Recognizing and Responding to the Worth of Jesus - Mark 14:1-11

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As we read the Gospels it’s clear that there are varied opinions of Jesus. There are some who are curious or intrigued by Jesus and others who are hostile toward Him. And then there are some who are willing to lay down everything for the sake of His Name.

The reality is, each one of us live somewhere on the same spectrum. Every one of us is making a choice, day in and day out, about the place we’re going to allow Him to have in our lives. And the question that drives the choice is this: What do I believe about the worth of Jesus?

Is He worthy of my time? Worthy of my obedience? Worthy of my worship? Worthy of my resources? This is what it comes down to – what do we believe about the worth of Jesus?

Structure – A Story within a Story

This is one of several times in the Gospel when Mark inserts a story within a story. This literary device combines two stories that share similar themes in order to draw more attention to what’s being communicated. In this case we see a contrast between the way people are responding to Jesus. At the beginning and end we have those who are strongly opposed to Jesus and who are seeking to get rid of Him. But in the middle, we have the story of a woman who sees Jesus as fully worthy of unhindered worship and expresses her devotion in an extravagant way.

Response One: A Public Rejection of Jesus (14:1-2, 10-11)

  • The setting – The week of Passover (vs. 1a) – Each year thousands of Jews would make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to remember God’s salvation and how He delivered them from Egypt. It’s no coincidence that Jesus died as the final sacrificial lamb during the week of Passover.
  • The response of religious leaders to Jesus – A plot to kill (vv. 1b-2) The hatred of Jesus by the religious leaders has built to a boiling point and they are looking for an opportunity to kill Jesus. God in flesh, the promised Messiah is among them, and yet they reject Him (John 1:11).
  • The response of Judas to Jesus – A plan to betray (vv. 10-11) – After three years of walking closely with Jesus and being personally loved and discipled by Him, Judas joins the efforts against Christ. He willingly joins the opponents of Christ and determines to betray the Lord.
  • A warning: guard your heart – As followers of Christ the story of Judas should never cease to give us pause. We are all tempted at times to value the things of the world more than we value Christ. We must never stop being reminded of the greater value and the greater worth of our Lord. He’s greater than anything else we may seek to gain.

Response Two: A Public Declaration of the Worth of Jesus (14:3-5)

  • The setting and the characters (vs. 3, John 12:1-8) – On the Saturday before Palm Sunday Jesus gathered with friends for dinner about two miles east of Jerusalem. Among the group was Simon the leper (presumably healed by Jesus), Mary, Martha, Lazarus (recently raised from the dead) and the disciples.
  • An extravagant act of worship (vs. 3) – In this culture it wasn’t unheard of for a person to be anointed with oil. But this event is noteworthy because of the incredible value of the oil that was used. This woman broke and emptied a container of oil that was equivalent to a year’s salary. This act of worship, love and devotion was a declaration of the worth of Jesus. He’s worthy of great sacrifice and unhindered worship – regardless of what others may say.
  • A pious protest (vv. 4-5) – As the disciples watched this incredibly costly act of worship they were seething. Sure, they loved Jesus, but this seemed like too much. How could someone seemingly waste something of such incredible value – after all, it could be used for good. They were angry and they expressed their anger.

The Response of Jesus - The Beauty of True Devotion (14:6-9)

  • A beautiful thing – An acknowledgment of the worth of Jesus (vv. 6-7) – Jesus loves the poor and He regularly commanded care for the weak and the vulnerable. This statement of Jesus isn’t a disregard for the poor – it’s a statement about immeasurability of His worth. This woman didn’t have a lack of love for the poor, she had an overwhelming love for her Lord – and Jesus says her act is beautiful.
  • A timely thing – A preparation for the death of Jesus (vs. 8) – Jesus, knowing that His death was fast approaching, saw this anointing as a symbolic preparation for His burial. 
  • An exemplary thing - An act worthy of remembrance (vs. 9) - The disciples mocked the woman for what they perceived as an act of foolishness. But Jesus praises her as an example that should be (and has been) remembered throughout the generations.