Jesus Anointed at Bethany
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
The Plot to Arrest Jesus
The Plot to Arrest Jesus
Oldest & most important festival in Judaism.
It’s a celebration of hope for future redemption.
It is a meal that commemorates the tenth plague in Exodus, when the angel of death passed over the Hebrews, killing all the firstborn males not protected by the lambs blood. (Exodus 12)
The Festival of Unleavened Bread
is a week long festival that follows the Passover celebrations.
All yeast was forbidden during the festival, it was to be removed from their homes.
It was linked to the exodus from Egypt when the Israelite’s were fleeing Pharaoh did not have enough time to wait for dough to rise.
The Sanhedrin wanted Jesus dead!
But they knew they couldn’t do it during the festival.
They were trying to figure out how to do it discreetly without causing a riot.
Mark uses his sandwich technique.
verses 1-2 and then 10-11 are tied together.
But Mark gives us context by jumping to a different story.
The Anointing at Bethany
The Anointing at Bethany
Mark doesn’t tell us the woman’s name, but John’s Gospel identifies her as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.
Mary takes an expensive jar of perfume and pours it over Jesus. The perfume was worth a lot of money. A full years wage to be exact.
Mark tells us that when Mary did this “they” were indignant, because this was such a wast of resources.
The Greek text shows that they were not just annoyed or irked, their irritation rose to the level of fury.
They had no idea that this was Jesus anointing before he was to be killed, nor did Mary I would expect.
One of them even mentioned that they could have used the money to give to the poor.
Giving to the poor was something everyone did during the Passover as a tradition, it was custom to give to the needy.
Who are “They”
Mark does not name who “they” are. Matthew, however, says it was the disciples (Matthew 26:8), while John says it was Judas Iscariot (John 12:4-5)
Judas was the treasurer for the group. It would make sense that he would be worried about the money, and the custom to give to the poor.
Jesus Reacts in a Surprising Way.
Instead of Jesus reacting negatively to this “wast of money”, he defends her actions.
Jesus sees her actions as an expression of her love and devotion to him. He calls it a beautiful thing.
Jesus has already predicted his death to his disciples, yet they still act like he will be with them forever. Jesus views Mary’s act as an anointing, preparation for his death. The one’s rebuking her see it as a wast of money.
Jesus makes a statement that we need to be carful with. He says that the poor will always be with us, so they can wait.
Essentially, Jesus is expressing the importance of serving Him, showing our love for him, and not just serving the poor out of obligation, but serving them out of love.
The poor will always be there, poverty is not going to go away if you sell the jar of perfume. So honour God with your life, and in the midst of that allow the Spirit to motivate you to love the poor.
Jesus was not saying forget about the poor and take care of yourselves, if anything he was saying the opposite. Love jesus and show your devotion to him, and you will love the poor, who will always be with us.
This ties into the previous passages, the widow who gives everything she had, the Temple being corrupt, and used for personal gain. Jesus tells us that Mary is doing what she can, to honour him. Yet “they” rebuke her. Interesting.
Judas Iscariot goes to the Sanhedrin and agrees to give them Jesus.
This is the beginning of the death of Jesus.
The treasurer sells him out!
Tying it all together
So how does this sandwich fit together?
Mark shows us how we often focus on the wrong things and miss the point of what happening around us.
Jesus has told them he is going to die, yet they stay focused on money, and their immediate surroundings.
Big Idea: Show your love for Jesus, make that your life’s priority. And allow the presence of God in your life guide your motivations, not human desire.