HOW EXTRAVAGANT IS YOUR DEVOTION TO JESUS CHRIST?
Remember the most important commandment – love the Lord your God with your whole being; What does that look like in real life? In Mark 14, as Jesus is just a couple of days away from His death on the cross, we get a vivid picture of what it looks like to be broken and poured out in our love and devotion and worship of our Savior.
Edwards: This is a classic Markan sandwich, . . . As in each sandwich technique, the middle story provides the key to understanding the whole. The bracketing of the devotion of the woman, who remains an unnamed outsider [John identifies her as Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus], by the betrayal plot of an intimate insider, creates an acid contrast between faith and treachery.
Markan Sandwich — like a:
– Rose between two thorns
– Pearl placed in between the 2 ugly shells
– Blazing Light offset by pitch blackness
HOW EXTRAVAGANT IS YOUR DEVOTION TO JESUS CHRIST?
I. (:1-2) OPPORTUNISTIC TREACHERY PLOTTED AGAINST JESUS BY THE JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS —
How did the Jewish religious leaders treat Jesus? A Problem to get rid of.
(Mt 26:1-5; Lk 22:1-2)
A. Stressing Over the Complications of Their Problem
“Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread was two days off;”
Chronology confusion with John’s Gospel; I believe that the Synoptics have the chronology in order — here represented as Wed. evening of Passion week – 2 days before His crucifixion on Friday
John 12 has the time reference as to when Jesus arrived in Bethany … then it skips forward to present the anointing by Mary before resuming the time chronology and speaking of the Triumphal Entry and the events which then followed – if you think the anointing took place on this previous Saturday then you have the problem of Judas going to the Sanhedrin before they are represented on Wed. as scheming and trying to come up with some plot to kill Jesus – doesn’t change the impact of our story
Choosing to wait until the festival was over and the pilgrims had left the city
MacArthur: That is not incidental information. It is the purpose of God that on that Passover in A.D. 30, on the fourteenth of the month Nisan, at the very hour when the Passover lambs were being slain on the Passover, three in the afternoon, Jesus would die. That’s pretty specific. . . Now there were three main feasts the Jews celebrated; the Feast of Pentecost, which was kind of a firstfruits, Feast of Booths, they’re remembering the wandering in the wilderness, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Barclay: The Passover was one of the three compulsory feasts. The others were the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. To these feasts every male adult Jew who lived within 15 miles of Jerusalem was bound to come.
Hiebert: The view that they meant that they must act at once and not wait until the Passover is improbably because of the shortness of the time and the fact that most of the pilgrim crowd had already arrived (Jn 11:55).
Hiebert: The Passover was the solemn, annual, Jewish observance in commemoration of “the passing over” of the houses of the Israelites by the death angel in the destruction of the firstborn in Egypt (Ex 12:1-13:16). It was celebrated on the fourteenth day of Nisan (March-April), the first month of the Jewish religious year, and continued into the early hours of the fifteenth; the Passover lamb was slain on the afternoon of the fourteenth but was eaten after sundown, which according to Jewish reckoning was the fifteenth. The Passover observance was immediately followed by the feast of the unleavened bread, in commemoration of their exit from Egypt (Ex 23:15), from the fifteenth to the twenty-first. Popular usage merged the two feasts and regarded them as one, since all leaven was removed from Jewish homes before the slaying of the Passover lamb. In keeping with Deuteronomy 16:5-6, the Passover could be observed only in Jerusalem.
B. Scheming to Capture and Destroy Jesus
“and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth,
and kill Him;”
Cf. Ps 24:4; 32:2; 34:13. They are the ones pictured in Ps 41:5-8
Members of the Sanhedrin – this was not some radical, outsider group – these were the hard core religious leaders of the establishment
Wanted to make their problem go away quietly, with the least amount of commotion;
Certainly did not want to upset the Roman authorities and have any focus put on the Jews;
These were the religious leaders plotting to kill the ultimate Passover Lamb at the very time they were celebrating the feast that pointed to his redemptive work – how ironic
C. Scared of His Support Among the Common People at the Crowded Festival
“for they were saying, ‘Not during the festival, lest there be a riot of the people.’”
Barclay: It was just there that the problem of the Jewish authorities lay. During the Passover, feeling ran very high. The remembrance of the old deliverance from Egypt made the people long for a new deliverance from Rome. At no time was nationalist feeling so intense. Jerusalem was not the Roman headquarters in Judaea. The governor had his residence and the soldiers were stationed in Caesarea. During the Passover time special detachments of troops were drafted into Jerusalem and quartered in the Tower of Antonia which overlooked the Temple. The Romans knew that at Passover anything might happen and they were taking no chances. The Jewish authorities knew that in an inflammable atmosphere like that, the arrest of Jesus might well provoke a riot.
