Several verses in John explain otherwise. Not only was she not some strange woman off the street, but she was a student of Jesus, along with her sister and brother, Lazarus:
This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's son may be glorified through it." Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (John 11:2-5)And later:
And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. (John 11:28-29)Here we see that both Mary, who is pouring the oil, and Martha, her sister, were students of Jesus, as they both referred to Jesus as "the Teacher."
In between these verses, we see an exchange between Martha and Jesus, illustrating that Jesus was directly giving her instruction - teaching her. So the sisters accepted Jesus as their teacher, and he accepted them as his students.
These verses also explain the care and love that existed between Jesus and his students: Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So now we find that Mary has poured scented oil on Jesus, and his other disciples became "indignant" according to the text (Matt. 26:9). They said, "Why this waste?" This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor." (Matt. 26:8-9)
Jesus then chastises these other students, as they did not perceive the importance of rendering loving service to the spiritual teacher.
This is one of the basic elements of achieving spiritual life, practiced from ancient times. We see this practice - of the student learning from, and rendering service to, the spiritual teacher- throughout the books of the Bible - inclusive of Melchizedek and Abraham, Moses and Joshua, Eli and Samuel, Samuel and David and John the Baptist and Jesus. Why is this important?
The bonafide spiritual teacher is God's representative. The bonafide spiritual teacher is not a professional position - or an elected post. Whether it be from deacons, elders, cardinals, or bishops, the bonafide spiritual teacher is not chosen democratically - by people. The bonafide spiritual teacher is chosen and empowered only by God.
But God does not empower a person to represent Him whimsically. There is a process, and that process involves honoring the relationship(s) of those previous teachers who also represented God. In other words, God empowers those who, after being introduced to His service by one of His existing representatives, take those teachings seriously and carry out those teachings.
This is the process of achieving access to the Supreme Being. God is all about relationships. And relationships are universal: A person who wants to become friends with someone they don't know will need to gain access through the person's friend or representative. Should they be pleasing to the friend, access will open up to the person they don't know.
Said another way, there is no better way to achieve the trust and confidence of someone we do not know than to be introduced to that person via a mutual friend.
These general rules of relationships are typical here and in the spiritual world because loving relationships originate from the spiritual dimension: Their reflection into the physical plane is muted but still evident.
Put it this way: God set up this method for us to reach him. Why? Because God is all about relationships, and love of God requires a relationship. It is not as if suddenly we can just love God out of the blue. We have to be introduced to God by someone who knows Him. Once we are introduced, if we follow that person's teachings - which show us how we can learn to please the Supreme Being - then God will make Himself more and more known to us. As He wishes: He is in charge, not us.
Opposing this process, many people make demands, challenging the Supreme Being:
If God exists, why can't I see Him?
The reality is, God isn't allowing us to see Him. He has purposely hidden Himself from our physical view for a reason.
He has hidden Himself from our physical view because deep inside we really don't want to see Him.
Why don't we want to see God? Because He is God. God means all-powerful. God means He is in control of everything. God means that He is the center of the universe, and we are not.
This conflicts with the fact that we want to be the center of the universe. Just look around. Aren't we all acting as though we are the center, and everything revolves around us? Yes.
Why is this? Because we want to be the supreme person. We want to be the champion. We want to be the winner. We want fame. We want glory. We want to be wealthy. We want all of these things because we want God's position.
Therefore, seeing God would threaten the position we see ourselves as - the center - the winner - the champion - the best or the rest. Hence, we would rather not see God and face the fact that He is these things and more. We would rather ignore Him. We would rather pretend that He doesn't exist.
We would rather doubt and question His existence, as though He's something that can be taken or left. As though it is our decision whether He exists or not.
Then there are those of us who are proud to be "believers." We think we are the special ones - the chosen ones. We think that we are the privileged ones. We see ourselves as "saved," and supposedly get anything we ask God for. Those of us who are feeling this way see God as our servant - as though He is there to make our lives easier. As though He is there to make sure we get the money, the fame, and the pleasure we deserve.
Those of us in this mood may still wonder why we don't see God. And this is why many who previously and proudly called themselves believers now say they don't believe. We didn't get what we wanted from God. So He must not exist.
In these positions we think we know so much, and see so much; that we are equipped to be the judge. Once again, we are putting ourselves as the center of the universe. We are so proud of our so-called knowledge of everything. We cannot even see the back of our heads let alone what exists outside the physical universe. We didn't know there were billions of microorganisms surrounding us until a few centuries ago. What do we know?
The spiritual teacher can teach us. But only if we humbly accept that someone else might know more than us. And only if we accept that the Supreme Being can teach us through someone who has a relationship with Him.
But how do we know who is God's representative? We can only truly know a person is a bonafide spiritual teacher if God shows us. This requires spiritual vision. And spiritual vision is given by God to those who seriously want to come to know Him.
Why would God give someone spiritual vision to see who His representative is? Jesus stated it clearly here:
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44)This explains clearly that it is God who reveals His representative. Jesus further confirms this relationship with other statements:
"When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the One who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the One who sent me." (John 12:44)Who is this "One who sent me" that Jesus is referring to? It is the Supreme Being. Jesus is God's representative, and God sent him.
