The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: Mark 14:1-11, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Mark 14:1-11, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.

Mark 14:1-11, Devotion Motivated by What? The Introduction to the Cross:
• Today we continue with Mark chapter 14. Mark 14 and 15 describe the betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. In fact, the general theme of chapter 14 is the abandonment of Jesus, whether it is through being devoted to a cause or plotting to actually kill Him.
• So coming to chapter 14, we see 3 responses to Christ’s presence in Jerusalem. The first group are devoted to taking His life, they are plotters. The next group reveals devotion to Christ Himself, and finally, the last group reveals a devotion to a cause. But each of these forms of devotion are motivated. So firstly, let’s look at the context which brings us to the first devotion:

  1. Devotion Motivated by Bloodthirst:
    • Text – 14:1-2
    • Explanation – Their motivation starts with plotting, and notice when this takes place, it is still Wednesday. Remember that the setting of chapter 13 took place this whole day. And Jesus has already been challenged by every religious group and condemned the leaders. Sadly, the chief priests and scribes were zealously seeking to put Jesus to death.
    • And so they “were seeking how to seize Him and kill Him.” Just in case you were unsure… these were religious leaders of Israel, they’re supposed to be the godly elders of the people. These religious leaders are so threatened by Christ, they’re seeking to destroy Him. This is religious hypocrisy and religious politics at its worst.

• What’s more, their desire to kill Jesus is first seen back in Mark 3. Their bloodthirst has been brewing for almost 3 years. As a result, in John 17:25, Jesus even became known by the title, “The man whom they are seeking to kill.”
• Now back in Mark 14:2, they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.” There was a fear as hundreds of thousands of people are in Jerusalem for the Passover.

• According to the Jewish historian Josephus, 256,000 sacrificial lambs were slain during a typical Passover. As it were, tradition required that no fewer than ten people were to eat one lamb. As a result 250 000 slain lambs could comfortably feed over two million people.
• And so the fear is, if they arrested Christ during the Passover, thousands of this supposed two million would protest for the safety of Christ.

• Illustration – Plus the Passover was a big deal. The Passover is originally the “passing over” of the homes of the Israelites by the angel of death, who killed the firstborn of Egypt. A one-year-old, unblemished, male lamb or goat was sacrificed, and the blood was applied to the door in order to be passed over.
• The Passover was immediately followed by a seven-day festival called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a remembrance of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt. They needed to leave in a hurry, so they baked bread without leaven, because there was no time to let the bread rise.

• Application – So having all this in mind, despite the plotting of the religious leaders, Revelation 13:8 reminds us that the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world. God is the orchestrator of the crucifixion. He is in charge, leading Christ to the cross.
• The religious leaders are devoted to killing Jesus, but not during the festival, however, God’s will is otherwise. It is all about His timing. Yet, that never stops anyone from devoting themselves in going against His will.

• Conclusion – Their devotion is so motivated by bloodthirst, and they are so devoted to their own egos, that the need to satisfy the ego so much so, that they are driven to murderous intent! They will have Jesus killed so that they can continue being ‘lovers of self’ without being convicted of their sin.
• Friends, you can become so devoted to being the center of your own world, that you will do anything to achieve it and feel good about it! Martin Luther said, man is habitually seeking that which satisfies self. And so, being motived by rocking your own world, you won’t seek the Lord’s will, in fact you will purposefully disregard Jesus to pursue your own desires.

• Bridge – And yet, in the middle of God’s plan for Christ to go the cross, and in the midst of all this evil plotting by the leaders, Mark shows us there is some sweet devotion pointing to the cross.

  1. Devotion Motivated by Adoration:
    • Text – 14:3-9
    • Explanation – Now if you’ve ever asked what being devoted to Christ looks like? Id pause and read what she did again. She wants to show Christ how much she loves Him. The gospel of John clarifies that this woman is Mary, and her adoration for Christ reveals just how deep her devotion to Him truly is.

• Illustration – Now it was a custom to wash feet, or even to put a drop of perfume on the feet of guests before a special dinner. But what Mary is about to do is far beyond custom. Matthew says it was very precious perfume–in a marble bottle that would’ve had a long neck, possibly with a plug at the top to prevent it from spilling out. And it had to be, it was an expensive and precious perfume.
• It was worth almost a year’s wage. John 12:3 tells us, “Mary took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard.” What’s nard? Nard is actually a plant from India, and pure nard means undiluted. But here’s where we see the devotion.

• See, the flask had a wat of controlling the flow of the perfume. Such strong scented perfume only needed a drop. But she broke the neck of the flask, making it useless for future use. There was no going back now. She poured the nard on His head as an act of affection. John’s Gospel tells us that the entire house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
• The entire environment was saturated with the smell of nard. This was her devotion to Christ, she was motivated to serve Him because of her adoration, her love. It was the act of a fervent heart, it is sacrificial affection, it is an adoring dedication, and passionate worship.

• Application – However, not everyone shared her devotion as they weren’t necessarily motivated by their love for Jesus at that point. Look at verses 4 to 5. John tells us that Judas led the parade of the outraged rebuke.
• Now the Greek word “indignant” tells us he’s aroused, angry and vexed from selfish motives. He views the perfume as being wasted, that Mary’s actions were careless, thoughtless and a foolish loss.

