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 KJV
There are a few writings in the Bible where a woman anointed Jesus with oil. In John 12, Jesus went to the home of Lazarus in Bethany where Mary and Martha were. Martha was serving and busy doing as usual. Mary had an expensive oil, most likely spikenard, and anointed Jesus’ feet with this. Those traveling with Jesus were critical of her because of the cost of the oil. Judas was verbal about this but not because he was concerned with the poor. Judas was the keeper of the money and wanted the oil sold and given to Jesus so that Judas could secretly take some of the money.
Another account in Luke 7 is where Jesus was invited to eat dinner with a Pharisee. A local woman who was known as a sinner found out about the dinner and was compelled to come to the house and bowed at Jesus’ feet. She was overcome with her tears which washed the feet of Jesus and she dried his feet with her tears and then anointed his feet with the perfume from her Alabaster box. The Pharisee began to mock Jesus as a prophet. He said if Jesus were a prophet He would have known what a disgrace this woman was. Jesus then told a story about forgiveness and he forgave the sins of this woman. Can you imagine how this woman felt when she left Jesus?
The third account is found in Mark 14 and Matthew 26 where Jesus is in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper. I’ve studied different commentaries where these four recordings of Jesus being anointed with oil/expensive perfume could be accounts of two events and others believe these are three separate events. The accounts in Mark 14 and Matthew 26 also have those present with Jesus grumbling because of the cost of the oil being used on Jesus. The accounts also in this instance speaks of anointing Jesus’ head.
The important thing here with the anointing of Jesus’ head/feet is the act of worship and surrender these women had as they poured out this oil with a pure heart. These women didn’t come to worship Jesus worrying about how much money they were anointing Him with. There was a past of pain and trauma and they were so grateful for deliverance that they gave what they had to show their love and appreciation.
In 1997 there was a song written by Dr. Janice Lyn Sjostrand called Alabaster Box. She looked deep into the heart of these women as deeply as she could imagine and wrote about the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried those feet with her hair and then opened her Alabaster box full of oil that was so costly. The cost of that oil represented the cost of her pain, trauma, and deliverance as she felt the healing that came with forgiveness and the gratitude to live whole.
As I look back on my own life even in my young years, I was drawn to Jesus with such a tender heart. I didn’t realize years of rejection, depression, brokenness, and such traumatic grief would lead me to the place I am today. All through the Bible, there are examples of what the oil of anointing costs. Abraham left the family to follow God’s leading. Noah was made fun of and ridiculed for his decision to listen to God. Moses left the promise of riches and power in the palace to lead a people through the wilderness.
We cannot be found guilty of dissecting the cost of someone else’s oil. You cannot look at someone and understand their past pain or current issues. You cannot look at someone and know they were raped as a child unless God gives you a word of knowledge. You cannot judge a failed marriage based on gossip. You cannot look at someone who is living well financially and think that road was easy. That may possibly be the single mom who struggled to raise her children after an abusive marriage and lived in extreme poverty until she found the principle of reaping and sowing and praying for the idea God gave her that turned her life around from homeless to the successful business owner. You do not know the cost of their oil.
Matthew 5:45 makes us aware that rain falls on the just and unjust. Does the rain draw us closer or does the rain drive us away? Does your crushing produce the healing oil of Jesus that flows through us as we break our Alabaster box? The cost of my oil isn’t the same as the cost of your oil. God didn’t cause my rejection. God didn’t cause the death of my oldest son. There was a time I thought the crushing was going to kill me or I actually wanted it to kill me. But like Noah, when the dove brought back the olive leaf it was a sign and foretelling of the Christ who would be our peace and the symbol of the oil that His crushing would bring for our healing.
The cost of your oil…are you ready to pour it out with your worship at the feet of Jesus? Are you ready to let that oil flow through you as well as you share the healing oil of Jesus? As Jesus healed us, he also made us whole. Understand the wholeness is ours as an inheritance. It’s available to every one of His children. Sometimes we just have to understand what He has already given us.