Gracefully Truthful

Digging Deeper,Freedom,Gift,Giving,God,Healing,Jesus,Obedience,Scripture,Worship

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Mark 14:1-11

1It was two days before the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a cunning way to arrest Jesus and kill him. 2“Not during the festival,” they said, “so that there won’t be a riot among the people.” While he was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper as he was reclining at the table a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured it on his head. 4 But some were expressing indignation to one another: “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5 For this perfume might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they began to scold her. 6 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for me. 7 You always have the poor with you, and you can do what is good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body in advance for burial. 9 Truly I tell you wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole 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 And when they heard this, they were glad and promised to give him money. So he started looking for a good opportunity to betray him.

The Original Intent

1) Why did Mark mention Passover in this passage? (verse 1

Jesus stopped by Bethany (about two miles outside of Jerusalem) on His way to celebrate Passover. Passover is the annual celebration of God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Passover refers to when the Angel of Death “passed over” the homes of Israelites (and Egyptians) who put the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts according to God’s instructions to Moses.

Egyptians (and Israelites) who did not obey God’s instructions experienced the death of their firstborn. Even as God gave the instructions for the Passover in Exodus 12, He commanded His people to commemorate their deliverance every year. “This day is to be a memorial for you, and you must celebrate it as a festival to the Lord. You are to celebrate it throughout your generations as a permanent statute.” (Exodus 12:14)

The Everyday Application

1) Why did Mark mention Passover in this passage? (verse 1)

Passover was a celebration of deliverance. Many Jewish people were eagerly praying for a Messiah to deliver them from Roman occupation.

Here’s how David Guzik explains this, “The time is significant, because there was at Passover not only a great expectation of the Messiah, but Jerusalem was also crowded with these Messiah-expecting multitudes. Since Passover remembered a time when God raised up a great deliverer and freed Israel from foreign oppression, it was a time of great patriotic and Messianic anticipation. The Romans were on guard and ready for any hint of revolt.” 

The people in Jerusalem were eagerly looking for a military savior, but Jesus had come as a Lamb whose blood was to be shed for the forgiveness of sins. 

1 Corinthians 5:7 calls Jesus “our Passover lamb.” John 1:29 proclaims that “Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  Just as the blood of the Passover lamb protected the people from death, Jesus’ blood frees us from the penalty we deserve because of our sins. (Revelation 1:5)

The Original Intent

2) What is the significance of Jesus visiting the house of Simon the Leper? (verse 3)

Simon lived in Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem and the hometown of his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The Gospel writer’s decision to include the description of Simon as “The Leper” is significant. Today, leprosy refers to a specific disease called Hanson’s disease affecting both skin and nerves, but during biblical times, leprosy was a generic name for any skin disease.

When God gave the Law to Moses after the Israelites left Egypt, there were specific instructions for interacting with people with skin diseases like leprosy. Leviticus 13 explains how the priest examined people with skin diseases and isolated them for seven days.

If the disease did not go away, they were excluded from the community to protect the people. “The person who has a case of serious skin disease is to have his clothes torn and his hair hanging loose, and he must cover his mouth and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ He will remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean. He must live alone in a place outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:45-46)

Lepers were isolated from family and friends by their disease and were considered unclean. Coming in contact with a leprous person resulted in them also being declared “unclean”. Since Simon was healed, he was no longer unclean, and he could safely host people.

The Everyday Application

2) What is the significance of Jesus visiting the house of Simon the Leper? (verse 3)

Fear of contamination did not keep Jesus from reaching out to people who were considered unclean. There are multiple mentions in the Bible of Jesus healing people with leprosy. Mark 1:40-45 tells how Jesus healed a man with leprosy in Galilee.

When Jesus touched him, “immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.” Luke 17:11-17 also tells the story of Jesus healing ten lepers. In both Mark’s and Luke’s accounts, Jesus told the healed men to present themselves to the priest according to the requirements in Leviticus. After the priest examined the men, he would declare them clean and fit to assemble with the rest of the community.

Jesus is our healer. Sickness and suffering (both mental and physical) can isolate us from community. We may feel unclean or unworthy of God’s love and grace, yet Jesus wants to heal us so our lives will be a testimony to His grace and healing power, just like Simon.

Though Simon was still called “the Leper,” his life had been radically transformed by Jesus’ healing power. His sickness no longer isolated him, and he was able to host Jesus and all the disciples at his house.

Like a leper, we can cry out to Jesus, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:2) He uses healing to declare His victory in our lives, setting us free so we can bless others!

The Original Intent

3) Why did the woman pour her expensive perfume on Jesus’ head? (verse 3)

John 12:1-8 explains this was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Mary had a heart that desired to worship Jesus. Her gift was an extravagant display of devotion to Jesus.

Pure nard in alabaster was exceptionally valuable. Nard comes from the Himalayan mountains in India, Nepal, and China; transporting it to Bethany would require a long, arduous journey from Asia to the Middle East. 

