Mark 14:1–11—A woman anoints Jesus
1 It was now two days before the Passover celebration and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and put him to death.
2 “But not during the Passover,” they agreed, “or there will be a riot.” 3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had leprosy. During supper, a woman came in with a beautiful jar of expensive perfume. She broke the seal and poured the perfume over his head. 4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why was this expensive perfume wasted?” they asked. 5 “She could have sold it for a small fortune and given the money to the poor!” And they scolded her harshly. 6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why berate her for doing such a good thing to me?
7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But I will not be here with you much longer. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I assure you, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be talked about in her memory.” 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. 11 The leading priests were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised him a reward. So he began looking for the right time and place to betray Jesus.
Points of Interest:
- ‘not during the Passover’—Jesus’ words will outlast heaven and earth, but the leaders’ words don’t even outlast the day. They agree that they will not capture Jesus during the Passover, but the very same day they make arrangements for Jesus’ capture with Judas. The Passover begins the next day.
- ‘Why was this expensive perfume wasted?’—the woman gives lavishly to Jesus, but the others who see it call it ‘a waste.’ Essentially what they are saying is that Jesus is not worth the expense of this honor. They find the deed unworthy, because it is impractical. Jesus honors the woman for the deed, because it shows her deep love for him. Like the widow who gives everything she has in the offering, this woman pours out her whole bottle for Jesus. Therefore, Jesus puts her forward, just like he did the widow.
- ‘You will always have the poor with you’—By saying this, Jesus is not minimizing service to the poor. In fact, he is quoting from Moses (Deuteronomy 15:11), who goes on to say, ‘That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.’ He is merely saying that there is no need to put this act of the woman’s in competition with service to the poor. He may also be subtly suggesting that these people so quick to criticize the woman could instead actually give more to the poor.
Taking it Home:
- For you: Perhaps you’ve done something radical for Jesus. Perhaps you’ve given a large sum of money to someone because you felt like God was asking you to do so. Perhaps you’ve given up a high-paying job so that you could spend more time with your small group, or you’ve declined a promotion so that you could stay in the San Diego area. Often, when we do such things, there are voices in our lives that say, ‘What a waste!’ They call us crazy, or criticize us, pointing out all of the good things we would have done with the extra resources we gave up. Jesus wants you to know that he sees and honors your choice. Receive Jesus’ affirmation of you today.
- For your 6: Judas reaches the end of his rope in this passage. Perhaps he is frustrated because Jesus honors the woman, or perhaps he can’t handle Jesus talking about death anymore. Whatever the case, he seems to reject Jesus because he just won’t be conventional. Perhaps your 6 also wish that Jesus would just be more ‘normal.’ Pray that God would protect your 6 from a spirit of Judas. Ask the Spirit to expand their ability to be surprised by Jesus.
- For our church: Pray that our church would be known for radical acts of devotion to Jesus.