Jesus came to Bethany the day before Palm Sunday. This actually starts our most holy week! In the Orthodox church, this is known as “Lazarus Saturday”. As a church, we ought to recognize and celebrate this more! The week kicks off with the anointing of Jesus by Mary. What an honor.
Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”
The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus. | John 12:1-11 NASB
Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah), the anointed. The Greek translation of the Hebrew word rendered “Messiah”, the official title of our Lord, occurring five hundred and fourteen times in the New Testament. It denotes that he was anointed or consecrated to his great redemptive work as Prophet, Priest, and King of his people. He is Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One. He is thus spoken of by ( Isaiah 61:1 ), and by ( Daniel 9:24-26 ), who styles him “Messiah the Prince.”
When Mary snaps off the neck of the flask to anoint the Savior, she may intend to mark Him off as the Messiah, since it was commonplace to anoint the kings of Israel. It is doubtful that she is aware of the significance Jesus sees in her service, but our Lord’s reference to His burial indicates that His passion is foremost in His mind. Jesus knows what is about to happen. The followers of Jesus don’t listen to Him on this topic.
This explains His rebuke to His disciples over their concern that Mary has anointed Jesus instead of selling the anointing oil for the sake of the poor (vv. 8–10). Their concern for the impoverished is not wrong, but their priorities are. Jesus is about to leave their presence physically in His death, resurrection, and ascension. His time is short; thus, Mary’s one last act of love before Jesus goes to the cross is not misplaced (v. 11).
It is easy to adopt self-righteously the disciples’ outlook and think it always wrong to use church funds for things other than feeding the poor. Yet God’s desire for beauty in worship and Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:10–13 show that spending money on other such things is not inappropriate. Still, as the poor among us are easily overlooked, helping them must always be one of the highest priorities in the church.
Who is the Messiah? The Messiah is the same person as “the seed of the woman” ( Genesis 3:15 ), “the seed of Abraham” ( Genesis 22:18 ), the “Prophet like unto Moses” ( Deuteronomy 18:15 ), “the priest after the order of Melchizedek” ( Psalms 110:4 ), “the rod out of the stem of Jesse” ( Isaiah 11:1 Isaiah 11:10 ), the “Immanuel,” the virgin’s son ( Isaiah 7:14 ), “the branch of Jehovah” ( Isaiah 4:2 ), and “the messenger of the covenant” ( Malachi 3:1 ). This is he “of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write.” The Old Testament Scripture is full of prophetic declarations regarding the Great Deliverer and the work he was to accomplish. Jesus the Christ is Jesus the Great Deliverer, the Anointed One, the Saviour of men. This name denotes that Jesus was divinely appointed, commissioned, and accredited as the Saviour of men ( Hebrews 5:4 ; Isaiah 11:2-4 ; 49:6 ; John 5:37 ; Acts 2:22 ).
To believe that “Jesus is the Christ” is to believe that he is the Anointed One, the Messiah of the prophets, our Master and Saviour sent of God, that he was, in a word, what he claimed to be. This is to believe the gospel, by the faith of which alone men can be brought unto God. That Jesus is the Christ is the testimony of God, and the faith of this constitutes a follower of Jesus.