Holy Hospital Week: Anointing


Apparently I have burned the underneath of my tongue with acid. It’s the spray you use to stop an angina attack turning into a heart attack. And I’ve been using it way too much. I’ll spare you the gory picture. Needless to say, it’s not too pretty. It feels like a really bad mouth ulcer and the treatment is bonjela gel. 

After 36 hours of agony, they managed to get me the balming ointment. First the doctor didn’t come on to the ward for several hours, then another 18 hours for routine pharmacy to open. Then a bit longer for the nurses to bring it over on their drugs round. Given that I’m in for a dodgy ticker it doesn’t seem like much, but the relief is palpable. The numbing effect is starting to help and to heal. 
I wonder if that is what it was like for Jesus? A little anyway. Under the tremendous pressure of the long walk to Golgotha he goes to Bethany to see friends. While there, a woman breaks open a jar of perfume and anoints him, washes him, in the sweet fragrance. A little like yesterday’s praise on the streets of Jerusalem, those present didn’t really get what was going on. The woman is blessing Jesus with a gift. Bringing relief from the dust of the day, giving her best for love of the Master.  But it turns out to be so much more. It is blessed relief on the road to his death and burial. Just as the praise of Palm Sunday replaces praise at the resurrection, so this anointing replaces the embalming absent from the empty tomb. 

What relief did Jesus receive from this anointing? More substantial, I’m sure, than my small dab of Bonjela. Yet people complained about the expense. A year’s wages. 

The most expensive perfume in the world is by famed perfumer Roja Dove, who created the scent known as Imperial Majesty from rose oil, orris root, jasmine, and Italian cinnamon. The bottle is made of a material so difficult to work with that one of every three attempts breaks during the production process. The neck of the bottle is made of 18-carat gold inset with a five-carat brilliant-cut diamond.

Jesus’ perfume wasn’t this expensive but it was extravagant. As the aroma filled the house it was an anointing for blessing, if not for healing. In her devotion there is both a heartfelt worship rising to the throne of God and a nourishing of the body of Jesus, though none but him saw the significance of the act at the time. 

Stuck in my hospital ward, there is very little I can do to show my devotion to the Lord, practically.  I do pray that I’m not too grumpy & impatient. Lord, make me a patient patient! May that be my act of devotion today. That I will give me all for you, poured out for your service. 

I pray that you who are reading this will pour out your best to anoint the Master today. We never know the eternal significance of what we do. 

Read the story of the Anointing here.