TO WORSHIP OR BETRAY?
Tonight we are going to begin a several week study on Mark chapter 14, the longest chapter in this Gospel, going on for some 72 verses. And, as we have seen so far, and as we are going to see, this last week of Jesus earthly ministry is packed with events, ministry opportunities, worship and betrayal. In fact, that is what we are going to see tonight as Mark places a beautiful diamond of worship next to the blackness of mans heart which is manifested in his actions! With that in mind, lets begin our study in Mark chapter 14 this evening.
1. From Mark 11:20 through chapter 13, we saw one day covered, Tuesday. Now Mark tells us that in two days the Passover would begin, followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That would seem to make Passover on Thursday. But keep in mind that on the Jewish calender Passover began at Sundown on Wednesday, which was the start of the new day.
2. Passover would occur on the 14th of Nisan and Passover symbolizes our redemption through the blood of the Lamb. You see, the first Passover was celebrated by the Jews in Egypt, as they applied the blood of the lamb upon the doors of their homes, and the angel of death passed over them. For all those who did not have the blood of the lamb on their doors, their firstborn child died! And for us, as we apply the blood of Christ into our lives, by faith, we are saved, the angel of death would pass over us, we are not judged.
3. Following Passover, on the 15th of Nisan and lasting for 7 days, was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And as they fled Egypt they fled with bread that was unleavened, and leaven is a type of sin or is symbolic of sin. Today, in Jewish homes, they would purge all the leaven out of their homes on the 15th of Nisan for this feast. And this is symbolic of the new life we have in Christ. There is no gap between salvation and the new life. In John 8:34-36 we read "Jesus answered them, Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
4. Now according to Josephus, a Jewish historian, he tells us that during the time of Jesus Jerusalem swelled to 2 to 3 million people for this feast. That would mean that between the hours of 3 PM and 5 PM of that Wednesday, 250,000 lambs would be slaughtered in the temple in preparation for the Passover, with the blood flowing out the temple and into the Kidron Valley.
5. The interesting thing to me is that on the 10th of Nisan the people would bring their lambs before the priests to inspect them to see if they had any spot or blemish, to see if they could be sacrificed. That tells me that on Palm Sunday this occurred, the same day Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the Messiah the king, and as He walked among the people He was the Lamb of God who was going to take away the sins of the people. In fact, the people were crying out to Jesus,
"...Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Mark 11:9. The word "Hosanna" means "Save Now!" Thus, Jesus, in a sense, was being inspected by the people and the religious leaders, for He was to be slain as the Passover Lamb in just a few days!
6. As all of this is going on, the religious leaders are still trying to destroy Him, put Him to death. In a sense, they were going to slaughter the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb without spot or blemish, who would take away the sins of the world, not just cover them up for a short time. But their fear was the following Jesus had, so they decided to wait till after the feast, when the people would return home, and then they could complete their task. But, as we shall see, that is not what will take place, God had another plan.
1. In John we are told "Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil." John 12:1-3. So that would place this event on the Friday before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem by Jesus, on Palm Sunday. Bethany was about 2 miles from Jerusalem, over the Mount of Olives, and they had this meal at the house of Simon the leper, or should I say, Simon who once was a leper but was healed by Jesus. You see, you would not eat with a person who was a leper, only if they were healed of this disease. And this person could have been the leper Jesus healed in Mark 1:44-45, as he proclaimed all that Jesus did for him to all who would listen.
2. Keep in mind that this is not the same story spoken of in Luke chapter 7, which occurred early on in Jesus ministry and in the area of Galilee, up north of Jerusalem.
3. Again, John tells us that this woman was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. This alabaster flask was a stone flask that had a long slender neck and inside it was a very costly perfume. And as Mary approached Jesus, she broke the neck of the flask and poured the perfume on the head of Jesus and over His feet and then she wiped His feet with her hair.
4. A few things we need to look at here. First of all, true worship is costly. This perfume cost 300 denarii or a years wages! If you dont give to God that which cost you something, then it truly isnt worship. When David was going to purchase a piece of land to build an altar for the Lord, and the owner of the land, Araunah wanted to give it all to David, even the sacrifice, for nothing. And David responded by saying "...No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing...." II Samuel 24:24. We need to remember that!
5. Secondly, worship is not a matter of the lips, but of our hearts. It is a lifestyle we should be living. It is as Paul said in Romans 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service, [or it can be translated spiritual worship]."
6. The third point is we see that only after the flask was broken did it give off its fragrance. I think that is what God desires of us. To be broken, not haughty in spirit, and then we truly can worship God recognizing that He is a holy and righteous God and we are sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus!
