Mark 14:1-9

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 26, 2005


On a special Teachers’ Day, a kindergarten teacher was receiving gifts from her pupils. The florist’s son handed her a gift. She shook it, held it overhead, and said, “I bet I know what it is, some flowers.” “That’s right”, the boy said, “but how did you know?” “Oh, just a wild guess,” she said. The next pupil was the candy store owner’s daughter. The teacher held her gift over head, shook it and said, “I bet I can guess what it is, a box of candy.” “That’s right, but how did you know?” asked the girl. “Oh, just a wild guess,” the teacher said. The next gift was from the son of the liquor store owner. The teacher held it overhead, but it was leaking. She touched a drop of the leakage with her finger and touched it to her tongue. Is it wine?” she asked. “No” the boy replied, obviously delighted that he was the first student to at least temporarily defy the teacher’s apparent insight. The teacher repeated the process, touching another drop of the leakage to her tongue. “Is it champagne?” she asked. “No,” the clearly delighted boy answered. Once again the teacher tasted the leakage and finally said, “I give up, what is it?” The boy enthusiastically replied, “It’s a puppy!”

We are going to talk about gifts today.  The kind of gifts we give in appreciation to our Teacher.  The kind of gifts we give to Jesus.

Mark 14:1-9

:1-2 The Plotting Begins

:1 After two days …

after two days – Mark is going to go a little bit out of chronological order. Verses 1-2, where the Jewish leaders are plotting against Jesus, will take place on Wednesday.

But the events in Bethany (verses 3-9) actually took place a few days earlier, on Saturday before Jesus’ triumphal entry (John 12:1).

:1 …was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread:

The feast of the Passover and Unleavened bread were celebrated at the same time and in a sense were really considered a single holiday.

The feast of the Passover fell in the time of year around March and April. It was a celebration intended to remind the nation of Israel of how God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Moses had been used by God to bring a series of plagues in Egypt, but it wasn’t until the tenth plague that the Egyptians would finally let the Israelites go. The last plague would be a plague of death for the firstborn of every family. Every family of the Israelites was supposed to sacrifice a lamb and paint the doorposts of their houses with the blood of the lamb. As the angel of death went through Egypt, if the angel saw lamb’s blood on the doors of a house, the angel would “pass over” that house.

:1 and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.

A little earlier, perhaps a month or so earlier, Jesus had performed His most incredible miracle, raising Lazarus from the dead after Lazarus had been dead for four days. It was then, as Jesus’ popularity was peaking, that the Jewish leaders, the Sanhedrin, decided that it was necessary that Jesus die. (John 11:47-53)

But now their plotting starts to get more serious.

:2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.

The last thing the religious leaders wanted was for Jesus to die on the big “feast day”, which was the upcoming Passover. They seemed concern about how the people would react. The city of Jerusalem would be packed with people since the Passover was one of the days where all males were required to go to Jerusalem to worship. Perhaps the leaders wanted to wait until after the feast when the crowds died down.

Yet Jesus was supposed to die on the Passover because it was all a picture of Him.

Jesus would be God’s Passover Lamb. He would not die to release us from the bondage of Egypt, but the bondage of our own sin. He died as a sacrifice for our sins, paying the price for our sins. And instead of facing God in judgment over our sins, God will “pass over” us in judgment because of what Jesus did for us – that is if our hearts have been covered with the blood of Jesus.

Do you realize that because of what Jesus did in dying on the cross, you can actually be forgiven of ALL of your sins?

Things wouldn’t go as these men originally intended. Judas would be showing up with an offer they couldn’t refuse. And when they ended up turning Jesus over to the Roman authorities, they lost control over when Jesus would die, and He would die on the Passover.

:3-9 Extravagant Worship

:3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat,

BethanyBethania – a village at the Mount of Olives, about two miles (3 km) from Jerusalem

This was the town where Lazarus, Martha, and Mary lived. This was the town that knew about the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus has been staying in Bethany each evening, commuting during the day to Jerusalem

Simon – John’s account of this event can give you the impression that Jesus was at the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. But if you read it clearly, it doesn’t say that. It only says that they were at this dinner and that Martha was serving.

:3 there came a woman

woman – John tells us that this was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 12)

Mary is found in three places in the gospel story.

(Luke 10:38-42 KJV) Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. {39} And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. {40} But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. {41} And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: {42} But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Martha was so caught up and worried about her serving. But Mary had learned where the best place was. At the feet of Jesus. Listening to His Word. There’s a place for serving. Serving the Lord is wonderful. But it ought to start from a place of sitting at His feet. When we only serve without serving, we’ll get stressed.
(John 11:31-32 KJV)  The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. {32} Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
This was not too long before our current story. It was a time of great tragedy and grief. Both Mary and Martha felt as if the Lord had let them down. But again, Mary learned where to go, to the feet of Jesus.
Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead, and now a couple of weeks later Mary is back at Jesus’ feet, now anointing Him with this expensive perfume.

