Faithlife Sermons

Jesus Anointed At Bethany

Mark Exposition  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:28
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

Bible Reading

Mark 14:1–11 NIV84
1 Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. 2 “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or the people may riot.” 3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as 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. 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. 6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.


Another Markan "Sandwich text"
Over the past weeks, we were looking at a portion of Mark’s Gospel that was primarily focused on Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem and His judgments upon the religious leaders.
Context - have looked at Christ's strong words of condemnation toward religious leaders.
We've looked at the pronouncement of judgment that Christ has given.
In , the flow of Mark’s Gospel moves from this arrival in Jerusalem and the judgment pronouncements, to focus now instead on the buildup to Christ’s crucifixion.
This new chapter begins to move us definitively towards the cross!!
3 Scenes to be considered.
Mixed in, are pictures of the inner workings of the minds of people.
There are friends, and there are foes.
Deceitfulness of sin is incredible!!!
Judas was so angered that he became self-serving, to his own destruction

Scene 1 - The Plot (vv.1-2)

The Time (v.1a)

Based on what took place in Egypt
Lamb was to be sacrificed - to prevent death of firstborn
Now approaching - the Firstborn would be sacrificed as the lamb
Feast of Unleavened Bread

The Schemers (v.1b)

The chief priests and the teachers of the law
They have targeted Christ with their attacks on Him
They have been the target of Christ's rebukes
They were open enemies
Judgment has been pronounced on them.
Pride was bound up in their heart.
Proverbs 11:2 NIV84
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Proverbs 16:18 NIV84
18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 21:24 NIV84
24 The proud and arrogant man—“Mocker” is his name; he behaves with overweening pride.
They were not prepared to offer up their status
The law they knew, but they used it for selfish gain - status and power
Moral integrity was devoid of Godly Love and compassion
They refused to accept the correction that was directed at them
Proverbs 9:7 NIV84
7 “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Proverbs 15:12 NIV84
12 A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.

The plot (v.1b)

The plot (v.1b)
They wanted to kill Jesus
His confrontation of them had reached a peak
They were now more determined than ever
Not jail, not banishment - only his death would satisfy them.
But it would need to be "sly" - a stealthy way to kill him
Veiled in secrecy
Proverbs 17:23 NIV84
23 A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice.

The problem (v.2)

They feared what would happen
They knew what they were doing was not supported by the people.
The time of the feast - Jerusalem packed! Huge crowds
Concerned that crowds would riot.
"They who desired nothing more than the praise of men, dreaded nothing more than the rage and displeasure of men." Matthew Henry
In verse 1 of our text this morning, Mark begins by indicating the time that these events took place.
He says that the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away.
These two events - the Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread - were events that in the Jewish calendar ran back-to-back.
The Passover feast was established when the Israelites...
The Feast of Unleavened Bread took place just after, and was there to remind the Israelites of their flight from Egypt, and the fact that they were to eat bread without yeast...
Our text tells us that the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only 2 days away.
Depending on how the calendar is interpreted, this would most likely place what is taking place here on the Wednesday.

The Instigators (v.1)

The instigators of this plot will come as no surprise to us.
They were the chief priests, and the teachers of the law.
These were the outstanding members of society!

Scene 2 - The Anointing (v.3-9)

The Place (v.3a)

The Place (v.3a)
This was the place Jesus was staying
A few km from Jerusalem
Not a well-off city
Mostly people of poor means.
Lazarus had been raised from the dead here
Mary and Martha lived here
Home of Simon the Leper
Jesus goes into the home of a "leper"
Not ashamed of associating with those who were shunned
Probably this was a leper that Christ had healed.
Impending death - but still engaging, not withdrawing!
Continues doing the work he came for.
Reclining at the table
Christ is reclining - eating a meal
With him at the table is Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead.
- the dinner was given in Jesus' honor.

