Name some words that are opposite the following words: large/small; dark/light; rough/smooth; generous/greedy; betrayal/devotion-loyalty-faithfulness.
Describe an act of devotion that impresses you: (Elderly spouses who speak kindly to each other; parents who develop respectful relationships with adult children; neonatal nurses who walk alongside the parents of their patients; caregivers who willingly do whatever is required to take proper care of their mate or perhaps another relative.)
In today’s session, two contrasting responses to Jesus will be examined as we see a woman shows her devotion by sharing an extravagant gift and a greedy disciple!
As we have already learned, the events recorded in Mark are not necessarily in chronological sequence, although these events we will study today could have been in the order in which they occurred. We are in the final days just before Jesus crucifixion.
Misunderstood! Read Mark 14:3-5
Mark provides a picture of almost unbelievable generosity. We find Jesus in the home of Simon the leper. Leprosy usually resulted in isolation from the community and the temple, so it’s assumed that Simon no longer had the disease and may have been cured by Jesus. The woman boldly approached Jesus with her gift and poured it on Jesus’ head. A denarius was about the same as a day’s wage, so the perfume would have been almost a year’s worth of wages.
1. How do you suppose the woman knew to do what she did?
2. What frustrated the disciples? Was it really about wasting perfume and giving money to the poor? (If this is the same anointing recorded in John, then Judas was the one who complained the most, and we know his heart’s condition!)
3. Why is it so easy to criticize the way others show devotion to Jesus? (Selfishness. Either I can’t, or am not willing to, show my devotion in such a manner. Focus is on the individual and not on Jesus, the One being honored.)
4. Why is this dangerous? (Our own worship and devotion to Jesus is misguided, or not given at all, because we are jealous of what someone else did.)
5. When do you find it easiest to be generous?
6. How would you respond if asked to give a year’s wages?
Honored! Read Mark 14:6-9
1. Why did Jesus defend the woman? (Jesus used appreciation and truth to honor the woman.)
2. How did His words relieve the tension in the room? (He characterized her act as preparation for His impending burial.)
3. What actions might a person take that would receive the same response Jesus gave to this woman? (It’s not the act it’s the motive behind the act.)
4. What role does a person’s motive play in the value of a worshipful action? (A couple of weeks ago we saw Jesus give praise to a poor widow who gave only two small coins. Here Jesus praises this woman for her extravagant gift. This should remind us that it’s not size of the offering but the condition of the heart!)
“It is a beautiful thing when the worth of Jesus and the love of his followers match—when the value of His perfections and the intensity of our affections correspond.” —John Piper
Betrayed! Read Mark 14:10-11
As one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas traveled with Him but still was willing to betray Him for short-term gain. Perhaps Jesus wasn’t meeting the expectations that Judas had for the Messiah, or maybe by betraying Jesus He revealed His greed for money!
1. What is the difference between knowing a lot about Jesus and knowing Him personally? (We may know a great deal about a well known person like President Trump but we don’t know him personally. The contrast is even starker when talking about Jesus because Jesus can actually live in us through the Holy Spirit! That is intimate knowledge!)
2. How does betrayal hurt both the betrayer and the betrayed? (Betrayal is diametrically opposed to devotion. Many betrayals are not overt; they come through lack of action. Betrayals borne of refusing to stand up for someone are equally destructive.)
Mark 14:12-31. After participating in the Passover meal, Jesus led His disciples to Gethsemane for prayer.
Committed! Read Mark 14:32-36
1. How would you describe Jesus’ emotions in His prayer?
2. How did Jesus honor the Father in the midst of His extreme emotions? (Jesus is both fully God and fully human. He had no advantage compared to any other human—Heb. 2:17, and had opportunity to choose to do rightly just like any other person.)
Distress and grief aren’t sins.
3. What can we learn from Jesus about how to express devotion to God in the midst of our distress and grief?
4. Think about Jesus’ willingness to submit to God’s plan. What does this reveal about God? (His plan is perfect!) About humanity? (Humanity wants its own way always.) About the nature of sin? (Sin fights God to the very end.)
In Mark 14:37-52 we find the disciples sleeping, Judas completing his actions of betrayal, and Jesus’ disciples deserting Him. Jesus’ response to the situation revealed Scripture being fulfilled.
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What are some ways people today betray Jesus with words or actions?
2. When have you betrayed Jesus by your words or actions?
3. Who can you ask to hold you accountable so you can avoid making those mistakes again?
Jesus submitted willingly to the Father’s plan.
He was misunderstood and betrayed, but He still chose to do the right thing. You and I have eternal life with the Father because of Jesus’ willingness to be obedient to the Father’s will.
Our challenge today is: Take time to confess privately times you’ve said spiritual-sounding words instead of choosing the devoted action. Talk with Jesus about how to obey Him and delight in that process. That’s how we get to know Jesus more intimately!