Mary Anoints Jesus
Cooking & Storytelling Workshop
(John’s Version: John 12:1-8 Lazarus & Mary)
Note: This idea came from the book “More Than Cookies and Punch – 50+ Bible Story Snacks and Lessons”, by Tina Houser, Warner Press, 2006, 9781593171629. She uses this ice cream idea in her lesson of David’s anointing and I wrote my own story script to adapt idea for this story. Thanks Tina for a great idea – everybody loves ice cream!
Summary of Lesson Activities:
The goal of this particular food activity is to teach this unfamiliar story into our student's memories. The food is used to illustrate the story.
As you retell the story of Mary Anointing of Jesus at Bethany kids will add ingredients to their ice cream sundae that each represents a person or piece of the story. The final creation represents Jesus' face, that will be anointed with choc. While children eat you ask review questions of what happened in the story. They are listed below and contain life application questions as well.
Matthew 26: 6-13 Simon (Leper) & woman
Mark 14:3-9* Simon (Leper) & woman
Luke 7:36-50 Simon (Pharisee) & Sinner Woman
John 12:1-8 Larzarus & Mary (used for this storytelling)
*Denarius was a day’s wage for a labourer
(see end of lesson for where to buy special items)
- Cereal or Fruit Bowls (place in freezer – will slow down melting of ice cream)
- Vanilla Ice Cream
- Scoop or Spoon
- Choc Cookies such as: Dare Simple Pleasures Chocolate Thins OR Chocolate Wafers
- Re-sealable Sandwich Bags
- Skittles (nose)
- M&M’s (eyes) Allergy Alert - M&Ms can contain peanuts – replacement ideas use: raisins, choc. Chips, butterscotch chips, etc.
- Licorice, Red (cut into finger lengths)
- Chocolate Syrup (I used “Nesquick” - used to turn milk into choc. milk)
- Chocolate Coins (optional)
- Spikenard Anointing Oil
- Spikenard Plant Photo or Spice (optional)
- Alabaster Rock or an Alabaster Bottle or photo of either (optional)
- Bible opened to Mark 14: 6-9
- Paper or White Board (to write disciples names on during lesson)
- List of 12 Disciples names (I've listed them for you in the story script).
Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students and introduce yourself.
Open with a prayer.
Have all your ingredients ready at a side table.
Dig - Main Content and Reflection:
- You may want a helper or two, depending on number of children you have to help hand out items as they come up in story.
- Have children as they arrive first go and wash their hands then join you back at the table.
- Once everyone is seated ask for everyone’s attention as you’d like to tell them a story about Jesus and the very first Spice Girl (this will grab their attention)!
Six days before Passover Jesus stopped at the home of his friend Lazarus for a meal.
(hand out bowls)
Mary & Martha, Lazarus’ sisters were very happy to see Jesus. Martha immediately began to set the table for a meal with Jesus.
(hand out spoons)
Jesus sat upon a cushion placed for him by Mary at the table.
(give each child a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the centre of their bowl – Jesus’ head)
The disciples arrived dusty and dirty from their travels with Jesus.
(give each child a cookie placed in sealed sandwich bag – make sure the air has been pressed out of it – ask children to crumble/break apart cookie with their hands – chunky bits is good! While they are busy breaking cookies ask children to name as many disciples as they can. Have paper or a white board to write them down). (Simon) Peter and Andrew, James (the Greator) and John, Philip, Thomas, Matthew, (Nathanael) Bartholomew, James (The Lessor) and Thaddeus, Simon, Judas.
Mary invited the disciples,
(name each from list)
to join Jesus and they all sat opposite Jesus at the table.
(have children open sandwich bags and sprinkle crumbled cookie along top & two sides of ice cream – hair for Jesus)
Lazarus took his place at the table.
(give each child a skittle and ask them to insert it into the center of their ice cream sideways – Jesus’ nose)
Mary & Martha brought bowls of meat & fruit to the table.
(give each child two M7M's and say these represent Mary & Martha, and ask them to place them flat, above and on either side of previous skittle, will represent Jesus eyes)
My, I wonder where Mary has gone? Look… here she comes and she’s sitting beside Jesus and in her hands she’s holding something. Why look, it’s an Alabaster Jar. Does anyone know what an alabaster jar might look like?
(pass around a piece of Gypsum or an alabaster jar or a picture of one or both)
Upon removing the seal from the alabaster jar a wonderful smell drifted around the room. The smell was from a perfume called Spikenard. It was very expensive and made of pure Nard.
(pass around a bottle of Spikenard for the children to smell)
Nard came from a plant that grows in a cluster of spikes, each spike is about the size of a finger. And that is why they call it Spike-Nard.
Now I’m going to give you each a piece of licorice, to add to your creation, it’s about the size of a finger to remind us of name of the plant the perfume used to anoint Jesus came from. Can anyone tell me what the perfume is called?
(hand each child a piece of Licorice and place across bottom of ice cream – Jesus mouth)
Now if we look closely at what we have created in our bowls we can see an image of Jesus – the vanilla ice cream represents how pure of heart Jesus was.
(go around pouring chocolate syrup on each child’s creation as you explain the following….)
