Some scholars say that all of Mark’s gospel leading up to chapter 14 is merely prologue. Chapters 14-16 are the reason he wrote his gospel. That may be true, given the detail with which Mark tells these events, compared to the earlier book.
Be that as it may, I cannot read of Jesus’ last day without a deep sense of amazement and reverence for what Jesus went through to secure my freedom from sin, sin which I heaped upon myself.
So much of this account hurts to read. The squabbling over the woman who anointed Jesus. Oh, how I (we) love to self-righteously judge the actions of others. The Passover meal and transformation from OT to NT celebration; the blustery talk of Peter, ‘I will never leave you’, the disciples who couldn’t pray for an hour, I see myself in the mirror of all these actions every time I read them.
Interestingly, I found myself lingering with the account of the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus. She did this extravagant act of love for Jesus and was bashed by those closest to Jesus. Jesus, however, sets everyone straight saying, "Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." And yet she remains nameless.
I thought about my desire, at times, for recognition when I do something grand (but surely not as selfless as this woman). God took me inside, asking me about my motivations. The questions I heard in my spirit went something like this, “Bill, do you do things for Me, for love of Me or do you do them for recognition? Bill, if it is the latter, you are no different than the Pharisees who stood and prayed loud prayers on street corners to be heard by people around them. And I told them, they had gotten their reward (Matthew 6:5).
I needed to pray, to search my soul and, yes, to confess…
Lord, search me and know me. See if there is any wickedness in me. and when You find some, which You will, root it out like a dentist drilling out decay or a triage doctor cutting away dead flesh from an soldier injured in battle. Heal me, Jesus, from my deep seeded selfishness and by Your grace transform me into a lover of You, one who serves You with every ounce of life as many valiant soldiers serve their country or the secret service serve their president.