The Anointing (v.3b)

A woman
Strange sight - normally women didn't feast with.
Usually women were only servants
This woman stands in stark contrast to the men!
A motif of Mark's Gospel
Expensive perfume
Alabastar Jar - flask with a long neck / no handles
Usually the jar would be sealed to preserve the contents
Inside the alabastar jar is a very expensive perfume
Nard - aromatic oil extracted from a plant in India
This made it expensive - very expensive!!
According to verse5 - more than a year's wages
We would be shocked that a person even possessed such an expensive bottle of perfume!!
I'm taken aback at the prices of perfumes in our day from the normal Edgars store.
When I see "R2,000" for some spray to make you smell good....
But for this lady, it was worth dispensing all of this perfume onto Christ
Jesus anointed
The lady breaks the jar, and pours the entire contents of the jar on Christ
She anoints Him!!
We are not certain why - maybe because Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead...?
According to , it was Mary that anointed Jesus (Mary and Martha)
In one sense, perhaps somewhat fitting....
Kings were anointed
1 Samuel 10:1 NIV84
1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance?
1 Samuel 16:12–13 NIV84
12 So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.
1 Kings 1:38–39 NIV84
38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and put Solomon on King David’s mule and escorted him to Gihon. 39 Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!”
Priests were anointed
Exodus 28:41 NIV84
41 After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.
Prophets were anointed
1 Kings 19:16 NIV84
16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.
The very word "Messiah / Christ" means the anointed one.
But interestingly, this anointing had a different significance…(will come to in a moment).

The Indignant (v.4-5)

They were indignant of the action.
Notice that this was in plural - not just one person, but many
They were shocked that such an amount could be wasted on Jesus!!
The Concern?
Perfume could have been sold
Could have brought an income...
That money could have gone to the poor!!!
The objection they had was not to the act, but to its extravagance!
A time of giving to others.
A time where the poor were to be remembered, and gifts given them!
Thus - understandable concern!
Was their concern genuine?
Probably there were some who had genuine concern
But there was also one who had no genuine concern
Their response to her
They rebuked her harshly!!
They spoke sternly against her.
How dare you be so wasteful.
No doubt they thought they would gain the support and approval of Jesus - the very one she was anointing.
Surely he would agree with them?

The Teaching (v.6-9)

Jesus then responds to the disciples...
Leave her alone
"Leave her alone!"
That would have stunned them into silence!
The disciples judged by appearances - Jesus judged by motives!
"Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me!"
By disciples standards, she had done a wasteful thing
By Jesus Standards, she had done a beautiful thing
Christ's system of measurement is based on the heart and attitudes.
Consider the poor widow - two coins
The poor will always be with you
v.7 - Jesus makes a striking statement
Not a statement of indifference to the poor.
God cared for the poor. Jesus cared for the poor
Deuteronomy 15:11 NIV84
11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
Deuteronomy 15:4–5 NIV84
4 However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 5 if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.
You will not always have me.
Don't underestimate the weight of this statement...
If any normal person uttered it, it would be considered pure arrogance.
But this was Jesus, the Messiah!!
Christ places Himself above the poor.
"Love God" comes before "Love neighbour"
She did what she could...
What she had... she did....
Same as the woman who gave in the Temple Courts - she gave ALL she had...
The woman recognised the incalculable worth of Jesus Christ
Perfume of such significant value - to place this on Christ's head is worth it.
He's worth more...
How much is Christ worth to you?
Not asking to give your most expensive everything... but consider it!!
Is Christ worth everything to you.
Is He your delight, your joy, your crown?
Anointing was for burial!
Jesus however doesn't even relate this anointing with Him being Messiah / King...although he was
Mary had intended this anointing most likely as an act of great love and devotion.
Christ however interpreted her act of sacrifice as a fitting preparation for his death and burial
Already the disciples had been warned of Christ's impending death.
They still didn't grasp the reality however!!
They would not until beyond both his death and resurrection...
She would be remembered
Whether or not this woman properly understood the significance of what she did, significant it was!!
The woman encouraged Christ at the outset of the final phase of his ministry - by doing a beautiful thing for Him.
For this, she would be remembered - for as the Gospel would go forward, this act would be remembered!