Hendriksen: It is only on the background of God’s decree that its meaning becomes clear. “Not at the Festival,” said the plotters. “At the Festival,” said the Almighty. That was the divine decree, for which see also Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; Eph. 1:11.
MacArthur: In spite of their fears, it was God’s determination that not only would He die during the eight-day period which started with the Passover, followed by seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread when Jerusalem had been swelled by hundreds of thousands more people. Not only would He die during that festival, but at the most unlikely, and from their viewpoint, inappropriate and threatening moment and that was in the afternoon of Friday when the Passover lambs themselves were being killed and the mass of the population was in and around the very temple area, not far from the hill of crucifixion. But God schedule was the only schedule that mattered and God’s purpose would be unfolded. They would never have planned to have Jesus arrested, tried, crucified and dying on that very Friday. But that was what happened because that was God’s plan.
Look at ways in which people try to dismiss Jesus from their lives today as if He is a problem they need to rid themselves of:
– Ignore Him – fill my life with work and pleasure so that I don’t pay any attention to the claims of Jesus on my life
– Minimize Him by saying He is just a god among other gods; there are many ways to God – let’s respect them all equally; or Jesus is merely a good example to be followed in a moral sense
– Pervert his Gospel Message of Grace – so as the Roman Catholics do, they substitute the commandments of men with all of their legalistic regulations (just like the Pharisees of Christ’s day) so that the Person of Jesus and His saving work of redemption on the cross is obscured
II. (:3-9) EXTRAVAGANT DEVOTION POURED OUT ON JESUS —
How did Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, treat Jesus? (identified in John 12:3)
As God to be Valued and Worshiped.
A. (:3) The Extravagant Anointing by Mary
1. The Comfortable Setting
“And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper,
and reclining at the table,”
Simon = common name; must have been a leper healed by Jesus; now responding in thanksgiving and hosting this significant fellowship dinner with some of Jesus’ closest friends – the disciples were there along with Mary, Martha and Lazarus
Relaxed setting – before all of the tumultuous events would unfold leading to the cross; next mean Jesus would partake of would be the Passover dinner on Thursday …
Sharing conversation and fellowship; leisurely dinner
2. The Costly Perfume
“there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard;”
Important Interruption – unusual for a woman to step into such a scene and become the center of attention; very aggressive on her part
How many of you have spent a year’s salary on expensive perfume for your wife?
She would think you were nuts
Sproul: Her alabaster flask, a translucent white bottle, was itself of some value. The very precious perfume it contained, oil of spikenard, was worth more than three hundred denarii. As we have seen, a denarius was typically one day’s wage for a laborer in Israel. The people worked six days a week. So, the contents of this flask cost a whole year’s wages.
Edwards: The nard was very probably a family heirloom, in which case it possessed a sentimental value in addition to its monetary value.
3. The Consecrated Devotion
“and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.”
Broken and Poured Out – title for today’s message – representing her heart of devotion poured out without anything held back
Poured over his feet as well; over his whole body – no discrepancy there
Whole house would have been filled with the fragrance; probably those present would have still had some of the aroma on them during the next couple of significant days there in Jerusalem; they didn’t take showers every day like we do
B. (:4-5) The Indignant Response From Some of the Disciples (Led by Judas)
1a. Their Tone
“But some were indignantly remarking to one another,”
must have been an uncomfortable situation for Mary, but she didn’t care
Hiebert: Matthew said they were “the disciples,” while John 12:4,5 identified Judas as the originator of the criticism.
MacArthur: Judas had no real interest in the poor, by the way. John 12:6 says this, “Now he said this not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and as he had the money box, he used to steal what was in it.” Huh, how long had he been doing that? Well, all along…all along he was embezzling the money out of the little bit that this group had, money that was provided for them by many of the women in the group. He was a thief, he was a devil, Jesus said. And he wanted the money in the box because he stole it.
Edwards: Their condemnation obviously demeans the woman and her gift. In asserting that there could be a better use for the money, however, they demean Jesus as well, whom they regard as unworthy of such extravagance.
2b. Their Evaluation
“Why has this perfume been wasted?”
Now they challenge her directly – as if she is accountable to them for this act of supreme love and devotion
Brian Bell: Mary’s act of worship brought joy to the heart of Jesus & malice to the heart of Judas.
2b. Their Evaluation
“For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.”
1a. Their Tone
“And they were scolding her.”
Sproul: The term sharply is a vast understatement in the English. In a bullfight, when the matador taunts the bull, the bull paws the ground and his nostrils flare in anger. That is the image used here. These people were so angry with Mary for wasting the ointment that their nostrils were flaring in their criticism.