:3 having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

alabaster boxalabastron – Alabaster is whitish, translucent, fine-grained gypsum, imported from Egypt, that was often carved into vases or bottles for perfume. It would have a long thin neck that would be broken to pour out the contents.

spikenard (1)nardos – a fragrant oil made from the root of a rare plant. It was imported from the hills on the banks of the Ganges River in India.

spikenard (2)pistikos – trusty, faithful, here it carries the idea of “pure, unadulterated nard”

very preciouspoluteles – precious; very costly; excellent, of surpassing value

John tells us that Mary had a “pound” of the perfume (John 12:3). We think it was about a pint of perfume.

poured it on his head – John records that Mary not only poured it on Jesus’ head, but also His feet (John 12:3).

This is the second time that Jesus was anointed with perfume from an alabaster box. Earlier in his ministry (Luke 7:36-50), Jesus was at a Pharisee’s house when a “sinner woman” came up to him. She was weeping and washing His feat with her tears. Then she also poured the fragrance on Jesus’ feet.

:4-5 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? {5} For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

had indignationaganakteo (“much” + “grief”) – to be indignant, moved with indignation, be very displeased

John fills in some detail for us:

(John 12:4-6 KJV) Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, {5} Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? {6} This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

Judas was one of those complaining, but he wasn’t alone. There were apparently others that complained.
Judas’ reason for complaining was because this gift might have been something that he could have gotten his hands on. He was greedy.
Some have suggested that since it was the Passover, it would have also been a time to be helping the poor. Since the apostles weren’t exactly rolling in the dough, some of the disciples liked the way that Judas’ complaint sounded. They could have helped a lot of people with what that perfume have sold for.
I think it’s kind of sad to think that it’s possible that some of the disciples were jumping on this complaint bandwagon with Judas, when Judas’ motives were all out of line. You might make a case for their motives being better than Judas’, but they were still out of touch with what was going on.

wasteapoleia – destroying, utter destruction

It’s interesting that Jesus would use a form of this word to describe Judas, calling him the “son of perdition” (John 17:12)

three hundred pencedenarion – the “denarius”, a Roman silver coin equivalent to a day’s wage. Three hundred would be roughly a year’s wages.

What was Mary doing with such a costly gift? One suggestion is that this might have been her “dowry”, the gift she would present to a husband at marriage. If this is the case, we see a picture of a person willing to give up all her dreams for the sake of following Jesus.

murmuredembrimaomai – to be very angry, sternly to charge; from brimaomai (to snort with anger), the snorting of horses


Not everyone understands worship

What Mary did was give an incredible, extravagant gift to Jesus.
We call this worship. The act of worship does not just consist in the songs we sing on Sunday morning, though that might be a part of our worship.
Worship consists of the things we give to Jesus, out of love for Him.
Mary gave lavishly and lovingly. She was not ashamed to show her love for Christ openly.
And she was criticized for it.
2Sam. 6 – David was known as the “sweet psalmist of Israel” and a “man after God’s own heart”. But he was criticized for his extravagant worship as well.
When he brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, he put together a huge parade of worship – there was much sacrificing, music, dancing, and food.
(2 Sam 6:20-23 NKJV) Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, "How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!" {21} So David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the LORD. {22} "And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor." {23} Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
The people around us may not always understand our need to be extravagant with Jesus.
Our extravagance may be giving up a week of vacation to serve in Mexico.  It may be taking an afternoon to bake a cake for a neighbor.  It may be finally learning to lift my hands in worship to my King.
Please don’t let any of the critics stop you from lavishing love on your Master.
Note:  Worship is done “before the Lord” (2Sam. 6:21), in God’s presence.
Do I even realize that I’m in His presence? How should I react in God’s presence?  It’s easier to be extravagant when you have your eyes on Jesus.
Worship comes from realizing all that Jesus has done for us, all that He is, and giving Him adoration.

Don Vicars, an Oregon police officer, was on his way to California for a Harley Davidson convention when a construction zone caused a group of motorcycles to stop suddenly. Don had to lay his motorcycle down at high speed and was left with a broken shoulder, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung.

A passerby stopped to aid Vicars. She told him her name, Sally, and said she was a registered nurse. She cradled him in his pain and assured him that help was on the way. When paramedics arrived, Vicars was airlifted to a hospital where he spent 10 days.

Now he is intent on finding and thanking Sally.

