TYPES OF CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2002 James Melough
All four Gospels record Mary’s anointing of the Lord’s body with the precious
ointment or spikenard just prior to His crucifixion; Mt 26:7 informing us that
the precious perfume was in an alabaster box; and Mk 14:3 recording the fact
that “she broke the box,” the word “broke” meaning that she crushed or shattered
There are two kinds of alabaster, both resembling marble, but much softer, one
being translucent white and often having colored streaks; the other being
usually snow white and of uniform fine grain. The latter is the softer, but
both lend themselves to delicate fine carving.
From John 12:3,5 we learn that it was “very costly,” worth about “three hundred
pence,” the equivalent of approximately a year’s wages in that day.
Some have seen in this costly perfume a figure or type of “man’s best graces,
efforts and talents” consecrated to the service of Christ; others, a type of
worship, the presentation to God of the worshiper’s apprehension of the
perfections and worth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Occupation with the perfume, however, has resulted in virtual disregard of the
typological portrait presented in the alabaster container itself, yet closer
scrutiny reveals that it is indeed such a picture. First, its color, white, the
color of purity, points to the spotless purity of Christ. There was nothing in
His holy nature that could ever be tempted by the sin which so easily tempts
us. Of Him alone could God declare, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased,” Mt 3:17.
Its uniform fine grain declares the same truth as was presented in the Meal
offering: every attribute of Christ was in perfect balance: no trait
predominated; His abhorrence of sin was as great as His love for the Father and
Its plasticity, the ease with which it could be carved or shaped, points to the
submissiveness of Christ to the Father’s will, as displayed throughout His life,
and declared in His prayer in Gethsemane, “Father, if thou be willing, remove
this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done,” Lk 22:42.
The costly perfume within the container represents that inward perfection which
was manifested in His words and deeds, and which man discerned in only the
smallest measure, but which God alone understood and valued. It was, however,
only by the breaking, the crushing or shattering of the alabaster vessel, that
the fragrance of the oil was perceived by everyone in the house. And so was it
with Christ. It was by His death (the shattering of the human vessel, His body)
that His inward perfections have been manifested, for love is the perfect
expression of every other virtue, and no love, however great, can ever equal
that of Christ for His Father, and for sinful men, as it is written, “For when
we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For
scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some
would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Ro 5:6-8.
Relative to the other symbolic picture presented here, that of worship, it is
sadly apparent that what passes for worship in Christendom today falls very far
short of the ideal set before us in this typological cameo, for the truth is
that genuine worship can come only from a contrite heart, crushed and broken by
awareness of its own sinfulness, and by a true apprehension of what the Lord
endured at Calvary to redeem our souls.