Anointed by Mary, betrayed by Judas
Behold my Servant #71: Anointed by Mary, Betrayed by Judas Mark 14:1-11
The Saviour’s great prophetic discourse contained in the previous chapter takes Him within two days of the Passover. It was therefore delivered in the very last days of His public ministry.
The spirit of opposition that He faced from the chief priest and the scribes has now reached a crisis point, v2. The Saviour has left the Temple for the last time, Ichabod is again written over the sanctuary, and these men are given up to their wicked schemes to destroy the Messiah.
Devilish craft is at work. Yet they wish to avoid the appearance of acting wrongly lest there would be a reaction from the people. There was a battle for the hearts of the people taking place! Their objective was to bring the people along with their schemes to destroy Christ. Sadly, they were ultimately successful in this venture. Such men are ever ready to hide their evil schemes from public scrutiny lest they fail to accomplish their desires.
In the written context of this evil chicanery there is a singular act of devotion recorded. The record is made all the more striking because it involves an unexplained step backward in time to some days previous. Cp John 12:1. This has the effect of startling the reader into concentration. This is an event that is particularly relevant in the context of the rejection of Christ by the leaders of the people.
I MARY’S ACT OF DEVOTION TO CHRIST.
The unnamed woman in these verses is Mary, sister to Lazarus, John 11:2. Her actions are recorded in v3.
She anointed the head of Christ. This was a dramatic, visible and very public action. In doing so she was saying ‘amen’ to His claim as the Messiah/anointed One. She was crowning Him as her Messiah. It was an expression of her deep love for His ministry. Additionally, she wiped His feet with her hair, Jn 12:3. There is an interesting contrast between His head and her’s.
Her devotion was costly.
The monetary value of this ointment is referred to, v3, 5.
It was also costly in the sense that she had kept it back from other uses. Her brother Lazarus had recently died and yet had not used it at the time of his death! He witnessed these events and no doubt the thought occurred to him—she didn't use that for me!!
It was costly in that it was accompanied by a spirit of deep humiliation. Wiping His feet with her hair indicated a spirit of profound surrender to the purpose of Christ. She submits to His path.
Such costly devotion is to be a feature of the Christian life. Everything we are and have is the Lord’s, 1Cor 6:19-20.
It was irreversible and complete. She brake the box… There was no careful reserving of some for another purpose. It was all given to the Saviour. Liberally it was poured on His head. All was put beyond recovery. There is always a breaking work needed in such devotion.
It bore a public witness to the Saviour. Cp John 12:3. The sweet fragrance of the ointment touched every person. Does this fragrance mark your life—or the stench of hard-hearted, grasping materialism masked by a hypocritical profession of care for others?
II HER DEVOTION WAS HEAVILY CRITICISED.
Origin. The criticism originated with Judas, Jn 12:4. He is specially indicated by the context as a thief and the one whose heart was already set on betraying the Saviour for financial gain. Cp v10-11. These two events are presented side-by-side. Critics/opponents of loving devotion to the Saviour are moved by such a spirit!
It spread. Others took up the complaint, v4. Cp Matt 26:8. Other disciples were involved. Disciples can adopt a devilish view of one who truly loves the Saviour! We can mistake devotion for sinful folly, and vice versa.
The nature of their complaint. Her devotional love to the Saviour is angrily regarded as a waste, v4. There is strong displeasure with her actions. They felt that something had been ‘ruined’ here. This word waste is also used to describe the ruin of the soul in eternity! Destruction Matt 7:13; perdition, John 17:12—the Saviour’s description of Judas!!
It was criticized out of an apparently higher motive. Their words sound noble indeed! A social justice agenda, in their minds, trumped devotion to the dying Saviour. Those who despise simple, earnest devotion can easily adopt a high sounding moralistic approach!
III DEFENDED BY THE SAVIOUR.
Mary’s actions received the highest justification. The Saviour Himself came to her defence. He understood her motives and desires. He rebukes her troublesome accusers and pronounces her actions good. Her critics are clearly left on the wrong side of the issue.
She did what she could, v8. Mary had given her best to the Master and He testifies to this fact.
She was motivated by His death. Mary had grasped something of the situation that was developing that the others had not. For a prolonged period the Lord had been instructing the disciples about His impending death to little avail. Cp 9:30-32. Yet Mary had been move