7. And the fourth point is that as you spend time with the Lord, as you worship Him, you will take on His fragrance. Mary, as she washed the feet of Jesus with her hair, wherever she went, the fragrance of Jesus emanated from her body. A true worshiper will do the same. If you dont have the fragrance of Jesus, you will have something else, and it wont smell good! It is as Paul said in II Corinthians 2:14-16, "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?"
1. John tells us that Judas spoke up when he saw this happen and he was angry at the waste of this perfume, that it could have been sold and that money given to the poor. That is what he said, but since he controlled the money box, that money would have gone into his pocket. He didnt care about the poor, only himself.
2. The other disciples also joined in, they too thought it was a waste of money and should be used to help those in need. They were insensitive to what was taking place, while Judas was just greedy!
1. As Judas and the rest of the disciples were coming against Mary, who stood up for her? Jesus! In fact, Jesus says that what Mary has done is "good" or "beautiful." You see, worship that is born out of love is beautiful to the Lord. On the other hand, worship that is not born out of love is not beautiful and not accepted by the Lord. It is as Paul said in I Corinthians 13:1-3,
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." You see, worship is not a mater of the lips, but of the heart!
1. Jesus is not being insensitive to the poor, but He is trying to get them to see that His time is short, the cross is here and He will be put to death shortly. The disciples missed that and thus were focused on material things, money, while Mary was focused upon Jesus. I think that is important, to set our priorities. Put Jesus first and everything will fall into place. We find Mary over and over at the feet of Jesus, and that is where we should be! We need to have the right perspective of things. It is as Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
1. Many people talk about what they are going to do for the Lord, and that is the problem, they are all talk and no action! Mary, on the other hand, didnt hold back but gave it all to the Lord, even in the face of much opposition, from those she was close to. That is a beautiful picture of worship, done out of love and only concerned about the Lord and not what others will think of her actions. True worship does cost us something!
2. The other point that I find interesting here is that Mary was preparing Jesus for His death and burial. How did she know? Because Jesus spoke of His death, and it would appear that Mary was the only one who believed what Jesus said. The apostles ignored it, tried to find out who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom, while Mary, very quietly, anointed Jesus with this costly oil of spikenard, in preparation for His death and burial.
1. This beautiful act of love and faith has been recorded for us in the Bible to show us or teach us what true worship is all about. Worship is done out of love, it is costly, and it is done in faith. What are you doing for the Lord? Is what you are doing for the Lord worthy for others to see and learn from as was Marys worship? It should be! Dont set your sights so low that you do nothing for Him. Seek Him and allow Him to do exceedingly abundantly in your life!
2. One other note to mention. Why didnt this Mary go to the tomb? It is possible that she not only believed that Jesus was going to be put to death, but that He was also going to be raised the third day. So why go to the tomb, He wont be there! And keep in mind that Jesus kept telling His disciples that this would take place. In Mark 9:31 we read "For He taught His disciples and said to them, The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day." Mary believed what Jesus said, maybe because she saw her brother Lazarus raised from the dead by Jesus. You see, her faith was real, she believed what Jesus said and it was manifested in her actions!
1. Why did Judas betray Jesus? There is a lot of speculation, but all we can say with confidence is that he was not a believer, and he allowed greed to overtake him and it finally destroyed him. You see, we have the darkness of Judas, his worship, against the beauty, the brightness of Marys worship of Jesus! One was ugly and rejected, left as a memorial for all to see this evil. The other was beautiful and accepted, and it too was left as a memorial to show us what true worship is all about. You see, Jesus does bring out the best and worst in people, things that are already in their hearts. He exposes what is in a persons heart for us and for everyone else to see!
2. As we opened up this chapter we see the religious leaders wanting to capture Jesus and put Him to death after the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, when the crowds would return home and Jerusalem would get back to normal. This way there would be less trouble. But Judas got them to move quickly, to fulfill what Gods Word said would take place, that our sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ, would be put to death for the sins of the world on the Feast of Passover!
3. Is this fair for Judas since God said that a friend would betray Him? You bet! You see, God did ordain this, but He did not force Judas to do these things. It was his free will, God only knew this ahead of time, He knew what Judas would do. Judas was not forced to do this or created for this purpose. He did it on his own. And the same is true in our own lives. God does not prompt us to sin, we have a choice to make. May we purpose in our hearts not to defile God by our actions. And God will honor that kind of love, that kind of worship, it is beautiful to Him!