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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

John 12:1-8

Story Summary

(Note: This story is the subject of considerable debate. All four gospels record an event where Jesus was anointed with costly oil by a woman. The question is whether it is one event told in all four gospels, or whether there were two different events, one recorded in Matthew, Mark, and John and a separate event recorded in Luke. We won't go into all the details of each argument. Rather, we will focus on the John account in telling this story. For reference, the other accounts of Jesus being anointed with oil are in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and Luke 7:36-50)

This story is short and can be read directly from the Bible. Here are some highlights and context:

  • According to most chronologies, this event occurs just before Holy Week (which begins on the Sunday before the Crucifixion with the Triumphal Entry). We include it here in the "Preparing for the Crucifixion" section as Jesus clearly points to his impending death and burial within the story.
  • Notice Martha serving dinner again while Mary does something else!
  • Keep in mind that this happened almost directly after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Most likely some very interesting dinner conversation!
  • Jesus mentions that Mary was symbolically anointing him for burial. For a while, the Jewish leaders had planned to kill Jesus for the things he was saying, and Jesus was predicting his death to his disciples frequently. Given how much time Jesus spent with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, it isn't hard to believe that Mary had a sense that things were coming to a climax.
  • Spices and oils were used to embalm the bodies of the dead in preparation for burial. See Luke 24:1-2
  • The practice of anointing with oil was used in the Old Testament as well, for various purposes. See Exodus 30:22-38 for the instructions Moses was given on Mt Sinai.
  • Mary uses a perfume made out of nard (or spikenard).

The important thing to get across to your students is that this was done in preparation for the Jesus' crucifixion and burial.

What You Will Need

Supplies
Anointing oil, olive oil, perfume, or spikenard anointing oil (Buy on Amazon)

Resource Sheet

Mary Anoints Jesus Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Mary anointing Jesus with oil as he was eating.

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Does your mom wear perfume? Or your dad cologne? Do you like the smell of it? Do you ever wear perfume, cologne or other smelly things?

Today, we're going to learn about a time in the Bible when someone poured a bunch of expensive perfume all over Jesus!

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: John 12:1-8

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • What city did this story happen in? (Bethany, the same city Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in)
  • What had Jesus just done for Lazarus? (Raised him from the dead)
  • What do you think they talked about over dinner? (Who knows? But I'm guessing some people had some questions for Lazarus!)
  • Who was cooking and serving the meal? (Martha)
  • Who poured the perfume all over Jesus? (Mary)
  • What did she wipe Jesus' feet with? (her hair)
  • Why did Judas get upset? (he said that the perfume was expensive, and should have been sold so they could give the money to the poor)
  • What did he really want to do with the money? (steal it for himself)
  • Who else have we recently learned about that would steal money from others? (Zacchaeus)
  • What did Jesus say Mary was doing? (preparing him for his burial)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • Mary spared no expense to show her love for Jesus. She poured out an expensive jar of perfume to honor him.
  • How can we honor Jesus with our lives, like Mary did?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Scripture says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Reinforcement Activities

Make Perfume Bottles

Scripture Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume. John 12:3

Supplies baby food jars, cotton balls or cloth, perfume, paint brushes, glue, tissue paper

  • Paint glue onto jar and add pieces of tissue paper to decorate the jar.
  • Put some perfume onto the cotton ball or cloth.
  • Place inside baby food jar.

Make Perfume

Scripture Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume. John 12:3

Supplies rose petals, lavender leaves (optional), filtered water, tea strainer, small glass jar

  • Remove a handful of rose petals from stem and gently wash them.
  • If using lavender flowers and leaves, remove them from the stems, as well.
  • Place flowers in a glass jar.
  • Add about a cup of filtered water.
  • Place lid of the jar and shake gently for about a minute.
  • Place in a sunny window for a week.
  • After a week, you can strain out the flowers.
  • If desired, you can leave a couple of rose petals inside and tie a ribbon around the jar for decoration.

Steal the Moneybag

Heads up! This is a great activity for outside.

Scripture [Judas] said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. John 12:6

Supplies Fabric, rope, and coins to make a moneybag

  • This game is based on "Steal the Bacon" (see the link below), but instead of bacon, they will be stealing a moneybag.
  • Tie up 15-20 coins in a piece of fabric to simulate a moneybag
  • Follow the instructions at the link below to play "Steal the Moneybag"

Reed Diffusers

Scripture Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume. John 12:3

Supplies small glass vases, bamboo skewers, essential oil, baby oilm, ribbon

  • Give each student a glass vase. (The smaller the opening the better).
  • Wrap a ribbon around the vase and tie in a bow for decoration.
  • Add baby oil and essential oil to the vases.
  • Place bamboo skewers into the vase.
  • You might have to cut the skewers, depending on the size of your vase.

Perfumed Feet

Scripture Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume. John 12:3

Supplies perfume, cotton balls, pencils, paper

  • Trace your feet.
  • Use a cotton ball to wipe perfume onto the feet.

Mary's Hair Craft

Scripture Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume. John 12:3

Supplies Mary printout, brown or black yarn, perfume, cotton swab

  • Glue yarn onto Mary's head.
  • Dip the cotton swab into perfume and wipe it onto the perfume bottle.

Anointing Lesson

Heads up! This activity should be used in accordance with your beliefs. We are basing the authority of teachers to anoint their students by Hebrews 8 and 1 Peter 2:9. We are His holy priesthood; His chosen people.

Scripture Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3 (ESV)

Supplies anointing oil (olive oil is fine)

  • The basic meaning of the Bible word "anoint" is "to pour on, smear all over or rub into."
  • In the Old Testament, someone who was anointed by God for special service to God, had oil poured or smeared on him.
  • For instance, Saul, and later David, was anointed with oil by the prophet Samuel when God revealed He had chosen him to be king of Israel.
  • The origin of anointing was from a practice of shepherds. Lice and other insects would often get into the wool of sheep, and when they got near the sheep's head, they could burrow into the sheep's ears and kill the sheep. Ancient shepherds poured oil on the sheep's head. This made the wool slippery, making it impossible for insects to get near the sheep's ears because the insects would slide off. Anointing became symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment.
  • Anointing is done as an act to show holiness or being set apart.

The following verses are examples of anointing in the Bible. Read different versions of the Bible to get a full understanding.

  • Exodus 30:22-33
  • 1 Samuel 16:13
  • Psalm 89:20
  • Psalm 133:1-3
  • Mark 6:13
  • In Luke 4:16-19, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1-2
  • James 5:14
  • 1 John 2:20

  • As a believer of Jesus Christ you have authority to pray over yourself and others and expect victory (see Mark 16:17-18).
  • Rub some oil onto your students heads and pray over them.
  • Rub oil onto your classroom doorway and pray over your church building that God will be honored in all you do.