Mark Sandwich Anyone?
It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him. Mark 14:1-11
Look at how the text above is broken out; a Markan Sandwich indeed! This one has sourdough on the outside with a sweet story in the middle.
First, we turn to the slices of sourdough. Those crafty chief priests and scribes are conspiring to kill Jesus, but stealth is needed. They don’t want to upset the mob during the holidays. Then, along comes Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ team, intent on betraying him. Maybe he’s upset because Jesus wouldn’t listen to his economics lecture?! (See the Note in the next paragraph) Judas is compensated.
Now to the sweet sandwich filler. This text says that at the house of Simon the leper, an unnamed woman with an alabaster flask of pure nard commits an act of extravagant devotion upon Jesus. For this act of love, the woman is criticized for disregarding the cost of the nard that could have been used for the poor. Jesus pushes back because what she has done is beautiful, for she has prepared his body for burial; she will be remembered forever. Note: John’s Gospel says this story occurs at Lazarus’ house, it’s his sister Mary, and the indignant complainer is Judas. Some scholars do not see this as a conflict because Simon may have been Lazarus, Martha, and Mary’s father.
This Markan Sandwich begs the question of all Christian believers: “In our lives, would others see us as:
- A. a foolish devotee of Jesus?
- B. a criticizer, complainer, and betrayer of Jesus?
- C. a bystander who does not act?
- D. none of the above?
We so want to show extravagant love and devotion to you, but it’s so hard to do this because others would think us wasteful or crazy. Invade our will, and transform our hearts.
I pray in the name of one who died for you and for me. Amen!