October 19

Read Mark 14 -- 16

In Today’s Reading:

Plot against Jesus; Jesus anointed at Bethany; His last Passover; Lord's Supper instituted; Prayer in Gethsemane; betrayal and arrest of Jesus; Peter's denial; Jesus before Pilate; Christ's crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Sanhedrin determined that He must die (John 11:53). However, because of the growing number who believed Him to be the Messiah (Luke 22:2; Mark 12:37), His popularity made them fearful to arrest Him.

Simon, a leper who had been healed by Jesus, lived in Bethany. Just a few days before Jesus was crucified, Simon invited Him and the apostles to his home for supper. As they sat eating, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she [broke] the box, and poured it on His head (14:3; see also John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:6-13).

This ointment of spikenard was valued at three hundred pence -- almost a year's wages for a common laborer (Mark 14:5; Matthew 20:2). This was a great sacrifice for Mary. Yet, in loving devotion she poured out her very precious treasure upon the head and feet of Jesus as an expression of her worship of Him. Some disciples were indignant, saying: To what purpose is this waste? (26:8). John records that Judas spoke up, saying: Why was not this ointment sold . . . and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he (the treasurer) was a thief, and had the bag, and [took] what was put [in it] (for himself) (John 12:5-6). Judas considered Mary's action a great waste. To Judas, anything that was poured out upon Jesus was wasted. If the ointment had been sold for three hundred pence, Judas would have been the one to benefit because he was a thief; thus he coveted the money that the ointment was worth. This is the attitude of the Christ-rejecting world toward any sacrifice given to Jesus, who said: Why [do you] trouble her? . . . She [has] done what she could . . . to anoint My body [for burial] (Mark 14:6,8). Judas at that time no longer thought that Jesus was the Messiah King since he had failed to seize the throne when the people planned to make Him a king (John 6:15).

The lost opportunity to sell the ointment and pocket the money, coupled with the strong rebuke from Jesus and the great honor He bestowed upon Mary, probably embittered Judas, and he went [to] the chief priests, to betray Him (Mark 14:10; also Luke 22:3-4). Judas' real reason for being one of the 12 apostles became clear when he said to the chief priests: What will [you] give me, and I will deliver Him [to] you? (Matthew 26:15). When they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money (Mark 14:11). In sharp contrast to Mary, Judas' motive had always been: "What can I get out of it for myself?" All this was foretold by the prophet 700 years before Judas was born: I said [to] them . . . give me my price. . . . So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12). Just as Judas made a fatal choice to betray Jesus to the authorities, so every person must make the personal choice whether to accept or reject Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives.

The question asked by Pilate must still be answered: What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? (Matthew 27:22).

Thought for Today: Jesus' death on the cross brought victory over the power of sin so we might live to please Him.

Word Studies:

14:31 spake the more vehemently = protested emphatically; 14:65 buffet him = hit Him with their fists; 15:15 scourged = whipped, flogged; 15:38 twain = two; 16:16 damned = to condemn, to give judicial sentence.

Cross References:

For Mark 14:27: See Zech. 13:7. Mark 14:62: See Psa. 110:1; Dan. 7:13. Mark 15:24: See Psa. 22:18. Mark 15:28: See Isa. 53:12. Mark 15:29: See Psa. 22:7-8. Mark 15:34: See Psa. 22:1. Mark 16:19: See Psa. 110:1.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for your Sunday School teacher · Country: Bangladesh (127 million) in southern Asia · Major languages: Bangla and English · Present religious freedom may become limited · 87% Muslim; 12% Hindu; .2% Roman Catholic; .2% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Husbands, give honor to your wives, or else your prayers will be obstructed (I Peter 3:7).

Memory Verse for the Week: John 15:5