Several times in scripture we have people doing things that are prophetic without them recognizing it. There are several instances in the Gospels where the Gospel writer informs us of what is going on. One of those instances is in John 11. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead the Jewish leaders began plotting as to how they might kill Jesus. Caiaphas, the high priest makes a prophetic statement and doesn’t even realize it but John tells us that is what is going on,
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
Caiaphas says this in a particular context but viewed from God’s perspective that Caiaphas is unaware of it means something entirely different. He has no idea that he is in line with the suffering servant prophesy of Isaiah in Isaiah 53, that the suffering servant would bear the iniquities of God’s people through his suffering,
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. – Isa 53:4-5
Another place we see this is Matthew 26:6-13 where Jesus is anointed at Bethany,
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
This time it is Jesus who points out the deeper meaning of her actions that the woman probably didn’t understand when she poured the perfume on Jesus. Jesus tells those present that she did this to prepare him for his burial. Just like the ladies who come with spices to Jesus’ tomb after his death she has done this prior to his crucifixion.
Third are the Jewish Leaders, Pilate and The Roman Soldiers. The charge brought against Jesus by the Jewish leaders is the charge of treason. Jesus, they say, is proclaiming himself king of the Jews. Pilate asks him this directly in Matthew 27:11. The soldiers mock him as a king,
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. – Matt 27:27-31
This is also reflected in the sign placed over Jesus’ head that he is mocked as the king of the Jews. This connects back with Jesus’ anointing in the previous chapter. Kings are anointed. Jesus was anointed. Some believe his baptism was his anointing. Instead of being anointed with oil pouring down his head and face he was anointed by the Holy Spirit landing on him at his baptism. This theory has some weight because the words at his baptism from God demonstrate that Jesus is God’s Son. The king of Israel was referred to as God’s son in the Old Testament. In the very next chapter Jesus says he is anointed when he reads from the Isaiah scroll in the synagogue,
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” – Luke 4:16-19
This passage connects the Holy Spirit and anointing to perform the Messianic duties and role. What is more, the women in Matthew 26 also anoints Jesus. While Jesus directly states it is for his burial. I am wondering if it is not for his “enthronement” as the king of Israel. Jesus constantly referred to his crucifixion as his glorification. The crucifixion of Jesus was his enthronement and his exaltation where he is lifted up to draw all people to himself. That is where he was lifted up, exalted as the “king of the Jews”. Her anointing just prior to the Last Supper, arrest and crucifixion was prophetic in more ways than one.
Scripture is like ogres which are like onions…all three have layers.