Furthermore, Jesus explains how the teacher-student relationship works:
"I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the One who sent me." (John 13:20)Jesus is referring to "anyone I send" as his students, who went out and taught others as Jesus instructed them to do. If one accepted the sincere student of Jesus who passed on Jesus' teachings without change, then Jesus clarifies that the person is also accepting Jesus, and accepting the Supreme Being, because Jesus is God's representative and the Supreme Being is "the One who sent me."
This is how the ancient system of teacher-student works. This is why Joshua was a student of Moses before he became a teacher. This is why David was a student of Samuel before he became a teacher. This is why Samuel was a student of Eli before he became a teacher. This is why Solomon was a student of David before he became a teacher. And this is why Jesus was a student of John the Baptist before he became a teacher.
When we put this lineage together - we find another entire dimension to the history of the teachings of Jesus, despite the mangling of the texts by ecclesiastically (politically) appointed scribes. Jesus constantly quoted those previous teachers like David, Moses and Samuel because he came from their lineage of teachings. By accepting John the Baptist's teachings, Jesus accepted all of the teachers before John. And more importantly, by accepting his teachers' teachings, Jesus accepted the One who sent all of them: the Supreme Being.
But ecclesiastical sectarian teachers would like us to believe that Jesus' baptism by John was meaningless. It was only a little miracle, and it didn't mean that Jesus was John's student. They would also like us to believe that all of the teachers, such as Abraham, Moses, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon and all of those in between were all simply "prophets." Their only purpose was to simply predict Jesus' coming.
If this is true, why did these ancient teachers have so many students? Why did they teach the same basic tenets that Jesus taught? Why did God talk to them and tell them to speak on His behalf? Why did Jesus quote them so many times? Even Jesus' first and foremost commandment to love God was given as a quote from Moses' statement from Deuteronomy 6:5. Have ecclesiastical sectarian teachers forgotten that Jesus' teachings reflected the ancient spiritual teachers that came before him?
Yes. They want us to believe that Jesus is the only teacher, and the only representative of God who ever existed.
Why, then, are there so many teachers among the various ecclesiastical sects then? Why are all these professional priests and preachers teaching if Jesus is the only teacher? Why are there so many Bible study teachers among the churches? If Jesus is the only teacher, why do they teach?
This is a huge hypocrisy among so many ecclesiastical sectarian teachers. They teach us that we don't need a teacher - we just need Jesus. Let's get this right: They are teaching us that we don't need any teacher but Jesus. Why, then, are they teaching? This is nothing but hypocrisy.
Jesus clearly accepted the process of students learning from living teachers, and then those students who have become empowered by God after putting into practice the teacher's teachings, also becoming a teacher. This is why Jesus sent his disciples out to teach, saying:
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matt. 10:16-20)Jesus thus instructed his students to go out and teach his message, and allow God to speak through them. This means Jesus is accepting that some of them will become empowered by God.
This also means that he was instructing his students to also take on students, just as he had, and just as his own teacher John the Baptist had.
But many of today's ecclesiastical sectarian teachers don't want to follow Jesus' teachings and example. They want to teach but not follow. They want us to believe that we can just imagine Jesus being in our heart, be convinced that Jesus died for our sins, and we are saved. We don't have to accept a living teacher. Again, they teach us that we don't need a teacher.
We just have to accept that Jesus died for our sins and we're saved, according to their teachings. We don't even have to follow Jesus' instructions to love and serve God according to them. We don't have to change from feeling we are the center of the universe according to them. We can just ask God or Jesus to give us the money or the job or heal my leg or help my football team win. We don't have to learn to serve God, we can just get sentimental about Jesus according to their teachings.
This is the ultimate in feeling we are the center of the universe. That God would have His son killed - or God became Jesus and was killed - just to cleanse our sins. This is the ultimate in self-centeredness - that God died for me. What a crock. As if God ever dies. As if God ever becomes a man. As if God has to suffer in order to cleanse my sins.
God does not need to follow any sacrificial rules: He is God. He is the Supreme Being. He doesn't need to follow any system. And He can cleans sins simply by willing it so.
Jesus confirms the relationship:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)This new religion invented by the Roman leaders also allowed so many ecclesiastical followers to exercise their desires to become professional teachers and collect many followers. They set up an institution where teachers are elected and paid professional salaries. It is a system rife with abuse of authority - as we've seen with the many instances of the abuse of innocent children by some of these priests.
The reason for these abuses of power is because these teachers are being elected like politicians. If you pass the seminary exams and have a nice smile and say 'Jesus died for your sins' in a way that pleases church elders, deacons or cardinals, then you, too, can be an elected spiritual teacher according to their institution.
So in Jesus' (Matt. 26:10-13) statement above, what did he mean by the "memory of her"? For those who have preached "Jesus died for our sins" teaching, nothing: They accuse Mary of being a prostitute.
Rather, as Jesus states here, those who truly are passing on Jesus' teachings maintain a loving memory of Mary, and her act of loving service to Jesus. They understand this relationship of love between the devoted student and the loving teacher/representative of God, and they carefully pass this understanding on to the next generation.
In the same way, Jesus was careful to pass on the love, devotion, and instructions of the ancient teachers and their students before him. He was careful to pass on the essence of their teachings, and not create his own brand of religion. This is why Jesus was careful to quote Moses as he gave his most important instruction:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)