Our last two weeks in Mark’s gospel have focused on Jesus’ second coming and the final judgment. Now we’re brought back to the present reality: Jesus is only two days away from His death on the cross. The future will have to wait for the present. It’s hard to believe, but we are now in the last section of Mark’s gospel. From now on, Mark records the events leading to the cross with crisp precision, mentioning even the days and times of days. This is surprising for Mark who has, to this point, panned out to give us the big thematic picture and is rather to the point compared with the other gospels. He will now draw our attention to the focus of the entire gospel – the death of Christ for sinners.
In this week’s passage, we see perhaps the last act of kindness toward Jesus, as a women anoints Him with an alabaster flask of pure and expensive Indian oil. It seems to us a rather odd way of blessing Jesus, but as we look further there’s a whole lot more to this story. Those in the story have a variety of opinions about what the woman did, and all of them have more to do with Jesus than the woman mentioned.
Sandwiching the woman’s act of kindness is another narrative illustrating undoubtedly the most hateful act of betrayal against Jesus. An act perpetrated by of one of His own apostles. It may seem odd to insert the story of anointing Jesus in between the narrative of such a heinous act. Yet this is a technique we’ve seen Mark use time and again, and it should cause us to wonder how one story relates to the other. So, how do you think they do?
This Sunday, like investigators, we’ll be examining each of the witnesses to these events in order to try and make sense of it all. We’ll dig deep to learn Jesus’ message for you and for me in all of this. Take a few minutes to read through and meditate on the passage, asking yourself, “What was going on in the minds of each of the persons mentioned?”