November 1, 2010 David Balzer

Mark 14:1-42: How can I say “Thankyou”?

How do you say thankyou to YOUR Dad? Father’s Day’s been and gone, and once again, my THANKYOU hasn’t measured up to everything Dad’s done for me.

 

NEITHER of us are too over-the-top when it comes to expressing our emotions, but I seem to find it EXTRA hard when it comes to to Dad.

 

The best I can do is a “Happy Father’s Day, Dad”, and a quick hug. When what he deserves is a big thankyou, and then a long list of all the things we appreciate that he’s done for our family this year.

 

He helps out with school fees, and music lessons, and lots of other things. He comes to birthday parties, and helps build pool fences. He even babysits.

 

It’s hard for a “Thankyou Dad, I appreciate all you do!” to measure up to all of that! But at least it’s a start. And NEXT year I’ll make sure I tell him.

 

How can I say thankyou to someone who’s done so much? That’s the question.

 

1. A grateful woman

And it’s the same question this woman has in Mk 14. This GRATEFUL woman. How can I say thankyou to someone who’s done so much?

 

Jesus is staying nearby. And he’s done so much for her. What can she possibly do to repay him? To express the GRATITUDE she feels for the way her life’s changed for the better?

 

Even though Mark doesn’t tell us her name, it’s probably Mary. That’s what John’s gospel tells us. That’s the Mary who’s the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

 

And Lazarus is the one Jesus raised from the dead. And when he did that. He flipped Mary’s life on its head at the same time.

 

And now Jesus is staying in Bethany. And Mary wants to know how she can say thankyou. What can she possibly say that expresses what she’s feeling? And, in the end, she can’t think of a single word.

 

So she doesn’t SAY anything. Look at v3.

(Mark 14:3 NIV)  While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as 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.

 

What is Jesus worth? Everything! More than life itself. And CERTAINLY more than her most expensive possession.

 

She pours the perfume over his head. The whole thing. Cracks open the jar. She doesn’t drip it out sparingly. Saving some for a rainy day. Make sure the cork goes straight back in the top of the bottle. Everything.

 

It’s an EXTRAVAGENT gesture. An action of OUTRAGEOUS GENEROSITY. For this woman, the loss of her treasure is only a TRIFLE compared to what she’s GAINED from Jesus.

 

But while she is outrageously GENEROUS, those around Jesus are just OUTRAGED. Verse 4. “What a waste! It was worth more than a year’s wages, and there it goes, flowing out across the floor, soaking into the dirt.”

 

And what they’re really saying/ is “That’s worth more than Jesus. Jesus doesn’t deserve THAT much. Something. But not THAT much.”

 

How much is Jesus worth to YOU? A year’s wages, or something less? How much does it mean to you that Jesus died for your benefit? So that you didn’t have to? Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights? The loose coins in the bottom of your pocket? A few rushed moments before you head out the door to work? A beach mission for ten days a year?

 

Or is an eternity of serving and loving him a bit closer to the mark? A lifetime spent declaring his mercies to people who don’t know him. In hungary, or Spain, or France, or Vanuatu, or even in Doonside.

 

What will YOU do to say thankyou to him?

 

They’re the questions I want us to think about/ as we look through these familiar verses. As we consider again the depth of the suffering Jesus experienced for US. His complete obedience to his Father, despite the temptations to look for an easier way.

 

In each of these sections/ there’s a challenge for us. About how WE respond to Jesus. How OUR LIVES reflect our attitude.

 

This beautiful description of the woman is sandwiched in between two AWFUL portraits. Two sets of people who’ve responded to Jesus in the completely opposite way to this woman.

 

And while these traitors are named in all their ugliness and hatred. It’s the nameless woman who gets Jesus right.

 

That’s the comparison Mark is drawing for us.

 

Look at one side of the sandwich. Verse 1.

(Mark 14:1-2 NIV)  Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. {2} “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

 

The chief priests and teachers of the law. Looking for some SLY way to kill Jesus.

 

And then flip over to verse 10. The OTHER side of the sandwich. The hatred and greed of Judas.

(Mark 14:10-11 NIV)  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.

 

And in the middle of these two dark pictures, we see the bright portrait of this grateful woman. Look at what Jesus says about what she did. Verse 6.

(Mark 14:6-9 NIV)  “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 you want. 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} I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

 

Jesus accepts her token of appreciation. He calls it a beautiful thing. It’s literally a GOOD WORK.

 

And notice how Jesus uses her action to, once more, point to his coming death. In the same way that a dead body is perfumed with spices before burial, Jesus says that the woman is perfuming his body in preparation for HIS death.

 

Yes, it’s a GOOD WORK to look after the poor. But it’s an even BETTER work to prepare the dead for burial. And ESPECIALLY Jesus. Because he never actually GETS those spices and perfumes AFTER HE’s DEAD. The women buy them. And they bring them to the tomb. But they never get around to using them. Because Jesus doesn’t NEED them anymore.

