Anointing Jesus' Feet & Healing
5 Mary Anointing Jesus’ Feet
Six days before the Passover Jesus had dinner with Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead, in the town of Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem. That evening Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with a costly ointment. The disciples were there, including Judas who protested that the ointment could have been sold for a large price and the money given to the poor. But Jesus said to leave her alone, “Let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:7) This is the first direct reference to Jesus’ immanent death. Lazarus is seated at the table, and next to him, in brown, is Judas. Martha, as usual, is serving.
Below, there are lilies of the valley said to represent humility. Above is a fountain. Water represents purification, washing away of sin (specifically, Zachariah 13:1), and also living water and eternal life (John 4:13-14). Fire, at the top, is another symbol of purification, and of the Holy Spirit. The Seven Fold Flame depicted here specifically symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
Healing the Afflicted
There was a pool of water in Jerusalem known as Bethesda (as in Bethesda, Maryland). It was said that the first person into the pool when the waters were troubled would be healed. The man in the foreground had been crippled for thirty-eight years, but had no one to help him into the pool. Jesus cured him, even though it was the Sabbath, again raising the ire of the scribes and Pharisees. Worse, he spoke of God as his Father.
Below is the thistle, which sometimes symbolizes earthly sorrow and sin, or, alternatively, it is the emblem of Scotland. As thistle seeds fly before the wind, it can also represent the spreading of the Gospel, similar to the burst pomegranate. Above is an anchor, the symbol for hope (and the emblem of Hope College). The anchor also represents confidence and security, as anyone who has ever been out in a small boat in a storm knows. The X behind the anchor is St. Andrew’s cross. St. Andrew was the patron saint of Scotland.