Explore the Bible
with Becky Brown
Sunday, May 19
On His way to the cross, Jesus prepared Himself for what was ahead. He also did all that He could to prepare His disciples and those who had followed Him along the journey. He told them again and again the details of the approaching events. They could not (would not?) believe Him.
The religious leaders were moving forward with their plan to destroy Jesus. To their delight, one of the closest followers of Jesus had approached them with a plan to betray Him into their hands. Judas was about to take his place on the stage of the drama of Calvary. He knew the place where Jesus spent the evenings of Passover Week. He would take them there and deliver Him over to them. The final moments of His final days were about to come tumbling down…or was it up…the hill of Golgotha.
In Bethany, the home of Lazarus and Martha and Mary received Jesus many times as a house guest. Also in Bethany was the home of Simon the leper. This night, Jesus was visiting Simon. A woman came into the dining area where Jesus and His disciples were enjoying Simon’s hospitality. She broke open an alabaster jar of perfume and poured it over the head of Jesus. This perfume was made from the roots of the spikenard plant. Spikes on the roots of the plant were very pungent. I have wondered if those who wove the crown of thorns and those who drove the nails into the hands and feet of Jesus might have been able to smell the perfume several days later…
The alabaster stone jar was from Egypt. The spikenard perfume was from India. These nations were the westernmost and easternmost countries in the known world in that day. Jesus was about to die for all who would believe. This woman gave a very costly gift in order to demonstrate her love for Jesus, possibly a whole year’s wage in value. Jesus said that this woman had “done what she could” and should be commended. She would be remembered as the one who prepared His body for burial.
The disciples had been to Passover twice with Jesus in the first two years of His ministry. This was their third trip with Him to Jerusalem for this high holy day. They shared the Passover meal with Him in the Upper Room. He gave new meaning to the fruit of the vine and the bread they shared. Finally, the New Covenant was instituted as these elements were used to represent both the body of Christ and the blood of Christ. Just like that alabaster jar and that precious ointment, the life of Jesus was about to be broken and poured out for the sins of the whole world.
They sang a hymn as they left the Upper Room and made their way out of Jerusalem, through the Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives. Their destination was the Garden of Gethsemane, the place of the olive press. The crushing of the olives drained their precious oil for sustaining of the temple lights and also became an ingredient in medicines used for binding wounds. Jesus, the Light of the World, was about to be crushed and wounded for the iniquities of the world.
The betrayer, Judas, was on his way with the Jewish leaders. Jesus had served Judas his last bite of bread at the Passover table. The denier, Peter, was possibly trying to disguise his own drowsy yawn as he was promising his full allegiance to Jesus. The rooster was preparing to greet the dawn in just a very few hours.
The stage was set. The preparations were complete. The anointing. The betrayal. The arrest. The denial. The trials. The false testimony. The mocking. The suffering. The crown. The scourging. The nails. The words from the cross. The final breath in preparation for the victory cry. The cross that had been drawn prophetically on every page of the Old Testament was now historical fact. Preparation had become reality.
The head of the serpent described in Genesis 3:15 had now been officially crushed. The Seed of Woman had been bruised on His heel as He struggled to breathe on the cross. The borrowed tomb was now occupied by its temporary resident. The stone was set in place and sealed. The angels leaned in, prepared for what would happen next…
Brown is staff evangelist at First Church, Richland.