The Gospel of Mark – Part 46
Anointing and Opportunity – Mark 14:1-11
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Aug. 9th, 2020
- In our last chapter, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple and answers questions from His disciples about the end of the age. This morning, we are turning to Mark 14, where we read about the plot of the priests to kill Jesus, the worship of a woman of Jesus and the betrayal of Jesus by a brother. This passage contains important keys for understanding and focusing your faith in relation to Jesus and ministry.
- Jesus had been teaching on the temple ground for two days. The religious leaders were furious that Jesus had “cleansed the temple,” exposed their evil and warned the people about them. They were extremely jealous of His following and popularity. They tried to trick and trap Him, but they could not. They were determined and desperate to destroy Him.
The plot of the priests
Mark 14:1-2 ESV
It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
- Two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (this was the celebration and recognition of God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt) puts these events on a Tuesday night (the Last Supper was on a Thursday and the betrayal, trial and crucifixion was on a Friday).
- The chief priest, the guys who lead the religious leaders, and the scribes, the experts in the law, both were seeking to arrest Jesus “by stealth” and kill Him. The people who thought they were working for God were actually working against Him. The people who were considered the religious “insiders” were actually religious “outsiders” when it came to Christ and the Kingdom of God.
- They were more concerned and afraid of the reaction and opinion of the people than they were the reaction and opinion of God. They were seeking to hide their actions for the eyes of men, but they could not hide their actions from the God who see everything. You can work to veil who you are to the eyes of people, but you will never do so to the eyes of God. Always put the opinion of God higher than the opinion of people.
- The religious leaders had made up their mind that they were going to kill Jesus, they were just waiting for the right time and opportunity.
- In the meantime, we see Jesus with His disciples in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. And while they were there, a woman demonstrated her devotion to Jesus.
The worship of the woman
Mark 14:3-9 ESV
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
- Here you have Jesus, spending His time with “outsiders” of the religious establishment, who were in actuality “insiders” with Christ and His kingdom (they were outside of the holy city, in Bethany). There was Simon, who at one time, was a leper and more than likely healed by Jesus, and an unnamed woman, considered a “second class” citizen.
- When everyone in the house was together at mealtime, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard. It was very costly. She broke it and poured it on His head. She did not just break the seal and pull the stopper out and put a few drops on Jesus to make Him smell a little better. She broke the flask, saying, “I am giving this all to you,” and poured it all over His head. It was not just a few drops and then saved the rest for herself for down the road.
- This was done on dead bodies to mask the smell of their decay. And this woman did this to the body of Jesus while He was still alive in recognition that He was about to die, that He was a “dead man walking.” I can imagine as it soaked into His hair and skin that He stilled smelled it in the garden of Gethsemane, His trial and torture, and on the cross of His crucifixion. It was a beautiful smell, a potent and powerful smell that would have stayed with Him even to the tomb. This was a beautiful act of devotion, sacrifice, and worship. And she paid for it in many ways.
- Some of the disciples were “indignant” and questioned her wisdom and thought it was a waste saying that it cold have been sold and then the money could have been given to the poor (it could have been sold for more than 300 denarii. A denarius was a day’s wages, so in our terms, if you made $100 a day this would cost more than $30,000). Not only were they “indignant” toward her, but they shamed and scolded her as well.
- Then in comes Jesus. He quickly defended her and told His disciples to “leave her alone” and questioned them as to why they were “troubling her.” And then He taught an important lesson. He said that what she did was a “beautiful thing” to Him. The poor will always be with you, there will always be ministry to do, but you will not always have me. Your devotion and treasuring of me is more important than your ministry for me. Your devotion to Jesus is more important than your ministry for Jesus. You can do ministry in the name of the King without the heart of the King. Never let your ministry for Jesus be greater than your relationship with Jesus. We are to “love the Lord our God first” and then out of that first love “love our neighbor as ourselves.”
- “She has done what she could” – not what she couldn’t do, but what she could do. She did what she could, and it was a beautiful thing, and a thing that gives us hope and encouragement to do what we can as well in our circumstances and situation. Do what you can, go where you can, give what you can because of your love for Jesus. This is a beautiful thing to Him. What she did will be remembered, and what you do will be remembered as well. In her case, when the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world (which means indeed it will be proclaimed to the whole world), that what she did will be told in memory of her.
- This “outsider” was truly an “insider” and I look forward to an opportunity to meet her someday. After this beautiful expression of love, devotion, sacrifice and worship, one who was an “insider” was shown to be an “outsider.”
The betrayal of the brother
Mark 14:10-11 ESV
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.
- Judas Iscariot, who was one for the twelve, had been with Jesus for years. He has seen what He had done, heard what He had taught, ministered for Him and with Him, and was trusted to take care of the financial matters. Despite all this, he was the one who betrayed Jesus. He took the initiative to reach out to them (they did not even come to him). He sought to betray Him, not just turn his back on Him, but to turn him over to be destroyed. And his behavior contrasted the women’s behavior. The woman sacrifices her money for the sake of faith; Judas sacrifices his faith for the sake of money.
- These religious leaders were glad and gladly gave him money for this betrayal. Judas looked for the right opportunity to betray Him, when the time was right in the dead of the night. He was the insider who was all the while an outsider.
- People who think and are regarded as religious “insiders” may indeed be on the “outside” of Christ and the Kingdom of God. Always have the opinion of God be of higher value to you than the opinion of people.
- Never let your ministry for Jesus be greater than your relationship with Jesus. Take this to heart and evaluate the truth of who you are and what your ministry is.
- Continue to love and follow Jesus, no matter what it costs you, or no matter what you give up doing so. He is far greater than anything you have or anything this world has to offer.