrant olive oil. This set them apart. As Ann and Lois point out in their most helpful book, we see this in some passages in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament): Psalm 45:7-8; Song of Songs 3:6-7; 1 Kings 1:38-40.
The Mary who sat at the Lord's feet to drink in his words, is the one who anointed him with expensive perfume. Against the protests of his disciples who complain that the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor, Jesus says that it was a good deed by Mary, and the perfume meant to be used for the day of his burial. And along with that, as the authors of the book point out, it would have been obvious that this deed and the lingering fragrance on Jesus, would point to and underscore that Jesus was indeed a king. And could have lingered into the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, "the King of the Jews" (and indeed of the entire world).
We know by faith that Jesus is King, and Messiah, in Greek the Christ (transliteration from Greek: christos), the word "anointing" (chrisma) related to that word. This is not only personal, but meant for the entire world, and in every sphere. But it begins with us who are in Jesus the Christ. In Christ we have the anointing by the Spirit, meant to set us apart as Jesus' royal servants and brothers and sisters in him. It is a reality that is meant to help us point others to Jesus, and so that others might see something of Jesus in us, in how we live, in our deeds and words.
Ann and Lois point us to this passage which caps off well what is being said here:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.This at least strongly suggests that our very presence as followers of Jesus, and because of Jesus marks us out. This "aroma" is tied to "the knowledge of [Christ] everywhere" we go. So this means to me that first and foremost we need to be out and about in the world, and mix with others, befriending them (and with no strings attached). We can't change them, but Jesus can. They will eventually catch a whiff of the aroma of Jesus on us, and the Spirit will help us to share our lives and faith with them.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
What thoughts do you have on this which you'd like to share?
Next week, chapter 2: "Why a Jewish Rabbi?"