1 It was now two days before the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the teachers of the Law were looking for a way to arrest Jesus secretly and put him to death. 2 “We must not do it during the festival,” they said, “or the people might riot.” 3 Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease. While Jesus was eating, a woman came in with an alabaster jar full of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’s head. 4 Some of the people there became angry and said to one another, “What was the use of wasting the perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!” And they criticised her harshly. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me. 7 You will always have poor people with you, and any time you want to, you can help them. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could; she poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial.
ay? Shall I say, ‘Father, do not let this hour come upon me’? But that is why I came – so that I might go through this hour of suffering. 9 Now, I assure you that wherever the gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Full Gospel reading: Mark 14:1-15:47
Other readings: Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22:7-8, 16-19, 22-23; Philippians 2:6-11
In our preparation for Holy Week today we read Mark’s account from Holy Thursday right through to Jesus’s Crucifixion. This was probably the first Gospel account written down. For Mark, the Passion was all about what happened between Jesus and God, whom he calls “my Father”.
It’s all very real. In 14:35-36, Jesus asks his Father to save him from the ordeal. In 15:34, Jesus dying on the Cross complains to God for having abandoned him, using the words of Psalm 22:1.
Most of the characters appear petty, cruel and irreverent. But Peter’s experience is well reported: he is presented as generous and loving, but weak when the time comes for him to testify to his love of Jesus (14:66-72).
Mark uses very negative terms to sum up Judas’s actions. Judas is offhand in the opening episode where Mary, Martha’s sister (John 12:3), pours very expensive perfume on Jesus. Jesus sees her action not only as a generous act but also as a prophecy of his death (14:3-9).
The Jewish leaders remain detached and heartless throughout the process and maintain their doctrinal position despite the naked, dying man in front of them (14:43-65).
The Roman soldiers carry out the physical punishment of Jesus. During the flagellation session they make jokes and appear indifferent to human suffering. But their chief, the centurion, was the first to confess that Jesus was the Son of God (15:16-20, 39).
Indifference seems to be a key word. So many people did nothing; they just gawped at a dying man.
Jesus’s female disciples show their concern practically. They are present at the crucifixion despite the obvious heartache this must have caused them. They are also present to witness to Jesus’s burial place (15:40, 41, 47).
Choose three words to describe Jesus as he is depicted in the Passion. Reflect on what it must have been like for Jesus to have experienced separation from his Father. Consider the amazing words of Philippians 2:6-11.
The lady who poured the bottle of perfume over Jesus took a chance. She risked looking foolish in front of others, perhaps even Jesus himself. But she loved him and this was how she showed it. Perhaps you could create a “bottle of perfume” for yourself. Take a sheet of paper, write a love letter to Jesus and then offer it to him in prayer. Or offer him the words of a favourite Psalm or hymn that helps you express your worship.
Through the first reading, Isaiah portrays Jesus as the faithful servant who puts up no resistance to God’s will for him (Isaiah 50:
4-7). The second reading also comments on Jesus who emptied himself to become man and undergo the humiliation of death (Philippians 2:6-11). To do this Jesus had to learn to know and trust his Father. What steps can you take towards loving obedience? How can you create some daily quality time with God?
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word
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