Bethany was a city about two miles from the city of Jerusalem and is the scene of some memorable incidents in the life of Jesus. It is situated on a slope of the Mount of Olives. Jesus was in the city of Bethany and in the house of Simon the leper when a woman came with an alabaster box of ointment. Simon was not now a leper or Jesus would not be so closely associated with him as lepers under the law were unclean and outcasts. He had been cleansed of his leprosy. This woman took the alabaster box of ointment (perfumed oil) and poured it upon the head of Jesus as he sat at meat. (Matt. 26:7). The disciples witnessed this and were indignant wondering why this expensive ointment wasn’t sold and the proceeds given to the poor. When Jesus saw and heard their response, He responded, “Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” (Matt. 26:10-11) This woman Jesus told them had come to anoint His body for His burial. The Lord’s hour to be crucified is near at hand and He testifies to the importance of this woman and her faith as He tells His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” (Matt. 26:13). It was after this encounter, that Judas went to the chief priests and inquired how much they would give him to deliver Jesus?
There was a time when Jesus and His disciples came unto Bethphage and Bethany when He sent two of His disciples on a mission. ” And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.” (Mark 11:2-3) The disciple are obedient and sure enough they find a colt tied by the door in a place without where two ways met. They loose him and some questioned their act whereupon they said that Jesus had commanded them and the questioners let them go. They brought the colt to Jesus and cast their garments on the colt and Jesus sat on a colt that never had been sat on before. No problem with the Lord as He rode into Jerusalem and the people spread their garments in the way and cut down branches and strawed them in the way. This proclamation was made by those who accompanied Him in front and behind as He rode: “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. ” (Mark 11:9-10) Hosanna to the Highest as “Hosanna” means Oh, save and a proclamation of adoration and glory to the Lamb of God. After He rode into Jerusalem and entered the temple, He went back to Bethany with the twelve.
Bethany was the city where Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, dwelt when Lazarus became sick. They sent word to Jesus and He tarried two days before He came after hearing the word from Mary and Martha that Lazarus was sick. Jesus said his sickness was not unto death but for the glory of God. Finally He told them Lazarus was dead and He went to Bethany and find Mary and Martha weeping along with fellow Jews who had come to comfort them. Jesus has the stone rolled away from the sepulcher that held the body of Lazarus and cries with a loud voice so that those who witnessed His power would believe He was the Son of God. He cries, “Lazarus come forth”. (John 11:43). Lazarus immediately comes forth bound hand and foot with grave clothes and Jesus commands them “Loose him and let him go.” (John 11:44).
It was six days before Passover that Jesus came to Bethany to the house of Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead. Mary and Martha made Him a supper and Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table. Then we see what Mary did: “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.” (John 12:3). The odour of the ointment filled the house where they were sitting. This was a sweet smelling savour in the nostrils of God. It was Judas who would betray Him as to this waste of ointment as it might be sold and the money given to the poor. He said this not because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief and carried the bag. Jesus knowing Judas’ heart said, “Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.” (John 12:7-8). Many came to Bethany on this occasion but not for Jesus’ sake but to see Lazarus as the miracle of him being alive now when formerly he was dead.
Jesus appeared unto His disciples after His resurrection and showed them His hands and feet, telling them that a spirit has not flesh and bones as they were witnessing. They give him a piece of broiled fish and an honeycomb. He opens their understanding of the scriptures and this is all a fulfillment of scripture that Christ must die and rise again the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem. They were to be His witnesses but were to tarry at Jerusalem until they be endued with power from on high. Jesus led those disciples out from Jerusalem as far as BETHANY and He lifted up His hand and blessed them. (Luke 24:50). These disciples got to witness a most glorious sight in the place of the city of Bethany. They saw the parting of the Lord from this earth. “And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24:51).
We pray the Lord will continue to do wondrous things at Bethany church but they cannot compare with the things He did in the city of Bethany that was at the Mount of Olives and two miles from the city of Jerusalem.