Scene 3 - The Betrayer (v.10-11)

Identified (v.10)

Identified (v.10)
Judas - a disciple
"One of the Twelve"
What has he witnessed?
Jesus’ miracles
Walking on water
Feeding of the 5000
Feeding of the 4000
Jesus teaching
Jesus wisdom in responding to onslaughts from religious leaders
Everything was evident to him
John 6:66–69 NIV84
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:70–71 NIV84
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
Even this was foretold in the Psalms...
Psalm 41:9 NIV84
9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
For 3 years, Judas walked around with Jesus
Yet, his heart was far from Jesus...
His heart was in fact more on his own agenda, heart idols that he held.

Celebrated (v.11a)

How tragic that there is delight that someone would betray the Messiah
The blindness of these leaders was extensive!!

Rewarded (v.11a)

At this they promise Judas a reward.
In fact, it was Judas who sought the reward!
That's what makes this narrative so deeply saddening.
A woman with great affection for Christ, prepared to anoint Him with perfume of great price - she utterly devoted to Jesus, and recognising His worthiness.
Contrasted with a disciple... who despises his teacher, his Saviour, and seeks rather to make money off Him.
John's Gospel records only 1 person objecting to the woman pouring perfume over Christ...
John 12:4–5 NIV84
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”
I would suggest that Judas was the instigator in this whole group of disciples asking the same question.
Perhaps none of the others would have been so quickly offended, had Judas not spoken up about the waste.
But Judas was the treasurer of the group - surely he was speaking out of wisdom?! And a genuine care for how the funds of the disciples were apportioned.
Apparently not...!!!
John 12:6 NIV84
6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Watching for Opportunity (v.11b)

Judas goes out and looks for an opportunity to betray Jesus
Premeditated, planned, determined will to give Jesus over.
And all this for the sake of money!!!
Do you doubt the sinfulness of man's heart, unregenerated by His power?
Let us not ever underestimate the power of idols.
Let us never underestimate the luring power of the temporal things of this world.
Do we toy with things of this world?


1. Deal with sin quickly!!!

Judas had long been influenced by his sin.

2. Where do you stand in your relation to Christ?

As the Religious Leaders?

Self-righteous - trusting in your own righteousness
Convinced that you are right, and Christ is more intrusive in your life than you're comfortable with.
Perhaps you don't outright reject him... but you're not concerned to follow Christ with humility in His paths.
Instead, you rely more on your own actions, your own facade of goodness in front of others.

As Judas Iscariot?

Perhaps you're walking apparently close to Christ, but there are idols distracting you from focusing on Chris.t
You're not truly devoted to Christ.
You like to be around him.
You like to be around His people - there's some benefit to it.
But in your heart, you're actually holding onto things that you prefer much more than devotion to Christ

As the Disciples?

Perhaps you're not as bad as these - you're a disciple.
You won't fall away in hard times - at least not as badly as Judas did...
All the disciples fell away at some point, but the rest returned to Christ.
Judas was the only one who took his own life without seeking forgiveness and restoration.
But perhaps instead of celebrating great devotion to Christ, you would rather criticise, without understanding the heart of another person.
Great devotion to Christ should never frowned upon by us!

As Mary?

Don't be ashamed to be wholly devoted to Christ
"The world has never had a problem with religion in moderation. It has no problem with too much wealth or power... or influence, but it has a problem with too much religion." (Edwards, J. R. (2002).)

All of this was Planned

Nothing that took place was outside of the providence of God.
God was using every circumstance, the motivations of people’s hearts, the wicked intentions, all for His glorious purposes.
Ultimately, these happened that you and I may receive forgiveness for sins.
The glorious grace of God, that Jesus would be willing to be so done in and betrayed by His own disciple - one that He chose to walk alongside...
Related Media
Related Sermons