Day 149: Anointed to Reign, Anointed to Die (1 Kings 1; John 12)

Solomon anointed king by Luca Giordano (1634-1705, Italy)
38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon mount King David’s mule, and they escorted him to Gihon. 39 Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound. (1 Kings 1:38-40)

Through the Bible Reading: 1 Kings 1-2; Psalm 37, 71, 94

I’m fascinated by 1 Kings 1 because of how it is echoed in Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. If you have ever wondered why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (as opposed to a war horse, the way a Roman conquering a city would have), here is one of your answers. It wasn’t just to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. It was to remind His disciples of the first time a son of David rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

The comparison between Solomon and Jesus becomes even more clear when we look at John’s account of the anointing of Jesus. Unlike Matthew and Mark, which have Jesus being anointed after His entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:1-9), John has Jesus being anointed before.

Why the difference?

There are three reasons to anoint someone in Scripture. The first was to set them apart for ministry. This was why priests were anointed (See Ear, Thumb, and Big Toe (Exodus 29:19-20).

The second was in the coronation ceremony for a king. This is what you see in 1 Kings 1. Solomon is anointed by Nathan the prophet before he enters Jerusalem on a mule. The same thing happened with Saul (1 Samuel 10:1); David (1 Samuel 16:12-13); and Absalom (2 Samuel 19:10).

The third reason to anoint someone was for burial. You see this clearly in Matthew and Mark’s account of Jesus’ anointing.

12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.  (Matthew 26:12)

8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. (Mark 14:8)

In these two verses, the Greek is pretty straightforward: aorist active indicative (“she has done it”); aorist active infinitive (“she has anointed”)

But in John’s account, the Greek is weird. The verb is subjunctive, which means “The action described may or may not occur, depending upon circumstances.”

 You can see for yourself all the different ways translators have dealt with John 12:7:

KJ21 Then Jesus said, “Let her alone; against the day of My burying hath she kept this.

ASVJesus therefore said, Suffer her to keep it against the day of my burying.

AMP So Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep [the rest of] it for the day of My burial.

AMPC But Jesus said, Let her alone. It was [intended] that she should keep it for the time of My preparation for burial. [She has kept it that she might have it for the time of My embalming.]

CSB Jesus answered, “Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of my burial.

CEB Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it.

It’s like the translators don’t know what to do with the fact that Mary intended to use the perfume for the day of Jesus’ burial, but she’s using it now.

This is my opinion, so don’t go making a whole doctrine out of it or anything. But I think that because John places the anointing before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, it shifts the meaning of the anointing from preparing a body for burial to preparing a king to reign. Mary reminds us that the anointed king of kings will also be the embalmed passover lamb.






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