Who Is Jesus Christ: According to the scriptures, Jesus was anointed with an aromatic essential oil several times during his ministry. All four Gospels record instances of his anointing by various women. Both Matthew and Mark say it happened two days before the Passover. Luke does not say when exactly, except that he tells the story near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. John places the event six days before the Passover. The evidence points to several instances and not just once where Jesus was anointed.

Who anointed Jesus?

Matthew and Mark only say it was a “woman.” Luke calls her a “woman from the city who was a sinner.” Many think this refers to a harlot, probably Mary Magdalene although history distorts Mary Magdalene’s story. Only John names her as Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus.

What Oil Was Used in These Anointings?

The scriptures call it “nard.” More than likely this was a mixture of myrrh and spikenard. The myrrh would have been a fixing oil, causing the odor to last longer and it would have tempered the stronger smelling spikenard.

Why Were the Disciples Upset by These Anointings?

Jesus showed an appreciation for this kind of healing touch. When Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus, he defended her actions when some of the disciples grumbled about the cost of such an anointing. Her story is told to this very day to honor her for her devotion and healing ministry to Jesus. In the story, this act was done out of great honor and devotion to God’s anointed one. To break open an alabaster wax jar of costly nard and pour the entire contents over Jesus had to be a remarkable gesture of love. No wonder the disciples were so shocked at this woman’s public demonstration of extravagance. In today’s money, that wax jar was probably worth a year’s wages, over $35,000 and represented her household’s fortune that would have been enough to feed the entire village for a week! And no wonder Jesus, the anointed one, blessed her for her act of love and kindness in this anointing.

This is but one of the ancient stories of how aromatic essential oils were used for healing found in our biblical tradition. And it was women who touched and anointed “God’s anointed One.” If we look at the history of healing in general, we find women were the natural healers for they were mothers and caregivers for their families. It is women who knew the right plants and herbs to use when their loved ones were sick or wounded. It is women in the towns and villages who were keepers of this healing knowledge passed down from mother to daughter through many generations.

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