Summary: A Jesus entered the home of Simon the Leper, many were there. Some out of curiosity; some came to see the spectacle; one, in particular, came to worship.
An Eventful Night in Bethany
Mark 14: 1-11
Today we begin a journey through a very eventful and emotional chapter in Mark’s gospel. The events recorded cover a span of just over twenty-four hours. At the conclusion of the chapter, we will find Jesus accused and condemned of the Sanhedrin in the early morning hours. The deep-seated passions of many will be revealed as we move through these verses.
Jesus and the disciples have met at the home of Simon the leper. Clearly, Simon must have been healed of his leprosy, or people would not have been willing to come within the home of one contagious and unclean. John reveals that Lazarus was also there, following his miraculous resurrection from the dead. Many had gathered that evening to see those in attendance. Some were there to see the spectacle and others had come out of devotion to Jesus.
As we move through the various scenarios revealed within the text, I want to consider: An Eventful Night in Bethany. We have gathered today for various reasons as well. I pray that the heart of our attendance is a desire to worship and exalt our Lord. First, we discover:
I. A Hurtful Scheme (1-2) – The opening verses reveal a hurtful scheme planned by the chief priests and scribes. Consider:
A. The Timing (1a) – After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread. The passage before us takes place just prior to the feast of the Passover, which began a week of the Jews eating unleavened bread. For centuries the Jews had observed the Passover, commemorating the deliverance from Egypt through God’s mighty hand. At the Passover, a lamb would be offered, without spot or blemish. Sadly, the true Passover Lamb was in their midst and yet they failed to recognize Jesus as the Christ. He had come to offer Himself the sacrificial atonement for the sin of humanity, but the majority would deny and reject Him.
B. The Tactic (1b) – and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. The hatred of the chief priests and scribes had been brewing for some time. Several times before they had sought to take Jesus in order to put Him to death. Again, they have come together, plotting His demise. They sought to devise a plan whereby they would be able to take Him by craft. This speaks of their desire to “create a situation where they might take Jesus by trickery and deception.” It is again apparent that these are committed to getting rid of Jesus at any cost, seeking to kill Him in order to prevent any further influence by this man they hated.
C. The Trouble (2) – But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people. While the majority of the religious elite shared their sentiment toward Jesus, the Jewish leadership also knew many of the common people followed Jesus and believed in Him. They decided to wait until the feast day had concluded to launch their plan to put Jesus to death. They feared an uprising of the people if Jesus were arrested and condemned during the Passover. Unsure of how the crowd would respond to taking Jesus openly during the day, they decided to wait.
II. A Humble Sacrifice (3-9) – Here Mark records the great and humble sacrifice made by Mary as she anointed Jesus with spikenard. Consider:
A. The Investment (3) – And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. When you examine the parallel passage in John’s gospel, it is revealed that Mary, the sister of Lazarus, is the woman Mark spoke of here. She entered the house of Simon the leper, as Jesus sat at the table eating, broke an alabaster box of ointment and anointed the head of Jesus. This spikenard was very precious and very expensive. The following verses reveal the spikenard was valued at 300 pence, literally a year’s wages for the average person. Mary spared no expense as she anointed the head of Jesus.
As we consider John’s account, we find that Mary was willing to give more than her life’s savings in order to honor the Lord – she was also willing to risk her reputation. John 12:3 – 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. Washing the feet of others was considered the work of slaves. Only prostitutes and promiscuous women took their hair down in public in that culture. Mary was willing to risk her reputation, not caring what others thought of her, in order to honor and worship her Lord. Her act of worship filled the house with the aroma of the ointment. Surely this brought attention to Jesus and was noticed by those in the house.