Many of you know that a dream of mine is to visit Israel. It would be a great blessing to be able to walk where Jesus walked! Continuing with Easter week, the Lord has had me focused on the town of Bethany today. Jesus had friends in Bethany and He stayed there often. Six days before the Passover, they prepared a dinner in His honor. It was at that dinner Jesus was anointed in preparation for His final battle.
To be clear, the Bethany I am speaking of is the town less than two miles (1.5 miles approx.) east of Jerusalem on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. The other Bethany, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3, John 1:28), is beyond the Jordan just north of the Dead Sea.
“Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem…”
“This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.”
Bethany next to Jerusalem is the town where Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary lived and it is where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44). It is known today as the West Bank city of al-Eizariya, which is Arabic for “Place of Lazarus.” It is also in Bethany where we read about Martha opening her home to Jesus and having a certain famous conversation with Him about her sister Mary (Luke 10:38-42).
Let’s take a look at that very special dinner held in honor of Jesus. Remember, just before this time, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead and it caused quite a scene. There was such a commotion among the people and so many putting their faith in Jesus because of the miracle that the chief priests decided right then and there to devise a plot to kill Him (John 11:45-57). This was also when Caiaphas, high priest at the time, unknowingly prophesied that Jesus would die for the people (John 11:49-53). Jesus knew this, so until it was His time He stayed in Ephraim until the time of the Passover and then traveled back to Bethany to be with His friends.
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
It’s so cool that Lazarus was sitting at the table with Jesus! The Lord had just recently raised him from the dead and now they are eating together–incredible! Mary was doing a beautiful thing for Jesus. The disciples, namely Judas, didn’t understand what she was doing and thought it was a waste. Far from it! When Mary poured that perfume on His feet and wiped His feet with her hair she was blessing Jesus as her King, Lord, and Savior in preparation for His coming death and burial!
It was the very next day that Jesus left Bethany and traveled through Bethphage (where he acquired the donkey and her colt) and the Mount of Olives on His way to triumphantly entering Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday. See my post from yesterday titled, “Hosanna In The Highest!” for more about that.
I’m really glad the Lord had such a nice meal with His friends before He entered Jerusalem. The anointing Jesus received at Bethany was beautiful and it was given out of a heart full of love for Him. Jesus knew His time had come and He was willing and fully prepared to die for us.
Grace and peace to you all!