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Mark 14:1-31: Remembering His Death and Honoring Him as Lord Print E-mail
Sunday, 25 November 2007

Jesus and His disciples are facing the most difficult days that they have faced to this point.  After entering Jerusalem with the praise of the people, He has dealt with the Scribes and Pharisees, cleansed the temple, and taught about its imminent destruction and His future return.  All the while, the religious leaders have been looking for an opportunity to destroy Him (such an opportunity will present itself in our text this morning).  Even before they came to the city, Jesus has been warning His disciples about what is to come.  The days are hard and they will only get worse.

It is in these difficult times that we can learn much about ourselves and others.  When things are easy, it is often easy to be faithful.  Yet, what happens when they get hard.  Not to say that this has been the only difficult time in Jesus’ ministry, but things are about to reach a decided climax.  So, how will Jesus and His followers respond?  How should we respond when things get hard, since we are promised that they will?  Our text this morning challenges us to remain faithful even in the difficult times (and in the weeks to come we will learn about what to do when we fail).  I want to break our text into two sections this morning, verses 1-11 and 12-31.  In the first section, Mark records three acts of preparation.  In the second section, he tells us of three events foretold.  As we look at these two sections, let’s notice how Jesus and those around Him are responding to the difficult days.

Three acts of preparation (v. 1-11).

First, the chief priests prepare to arrest and kill Jesus.  Look at verses 1-2.  Even though Jesus was able to silence them in the temple, this does not mean that they were prepared to concede to Him the battle.  They have been intent on destroying Him and they have not been persuaded by His teaching.  Yet, they still have the problem of the people.  During the time of Passover, thousands of people came to Jerusalem to celebrate.  Thus, the religious leaders wanted to avoid an uproar from the people.  They did not know when or how they could get to Him, but they were determined to arrest Him and have Him killed.  Of course, as we shall see, the opportunity for such stealth will come from a seemingly unexpected place: one of Jesus’ own disciples.  For now, they must simply wait for the right time.  Yet, before we read of Judas’ betrayal, Mark tells us about another preparation.

Second, the woman prepares Jesus’ body for burial.  Look at verses 3-9.  The enemies are moving.  The time is approaching.  The most significant event in all of human history will soon take place.  Isn’t it interesting that Mark includes this story here.  He tells us very little about the woman (she is not even named here), yet, he describes her act with great detail.  She comes to Jesus and takes a jar of very expensive perfume (a year’s wage in fact) and pours it on Jesus’ head.  The immediate response of those gathered is to rebuke the woman for such a wasteful act.  ‘Surely she could have found better ways to spend that money,’ they reason.  ‘She could have sold that and given it to the poor.’  Her act was simply too extravagant for them.  But Jesus corrects them.  Granted, He is not opposed of taking care of the poor, but He sees this act for what it is: an act of true devotion and worship.  He calls it beautiful.  She probably did not even realize all that she was doing, but Jesus did.  He knew that He was about to die and that she was anointing His body for burial.  He tells her that for honoring Him in such a way, she will in fact be honored wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world.  Indeed, that promise is being fulfilled even in our very midst.

Third, Judas prepares to betray Jesus.  Look at verses 10-11.  This is exactly what the chief priests had been waiting on.  Many have speculated about why Judas did this, but Mark does not tell us.  To him, the very act of betrayal by one who was so close to Jesus is enough.  We are familiar with the story, so it is as not shocking to us, but it should shock us.  Judas is handing over His teacher to His enemies.  Even if you take out the fact of who Jesus is, it is still a wicked act.  Yet, when you add in the truth that every blessing that Judas had ever known came from the One he was betraying, it is staggering indeed.

