Journal of Discourses 4:260; “I will venture to say that if Jesus Christ were now to pass through the most pious countries in Christendom with a train of women,. such as used to follow him, fondling about him, combing his hair, anointing him with precious ointment, washing his feet with tears, and wiping them with the hair of their heads and unmarried, or even married, he would be mobbed, tarred, and feathered, and rode, not on an ass, but on a rail. What did the old Prophet mean when he said (speaking of Christ), “He shall see his seed, prolong his days, &c.” Did Jesus consider it necessary to fulfil every righteous command or requirement of his Father? He most certainly did. This he witnessed by submitting to baptism under the hands of John. “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” said he. Was it God’s commandment to man, in the beginning, to multiply and replenish the earth? None can deny this, neither that it was a righteous command; for upon an obedience to this, depended the perpetuity of our race. Did Christ come to destroy the law or the Prophets, or to fulfil them? He came to fulfil. Did he multiply, and did he see his seed? Did he honour his Father’s law by complying with it, or did he not? Others may do as they like, but I will not charge our Saviour with neglect or transgression in this or any other duty.” – Orson Hyde, Salt Lake City, March 1857 [Spelling as in original.]
John 12:3; “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.”
Before we address the flagrant disregard of any sense of reverence stemming from Mr. Hyde’s discontent, let’s look at the meaning of the historical, not to mention prophetic, event that took place in our bible passage today! God has a story to tell – are we listening?
The transliteration for spikenard is ‘nardos’ which comes from the Greek word ‘pistos’, and means pure, unadulterated. Spikenard is a perfumed ointment made from the roots of an aromatic plant, (Nardostachys jatamansi), that Israel imported from the Himalayan mountain sides; the only place it is grown.
It’s terribly expensive, and as it says in John 12:5, the entire bottle was worth 300 Denari, an astounding equivalent of $30,000 – $40,000 today. In Roman times, a laborer earned one Denari each day. This historic event is mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and John. The other time a woman named Mary poured ointment on the Lord is found in Luke. That incident took place a year earlier.
Mary poured an entire bottle of Spikenard on Jesus’ feet, which the Bible says was a pound (meaning Roman pound). We know this is equivalent to 12 ounces in American measurements. The other remarkable note about this event is that King Solomon prophesied about it 1,000 years prior!
Song of Solomon 1:12 “While the king [sitteth] at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.”
Spikenard was used for a few things, but it was always done so sparingly. Priests used it to anoint items for use inside the temple, or to anoint people in a blessing. It was also used as part of the embalming spices which is probably why Mary had some so readily available when she and Martha had embalmed their brother Lazarus.
This event with the Lord took place a few short days before Passover which is why the town was so full of people at that time, and why Jesus was in Bethany. Located on the West Bank, Bethany was about a mile and a half east of Jerusalem.
We can plainly see Mary’s extravagant display of reverence and worship poured out on the Lord, and His obvious acceptance of it. Nothing in the passage denotes any sign of immorality, nor any type of impropriety.
Like the oil itself, Mary’s devotion was pure and unadulterated.
Why then would Mr. Hyde inject such egregious suggestions into the minds of his listening audience? His words are those of a desperate, angry man.
The major thing to notice in his sermon is a partially quoted verse he didn’t give a reference for, taken out of context. The comment of Jesus seeing His seed is from John 12:24 which is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy from 700 years earlier.
Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
Take a quick look at Matthew Henry’s Commentary –
That the Redeemer shall have a seed to serve him and to bear up his name, Psa. 22:30. True believers are the seed of Christ; the Father gave them to him to be so, John 17:6. He died to purchase and purify them to himself, fell to the ground as a corn of wheat, that he might bring forth much fruit, John 12:24. The word, that incorruptible seed, of which they are born again, is his word; the Spirit, the great author of their regeneration, is his Spirit; and it is his image that is impressed upon them.
That he shall live to see his seed. … Though he died, he rose again, and left not his children orphans, but took effectual care to secure to them the spirit, the blessing, and the inheritance of sons. He shall see a great increase of them; the word is plural, He shall see his seeds, multitudes of them, so many that they cannot be numbered.…”
Lastly, where in the Bible does it say women were combing Jesus’ hair? Mr. Hyde was grasping at straws trying to make the excuse for polygamy fit into biblical standards.
Remember beloved, the sign of a cult is when they take one verse out of context and build an entire doctrine on it!