The Perfume at Bethany
Posted 17 September 2009 - 09:40 AM
Nardostachys grandiflora is a flowering plant of the Valerian family grown in the Himalayas of China, India and Nepal. The plant grows to a height of c. 1m and has pink bell-shaped flowers.
The oil is extracted by steam distillation of the dried rhizomes.
At the Lord’s birth, wise men from the East came, bringing frankincense, myrrh and gold.
Just before His death this woman comes, bringing pure nard, which from the above, grows in the Himalayas of India, China and Nepal.
Song 1.12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
The alabaster of the container comes today from Iran, Egypt, Algeria and Mexico. Perhaps it did so in those days too, apart from Mexico, of course.
It is a beautiful white stone, which is attacked by acids, and therefore the perfume must have been pH neutral or alkaline. As an oil it would not attack the container, in which it must have been stored for its long journey from the Far East. Apparently, the sarcophagus of Seti I is made of alabaster.
The container must have been an extremely beautiful one, to hold such a perfume.
The most expensive perfume made today is called Imperial Majesty, by Clive Christian (!!!) http://images.forbes...06feat2_162.jpg
It costs $215,000 US per bottle, and much of the price, one supposes is due to the fact that the container is of Baccarat crystal, and has a 5 carat diamond placed in an 18-carat gold collar.
The seal must have been exceedingly good, because the perfume had extremely volatile components – since ‘the whole house was filled with the odour of the ointment” indicating that the rate of diffusion was high. But it is an oil too, and made of several fractions, some of which are volatile, and others which adhere.
The sheer volume of the perfume - something like 340 grams of it - means that it overflowed from His head, on to His beard, onto the single garment He owned, which He could not change for that very reason - and which remained impregnated with it till He died and rose again.
His feet, she was declaring - they were all declaring that : How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
The sheer value of this gift can't be easily overstated, quite apart from its cost.
It must have lifted His spirits, through the dark hours remaining to Him, and wherever He went, He was a sweet-smelling sacrifice.
I wonder how God felt about this precious thing that was done here this night.
There are connections here with the 23rd Psalm too.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" - and He was just about to do so.
"Thou annointest my head with oil" comes to mind. But there, the Shepherd is the Lord God, annointing the head of his sheep. Here the Shepherd's head is being annointed. The hands of God are the hands of this woman.
"Thou preparest a table before me" - and again the hands of these wonderfully kind people are as the hands of God, making a feast for His Son.
"In the presence of mine enemies" - Judas was there, and the neighbourhood probably had a few of them in it, not to mention those that lay in wait in Jerusalem itself.
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."
"...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
This act of kindness ascended into the presence of the Most High on the person of His Son.
So we again re-iterate: we can never, ever tell how far a deed of kindness will go. Let us seize every opportunity that comes our way, however small, however big it might be, knowing that these things do not go unnoticed by the Great Giver of all things.
Posted 17 September 2009 - 10:26 AM
I guess we don't know how much such ointment was used on the Lord, but with it being valued at a year's wages (Mark 14 v 5) we're not left in any doubt of how precious it was. It really is thought-provoking to think that the Lord didn't begrudge the beautiful thing that this woman did for him, not even though the poor could have benefited (we would have said) so much more. Sometimes, it's OK just to do something nice for someone.
Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:22 PM
Like sending flowers which are of no use except to cheer you up.
Sometimes, it's OK just to do something nice for someone.
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