Mark 14:1 begins, “Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away,” which means Wednesday. Thus, Mark continues his day by day account with the fourth day.
No trips to Jerusalem on this day. Rather Jesus remains in Bethany. What would it have been like? On Sunday was the big march. Then on Monday, another big scene in the temple. Finally, on Tuesday he was walking around the city bascially looking for an argument. The crowd around him was on his side. Was he trying to get himself killed?
According to Mark, while they are all relaxing an unidentified woman comes in and annoints Jesus’ head with expensive oil. Typically nearsighted, the disciples rebuke her for wasting the money when it could have been used for the poor. Jesus responds:
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “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.”
Did she know what he was up to? Were there people in the crowd who knew that such acts would not go unpunished?
An academic note: Doesn’t the context show how ridiculous it is when people use this scripture to justify ignoring the poor?
2 replies on “Day Four: Tension Building”
You are right about folks using this part of the Bible to justify inaction toward the poor. What Jesus and Mark were banking on was their hearers being familiar with the scripture he was quoting, Deuteronomy 15:11, capping a section on the absolute requirement for Israel’s community of faith to care for the poor always. The entire verse reads: “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.'”
Well based on the context of the quote, now that you don’t have Jesus here, you basically have nothing else to do but help the poor.