Study Notes

Mark 14:1-21

14:1-2 Passover and Unleavened Bread

You should know the story of Passover, because it factors so significantly in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, as well as foreshadowing the work of Jesus Christ.

Here's the basic overview: The setting is Egypt, and the Israelites are slaves that God is working to free. He's used Moses in a number of miraculous plagues to get the Pharaoh to let them go. But Pharaoh won't budge.

So the Lord tells Moses to tell the people, "Take an unblemished male lamb, one for each family. Keep it with you for a few days, and then kill it. Pour the blood into the basin built into the threshold of your doors, then take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the upper doorpost, the lintel, of your house. Then I want you to roast the lamb's flesh in fire and eat the flesh of that lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs."

"And when you eat it, I want you to be ready to move - with your loins girded, your sandals on, and your staff in hand. Eat it in haste. Because that night, I'm going to go through Egypt and kill the first-born of every man and beast in every house. But when I see the blood on your house, I will pass over it, and this judgment will not destroy you."

"This is also going to become a holiday to your people, in remembrance of how the judgment passed over you, and how I delivered you out of the land of Egypt. Every year, get the lamb on the 10th day of the first month, Nisan, and kill it on the 14th day of the month. Then from the 14th day until the 21st day, you shall eat unleavened bread. There shall not be any leaven found in your houses at all."

So this is the holiday that the Jews were to practice yearly - the passover beginning the seven days of eating Unleavened Bread. The first day of Unleavened Bread, the Passover, was approaching. That day (and the last day of unleavened bread) was a day during which you could do no work, so they had to make sure everything was ready and finalized before sundown, when the day would start. (Remember that the Jewish day begins at around 6:00pm, not 12:00am like our day does.)

Next week, we're going to delve into more detail, and we'll find that Passover and Communion are inseparably intertwined.

Seize Him By Stealth

The Jewish leadership wanted to grab Jesus by stealth. One thing's for sure - sneakiness is a sure sign of sinfulness! Proverbs 4 says,

Prov. 4:18 ...The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.

Righteousness does things up front. Open to inspection, available for examination. By contrast, Isaiah says,

Isa. 29:15 Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, "Who sees us?" or "Who knows us?"

If you want to know if you're doing something illegal or immoral, a good test is to ask yourself, "Am I willing to have this made public? Or am being sneaky about this?"

During The Festival

Why were the chief priests and scribes seeking to size Jesus by stealth? Well, remember that part of the requirement of Passover was that every able-bodied Jewish male had to be in Jerusalem for the festival. That means that there were approximately 2 1/2 million men that came to Jerusalem for Passover that year.

So many of them had been healed, taught, touched, or affected by Jesus. There was no way that the Jewish leadership could have grabbed Him in public. They were afraid that the people would riot or kill them for grabbing Jesus.


Now Mark gives us a flashback to four days earlier, when Jesus was in Bethany. He's drawing a picture, telling us that the Jewish leaders were looking for a way to get Jesus, then going back four days to explain why Judas decided to sell Jesus out.

14:3-11 Mary The Worshipper

We know from John 12 that this is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus:

John 12:3 Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Mary is a great example of a biblical worshipper. Every time we see her in the Bible, she's always at the feet of Jesus.

Luke 10:38-42 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up {to Him,} and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but {only} a few things are necessary, really {only} one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

John 11:30-32 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. The Jews then who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."

Always at the feet of Jesus. We would do well to learn about worship from Mary.

Worship Is Brokenness

Notice that Mary broke the alabaster vial. True worship always includes a broken vessel. David wrote,

Ps. 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

The Hebrew word "contrite" comes from a root word meaning to be crushed or beaten to pieces. Our flesh needs to be subdued, our hearts broken, our attitudes humbled before God to worship Him in truth.

Worship Is Pouring Out

After breaking the vial, she poured it out upon Jesus' head. True worship always includes a pouring out. David said in Psalm 62,

Ps. 62:8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.

There is an emptying of ourselves, a pouring out, that takes place in worship. We pour ourselves out, and then He pours out His Holy Spirit upon us to fill us.

Worship Is Expensive

Worship is also expensive. This vial of pure nard was worth over 300 denarii - nearly a year's wages. True worship is oblivious of expense. True praise forgets the cost. And worship will be costly. It will cost your pride, and your reputation. People will hassle you or put you down, just as they scolded Mary. Remember that this happened to David as well:

2Sam. 6:14-16 And David was dancing before the LORD with all {his} might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet. Then it happened {as} the ark of the LORD came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

2Sam. 6:20 But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, "How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants' maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!"

Both David and Mary worshiped with pure hearts, yet were despised for it. Worship can be costly.

Why Was This Wasted?

Notice too, why everyone was scolding her. "Look at what a waste of money this is! Why aren't we doing something practical with it?" Today, this argument is debated in church committee meetings every day of the week. It's funny to me how bent out of shape we can get about other people's money.

Don't hassle me about the new car I just bought, but I want to argue with you about how we're going to spend the church's three hundred dollar music ministry budget!

Judas' Betrayal

Judas couldn't stand this. Remember that John tells us...

John 12:6 ... he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.

The loss of that perfume money had to be the final straw for Judas. His "commission" on something that cost nearly a year's wages would have padded his pockets pretty well for quite a while. Everyone knew that the chief priests wanted to have Jesus arrested and killed, and Judas knew that this was his chance to make the cash he'd been lusting after. He...

Matt. 26:14-16 ...went to the chief priests, and said, "What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?" And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver. And from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Him.

Thirty pieces of silver. This was a fulfillment of a prophecy that the Lord gave to Zechariah. He writes,

Zech. 11:12-13 ...So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them." So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Thirty pieces of silver for a man's life. And Matthew (ch. 27) tells us that, just like it was prophesied, they would be thrown into a potter's field later that night.

14:12-16 Preparation For The Passover

Jesus sends Peter and John to prepare the Passover. They are to look for a man carrying a pitcher of water. This would be a definite sign, since in that culture, the women carried water in pitchers and men carried it in animal skins. In essence, Jesus tells them, "Look for a guy carrying a purse" - something out of the ordinary.

14:17-21 One Of You Will Betray Me

Not one of the disciples pointed to Judas and said, "It's the guy with the black mustache and the cape!" Nobody knew it was Judas. He'd kept up the front. Everybody was fooled except Jesus. He of course had known from the beginning.

But Jesus still chose him as an apostle. Remember that after He'd spent the entire night on the mountaintop in prayer...

Luke 6:13-16 ...He called His disciples to Him; and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Jesus also sent out the apostles to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons. Each of them preached the message of repentance and forgiveness. Each of them had authority over unclean spirits, and power to heal every kind of sickness and disease (Matt 10:1; Mark 3:14-15; 6:7; Luke 9:1).

Mark 6:12-13 And they went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.

Even Judas! He was given authority. He was empowered. He was preaching the gospel. But it would have been good for him if he had never been born...

Next week, we'll talk about the introduction and ordinance of Communion.

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