The plot against Jesus: You have to wonder if Jesus opponents were concerned that He would use the Passover feast to launch and uprising. They seemed so determined to get rid of him before the feast. Yet, their plotting ensures that Jesus death will have a deep parallel with the significance of the Passover Lamb, as God intended. Jesus knows his time is short, and only he can see the significance of being anointed with the expensive perfume. Mark even gives a value to the perfume. One year’s wages! Even knowing that the disciples were mostly from working class backgrounds in a fairly poor economy, a year’s wages is nothing to sneeze at. If the perfume were $300 today we would be shocked at the wastefulness, But what would a year’s wages be for you? I can’t even imagine perfume that expensive: How about CLIVE CHRISTIAN NO. 1 IMPERIAL MAJESTY PERFUME - at USD 12,721.89 PER OUNCE!
This time Mark gives even more context to Jesus words, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” The first phrase is from Deuteronomy 15:11, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Indeed this command is to assist the poor and needy, and Jesus emphasizes that the Disciples should always help the poor. “But you will not always have me.” Showing love to Jesus is fitting at any time, and he will not allow this woman’s extravagant care to be spoken against.
Mark associates this event with Judas’ betrayal, though John’s Gospel will make a clearer connection. I hear much of people making excuses for Judas, many hope that he was not wicked but “misguided.” But let’s not mis the warning to us: whenever we think we know better than Jesus or that Jesus has treated us unfairly, we are dangerously close to the same sort of “misguided” choices.
The Passover Meal: Have you ever celebrated a Christian Seder meal? If you have a chance to do so, it is well worth it to experience the Lord’s Supper in its original context. But one aspect of the first Last Supper stands out-the shadow of betrayal hangs over this meal. Jesus gives a stark warning to the betrayer. “The Son of Man will go just as is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays….” His turn of phrase reminds me of another warning: Causes of sin are bound to come, but woe to him who causes one of these little ones to sin.” I believe God gave Judas every chance to turn from his plot, including this last warning. But alas Judas did not heed it.
Jesus’ dark predictions continue after the Lord’s Supper. Not just one betrayer, but everyone will fall away! All the disciples were sure they would stand firm. Do you think you would be more courageous than them or less? What’s amazing is that their pending failure doesn’t faze Jesus in the least. He knows they will falter, yet he will still die for them, and gather them again to himself when he is raised.
Deeply Distressed: Jesus would really suffer, and really die on the Cross. If you think his divinity or his perfect faith made him immune to distress, then you really misunderstand the incarnation. Jesus is fully human, and relies on trust in his Heavenly Father, and strength from the Holy Spirit to sustain him, just as we must! Does believeing in the resurrection make the prospect of suffering and death easy for you? When all is well, I can bravely theorize about death, but God has made us with a strong survival instinct. Jesus must struggle to submit to the path of obedience. Yes, he is successful in his struggle, but it is hard. In our struggle against temptation we sometimes feel already defeated because we find ourselves resisting obedience. But it is not sinful for Jesus to wrestle in prayer – don’t be discouraged if you find yourself in the same struggle. Jesus fully understands, and is able to help.
The Arrest, Priestly Trial, and Peter’s Denial: I would like to be able to add to what I wrote in Matthew, but the two Gospels are almost identical in these sections. This is a night seared into the minds of Jesus’ followers: a night of tension, fear, anger and regret for them. It is also a night of wonder at the faithful suffering servant who is their Lord and Saviour.