C. (:6-9) The Exemplary Commendation by Jesus
1. (:6) The Exclamation of the Commendation
“But Jesus said,”
a. Command to Stop the Criticism
“Let her alone;”
Edwards: The disciples judge by appearance; Jesus judges by motive.
b. Challenge to Consider Their Motives
“why do you bother her?”
c. Commendation of Her Deed
“She has done a good deed to Me.”
Hendriksen: He calls what she did “a beautiful thing,” And such it was indeed: unique in its thoughtfulness, regal in its lavishness, and marvelous in its timeliness.
Barclay: In Greek there are two words for good. There is agathos which describes a thing which is morally good; and there is kalos which describes a thing which is not only good but lovely. A thing might be agathos, and yet be hard, stern, austere, unattractive. But a thing which is kalos is winsome and lovely, with a certain bloom of charm upon it.
2. (:7-8) The Explanation for the Commendation – Two Reasons
a. (:7) Understand the Limited Window of Opportunity
“For the poor you always have with you, and whenever you wish, you can do them good; but you do not always have Me.”
Not expressing indifference to the plight and suffering of the poor
b. (:8) Understand the Significance of the Anointing
“She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial.”.
Did Mary herself understand the significance? Seemed to have more discernment than the disciples who were criticizing her action; [interesting how that has proven to be the case even of many wives of Christian leaders – they excel in discernment]
Mary took seriously the prophecies of Jesus about His impending death in Jerusalem.
“she has done what she could” – Jesus never asks for anything more – how do we evaluate our devotion to Christ against this standard?
– How about the praise we offer from our lips? How could we be more extravagant in our praise and worship
– How about the money we donate to His cause? How could we be more extravagant in our giving
– How about the stewardship of our spiritual gift? How could we be more extravagant in our service for Christ – our evangelism of the lost; our building up of the saints
3. (:9) The Extension of the Commendation Throughout the World
“And truly I say to you, ‘wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, that also which this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her.’”
What a legacy – today as we preach this passage we are involved in the fulfillment of this prophecy by Jesus
Deeds of kings and important rulers and all of the rich and famous are long gone and forgotten; but the simple act of extravagant love and devotion of Mary lives on in testimony to the worthiness of Jesus Christ
What will be our legacy? What will we be remembered for?
To complete the contrast, we cycle back around to the scheming of wicked men in their attempts to seize Jesus and put him to death
III. (:10-11) OPPORTUNISTIC TREACHERY PLOTTED AGAINST JESUS BY THE TRAITOROUS DISCIPLE JUDAS ISCARIOT —
How did Judas Iscariot treat Jesus? An Opportunity to Exploit.
A. (:10) Malicious Initiative
“And Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests, in order to betray Him to them.”
Mark 9:31 Jesus had predicted this; 10:33
Motives: covetousness, jealousy, ambition
Probably understood that Jesus had been speaking especially to him in shutting up his criticism of Mary’s deed
MacArthur: Iscariot means he’s from the village of Kerioth, twenty-three miles south of Jerusalem. He is the only non-Galilean among the Apostles. He joined the group for selfish, proud, materialistic reasons, for goods and glory. And when that Kingdom dream, that dream of goods and glory began to collapse, the uncured malignant cancer in his wretched soul metastasized until it corrupted his brain totally. He wanted out but not without compensation for three wasted years. He wanted a Kingdom, not a cross. . .
By the way, Judas didn’t operate alone. Luke 22:3 says, “Then Satan entered Judas.” Not just demon possessed, Satan possessed. “Satan was moving on him.” John 13 verse 27 says, “Satan went inside.” Satan operated through Judas, the unregenerate, unbelieving, greedy man. Satan fully possesses Judas.
Parunak: Psalm 41[especially vs. 9] provides some background: The Psalm sets us up to consider the two different attitudes toward the Lord, one of love and compassion in his suffering, the other of malice. The implied challenge to us is to see which side each of us is on.
B. (:11a) Promise of Blood Money
“And they were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money.”
Money paid to a hired killer
30 pieces of silver – the amount given to redeem a slave – not very impressive
C. (:11b) Intensified Scheming
“And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.”
Edwards: Judas is thus not a victim of circumstances or a pawn dominated by greater forces. He is a sovereign moral agent who freely chooses evil in “handing Jesus over”.
How do you treat Jesus? Are you a Friend or Foe?
What is the greatest gift you have given to Jesus?
Have you ever criticized someone for their fanaticism in following Christ when maybe Christ would have praised them for their risk-taking faith?