The Gospel of Mark #35 - An Alabaster Faith
The Gospel of Mark #35:
An Alabaster Faith
Text: Mark 14:1-11
Thesis: To note the beauty of a genuine faith that gives the best to the Lord.
(1) Beauty is esteemed as one of the most important values in our society; however, our society has a superficial view of beauty.
(2) Beauty in the eyes of the Lord is a faith that surrenders all to Him.
(3) Let us note this beautiful faith:
I. The Story:
A. In verses 1-2, the chief priests and scribes conspired about how they might arrest Jesus.
1. “The reference to the Passover as ‘two days away’ should probably be understood according to the inclusive reckoning of time among the Jews, meaning ‘the day after’” (Edwards 411).
2. “Passover was a time of intense nationalistic feeling among the people because it called to remembrance their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Moreover, there were a lot of Galileans in town, and they were noted for being excitable people capable of violence” (Hughes 2:145).
B. In verses 3-9, Jesus is anointed with oil in Simon’s house.
1. This event is not to be confused with the event recorded in Luke 7:36-50 where an unnamed woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and anointed them with oil at the house of Simon the Pharisee.
2. This Simon in Mark was a leper, possibly a leper whom Jesus had healed (Note: Some have theorized that he was the father of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus [Swete 321]).
3. The woman was likely Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 11:1-2).
4. The woman brought an alabaster flask of spikenard that she used to pour on Jesus’ head and anoint Him with it.
a. “The ‘alabaster jar’ was a flask with a long neck and no handles, and it was sealed to preserve the ointment” (Brooks 221-22).
b. “The expensive perfume is identified as nard, an oil extracted from a plant native to India” (Black 243).
c. “The neck of the perfume bottle was sometimes snapped off. In this case, the breaking of the flask and the pouring imply that no portion of the ointment was held back; all was poured out on Jesus’ head” (Evans 360).
5. Some of the disciples were “indignant” and criticized her for “wasting” the oil.
a. The oil was worth 300 denarii, which is roughly equivalent to a year’s salary (today = $20,000 – 30,000).
b. They believed that the money could have been better spent; i.e., to sell the oil to help the poor.
6. Jesus responded by noting that she had used the oil wisely.
a. Jesus called her act good/beautiful (Gr. kalos).
(1) “Her act is beautiful because she has invested herself in it. She gave what she had to him who was about to give his life for her” (Williamson 248).
(2) “She has of course expended a lavish gift on Jesus, but she appears to be the first person to perceive that the gospel is realized only in suffering” (Edwards 416).
b. Jesus quoted from Deut. 15:11 in order to stress that the poor would always be but that He would only be around for a little while longer.
c. Then, Jesus noted that she had actually prepared His body for burial.
- “This pronouncement indicates that Jesus anticipated that he would suffer a criminal’s death, for only in that circumstance would there be no anointing of the body” (Lane 494).
C. In verses 10-11, Judas goes to the chief priests to make a deal to betray Jesus.
- Note: The “woman’s devotion stands in stark contrast to Judas’ disloyalty … He is willing to sacrifice Jesus to obtain material rewards for himself. The woman, on the other hand, seizes an opportunity to show love to Jesus and sacrifices her precious gift for him” (Garland 516).
II. The Application:
A. Regardless to the economic value (i.e., whether the widow’s mite or this expensive nard oil), the Lord is pleased with one’s total sacrifice.
B. In spiritual matters, some things must come before other things.
C. One’s approach to Jesus must not be “What’s in it for me?” (i.e., Judas), but rather “What can I do for my Lord?” (i.e., Mary).
(1) Do you want to be beautiful in the eyes of the Lord?
(2) If so, bring Him your alabaster faith today!