Let me draw two applications from this first section.  First, beware of betraying Jesus.  You might respond: ‘I would never sell out Jesus.’  Are you so sure?  Did you honor Him with all that you did this past week?  Did you give Him the time and attention that He deserved?  When we talk of selling out Jesus it seems so repulsive to us and rightfully so.  Yet, when we talk about sin or disobedience we say things like: ‘Well, we all make mistakes,’ and ‘Nobody’s perfect.’  Granted, nobody is perfect and we all do make mistakes, but we need to understand something: our mistakes and sins should repulse us as much as Judas’ betrayal.  We cannot use the excuse that we do not know who it is that we are selling out.  No, we know all too well and we know that it is the very reason why He had to die.  Second, be extravagant in your devotion to Jesus.  He is worthy of everything we have!  You will be criticized for spending so much time at Church, or with believers, or sharing the gospel, or reading the Word.  Some, even within the Church, may condemn you for your radical devotion, but listen to Jesus and pay them no mind.  He is worthy of all the extravagance that we can offer.  Let’s turn to the second section.

Three events foretold (v.12-31).

First, Judas’ betrayal is foretold.  In verses 12-16, we are told about Jesus’ preparation for the Passover meal.  This section could be called a fourth preparation or a fourth event foretold since the disciples found everything as Jesus told them that they would (see v. 16).  Jesus foretells Judas’ betrayal in verses 17-21.  Look at those verses with me.  Jesus clearly knows that Judas is going to betray Him.  He even speaks of this act as being foretold in the prophets.  Of course, this does not mean that Judas is relieved of his responsibility in the betrayal.  No, Jesus makes it clear that He will be held accountable and receive what he deserves for betraying the Son of Man.  This betrayal takes place in verses 43-46, fulfilling Jesus’ words here.

Second, Jesus’ death is foretold.  Look at verses 22-25.  Much controversy has surrounded verse 22 and how it impacts the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.  Yet, in our struggle to defend orthodoxy (which is important), we must not lose sight of the weight of these verses and what is taking place.  The Old Covenant is being replaced with a new one.  The Old one was sealed with the blood of bulls and goats, this one will be sealed with the blood of the Lamb.  The Old one involved remembering the Passover event, when God rescued Israel from Egypt.  The New one will involve remembering the death of Christ, when God rescued guilty sinners from death and Hell.  We no longer celebrate Passover, but we will celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ through partaking of the bread and the wine until we drink it new with Him in the Kingdom.  Brothers and sisters, as we come to the table today, may we not be concerned with time or frequency or whatever else it is that distracts us.  Rather, let us remember that Jesus knowingly suffered under the wrath of the Father in our place.  His Body was broken and His blood was shed for us, His people.  And one Day, we will share in this meal with Him in the Kingdom.

Third, Peter’s denial is foretold.  Look at verses 26-31.  We could actually say that Jesus is foretelling the fact that all of the disciples will fall away before it is over.  Yet, it is Peter who speaks up in verse 29 and says: Even though they all fall away, I will not.  You cannot accuse Peter of not having good intentions.  Of course, we all know where good intention will lead without proper follow through.  Peter was committed at this point, but when things get tough and the situation changes, it is easy to forsake our former commitments.  This is what happens to him.  We are told of his denial in verses 66-72.

What can we learn from this second section?  It is clear that Jesus knew exactly what was happening.  He foretells three events and all of them will come true.  The reason why this is so significant is because it tells that Jesus was not surprised by His death.  He was not overcome by His enemies.  He was not caught off guard.  No, He knowingly came to Jerusalem.  He knowingly chose the twelve disciples, including the one that would betray Him.  He knowingly came to earth to suffer under the wrath of the Father for the sins of His people.  There is no plan B in the plans of God.  He planned for His Son to come and die and Jesus willingly obeyed the will of the Father.  The love of Christ is seen in this: He knowingly and willingly gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins.

This passage speaks much about devotion and betrayal, denial and faithfulness.  As we said to begin with, we can learn much about ourselves as we consider this text.  Are we like the woman or Judas?  Are we faithful to the Father’s plan like Jesus or do we flounder under severe circumstances?  Is our commitment to Christ simply words spoken in a moment of passion that leads to later denial or faithful to the end?  Really it seems to come down to verse 31.  Are we really willing to lay down our life for the One who willingly laid down His own for our eternal salvation?  May we worship Him extravagantly by laying down our all in light of all that He has done for us.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 December 2007 )

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