Yesterday, I preached from Mark 14:1-11 in our series through the Gospel of Mark. The focus of the text was upon the preparation of Jesus for His upcoming burial. In other words, God used specific people to set the scene for Jesus to be crucified on a Roman cross. As we approach the cross, we must never forget that it was not an accident. It was a well planned, foreordained, and providentially guided event.
Jesus was Hated by Many
The New Testament makes it very clear that Jesus was hated by many people. You either loved Jesus or hated Him, and the masses certainly didn’t love Jesus. The religious leaders of the Jewish people despised Jesus, for He preached with authority (unlike the scribes) and exposed the errors of the religious leaders (Mark 1:22; John 1:9-11). The intensity of their hatred for Jesus grew much greater as the week of Passover progressed.
The religious leaders hated Jesus and their plan was to kill him. It was a calculated plan, one that they were scheming up in order to keep the peace with the people and remove Jesus at the same time. Their wicked plan fueled by their own depraved hearts was intended for evil, but God intended it for good.
Mark 14:1-2 – 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, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.
Jesus was Loved by Some
Although Jesus was hated by the masses, He did have a small group of people who truly loved Him. As Mark tells this story, he deals with events taking place on Wednesday (the plans of the chief priests to murder Jesus and the betrayal incident of Judas), but in this section of Mark 14:3-9, Mark looks back at an event that took place on the previous Saturday in order to show how Jesus was being prepared for His impending death and burial.
A lady named Mary was having a meal with Jesus in the home of a former leper named Simon. Although Mark doesn’t reveal her name, the parallel account in John 12 provides her identity. This is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. At some point she took a very expensive alabaster box of ointment (pure nard) weighing one pound, broke the flask, and poured it all over Jesus’ body. This was a customary practice in this culture, to anoint someone with oil was something that signified festivity, friendship, and honor. We can see this language in Psalm 23:5.
What made this uncommon was that Mary used the entire box of ointment. Scholars estimate this ointment to be worth one year’s salary in their culture, and Mary used it all on Jesus. Although criticized greatly for her sacrifice of love, Jesus commended her. Interestingly enough, it was Judas who was criticizing and claiming the anointing of Jesus was a waste of money that could have been used for the poor.
Jesus makes it very clear, Mary had prepared His body for burial (Mark 14:8). God used her sacrifice to set the stage for the upcoming death and burial that would take place in less than a week’s time. God used Mary and her sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Jesus was Betrayed by a “Friend”
One of the most troubling statements regarding Judas’ betrayal is found in Mark 14:10 as Mark identifies Judas as one “who was one of the twelve.” A supposed friend and partner in ministry was preparing to betray Jesus. A deed that would wound Jesus and his fellow disciples, although intended for evil, God would intend it for good. The wicked heart of Judas is exposed for us in verse 11 – and forever will be on display as a reminder of this grievous sin. Note the commentary, “And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money…” (Mark14:11). At the heart of Judas’ betrayal was his love of money.
Beware of the trap of money, it has caused many to fall into the depths of depraved sin (Matt. 6:24).
- Men have abandoned their families for money.
- Women have abandoned their children for money.
- People have rejected God for money.
- People have murdered others for money.
- People have committed adultery for money.
- People have sold off children for money.
- People have broken friendships for money.
- False teachers preach false doctrines for money.
1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
In all of these scenes, Jesus is being prepared to die. In two scenes, the plan is fueled by wicked and depraved sin. In one scene, Jesus is being loved and appreciated by Mary as she prepares Him for burial. In all of these scenes, no matter what the intent of the people might have been, God was using them to prepare the way for Jesus to die on the cross for sinners. His death was no accident and His atoning death is the only means whereby guilty sinners have hope in God.
Who are you most like in this section of verses? Are you like the religious leaders? Are you like Mary? Are you like Judas? Are you a true disciple or an imposter?