“When I woke up [on the pavement],” he says, “she was holding my head. She very calmly talked to me and calmed me. Afterward, she just walked off. ... It’s important to me to find her and thank her.”

Vicars’ wife says her husband’s need to find Sally is “almost an obsession.” In a newspaper article in The Oregonian (10/15/98), Vicars asked that anyone who knew Sally would contact him.

Thanksgiving is a good obsession.

-- Curtis Buthe. Leadership, Vol. 20, no. 2.

We’ve been helped far more than Sally helped Don. Jesus has done so much for us. Am I aware of just how much He’s done for me? And we really shouldn’t have a problem finding Him. He’s here right now. The question is do I recognize His presence? And how will I respond?


One day while walking with some children and palace attendants, Queen Mary was caught in a sudden thunderstorm. The queen quickly took shelter on the porch of a home. To avoid attracting a crowd, she disguised her appearance by putting on a hat that partly covered her face and a plain coat she borrowed from one of her attendants. The queen then knocked at the door and asked to borrow an umbrella. “I’ll send it back tomorrow,” she told the unfriendly woman who answered the door. Despite the assurances about returning her umbrella, the woman did not want to lend her best umbrella. So she retrieved an old umbrella stored in the attic. One rib was broken, and there were several holes in it. With a haughty attitude and scornful words, she handed it to the unrecognized monarch. The next day the woman had another visitor—a man with gold braid on his uniform and an envelope in his hand. “The queen sent me with this letter,” he said, “and also asked me to thank you personally for the loan of your umbrella.” The woman was stunned, and then brokenhearted. She burst into tears. “This is just horrible—I missed an opportunity to give my queen my very best!” she sobbed. “And my attitude was shameful,” she added.

If we only realized who was in this very room.

:6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

Let her aloneaphiemi – to send away; to let go, let alone, let be; to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit

goodkalos – beautiful, excellent, choice, precious, useful, suitable

We can become quite critical of one another in the church. We don’t always understand why people are doing things, but when they don’t do them the way that we think they should be done, we “trouble” them.

Jesus’ instructions to the disciples was to let it go. In a sense He was telling them to “forgive” her. He was teaching them to be gracious to her.

They thought that her “worship” was wasteful. Jesus thought it was beautiful.

:7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

alwayspantote – at all times, always, ever

(Mark 14:7 ICB) You will always have the poor with you. You can help them anytime you want. But you will not always have me.

It might sound as if Jesus didn’t care for the poor, but that’s far from it. The Bible says …

(Psa 41:1 NKJV) Blessed is he who considers the poor; The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

Jesus cares for the poor. He’s telling the disciples that they can be helping the poor any time they want to.

It’s just that at this moment, something else was more appropriate.
Extravagant worship.

:8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

what she could

Mary could do nothing to stop the Sanhedrin in their plot to have Jesus put to death. But she had some perfume.,

You may not be a great musician. You may not be able to preach in front of thousands at Anaheim Stadium. You may not feel like you can hit home runs for Jesus.

But you’ve got things you can do.

Encourage a friend. Invite someone over for dinner. Pray for someone. Mow your neighbor’s lawn. Write a note of encouragement.

Do what you can.

:9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.


Worship’s Impact

The Lasting Impact.
Mary’s worship didn’t just affect that one dinner, it has had an impact for two thousand years as we continue to talk about it.
Whether it’s through song or in how you live your life, true worship affects others. They catch a whiff of the fragrance that is on Jesus and on you.
(John 12:3 KJV) Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
The house was filled with the fragrance.  Everyone in the house could smell the fragrance.  Everyone in the house was impacted by Mary’s worship.
Yet only two people had the fragrance actually on them – Jesus and Mary
When Jesus and Mary left the house, the fragrance would diminish in the house and the onlookers in the house would eventually no longer smell it.
But the fragrance would stay on two people – Jesus and Mary.
Are you one of those in the “house”, enjoying the sweet smell of the perfume that others have? Or are you one of the extravagant worshippers, breaking out your own alabaster box and staining yourself and Jesus with perfume?
Does the perfume go home with you?


Worship’s Cost

True worship doesn’t come cheap.
Mary’s worship touched Jesus, and it cost a lot.
When David was considering a piece of land to build an altar, at first he was offered the land for free.  But he replied,
(2 Sam 24:24 NKJV)  Then the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
Sometimes we can get to thinking like the disciples, that this thing about loving Jesus is getting a little expensive, that it’s beginning to cost me a little too much.
But what are we talking about?  Jesus didn’t consider us too expensive when He died on the cross for us.  He didn’t say, “Gosh Father, I don’t think these people are worth it.”
What can I give to Jesus?  It starts with giving my life, my entire life.