This gift was worth three hundred denarii, which was about a year’s income (minus the days not worked for the Sabbath and holidays) since a denarius was the equivalent of a day’s wages. Some commentaries explained that this alabaster jar of pure nard was probably Mary’s dowry.

When a woman got married, her dowry was her security in case she was divorced. Mary desired to give her best. Jesus explained to the disciples that Mary’s gift was a noble thing. The Greek word translated as “noble” is defined as “good that inspires others.”

Even to this day, we celebrate Mary’s precious gift. Jesus prophesied that “she has kept it for the day of My burial.” (John 12:7People used burial spices and perfumes to mask the smell of a decaying body.

Jesus knew that going to Jerusalem was His death sentence. He would soon be attacked like the obedient servant in Isaiah 50:6, and He would be led like a lamb to the slaughter as prophesied in Isaiah 53:7.

The Everyday Application

3) Why did the woman pour her expensive perfume on Jesus’ head? (verse 3)

Mary likely gave her most precious possession when she anointed Jesus’ head. Her act of devotion inspires us to give wholeheartedly. Are we giving our best to Jesus and His kingdom, or are we like Judas, who seemed to care about the poor, but only truly cared about himself?

When John wrote about Mary anointing Jesus, he explained that Judas’ indignation wasn’t about caring for the poor but about helping himself. Judas “was a thief. He was in charge of the money-bag and would steal part of what was put in it.” (John 12:6)

Mark writes that some disciples expressed indignation and asked, “Why has this perfume been wasted?” (Mark 14:4) The Greek word translated “wasted” in this passage can also mean “destroyed” and is often used to describe God’s judgment in end-times. 

“Judas criticized Mary for ‘wasting money,’ but he wasted his entire life!” (Wiersbe) Mary’s extravagant gift and Judas’ petty response challenges all of us.

Is our indignation about injustice a cover-up of jealousy and greed because we want more? Are we secretly envious of other people’s ability to give? Do we give only to receive recognition? Do we desire to give generously and not waste what we have been given?

The greatest gift we have is our salvation; are we sharing it with others, or are we wasting the opportunities we are given to proclaim it and, in the process, devaluing Christ’s sacrifice?

Mary gave the equivalent of an annual salary; would you think someone was a fanatic if they gave that amount to the church or help the poor? Would you wonder if they were wasting their resources?

I have realized that if I am starting to answer these questions like Judas, I have lost sight of the value of Jesus and the privilege of giving all I have.

The Original Intent

4) Why did Jesus say, “the poor you will always have with you”? (verse 7)

When Rabbis and teachers of the Law taught concepts, they often quoted parts of Scriptures because they knew their students would fill in the rest of the passage. When Jesus said, “the poor you will always have with you,”

He was quoting Deuteronomy 15:11, “For there will never cease to be poor people in the land; that is why I am commanding you, ‘Open your hand willingly to your poor and needy brother in your land.’”  He was urging His followers to give generously to the poor even as He was warning them of His upcoming death.

At various times, Jesus specifically told His disciples He would suffer and die. “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death. Then they will hand Him over to the Gentiles, and they will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him, and kill Him, and He will rise after three days.” (Mark 10:33-34)

The Everyday Application

4) Why did Jesus say, “the poor you will always have with you”? (verse 7)

When I first read this quote from Jesus, I felt it was very calloused. It seemed to me like Jesus was telling His disciples not to care about the poor. I didn’t realize it was a direct quote from Deuteronomy that Jesus was using to challenge His followers, and particularly Judas who “claimed” to care for the poor. 

Jesus was prodding each of them to follow Mary’s example of selfless generosity and “to open your hand willingly to the poor and needy brother in the land.” In Mark 10:21, Jesus challenged a rich young man to “give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.” 

Jesus commended Mary because “she has done what she could.” (Mark 14:8Each of us can learn from Mary’s sacrifice. She blessed Jesus by giving generously and sacrificially. God gives us gifts and resources so we can bless others in the same way.

Martyr Jim Elliot wisely said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.” Like Mary, when we lavishly give all we have to Jesus, He will cultivate generosity in us towards others just as He gave Himself fully for us. 

Notify of
1 Comment
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

This was a great lesson. I have always thought about Jesus statement of “ the poor you will always have”. Our earth is so rich in resources, our economy built on a monetary system, our churches with beautiful edifices and sanctuaries, yet the poor we always have. It is hard to reconcile. Also, why were the disciples so worried about Mary anointing Jesus with her perfume? Didn’t it belong to her to do with it as she pleased and wasn’t it a sacrifice on her part since it was expensive? I mean we know why because their hearts were carnal… Read more »

Tags :
Share This :
This Week's Lock Screen
May 10 - May 28, 2021 - Journey Theme #89

Authentically living out a life of worship to the God who rescued us from darkness requires accountability and intentionality. Join a GT POD and take the next step in your faith journey!

Like this:

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x