MARK 14 : 1 - 31
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
14 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
The Last Supper
12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”
16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”
20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
Mark 14:1-31 is a beautiful passage of scripture that contains the following subjects: The plot to kill Jesus, the anointing at Bethany, Judas’ agreement to betray Jesus, the Seder (Passover meal) with the disciples, and Peter’s denial foretold. A lot of things are happening here, and each time I read these verses, different themes are highlighted. This time, what stuck out the most to me is the danger that we as believers must still be wary of today - A Religious Spirit.
Here are a few definitions:
Finding one’s identity as a Christian through good works and a good reputation instead of being in a loving and committed relationship with Jesus.
Making more of an effort to “look” holy in our actions, rather than to “be” holy in our hearts.
Sacrificing walking in the way of love for following the rules.
Trying to earn our salvation instead of receiving it as a free gift.
Being very hard on oneself and very critical of others because there is no understanding of grace.
Able to see only black and white, the letter of the law, and not the love and freedom interwoven in the scriptures.
We see in the first two verses, the religious spirit of the Jewish leaders in full view - “And it was two days before Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the high priests and the scribes were seeking in treachery, how, after they arrested Him, they would kill Him: but they were saying, “Not during the Feast, least there will be an uproar of the people” (One New Man Bible). At this time, the masses loved Jesus, and the religious leaders knew that if they arrested and executed Him during the Passover, the people would riot. They needed the support of the people in order to maintain their position among them, as well as to maintain peace so that the Roman authorities would not step in. So, they chose to wait, not because of the love for God nor a relationship with Him, but because they did not want to anger the people and risk their positions.
Question: Was there a time in your past that your desire for a “good” reputation among man superseded your desire for a loving relationship with God? How did you overcome this fear of man and need to please people?
Another example of a religious spirit is found in verses 3-10, when Mary of Bethany came to anoint Jesus with an expensive perfume. He was in the house of Simon the leper, and some of those with Him were indignant: “For what reason has this waste of ointment been made? For it was possible for this perfume to have been sold for more than 300 denarii (about a year’s wages) and to have been given to the poor, and they were scolding her” (One New Man Bible). Here, Jesus came to Mary’s rescue and defended her: “Leave her alone! Why are you so critical of this woman? She has honored me with this beautiful act of kindness. For you will always have the poor, who you can help whenever you want, but you will not always have me. When she poured the fragrant oil over me, she was preparing my body in advance of my burial. She has done all that she could to honor me.” (Passion Translation).
After that, Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the high priests to discuss how he could betray/hand Jesus over to them. He was angry, not because he had a heart to support the poor, but John 12:5-6 says, “In fact, Judas had no heart for the poor. He only said this because he was a thief and in charge of the money case. He would steal money whenever he wanted from the funds given to support Jesus’ ministry” (Passion Translation).
Judas and the others - who the Bible says were “indignant” at the actions of Mary, were so religious that they had no ability to identify acts of kindness and love, and no spiritual understanding to recognize a prophetic act. To them, Jesus wasn’t worth a year’s salary. They had no ability to see beyond the obvious to what God was doing. They were blind men who thought they could see, and prisoners who thought they were free. They were dead inside, but pretending to be alive and vibrant and relevant.
QUESTION: In what way have you seen a religious spirit knocking on the door of your life, and what have you done to deny it’s entry?
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