Heavenly Father, please open our ears to listen carefully to the living word, word of eternal life, and word of truth. Create in us faithful, teachable, and obedient hearts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Mark 14: 1-26
VV 1-3, ‘’1 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.’’
It was 2 days before Passover. Passover falls on the 15th Nisan, (Hebrew calendar), followed by the feast of unleavened bread from 16th to 22nd Nisan. It was an eight-day festival. Usually, it is called Passover, instead of Passover and feast of unleavened bread. Simon was an ex-leper who was healed by the Lord. The woman here was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. John 12:1-9 and this passage is the same event. Pure nard was a very expensive perfume imported from India stored in an alabaster flask. It was worth a year’s wage. She could have bought this for her wedding. She broke the flask and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. This was Mary’s extravagant act of love, Mary’s love language.
VV 4-9, 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 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.”
According to John 12, it was Judas Iscariot who criticized Mary. Judas Iscariot was a thief and he wanted to steal the money. He was a fault finder, a critic before people, and a hypocrite before God. Jesus said, ‘’ Leave her alone’’. Mary gave Jesus an anointing of pure nard to prepare for His death and burial. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, He would remember the perfume that Mary of Bethany had poured on Him. Today, 2000 years later, we are still honoring and remembering Mary of Bethany and what she had done.
VV 10-11, ‘’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.’’
Judas means ‘’praise’’. Iscariot means ‘’ man of Kerioth’’ and Kerioth was the name of a village in Israel. In John 17:12,
Jesus called him ‘’son of perdition’’, which means son of destruction. Disappointed that Jesus was not going to be a military messiah, Judas Iscariot betrayed Him.
VV 12-15, 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.”
According to Luke 22:8, Jesus sent Peter and John to the city to prepare the Passover meal. In those days, for a man to carry a jar of water was most unusual as this was a woman’s job. So it was easy to spot the man carrying a jar of water, who would provide them with a furnished upper room for the Passover meal.
VV 16-21, 16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. 17When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18While 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.”
The disciples did not sit down but recline to eat the Passover meal. Leonardo da Vinci’s painting on the last supper was not accurate. The table was a U shaped table called a triclinium. They reclined on their left shoulder and pick up food using their right hand. The meal consisted of lamb, unleavened bread, wine, and bitter herbs. Jesus identified the betrayer Judas Iscariot, as that the disciple who dipped his bread into His bowl. He allowed a betrayer to partake in the Passover meal.
VV 22-26, ‘’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.”26When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.’’
During this Passover meal, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Lord’s supper which is also called Holy Communion or Eucharist. He blessed the unleavened bread and wine and gave them to the disciples to eat and drink. The bread was symbolic of His broken body and the wine was symbolic of His blood. Christians are to eat and drink as often as possible in remembrance of Him and until He comes back again. Luke 22: 19-20, ‘’And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’’ Jesus said that He will not drink wine until after His second coming
when He will sit down and eat with them in the Kingdom of God. After the meal, they sang a hymn, Psalm 118, and went out to the mount of Olives.
Heavenly Father, we pray that You will set our hearts on fire so that we become not just a churchgoer but a Christ worshiper. Thank You for instituting the Holy Communion as a sacrament that we participate in until You come back again, in Jesus’ name, Amen.