Preparing the Passover Lamb, Part II
I.) Worthy of All Honor, Glory, and Praise
Before we look closer into our portion of Scripture today, we need to remind ourselves of the stage Mark has established to prepare us for the rest of His account. The Passover is two days away. The celebration which was instituted by God to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians after God sent a death angle through the land to kill all the firstborn of both man and animal, but passed over every house that was covered by the blood of a perfect male lamb. It is the feast to remember the day when the blood of a spotless and innocent lamb that was slain, covered them and saved them from the judgment of almighty God. This celebration is two days away, “and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him covertly and kill Him.”
They will be successful just as Christ foretold in Mark 10:33, that the Chief Priests and the Scribes will “condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him; and three days later He will rise from the dead.” They will do this as the Passover lambs are being slaughtered for the celebration, not realizing that they are the vessels through which the Father offered His Son as our Passover Lamb. For the Father so loved the world He gave His only Son to be the propitiation of our sins. The sinless Son of God willingly became a Man to suffer under the penalty people deserve for their sin, and to shed His blood to cover their sin and purchase their redemption in order to reconcile them to Himself. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
By the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, these men will deliver Christ into the hands of godless men to nail Him to a cross, and God will raise Him back to life on the third day never to die again. What they meant for evil, God meant for good to preserve many people alive, that all who believe in Him might not perish, but have eternal life. Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed. Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord, trusting in His vicarious death on the cross and victorious resurrection from the grave, will be saved. They will be saved from the wrath of God, by the love of God, which is demonstrated in the Son of God, and who was given to us for the glory of God forever.
For all eternity we will worship Him for His plan of redemption which He purposed in Himself in eternity past, promised in the garden, foreshadowed in the Scripture, foretold through His prophets, and fulfilled in the Christ, God the Son. I think of the words to a song we have sang recently:
“Who has given counsel to the Lord?
Who can question any of his words?
Who can teach, the one who knows all things?
Who can fathom all his wondrous deeds?
Behold our God, seated on his throne
Come, let us adore him
Behold our king, nothing can compare
Come, let us adore him
Who has felt the nails upon his hands?
Bearing all the guilt of sinful man
God eternal, humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior, risen now to reign
Behold our God, seated on his throne
Come, let us adore him
Behold our king, nothing can compare
Come, let us adore him.”
We adore Christ for His giving of Himself for us. We love Him because He first loved us. Galatians 1:4 says He “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” He is, therefore, to have preeminence in all areas of our lives. Every thought is to be held captive in Him. One day, every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will confess Him as Lord to the glory of God the Father. He alone is worthy of all honor, glory, and praise.
II.) Selfless Adoration
Mark begins recounting the final days of Christ’s life by highlighting both the coming Passover, and the Chief Priests and the Scribes seeking an opportunity to seize Him and kill Him. They will seize Him, because He will be “delivered” into their hands just as Jesus had foretold in Mark 10:33. Mark now reveals to us the circumstance which entices a supposed friend of Christ to betray Him to His enemies.
Mark takes us to when Jesus “was in Bethany.” John 12:1 reveals that Mark has taken us back to six days before the Passover. So, six days before the Passover, four days before the enemies of Christ seek an opportunity to seize Him by stealth to kill Him, Jesus “was in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper.”
Simon undoubtedly would have been someone that Christ had healed of his leprosy, for anyone with leprosy was ostracized by society and not permitted to interact with anyone based on the Levitical Law. Leprosy was also incurable in the ancient world, which indicates that Simon was miraculously healed by Christ, and out of gratitude he hosted a dinner for Him. The only reasonable and logical response for anyone who has tasted of Christ’s mercy and been saved by His power is to honor Him in all things.
As we read John’s account, we see that Jesus was not the only one at this dinner reclining at the table. John 12:2 states that “Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.” This is the same Lazarus whom both Martha and Mary spoke about when they said to Jesus, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” The same Lazarus the onlookers spoke of when they pondered the power of Christ saying, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?” The answer is, yes, He could have kept Lazarus from dying, but He tarried for four days so that people would know, and understand, and believe that He is the Resurrection and the Life. John 11:4-6 says:
“When Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not meant for death, but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 (Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and Lazarus.) 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.”
John 11:11-15 says:
“He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going so that I may awaken him from sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will come out of it.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about actual sleep. 14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus died, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let’s go to him.”
When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. He says to Martha in John 11:25-27:
“I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, and He who comes into the world.”
John 11:39-44 says:
“Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 But I knew that You always hear Me; nevertheless, because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 Out came the man who had died, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
So here is Christ reclining at the table with a man He has made whole again, and with a man He has made alive again. Mark tells us that as Jesus was reclining at the table a woman came with an alabaster vial of very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke the vial and poured the perfume over His head.
Who was this woman? It was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. John 12:3 says, “Mary then took a pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
She shows her adoration for Christ by taking what would have been a vial carved from fine Egyptian marble and breaking it to pour out a pound (12 ounces) of pure nard. This perfume would have been extracted a plant in India and imported to Israel making it very expensive. The perfume itself could have been sold for over three hundred denarii. Take the time to consider what that means. A denarius was a day’s wage. It meant that Mary poured out a year’s wage of perfume over the body of Christ.
What is she doing? She is selflessly loving Christ and adoring Him for who He is and what He has done for her brother, and what He will do for His sheep in the coming days as the Lamb of God. John says that her offering to Christ filled the entire house with the fragrance of the perfume. It was a beautiful and pleasant offering.
III.) Selfish Ambition
Mark, however, tells us that:
“4 There were some indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5 For this perfume could have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her.