The act of pouring oil on a person’s head was a custom that was used to express love and appreciation. Mary’s gesture was her way of expressing her total love. She poured out the whole vile and John, one of Jesus’ disciples, says she also spilled some on his feet and dried it with her hair.
Well, you can imagine the surprise of Jesus’ disciples, especially Judas. Judas asked, “Did Mary not know that they could have sold that same bottle of Spikenard for 300 denarri.”
Now a single denarius was worth about twenty cents,
(here you could give out each child a choc. Coin)
a day’s wage for a labourer at that time. Did Mary not know how many poor people they could have helped with that money? Although, I do believe Judas was really thinking not of others, but of himself and his own greed.
Does anyone know what Jesus said about Mary?
(Close by reading or have children read as a group - Mark 14: 6-9)
Say a prayer with children then allow them to eat their creations.
Reviewing the Story with the Kids:
Review story by asking children what each item represented in their bowl. Go around table so each child gets to answer a question. Have remaining Skittles/M&M's in bowl to hand out for correct answers.
As you review, ask questions that begin to reflect on the meaning of the story to us, its life application, etc. I have written a few of those below.
Story Review/Reflection Questions:
- How many days before Passover did Jesus stop at his friend Lazarus house for a meal? Six days
Does it seem odd to you that Jesus would have a FRIEND? What kind of friend do you think Jesus was?
- Later in the Gospel, when Lazarus dies, Jesus cries, and then resurrects his friend.
What were the names of Lazarus’ sisters? Mary & Martha (M&M’s-eyes)
- Whose house was Jesus having dinner at? Lazarus (Skittle-nose)
- Who also came to dinner with Jesus to Lazarus’ house? The disciples (crumbled cookies-hair)
How many disciples did Jesus have? 12
Can you name them? (Simon) Peter and Andrew, James (the Greator) and John, Philip, Thomas, Matthew, (Nathanael) Bartholomew, James (The Lessor) and Thaddeus, Simon, Judas.
Six days with 12 disciples at Lazarus and Mary's house is a LONG TIME to have that many people together. How do you think they got along? What might Jesus have told them to help them learn how to live together in harmony?
- What kind of jar did Mary bring to the table? Alabasater Jar – carved from a rock called Gypsum
What was in the Alasbaster Jar? Spikenard Anointing Oil made from Nard
What is the name of the plant that the Nard comes from? Spike-Nard (licorice-mouth)
What does a Spike-Nard plant look like? A cluster of spikes each the size of your finger
- What did Mary do with the Spikenard that was in the Alabaster Jar? She broke the seal on the Alabaster Jar and pour the Spikenard anointing oil onto Jesus head.
Why did she do it? What was she signaling to Jesus?
What kinds of "alabaster jars with expensive perfume" do we "give" to Jesus today?
What of value do you offer to Jesus? (time, money, talents, prayers, helping others)
- The costume in bible times of pouring oil on a person head was to show that person what? Show them how much you loved or cared for them and appreciated them. (Chocolate Syrup – Spikenard Anointing Oil)
- How much did a bottle of Spikenard cost in bible times? 300 denarri – 1 denarius was worth about twenty cents which was how much a labourer could make in 1 day, so it cost a lot of money.
The Alabaster Jar full of Nard was expensive. What does that tell you about Mary's priorities?
- Who got really mad that Mary poured it on Jesus head? Judas
Why was Judas mad? Because he said it could have helped a lot of poor people.
Is it right to build expensive churches to honor God? Or should we give away all our money?
How much is "too much" ??
Elsewhere, Jesus told a rich man to "give away all that you have." He didn't tell everyone to give away everything they owned, just the rich man --because his riches were getting in the way of following God.
IF YOU HAD A BILLION DOLLARS, what would you do with it?
At what point would Jesus say your plan to spend it was good or wrong?
- What did Jesus say about what Mary did to the other disciples? Mark 14:6-9
I also asked the children to do this activity at home with their parents - retelling the story as they made their Sundays with ingredients they could find - and they actually did - I heard from one parent the following Sunday her son had come home and told the story to his sister (who had missed church that day due to illness) and his mom.
- “Rahab Saves the Spies / Esther Rescues Her People / Perfume for Jesus’ Feet” (Upside Down Turn Me Around Series), Cook, 2006, 9780781443920 . Note: story is in center of the book. (Luke’s version). Ages 4-7
- "I Love You Jesus – Story of Mary’s Gift to Jesus" (God Loves Me Series), Faith Alive, Patricia L. Nederveld, 9781562123116. (John’s version) Ages 2-3.
- Beginner’s Bible – Pg. 459-463 (John 12)
- Childen’s Bible in 365 Stories – Pg. 360 (John 12)
- The Children’s Illustrated Bible – Pg. 260-261
Where to purchase
- Spikenard Anointing Oil: buy through your local Christian Bookstore or search the internet – you can buy a 1/3 oz. roll on bottle, which is great as they can’t spill it when they pass it around to smell it and it’s easy to anoint them with it.
- Alabaster Bottle or Gypsum Rock: A piece of Gypsum – if you can get some – might try places that sell rocks for rock collecting or in a science kit. Try christianbook.com and search for alabaster jar, you may even find a small jar that includes a bottle of Spikenard anointing oil.
A lesson written by Luanne Payne from: Hampton United Church,
Hampton, ON, Canada
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.