Reflections on Mark 14

Mark 14:3-9 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. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 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. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 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.”

  • Is it possible to waste something on God?
  • Worship is costly. “… I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (1 Chron. 21:24)
  • Costly worship may bring the rebuke of other disciples but it brings the praise of Christ

Jesus is not flippant towards the poor, as if he implying that since the poor will always be here we need not help. He is alluding to Deuteronomy 15:1-11, which rather than portraying the presence of the poor as a fateful inevitability commands us to action. First, notice the contrast:

Deut. 15:4 – “But there will be no poor among you…”
Deut. 15:11 – “For there will never cease to be poor in the land…”

God’s institution of providing for the poor through the wealth of the common people is not a magic panacea nor is it useless. Though we will always have the poor with us, the impossibility of fully solving the problem does freeze us in inaction but rather pushes us all the more. With God’s blessing upon us there need not be any poor among us. And though “there will never cease to be poor in the land,” God commands us to “wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”

“She has anointed my body beforehand for burial.” The women who went to the tomb thought they would anoint Jesus for burial but were too late. He was not there. Let us not delay in adorning Christ.

Mark 14:27 – “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’

Mark 14:29 – “Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.'”

Mark 14:30 – “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today… you yourself will disown me three times.”

Mark 14:31 – “But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ … ”

How more certain could Peter’s denial be? Christ Himself said it was written beforehand in Scripture. Peter denied it. Jesus made it explicit and personal. Peter denied it.

What warnings in Scripture do we fail to heed?

Mark 14:60-64 – “And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.”

The other charges Jesus need not answer, as their own testimony did not agree about what he had said three years earlier (John 2:19). But what could he do when directly questioned about being the Christ?

  • If he remained silent, what would that communicate? That he was afraid? That he couldn’t prove the claim? That he didn’t know?
  • If he said, “No, I am not the Christ,” wouldn’t that be a lie? And a lie against his own fundamental nature?
  • If he said, “Yes, I am,” wouldn’t he be charged, convicted, and killed?

Christ could not not tell the truth. Truly He is the man “who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind” (Psalm 15:4 NIV). He is the one who will dwell on God’s holy hill. (Psa. 15, Psa. 24, Psa. 2:6)

Mark 14:65 – “And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.”

Mark 15:17-18 – “And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!””

Mark 15:31 – “So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.””

Christ works as our priest, prophet, and king. And He was fully humiliated in all three offices.

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