Mark 14:1-11 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 14:1-11

  • Mark 14:1-2
  • It 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.”
    • The last crowded act of Jesus’ life was now about to open
    • The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were two different things
      • The Passover fell on 14th Nisan around April 14th
      • The Festival of Unleavened Bread consisted of the seven days following the Passover
      • The Passover itself was a major feast and was kept like a Sabbath
      • The Festival of Unleavened Bread was a minor festival, and, although no new work could be started during it, fork that was necessary for public interest or to proved against private loss was allowable
      • The really great day was Passover
    • The Passover was one of the 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 fifteen miles of Jerusalem was bound to come
    • The Passover had double significance
      • It had a historical significance
        • It commemorated the deliverance of the of the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt
        • The angel of death was to walk through the land of Egypt and kill every first-born son in every home
        • The Israelites were to slay a lamb
        • Using a bunch of hyssop they were to smear the mantle of the doorpost with the blood of the lamb, and when the angel of death saw the doorpost marked, he would pass over that house and its occupants would be safe
        • Before they went on their way the Israelites were to eat a meal of roasted lamb and unleavened bread
        • It was that passover, that deliverance and that meal that the Passover commemorated
      • It had an agricultural significance
        • It marked the gathering in of the barley harvest
        • On that day a sheaf of barley had to be waved before the Lord
        • Not until after that had been done could the barely of the new crop be sold in the shops or bread made with the new flour be eaten
      • Every possible preparation was made for the Passover. For a month before its meaning was expounded in the synagogue, and its lesson was taught daily in the schools
      • The aim was that no one should come ignorant and unprepared to the feast. The roads were all put in order; the bridges repaired 
      • One special thing was done. It was veery common to bury people beside the road. Now if any pilgrims had touched one of these wayside tombs they would technically have been in contact with a dead body and so rendered unclean and unable to take part in the feast. So, before the Passover, all the wayside tombs were whitewashed so that they would stand out and the pilgrims could avoid them
      • Psalms 120-134 are called Psalms of the Ascent, and it may well be that these were the psalms which the pilgrims sang on their way to the feast, as they sought to lighten the road with their music. It is said that Psalm 122 was the one which they actually sang as they climbed the hill to the Temple on the last part of their journey
        • I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord.” 2 Our feet were standing within your gates, Jerusalem—3 Jerusalem, built as a city should be, solidly united, 4 where the tribes, the Lord’s tribes, go up to give thanks to the name of the Lord. (This is an ordinance for Israel.) 5 There, thrones for judgment are placed, thrones of the house of David. 6 Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure; 7 may there be peace within your walls, security within your fortresses.” 8 Because of my brothers and friends, I will say, “May peace be in you.” 9 Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will pursue your prosperity.
    • As we have already seen, it was compulsory for every adult male Jews who lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem to come to the Passover, but far more than these came
    • It was the one ambition of all Jews to eat the Passover in Jerusalem before they died. Therefore from every country in the world pilgrims came flocking to the Passover Feast. During the Passover all lodging was free. Jerusalem could not hold the crowds, and Bethany and Bethpage were two of the outlying villages where pilgrims stayed
    • A passage from the historian Josephus gives us an idea of how many pilgrims actually came. He tells that Cestius, governor of Palestine around AD 65, had some difficulty in persuading Nero of the great importance of the Jewish religion. To impress him, he asked the then high priest to take a census of the lambs slain at the Passover in one year. The number, according to Josephus, was 256,500. The law was that there must be a minimum party of ten people to one lamb, so that they must have been close to at least 3,000,000 pilgrims in Jerusalem
    • It was jut there that the problem of the Jewish authorities lay
      • During the Passover, feelings 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 nationalism feeling so intense
      • 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. That is why they sough some secret strategy to arrest Him and have Him in their power before the people knew anything about it
    • The last act of Jesus’ life was to be played out in a city crammed with Jews who had come from the ends of the earth. They had come to commemorate the event whereby their nation was delivered from slavery in Egypt long ago. It was at that very time that God’s deliverer of all humanity was crucified upon His cross
  • Mark 14:3-9
  • 3 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.”
