Anointing at Bethany


Anointing at Bethany

Describe the story

·         Jesus was at the house of Simon the leper and this made Jesus ritually unclean as he was spending time with the ill people.

·         A woman broke a jar of very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head.

·         Some people became very angry and rebuked her. Jesus defended the woman’s generosity and her understanding (“She poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial”) that he would not always be on earth.

·         People could help the poor anytime (“You will always have poor people with you.”) 

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Anointing at Bethany

Explain why the anointing at Bethany might have led to conflict.

·         Jesus was in a leper’s house and this made him unclean.

·         V.3: “A woman came with an alabaster jar full of expensive perfume.”

èFollowers of Jesus may wonder why the woman poured perfume on Jesus’ head and showing such closeness to Jesus.

èNo rabbi would allow this.

·         V.5: “Sold for more than 300 silver coins”

èIt seems that money is being wasted that could have been spent on helping the poor

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Anointing at Bethany

è Jesus’ response is to dismiss their concern (“You will always have poor people with you.”) Jesus has so far taught that the poor should be helped, e.g. The Rich Young Man.

·         V.8: “She poured perfume on my body to prepare it…for burial.”

è The story also includes a prediction of Jesus’ death.

è The smashing of the jar was part of the Jewish burial ritual.

è Here Jesus again highlights that the authorities seek to kill him.

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Anointing at Bethany

Explain why the anointing at Bethany might have led to conflict.

·         Jesus eats with outcasts and accepts woman at the table

èTeaches Christians that they shouldn’t separate themselves from outcasts and emphasises community cohesion

·         V.6, 7: “She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me.”, “You will always have the poor…but you will not always have me.”

èSome see this as justifying ornate Churches that give glory to God as they house the Blessed Sacrament.

èOthers might argue that the money should be spent on the poor, not Churches. What Jesus says only refer to this action.

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Anointing at Bethany

·         The preparation of Jesus’ body for burial fulfils the Jewish rituals which couldn’t happen after crucifixion.

è Jesus could prophecy his own death. This emphasises his identity as the Son of God and reassures Christians that his death is part of God’s plan

·         Importance of women – serve Jesus in a way the other disciples did not

è V.9: “What she had done will be told in memory of her.”

è “Wherever the Gospel is preached all over the world” à reminds Christians that they have a duty to preach the Gospel.

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