Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Mark 14:3-26

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She broke the jar and poured the perfume. - Mark 14:3-9

Simon seems to be someone who was well known to Mark's audience. We know nothing else about him unless he is the Simon mentioned in Mark 15:21. Reclining on a couch around a low table was the normal eating position in ancient Palestine. An alabaster jar was a flask for perfume. It was typically owned only by the wealthy. Nard was aromatic oil. Mary broke the jar because it held enough oil for one occasion and was sealed shut. This story is also reported in Matt. 26:6-13 and John 12:1-8. John identified the woman as Mary the sister of Lazarus. This story is not to be confused with the similar but different event reported in Luke 7:36-50.

Three hundred denarii - Mark 14:5

If Jesus' story in Matt. 20:2 gives a realistic picture of the wages of a day laborer, three hundred denarii was almost a year's wages for such a laborer. In John 12:4 Judas was identified as the leader of those who scolded her. That Judas would betray Jesus for silver (v.11) makes it clear that the care of the poor was not really his concern.

A beautiful thing - Mark 14:6

Jesus quickly defended her. Her action was a beautiful thing. And its beauty appeared all the more beautiful in contrast with the plotting of the Jewish leaders and the betrayal of Judas. No amount of precious oil was wasted when it was used to honor Jesus.

Care for the poor. - Mark 14:7

Jesus made it clear both here and elsewhere (Mark 10:21; Luke 6:20, 21; 7:22; 12:33; 14:13; 16:14) that care for the poor was important. Here he also makes it clear that no amount of charity will eradicate poverty until Christ returns.

Annointed - Mark 14:8

Jesus knew his death was coming soon and interpreted the woman's act of devotion as unknowingly she annointed him for his burial.

Judas - Mark 14:11

The chief priests promised to give Judas money. Matt. 26:15 mentions that the amount was 30 silver coins. That probably was much less than the cost of the perfume that he had complained about.

The Passover Meal - Mark 14:12-26

The Last Supper. After three years of eating together Jesus shared his last meal with his disciples. He continued to prepare them for the days ahead when he would no longer be with them.

Preparation for the Meal - Mark 14:12

The Passover commemorated the delivery of Israel from the slavery of Egypt. Jesus used that moment to institute the Lord's Supper as the commemoration of Jesus' delivering his people from the slavery of sin.

A man bearing a pitcher - Mark 14:13-15

A man bearing a pitcher of water would have been unusual. Normally that would have been the work of a woman. Some have suggested that Jesus knew this through his divine omniscience. More likely it was a prearranged signal. Jesus took precautions to avoid arrest until the moment of his choice. Note that the disciples didn't even need to mention Jesus' name and that the room was ready for them (vv. 14, 15). Jesus and the disciples had been spending the evenings that week in Bethany. It is doubtful that they all found accommodations in any one home. To eat the Passover meal together they needed a large room.

Lying Down - Mark 14:18- 20

Lying down on a couch was the typical way to eat a meal. The guests would lean on their elbow with their heads near the low table and their feet extended toward the walls of the room. Jesus already had told them that he would be betrayed (9:31; 10:33). Jesus' announcement that one of their own small group would betray him surprised and the disciples were sorrowful. Dipping bread or meat into a common bowl of broth or sauce was typical of an ancient meal.

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