    • Jesus was in the house of a man called Simon the leper, in the village of Bethany
      • People did not sit to eat; they reclined on low couches, resting on their left elbow and using the right hand to eat
    • It was custom to pour a few drops of perfume on a guest when he arrived at a house or when he sat down to a meal. The jar this woman had, contained a very precious ointment made from a rare plant that came from far-off India. But it was not a few drops that this woman poured on the head of Jesus. She broke the flask and anointed Him with the whole amount
    • There may be more than one reason why she broke the flask
      • Maybe she broke it as a sign that all was to be used
      • There was a custom in the middle east hat if a glass was used by a distinguished guest, it was broken so that it would never again be touched by the hand of any lesser person
      • One thing that was not on her mind that Jesus saw. It was also the custom in this part of the world, first to bathe, then to anoint the bodies of the dead. After the body had been anointed, the flask in which the perfume had been contained was broken and the fragments were laid with the dead body in the tomb. Although she may not have had it in mind, that was the very thing this woman was doing
    • Her action provoked the criticism of some of the bystanders, including some of the disciples. The flask was worth more than 300 denarii, almost a year’s worth of wages for the common man. To some it seemed a shameful waste; the money might have been given to the poor
    • The story shows the action of love
      • Jesus said that it was a lovely thing the woman had done
      • In the Greek there are two words for good. There is agates, which describes a thing which is morally good; and there is kalos, which describes a thing which is not only good but lovely. That is the word used here
      • Something that is fine and attractive; and that is exactly what this woman did. Love does not do only good things. Love does lovely things
    • If love is true, there must always be a certain extravagance in it
      • It does not nicely calculate the less or more. It is not concerned to see how little it can decently give. If it gave all it had, the gift would still be too little. There is a recklessness in love which refuses to count the cost
    • Love can see that there are things, the chance to do which comes only once
      • It is one of the tragedies of life that often we are moved to do something fine and do not do it. It may be that we are too shy and feel awkward about it. It maybe that second thoughts suggest a more prudent course. It occurs in the simplest things—the impulse to send a letter of thanks, the impulse to tell someone of our love or gratitude, the impulse to give some special gift or speak some special word. The tragedy is that the impulse is so often strangled at birth. This world would be so much lovelier if there were more people like this woman, who acted on her impulse of love because she knew in her heart of hearts that if she did not do it then she would never do it at all. Hw that last extravagant, impulsive kindness must have uplifted Jesus’ heart
    • Once again we see the invincible confidence of Jesus
      • The cross loomed close ahead now but He never believed that it would be the end. He believed that the good news would go all around the world. And with the good news would go the story of this lovely thing, done with reckless extravagance, done on the impulse of the moment, done out of a heart of love
  • Mark 14:10-11
  • 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.
    • There is always a studded of the heart as we think about Judas
      • Dante sets him in the lowest of all hells, a hell of cold and ice, a hell designed for those who were not hot sinners swept away by angry passions, but cold, calculating, deliberate offenders agains the love of God.
    • Mark tells the story with such economy of words that he leaves us no material for speculation. But at the back of Judas’ action we can distinguish certain things
      • There was covetousness
        • Matthew 26:15 actually tells us that Judas went to the authorities and asked what price they were prepared to pay and drove a bargain with them for thirty pieces of silver. John 11:57 drops a hint. That verse tells us that the authorities had asked for information as to where Jesus could be found so as to arrest Him. It may well be that by this time Jesus was to all intents and purposes an outlaw with a price upon His head, and that Judas knew it and wished to acquired the offered reward. John is quite definite. He tells us that Judas was the treasurer of the disciples and used his position to pilfer from the common purse
        • The desire for money can be a terrible thing. It can make people blind to decency and honesty and honor. It can make them have no care how they get so long as they get. Judas discovered too late that some things cost too much
      • There was jealousy
        • Friedrich Klopstock, the German poet, thought that Judas, when he joined the 12, had ever gift and every virtue which might have made him great, but that bit by bit he became consumed with jealousy of John, the beloved disciple, and that this jealousy drove him to his terrible act. It is easy to see that there were tensions in the 12. The rest were able to overcome them, but it may well be that Judas had an unconquerable and uncontrollable demon of jealousy within his heart. Few things can wreck life for ourselves and for others as jealousy can
        • There was ambition
          • Again and again we see how the 12 thought of the kingdom in earthly terms and dreamed of high position in it. Judas must have been like that. It may well be that, while the others still clung to them, he came to see how far wrong these dreams were and how little chance they ever had of any earthly fulfillment. And it may well be that in his disillusionment the love he once bore to Jesus turned to hate
          • There is an ambition which will trample on love and honor and all lovely things to gain the end it has set its heart upon
        • Minds have been fascinated by the idea that it may be that Judas did not want Jesus to die at all
          • It is almost certain that Judas was a fanatical nationalist and that he had seen in Jesus the one person who could make his dreams of national power and glory come true. But no he saw Jesus drifting to death on a cross. So it may be that in one last attempt to make his dream come true, he betrayed Jesus in order to force his hand. He delivered Him to the authorities with the idea that now Jesus would be compelled to act in order to save Himself, and that action would be the beginning of the victorious campaign he dreamed of. It may be that this theory is supported by the fact that when Judas saw what he had done, he flung the accursed money at the feet of the Jewish authorities and went out and hanged himself. If that is so, the tragedy of Judas is the greatest in history
        • Both Luke and John say quite simply that the devil entered into Judas
          • In the last analysis that is what happened. Judas wanted Jesus to be what he wanted Him to be and not what Jesus wanted to be. In reality Judas attached himself to Jesus, not so much to become a follower as to use Jesus to work out the plans and desires of his own ambitious heart. So far from surrendering to Jesus he wanted Jesus to surrender to him; and when Jesus took His own way, the way of the crosse, Judas was so incensed that he betrayed Him
          • The essences of sin is pride; the core of sin is independence; the heart of sin is the desire to do what we like and not what God likes. That is what the defvil, Satan, the evil one stands for. He stands for everything which is against God and will not bow to him. That is the spirit which was incarnate in Judas
    • We shudder at Judas. But let us think again—covetousness, jealousy, ambition, the dominant desire to have our own way of things. Are we so very different? These are the things which made Judas betray Jesus, and these are the things with still make people betray Him

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