 

And while the whingers see it as a WASTE, and a MISTAKE, and something BEST FORGOTTEN, Jesus sees it as something FAR more important. “I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

 

Notice how Jesus is pointing to the time after his resurrection? He says “Wherever the gospel is preached”. That’s the declaration announced by the king’s messenger that the king is victorious. It’s what the apostles preached in the book of Acts. And they focussed on Jesus’ RESURRECTION. That’s the definitive declaration that Jesus is king. The BOLD ANNOUNCEMENT that the king has won.

 

And so, even though Jesus is saying the woman is preparing for his BURIAL, He’s looking BEYOND the tomb to the RESURRECTION.

 

And this wonderful act of gratitude is PART of that gospel declaration. Even in Australia. And that’s the ends of the earth compared to Israel.

 

It’s not an event to be hushed up,or to be ashamed of. But one to be remembered, and copied. Here’s the question for you to think about. How much is Jesus worth to YOU? How much more important is he to you than material things, or the approval of others?

 

How CENTRAL is Jesus in all you do? How much of your life is controlled/ dominated/ directed by Jesus? Or is he just an afterthought?

 

No gift is too great. No sacrifice too much. No time-commitment too long. No pain too intense. No irritation too uncomfortable. No loneliness or abandonement too empty. To say thankyou to Jesus.

 

How much is Jesus worth to you? What will you give to Jesus in gratitude?

 

2. A betraying friend:

Let’s reflect some more on these last few hours before Jesus’ death. This next section is about A BETRAYING FRIEND. And, from v 12, while the rest of Jerusalem prepares for the PASSOVER, Jesus is making preparations TOO. And it starts with A LAST MEAL with his disciples. His friends. He’s got everything in control. He knows HOW it’s going to happen, and WHERE, and WHO. Look at v16.

(Mark 14:16 NIV)  The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

 

And then they all arrive. It’s evening. And although Jesus has lots to say. Mark zooms in on just one idea. A betraying friend. Look at v18.

(Mark 14:18-21 NIV)  While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, 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 not I?” {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.”

 

It’s almost like Jesus can hardly get the words out. It’s too incredible to believe. One of you who is EATING with me! The ultimate sign of friendship and loyalty was to eat with someone.

 

And the disciples can’t believe it either. “Surely not I? I would NEVER do that”. And every one of them denies he would even IMAGINE doing it.

 

But, as each person repeats the question, and as the camera pans around the room in a big circle, we already know who Jesus’ gaze will fall on. Because Mark’s told us. It’s Judas. And he’s about to sneak off to make the deal. To do the dead. And Jesus knows too. And he wishes it hadn’t been him.

 

But notice how God’s purposes are behind it all? This isn’t some human act which undoes all of God’s carefully laid plans. “The Son of Man will go JUST AS IT IS WRITTEN ABOUT HIM”. Judas chooses to betray his Lord. But at the same time God planned it, and designed it, and brings it to happen.

 

But that doesn’t mean Judas gets off without punishment. He is still responsible for his actions. It was always 100% his choice. Jesus says, “It would be better for him if he hadn’t been born!”

 

And, just in case the disciples had missed it, Jesus tells them what will happen to him because of Judas. He takes a loaf of bread. One of the parts of the Passover meal. And just like normal. He says grace. And then breaks it up into pieces. But now he adds one detail. As they lie there looking at that loaf of bread ripped into bits. Snapped in half. Jesus says “Take it. This is my body. This is what’s in store for me”

 

And then, later, after they all drink wine from the cup, he says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”

 

It’s a weird expression. “Blood of the covenant”. But it’s straight out of the Old Testament. When God made promises – agreements – he sealed them – ratified or guaranteed them – with the blood of sacrifices.

 

And so Jesus is saying that there’s a NEW agreement that God’s making with people. With MANY people. And it’s guaranteed with JESUS’ blood.

 

It’s Jesus’ body snapped in two, and his blood flowing into the dusty ground, that guarantees God’s promises. Guarantees that God is SERIOUS about making us his children. About loving us.

 

In other words, it’s how we can know for sure we’re Christians. It’s a great reason to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Each time we eat, we’re checking the contract. Reassuring ourselves that everything’s in order. That God’s still on our side. And that he won’t change his mind.

 

And perhaps Jesus starts to dwell on what he knows is coming. Imagine the pain he’s going to have to endure. It’s so close, and so real, he can almost feel it. Like Melina and Casey with the HSC. And he can’t wait to get to the other side of it. Verse 25.

(Mark 14:25 NIV)  “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”

 

The kingdom is SO CLOSE. And BOY, I’m going to celebrate when I make it there. THIS cup reminds me of the pain that’s ahead. But I can’t WAIT for the cup of CELEBRATION on the other side.

 

And then they sing a hymn, and head out to the Mount of Olives.

 

How do you respond to Jesus here? He offers the bread of his body to THE DISCIPLES. And he offers it to YOU, AS WELL. Will you eat it?

 

He offers the wine of his blood to his disciples. And to you. Will you drink it? In other words, will you ACCEPT the offer God makes to you through Jesus? Will you accept God’s GUARANTEE of Jesus’ broken body?

