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Cathy Sifuentez

Central Sisters Write
Published monthly by the Women’s Ministry at Central Church of Christ, Amarillo, TX

Vol. 8 Issue 4
April 2010

It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Philippians 2:13 NIV

The Lessons of Spikenard by Mary Ellen Evans

In all of the Gospels we read the story of a woman pouring an “expensive perfume” on Jesus’ and anointing him. (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-38 and John 11:1-2) Our focus on these passages is somewhat different than most lessons. Our focus is about the properties of the perfume and why it was used, for it has lessons to teach us.

John and Mark tell us it was nard, with Mark saying it was a pint of nard. Nard is another name for spikenard, which is still used today as a medicine and in Hindu worship. It came (and still does) from India and was very expensive. It was shipped in alabaster jars because they would withstand the jostling of the camels in the caravans. Matthew and Luke mention alabaster jars.

Spikenard has several medicinal properties. It is antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. It is used as a relaxant for nervous tension and to stimulate the immune system. It remains in the body for several days. It would have remained in Christ’s body long enough to

carry him through the beatings before being led to the cross and would have prevented a super germ from setting in and either killing him before he could get to the cross or to assist in his dying on the cross. God didn’t want it to be said the crucifixion itself didn’t kill him. Its relaxant properties would have helped the human side of Christ face his ordeal. Normal medicinal use is 2-4 drops, so an entire pint would have been very effective. God was watching over Christ and helping him through his ordeal of the beatings and the cross without using miraculous intervention. It shows us that as a human, Christ suffered just as we would and that he handled the suffering in a very human way (no miraculous intervention to prevent him from feeling the pain).

Another lesson comes with the complaint that the nard could have been sold for a year’s wages. It was so expensive generally only kings, priests or high initiates could afford it. How the woman of each passage was able to afford it we do not know, but we do know that in pouring it on

Christ she was setting him apart as a person of great value and honoring him as her king of kings.

The head and feet were traditional places for anointing as they absorb the oils faster than other places on the body. Biblical anointing used copious amounts of oils, not the dab we use today. (Exodus 29:7, Leviticus 21:10, I Sam 10:1, 2 Kings 9:3 & 6, Psalm 133:2.) Kristos is the Greek word for Christ and means the anointed one. In view of the common practice of anointing by pouring the oils over the body one can understand

And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. Mark 14:3 KJV

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