• That’s sadly how many people see our devotion to Christ. When our devotion to Christ is motivated by our adoration of Him; we want to glorify Him by honouring and serving Him. That means, I’m not gonna watch movies that don’t glorify Him, we’re not gonna hang out at places that cause people to question our integrity, we’re not gonna talk like the world, or be influenced by the majority in the work place.
• It means, because I am devoted to serving Christ and adoring Christ, I will do everything for His glory, and the very things that glorify Him. You see, ask the question, ‘how did the Lord view her actions?’

• Conclusion – She gave her greatest gift, and Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me.’ Jesus defends Mary. Christ shows us here that what you do does matter to Christ. He reminds us in Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.”
• And so, Jesus shows us four reasons why He honoured Mary’s action; Verse 7, Jesus isn’t shaming the poor – He makes a stronger point. The principle He is teaching is that the higher priority is Christ. Charity is good, but adoring Christ, being devoted to Christ is the ultimate priority. Mary demonstrates the priority of devotion.

• Next, verse 8. Mary couldn’t take the cross away, but she did what she could do. In her devotion, she expresses her love toward Christ by anointing Him for a burial that’s about to take place!
• Thirdly, Jesus honoured her devotion because like all ancient Jewish burials, Mary alone prepared the body of Jesus with fragrance before He was put in the tomb. See, we hardly think of this. Because of the timing, Christ was rushed into the tomb on Friday evening before Sabbath began at 6 pm. There were no final preparations, such as perfume.

• And finally, verse 9. Once again, verse 9 is being lived out. Two thousand years have gone by, but the remembrance of Mary’s adoring, devoted, selfless worship is still being recalled. This wasn’t even a thought to her. She was interested in expressing her love for Christ and serving Him the only way she could at that moment.

• Bridge – So against the backdrop of hateful enemies who want to kill Christ, we have an adoring devotion. An example we can all learn from when it comes to expressing our love to Christ. Because on the other end, there are also those who have a…

  1. Devotion Motivated by Lust:
    • Text – 14:10-11
    • Explanation – Judas was only ever in it to rule alongside Christ. Like many in the crowds, Judas thought that Christ will establish an earthly kingdom in their time, and Israel will experience prosperity under a King who can multiply food, who walks on water, who raises the dead to life!
    • But when he realised that ain’t happening, Judas wants out, but not without compensation for three wasted years. And the plotters were happy to compensate Judas for his supposed loss. These guys were excited about his deal, and J-man only had eyes for bling!

• Illustration – So let me jump the gun here. Judas is looking for the right time, but he was looking for an opportunity to betray Christ in the absence of crowds, since he too was afraid of the people.
• Then at the Passover meal Thursday, Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Jesus was predicting His own betrayal and pointed to Judas, by giving this betrayer bread. Later Thursday night, Jesus will be crowd-less, alone in the garden of Gethsemane. And it is Judas who leads the parade in the arrest of Jesus.

• Application – this is the heart of someone who seeks Christ for personal gain. This devotion is shallow, it is devoted to cause instead of the King Himself. Judas was never interested in serving Christ, he wanted full pockets. Friends, you are in grave danger, if you think you can tag Christ along your self-filled life – hoping He’d grant you your every wish!

• Conclusion – The purpose of our devotion to Christ and the cross reminds us of God’s promise in Genesis 3:15. God promised a coming Saviour, who would be wounded by Satan, but He’d crush Satan’s head, defeating him.
• He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Everybody knew a sacrificial lamb was only acceptable to God if it was killed, meaning the murder of Christ was not an accident. It was planned in eternity past.

• The religious leaders do not want Christ to die on the Passover–they’re afraid of the crowds. But God’s schedule is the only one that matters. The leaders would never have planned to have Jesus arrested and crucified on Passover Friday. But that’s what happened–why? Because that was God’s plan.

• Bridge – The leaders will still be responsible for the murder of the Son of God. And they’re accountable for their unbelief. But they do not determine what happens or when it happens. Our Lord will die by the predetermined foreknowledge and purpose of God. He Himself is directing everything by His providence.

Application:
• Why is that insight important? Christ bought our freedom from sin on that cross. He died a death we deserved. The full measure of God’s wrath was poured on Him so that we can live in Him. And for that reason, you and I need to understand that true devotion does not ask, “How much is it going to cost?”
• True devotion means to adore Christ. To look past what you have and might have, and to see Him as more than enough. Let me ask this, does your devotion to Jesus cost you anything? Have you become cold in your service? Maybe you just give in the hopes of Him returning a blessing.

• God’s desire is for us to worship not from half our heart, half a wallet, or half our ability, but in truth. And if you haven’t been devoted to Him, maybe you need to look at your heart. Is it self-centered, or overwhelmed with worry, or even faithlessness? Then come to Him who restores sinners like you and me.
• Bring your worry, your load of care, your fear of missing out, your selfish desires, and let Him fill you with the love that outweighs your lusts and desires. Let Him restore your devotion to Him, let Him change the motivation of your heart’s desire to experiencing His goodness.