 

How much does God love you? He loves you THIS MUCH. How much will he stand by you? He is faithful to his word by THIS MUCH. Remember it!

 

3. A self-confident follower

Scene 3 takes place on the Mount of Olives. Scene 1’s been about A GRATEFUL WOMAN. Scene 2’s about A BETRAYING FRIEND. And Scene 3’s about A SELF-CONFIDENT FOLLOWER.

 

And it’s all about DISOWNING Jesus. Pretending you don’t know him. It might only have been Judas who BETRAYS Jesus, but EVERYONE ELSE will DISOWN him. They may not abandon him on the inside, but on the outside they’ll want everyone to THINK that’s what they’ve done. They’re HEART might be saying “No!” But their FEET’LL be saying “Go!”

 

Jesus knows the hearts of his disciples – even if THEY THEMSELVES don’t. Look at v27.

(Mark 14:27 NIV)  “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’

 

And then typical Peter pipes up. Puts his mouth into gear before his brain has a chance to catch up. “Even if ALL fall away, I will not.”

 

“You’re probably right about EVERYONE ELSE, Lord. But not me. I’m better than all these others.” He was the Anthony Mundine of the 12. “I’ve got it all over these cats. ‘Cause I’m the man!”

 

But Jesus throws a bucket of cold water over his bravado. Look at v30.

(Mark 14:30-31 NIV)  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today–yes, tonight–before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” {31} But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

 

How sure are you that you’d never deny Jesus? Fail to own up to be a Christian when it counts? Side with the many against the few?

 

Will you stand up for Jesus wherever you are?

 

Maybe it’s WORK where it’s difficult. Taking the legal or moral stand when there’s pressure to do the easy, or the profitable, thing. Or your tempted to be a clock-watcher, when you know Jesus wants you to give a good day’s work.

 

Or with non-Christian parents, or brothers and sisters. Who know you so well. They know your weaknesses and failures. And you just imagine the word “Hypocrite!” appearing across their faces as soon as you mention the word “Jesus”

 

Maybe it’s just in your Christian family. Where Jesus is just ASSUMED rather than brought to the surface. And everyone sighs when you bring out the bible. Because there’s homework to be done, or Simpsons to be watched, or the garden to be watered. And you feel the pressure to NOT stand up for Jesus.

 

If you’re struggling with this. If there are times when you ARE ashamed of Jesus. Then be encouraged. Peter DID deny Jesus. And he did it THREE times. But Jesus forgave him. And strengthened him. And gave him the new challenge. Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep.

 

And he does the same for us. When we fail, Jesus will always forgive.

 

Q: Will you stand up for Jesus wherever you are?

 

A human Saviour

Well, we now move onto our fourth scene. It’s in the Garden of Gethsemene. One of Jesus’ favourite places. We’ve seen a grateful woman, a betraying friend. A self-confident follower. And now we see A HUMAN SAVIOUR.

 

This section is full of emotion. Jesus knows the hour is close. And he’s worried. In fact, he gets so upset, and emotional, that he says to his favourite three disciples, “My soul is OVERWHELMED with sorrow to the point of DEATH.”

 

It’s only natural that when you know there are painful times ahead that you wish there was SOME OTHER WAY. And so, Jesus is tempted. He’s tempted to find an easier path. He knows there’s pain ahead. And loneliness. And abandonement. And he wishes that God had some other plan.

 

Listen to what he prays. It’s an amazing prayer. And it’s one that makes our head spin. Because, no matter how hard we try, we can’t understand the relationship between the Father and the Son. Look at v36.

(Mark 14:36 NIV)  “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

 

Jesus was God. But the Bible teaches that he was also fully man. He was FULLY man. Hebrews tells us that he was tempted in EVERY way, but didn’t sin. Here in the Garden, he was tempted to turn his back on the plans of his Father. To take another path. Just like the first man, tempted in the garden. It was a temptation that was every bit as real as it was for Adam.

 

But as much as he longed to avoid what lay ahead. His desire to obey his Father was stronger. “Dad, Everything is possible for you. You could find another way if you wanted. Take this cup from me. Do something else instead. Yet. Not what I will, but what you will.”

 

Out of obedience and love for His Father, and love for the world, Jesus went to his death.

 

How can you say thankyou to someone who’s done so much? That’s the question. And it’s one that Jesus answers for us. He comes back to find his disciples sleeping. Again.

 

And in v37 he gives Peter a hard time. “Couldn’t you keep your eyelids open for ONE HOUR?” But then in v38, he changes, from talking to PETER. To addressing EVERYONE. It’s a PLURAL “YOU” – “Youse” as Jeff Fenech would say.

 

“Watch and pray that YOUSE will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak”

 

Jesus wants all the disciples. And us too. To look out that we won’t fall into temptation. But not just to TRY HARDER. Because the flesh is weak. We can’t do it on our own. We must PRAY. Pray that God would help us to live for him in a way that PLEASES him.

 

And THAT’S how we can say thankyou to someone who’s done so much. Live everyday for him. In a way that PLEASES him.

 

Will you keep watch and pray that you don’t fall into temptation? Are you serious about living for Jesus?

 

 

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