Thus far our “The Final Week” series has frequently seen Jesus in confrontation with the Jewish leaders: The cleansing of the temple. The fig tree incident. The parable of the tenants. And the devastating Olivet Discourse, in which Jesus prophesied a horrible tribulation and the destruction for the temple. But now Jesus’ mind turns to his own impending death. We enter chapter 14.
Jesus is anointed by a woman in Bethany, and he agonizes in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:1-9, 26-42). Those are the two passages before us this Sunday. (Sandwiched between them is the Passover and the Lord’s Supper, which we will cover Maundy Thursday.) In all of these episodes, Jesus is mindful of his own death. It weighs on him — not as a sure sign of doom and failure, but instead as a horrifically difficult mission. The time is near.
But we also learn about devotion. Ointment worth a year’s wages were ‘wasted’ on Jesus! The woman is scolded for this, but Jesus will have none of it. Just as he made a hero out of the woman who gave two small coins, so also will this woman be praised strongly by our Lord. She understands both the unique moment and the unique Savior.
And Jesus himself exhibits his own deep devotion — devotion towards the Father. I will that this cup passes me, he prays. But not my will but yours, Father. He says that while being “sorrowful unto death,” so deep is His devotion to the Father… and to His plan of salvation. For you.