We finished our study of I Peter, but our sojourn of following Jesus in this world continues! The passage of Scripture we will consider this week gets at the very heart of what Jesus is looking for in His followers. It is a timeless and precious story, and one most of us are familiar with. It takes place during the final week of Jesus' life here; He is in the very shadow of the cross. But in the humble village home of a man known simply as Simon the Leper Jesus is anointed by an unnamed woman. It is a deeply moving moment, and its significance is profound. In fact, we will read this story expressly because Jesus said we would! This woman's action would be told, He said, "wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world." What did she do and why does Jesus want everyone to know about it?
Before we get to the meditation let me remind you that this Sunday will be a special gathering of the BCC family! It will be not only our first Family Worship Sunday, but it will also be a time of giving thanks (Thanksgiving is next Thursday!) and of pledging our financial support to Bear Creek Church and her work in the world. Lord willing, our meditation on this text will prepare our hearts for this special season and our time together in worship on Sunday. Do come prepared to write out a note of thanksgiving to the Lord and to dedicate in faith your financial pledge to BCC.
Read Mark 14:1-11 and use the questions given below to help you meditate on this beautiful story!
1. In order to highlight the lesson of our primary story (vv. 3-9) Mark employs a literary device which we will simply call 'sandwiching.' That is, on either side of our primary story he tells two stories which are in sharp contrast to the main story. Let's begin with these two 'sandwiching' (vv. 1-2 and 10-11). Who are these stories about, and what are the attitudes and behaviors of these characters?
2. Let's call the central story, verses 3-9, the 'beautiful story,' and let's take note of the context.
* When does this story take place?
* Where does it take place?
* Who are the players?
3. What does Mark tell us about the unnamed woman? What does she do?
* What do you know about "an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard"?
* If you were a guest in Simon's home that evening and employing your sanctified imagination, how would this woman have appeared to you? What would you have seen in her eyes and in her manner?
* How do you think you would you have felt had you been there?
4. Mark tells us what some guests in Simon's house were thinking. How would you describe their reaction to what this woman did to Jesus?
* If you were in that home that evening, reclining at table with the rest, how do you think you would have reacted to what this woman did?
* Who do you think these guests were, and why do you think they scolded her?
* What is your reaction to what these irritated guests said and how they behaved?
5. What does Mark tell us about how Jesus' responded to them, and to her? What did He say?
* Jesus said, "She has done a beautiful thing to me." Why do you think He called it a "beautiful thing"?
* Do you think this unnamed woman really knew she was anointing Jesus' body for His burial? Why or why not?
* What does this tell you about what was foremost on Jesus' mind?
6. Why do you think Jesus solemnly said, "wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her"? Why did He permanently tie this beautiful story to the Gospel?
7. Return to the two sandwiching stories for a moment. How do the attitudes and behaviors of the characters in those stories contrast and highlight the behavior and attitudes of the unnamed woman?
8. Why do you think Mark highlights this 'beautiful story'? What does he want you and me to know about what it means to follow Jesus?
9. If you were among the friends and followers of Jesus who were scolding this unnamed woman because of her extravagant waste of expensive perfume, how do you imagine you would have responded to Jesus' rebuke?
10. In light of this story, how would you measure your response to Jesus and the good news about Him?
bl11. What does the Lord want you to do with this story?
God be with you, and we will hopefully see you on Sunday morning!
PS: Please remember to come ready to write out a "Thank You" note to the Lord - that will be a part of our Family Worship this Sunday. And bring your pledge card.