Now its 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. 2 “But notduring the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” 3 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. 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[a] 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, [b] 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 Truly I tell you, 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.
This passage is action packed! There is so much going on in the background and the three stories of this passage. First let’s take a look at what is going on in the background.
Mark is going into the climax of the story. Stuff is about ready to go down! Mark from this point in his book is completely focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Its two days before the weeklong Festival of Unleavened Bread or Passover time. The Passover festival was and still is a huge celebration of Jews coming together to tell the stories of their exit or “Exodus” from Egypt. It’s the story of how God brought them from decades of slavery from Pharaoh to the freedom of their promised land. The Passover was the tenth and final plague when God passed over the homes marked with lamb’s blood while killing all the firstborns of unmarked homes. Pharaoh was so fed up that he chased his slaves out of Egypt. They packed up and left so fast that when they made bread to eat they didn’t have time for their bread to rise. To save time they made their bread without yeast. Hence it is called Festival of Unleavened Bread.
Jesus has been waiting for this opportune moment. He knows it’s coming time for him to die. He knows it and the religious freaks know it. Not only die but to bring freedom through his death! Funny this is all happening during the Passover. Not only to bring freedom from rules and religion, but to make the relationship between God and man right, and that anyone who believes in Jesus, marked by the blood he poured out for us, will be passed over and inherit eternal life. Amen?
But! If the religious leaders are to arrest Jesus there will for sure be rioting from all the people. This is where Judas comes in. They need him to led Jesus away from the crowds and capture him in stealth.
There are three stories going on. There is the story religious leaders plotting to kill Jesus. Then it is followed by an extraordinary act of worship from a woman who poured out perfume on Jesus. Then Judas goes off to strike a deal. The story I want to focus on is this mystery woman who worshiped Jesus. She basically poured out a year’s wage on Jesus. Remember the story of the coin from a few passages back in Mark? Where Jesus said, give to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God’s. The coin had Caesar’s head on it? That coin was called a denarii, worth a day’s wage. It’s worth about $21US or around £13. This perfume was worth over three hundred denarius. As she pouring this expensive perfume some other people in the room get angry with her. What a waste of money! You are a fool! I would have thought more along the lines, “who cares about the money! What about the over powering smell?!?” It’s like walking into the store Lush? Jesus who are you wearing? David Beckham, Davidoff Adventure? I can smell you from a mile off!”
Jesus goes on to acknowledge the woman’s actions saying she is anointing him for burial. As if he is going to die in such a way that wouldn’t allow for anointing. The woman is just worshiping, she
doesn’t necessarily know what’s going to happen. Jesus then goes on talking about his death again. What is his deal? I would think he’s either crazy or suicidal. But everyone with him is still not
listening! He is about to die!
I was brought up in good Christian home where we went to church every Sunday. My sister Laura was like a saint growing up! My family always had a good relationship with God. Me on the other hand, well I like to push boundaries. I didn’t want to go to church. I thought church was boring and weird to sing love songs to God. I would sit there with my arms crossed, and be thinking these people are a bunch of fruit loops. There isn’t a lot of hand raising in the church I’m from back home in church. One Sunday I noticed that my mom stuck her hand in the air in the worship. I was so embarrassed I didn’t know what to do. So being the smart ass I am, I gave her a high five! I thought problem solved. Oh, I was so wrong. There is a phrase from back home and it goes, “If mamma ain’t happy, no one is happy! I was uncomfortable by the way my mom chose to show her worship toward God. I didn’t understand the passion she had for Jesus.
So you have a woman who poured out everything she had to honour Jesus and others who critiqued and rebuked her. Mark is giving us a chance to respond to Jesus here: Are we like the woman who poured out everything she had to worship Jesus or are we quick to slam someone else on how they worship Jesus. It doesn’t matter whether we shout, shake, raise our hands, sit, kneel, dance, stand on our head, or dump a huge amount of perfume on him. God doesn’t care about the outward physical acts. He cares about what’s happening inside. He after our hearts! He is after a relationship with his sons and daughters…How will you respond him?