She Has Done a Good Work for Me – Mark 14:1-11

 Our study this Sunday will start chapter 14 in Mark.  We’ll be reading the first 11 verses.  We are now just a few days out from Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.  The religious leadership want Jesus out of the way, but in their reasoning, they’ll have to wait until Passover is finished, because they don’t want to cause an uproar.  Interesting that despite their planning…Jesus is still crucified over the Passover weekend.  What does that tell us about who’s really in charge here?

The text tells us that Jesus is staying at the house of a guy named Simon the Leper.  Talk about sorry nick-names.  Many believe this was a man who had been healed from leprosy by Jesus, and was now a follower of Him.  I think that’s reasonable, but we do want to keep in mind that some scholars question the translation, and there is a possibility that it should read Simon the “potter”.  I’m not a language scholar, so I’ll stay out of that debate.

John’s parallel accountof this event tells us that the woman who comes to Jesus is Mary, the sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead just before He came into Jerusalem.  She lived in Bethany too.  Both accounts say that Mary broke open an alabaster flask, or jar of very expensive perfume, and poured it on his head and feet.

John’s account has Judas doing some quick calculations about the cost, which equates to about a year’s wages in that time.  Judas did this quick economics lesson to accuse her, but I’m glad he did it because it gives us a good point of reference to understand what this gesture meant.

When she was accused, she was accused (by Judas, according to John 12) of being wasteful.  Yet Jesus says she “did a good work for ME”….what do you suppose Jesus means by that?  The description of what she does isn’t always what comes to mind when I think of work.   Jesus also says “She has done what she could.”  Jesus is very pleased with her actions.  He defends her, and promises that what she has done will be immortalized, taught synonymously with the gospel.  Wow. 

Obviously, we live in a different culture, so some things are hard to understand in this.  Pouring oil on a guy’s head wouldn’t go over quite so well in our culture (at least since the 1950’s).  In that day and place, taking baths wasn’t something a person had the opportunity to do as often as we do.  People would quickly develop a certain odoriferousness (funk) about them.  So, this sort of thing was a welcome way to put a sheen on the hair and diffuse the funk.

But, Jesus associated it with his burial.  All along Jesus has been warning His disciples that He’s going to be betrayed, handed over to the gentiles, and murdered.  Do you think Mary is the only one who really heard HIm?  Is it possible she is anticipating His death, or is Jesus steering this somewhere?  What would Jesus be doing, if He were tying her activity here to His approaching death?

What other observations do you draw from this passage?  What do we learn from her “work” about our daily lives that we live here and now?

What contrasts do we draw from Judas’ behavior immediately following this event? 

See yer’ Sundee.

7 comments

  1. I read these verses last night and I could hardly go to sleep. So many thoughts going though my head about My Love and My Savior. How do I show Him how much He means to me? What expensive perfume can I pour out to annoint Him with? I know, I’ll give Him my heart, my soul and my life.
    He is so precious to me.

    I think Jesus wants us to acknowledge who HE really is and that He is in control. Mary knew who he really was and she responded with showing her affection. This is the “good work” Jesus deserves. He gave everything for us! This was the plan from the beginning and NOTHING could stop that plan from happening exactly when God wanted it to happen. Jesus poured out His Life for us. What amazing Love!!!

  2. This is a phenomenal passage to me. I may be off base, but I think Mary knew exactly what she was doing. Not to put a “sexist” spin on things here, but I believe Mary (& Martha), Mary from Magdala, and Joanna – all likely knew what was coming up. Jesus had been explaining multiple times that this event (his death) was coming.

    Mary understood all too well about death and burial, and annointing (her brother Lazarus). She also heard directly at Lazarus’ tomb when Jesus told her, “Mary…I am the resurrection and the life…”

    When you observe this action, along with the actions of the women on resurrection morning…it starts to make sense. Women are intuitive, understand nuance, impression, and underlying meaning light-years better than men do.

    The boys (Pete, Andy, Jimbo, Jack, etc…) had been hearing directly that Jesus was going to be betrayed in Jerusalem, turned over to the Gentiles and killed. Their continual response was, “Yeah…OK…but not literally…right?”

    I think the girls (Mary, Martha, Joanna, Mary M) understood all too well. Coupled with his “setting his face toward Jerusalem”, and “I’ve longed to eat THIS Passover with you…” stuff.

    So she broke out the precious annointment and annointed her master, Rabbi, Savior…for his upcoming death & burial.

    Just my opinion on it…but I would love to sit down and ask Mary, Martha, or one of the other women a lot of questions about some of Jesus’ parables and statements…

  3. That’s a great point Jericho. I knew that Mary had buried her brother, but it didn’t really sink in. I’m sure she was especially sensitive to words like “death” and “resurrect.” Where as the others might have let it go in one ear and out the other, it must have struck a chord with her.

    Think about how hard that must have been for her. Sometimes we know that God is strong enough to handle situations, but it’s so hard to have faith in that knowledge. I bet she knew that Jesus would rise again, but maybe she poured the oil over his head just to strengthen her resolve that she had faith in his power. Like opening the sails for God to put the wind into. She poured the oil on his head and he reaffirmed her actions and here we are studying them today.

    Speaking of which, I just keep thinking about how Judas accused her of being wasteful. Jesus praised her for it. How can we be “wasteful” in our lives? One of the most precious things to me is my time, I keep thinking how I can be “wasteful” with it. Like going to visit someone in the hospital, or volunteering at the shelter or visiting an old folks home. Yes, the laundry might get behind, but that’s ok. I think….I don’t know, any thoughts?

  4. To piggyback on Jessica’s ideas, isn’t it interesting how (again) Jesus shows us that his is an upside kingdom? I continue to see this over and over again. The first are last, the greatest is the least, the widow gave more than all, and now Mary dumps a bottle of Channel on Jesus and instead of being chided for waste, she is rewarded with the incident being recorded for time immemorial. How cool.

  5. Those were great comments. I heard a beautiful song this morning called “Be Still And Know That I AM God” which made me think of these verses. Don’t you think we have to “be still and listen” to be able to hear what He wants to tell us? I think Mary was able to hear Jesus because she was still and listening to Him. The others seemed to be focusing on other things and seemed to lose sight of what was “really” important: JESUS and what He was saying.

  6. Where was Martha? Probably still in the kitchen…maybe her practical side kicked in and she thought Mary wasteful, too. Perhaps she sent a casserole and thought that was enough. (I can make these sarcastic comments because I, too, am a Martha.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s