John 12:4-6 tells us not only who primarily instigated such remarks among the disciples, but why they did:
“4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, the one who intended to betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the proceeds given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he kept the money box, he used to steal from what was put into it.”
What we have here is the selflessness of Mary being juxtaposed with the selfishness of Judas Iscariot. Mary demonstrates nothing but love for Christ, and Judas displays nothing but a love for money disguised by an ingenuine love for the poor. While attempting to appear pious, he exposes his greed. There is an old Latin saying, “Avarus ipse miseriae causa est suae,” which means, “The miser is himself the cause of his own misery.” The greedy are always miserable because their desires are never satisfied. Truly, it is the love of money which is the root of all evil. Out of greed, Judas indignantly scolds her essentially saying, “Why didn’t you sell it and give me, the keeper of the money, the proceeds so I could help the poor? Do you not love your neighbor? Instead you have wasted it on Christ, Mary!”
What has he revealed? That he does not adore Christ at all! His mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. It is through Mary’s selfless act of adoration for Christ, that Judas’ selfish heart is manifested under the pretense of caring for the poor as he rebukes her for worshipping Christ.
Understand that even if Judas were not pilfering money away for himself, his lack of love for Christ had still been exposed because he had considered Mary’s gift to have been wasted on Him. Jesus said, “6Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a good deed for Me.”
IV.) The Priority of Worshipping God
After commending her, Jesus goes on to say the disciples:
“7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good to them, but you do not always have Me.8 She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9 Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the entire world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.”
There are two things He reminds the disciples of here. The first is that their greatest priority is to worship Him. It is true that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and care for others, but the worship of Christ is of greater importance. In fact, a love for others that does not first flow from a love of God is a love that does not glorify God. If we love others merely for the sake of loving them and not out of a desire to fulfill the will of God, who are we seeking to honor? We will ultimately be honoring a creature rather than the Creator, and most of the time it will be ourselves and not another person. Both amount to idolatry.
God is glorified in our love of our neighbors when our love for them is guided by our love and worship of Him. When a person aims to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength they will strive to love their neighbor as themselves because they do not want to sin against the God whom they love. It was not Joseph’s love for Potiphar that kept him from sleeping with his wife; it was Joseph’s love for God that did. Joseph said to her, “How can I do this great evil and sin against God?” After David had Uriah murdered and committed adultery with Bathsheba he says to God, “Against You, You only, have I sinned.” David knew that he had sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba, but the most grievous thing to him was that he failed to love God as He should, which resulted in him not loving his neighbor as himself. God is glorified in our love of our neighbors when our love for them is guided by our love and worship of Him as He has revealed in His Word.
The second thing Jesus reminds them of is His upcoming Passion on the cross. He says to them, “You always have the poor with you…but you do not always have Me.8 His death upon the cross in place of sinners was the focal point of His ministry. Mary demonstrated sacrificial love in preparing Him for His sacrificial love. She could not have prevented His death, so she prepared Him for it, “She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial.” Since she honored Christ, He honored her by saying, “Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the entire world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.”
After Jesus says all of this, Mark says:
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard this and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.
Undoubtedly infuriated Judas leaves to betray Him. He epitomizes the truth of 1 Timothy 6:10, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” We know that the opportune time will come and the Son of Man will go just as it is written of Him. Judas will mean it for evil, but God will mean it for good to preserve many people alive.
V.) O’ Come Let us Adore Him
Jesus Christ is worthy of all adoration! Why is He worthy of all our adoration? He willingly became a Man, and went just as it was written of Him. He was delivered over by Judas to the Chief Priests and the Scribes who condemned Him to death and handed Him over to the Gentiles. They mocked Him and spat on Him, and flogged Him and killed Him; and three days later He was raised from the dead. He gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. Titus 3:5-7 says, “5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirsaccording to the hope of eternal life.”
We were dead in our trespasses and sins and by nature children of wrath, but God made us alive together with Christ. He demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins. He made Him to become our sin that we might become His righteousness. 1 Peter 2:24 says, He Himself bore our sins in His body up on thecross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.” Titus 2:14 says that Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, eager for good deeds.” We have been bought with His blood, and indwelt with His Spirit; we are to therefore glorify God with all our being. Ephesians 5:2 says that Jesus Christ loved us “and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
How do we adore Christ? We let His word richly dwell within our hearts, and live in obedience to Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” We lay aside the old self, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. We strive to no longer be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what the will of God is. As obedient children we seek to no longer be conformed to the former lusts which were ours in our ignorance, but strive to be holy like the One who graciously called us. We are to love Him with every faculty of our being and in every aspect of our lives because He first loved us. We are to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to Him, as our spiritual service of worship.
Do we adore Him not merely with our lips, but with our hearts and minds as well which produce lives that are sacrificially lived for Him and His glory, or is it all a show which will one day be exposed?
 John 3:16a; 1 John 4:10
 Mark 10:45
 Acts 2:23-24
 Genesis 50:20
 John 3:16b
 Romans 10:
 Behold Our God, Sovereign Grace Lyrics
 1 John 4:19
 Colossians 1:18
 2 Corinthians 10:5
 Philippians 2:10-11
 Revelation 5:6-14
 Leviticus 13:45-46
 John 11:21,32
 John 11:37
 1 Timothy 6:10
 Luke 6:45
 Genesis 39:9
 Psalm 51:3-4
 Galatians 1:4
 1 John 4:10
 2 Corinthians 5:21
 1 Peter 1:18-19
 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
 Colossians 3:16
 Matthew 28:20
 John 14:15
 Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:
 Romans 12:2
 1 Peter 1:14-15
 1 John 14:19
 Romans 12:1