Monday, August 4, 2008

Mark Chapter 14

Mark’s version of the Last Supper is told in the style of the rest of the chapter, as it is big on the highlights but doesn’t have a lot of detail except for the part about the woman with the perfume.

We once again see the shortsightedness of the disciples, but Jesus calmly and patiently explains what is about to happen to them. There isn’t as much dialogue as there is in the other gospels, but lasting impressions are still made by the way Mark explains this final night. The picture he paints is one of love, as Jesus keeps forgiving His disciples when they continue to go astray from the plan.

3While 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.
4Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? 5It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.

6"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." – Mark 14:3-9

Obviously this woman had a lasting impression, as Jesus’s prediction came true that her story would be told wherever the gospel was preached thanks to its mention here. Jesus also preaches a valuable lesson here that material goods have little meaning. This is not an indictment against the poor. Rather, it is a sacrifice this woman gave in order to honor Jesus. We do not know her name, but we see that the perfume she used carried great value. She gave this value up in order to honor Jesus. It was her act of worship and admiration, just as we find our own ways to worship and admire Jesus. It is unfortunate that the disciples did not see this, but Jesus patiently explains their error.

22While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body."
23Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
24"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. 25"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." – Mark 14:22-25

This is where the Old and New Testaments come together. The Old Testament is primarily about God’s old covenant with mankind. Since it was based on the laws of man, it didn’t work. Therefore, much of the Old Testament outlines the need for a new covenant. It is appropriate that Jesus faced His sacrifice at the time of the Passover. The Passover signified the promise that God would deliver Israel from the hands of the Egyptians. It was done in remembrance of that covenant between God and His people. With Jesus, He was the new covenant. Therefore, He performed the Last Supper as a symbol of that old covenant being made better through His sacrifice. That is why we continue the tradition of communion today. It symbolizes Christ’s covenant with us to forgive us of our sins.

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