Holy Week Meditations - Wednesday
8 April 2020
Please follow through today’s meditation taking time to reflect. It may also be helpful to have your bible to hand.
Standing at the foot of the cross, today we think of the unbounded love of Jesus and our love for Him. So we share this recording, made a number of years ago in London and comes from St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square.
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This series of Meditations on Holy Week continues with what appears again to be two stories used to illustrate each other, today has a fragrance!
‘The scent of perfume and the smell of betrayal’
Please read the story from the bible as recorded in Mark 14 : 1 - 11
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“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. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
A Short Prayer :-
Lord now we have read the scripture help us to hear your voice speaking to us, grant us space and understand as meditate on these verses.
The scent of perfume and the smell of betrayal
As we move the Wednesday, Mark uses a frame for the main story. The frame is the need for a betrayer and Judas’ adoption of that role set around the main incident of the woman and the jar of perfume.
The religious authorities want Jesus executed but are deterred from overt action because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. Following his prophetic and symbolic actions by his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to establish God’s non-violence approach and secondly, his entrance into the temple to establish God’s justice against high-priestly collaboration, the crowd currently stands with Jesus against their own religious authorities who oppose him.
The religious authorities need to act in stealth to kill him for they said “Not during the Passover, or there may be a riot among the people.” They cannot arrest him during the festival and after it he would be gone. They give up - unless they can find out where he is apart from the crowd and that leaves 14.2 hanging in the air for the arrival of Judas, the stealthy one, in v10.
Mark’s criticism of the disciples is used to good effect as it is now set against the actions of the unnamed woman and her alabaster jar of perfume. She alone seems to have understood Jesus’ prophecies of his death and resurrection, she believed them and acted accordingly: “She has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.” She is, for Mark, the first believer and for us the first Christian. She believed the word of Jesus before any discovery of an empty tomb. Hence the unique and supreme praise for her as the first believer and model leader v9. She represents the perfect disciple in contrast to Judas, who represents the worst one possible.
It is worth noting that Mark does not deal at all with Judas’ motivation and he is always referred to as Judas, one of the twelve. His betrayal is simply the worst example of how those closest to him failed him dismally in Jerusalem. That is a salutary thought for all disciples today.
And so Wednesday ends and the plot has been set in motion.
As you sit in Jesus presence consider further what meaning this passage has for us in 2020. Finding ourselves ‘in isolation’ away from family and friends yet able to draw close to Jesus Himself. Like the unnamed woman and Judas in our meditation ponder a while on our interpretation of the Holy Week account, how do we react, how do we interpret His message for us today?
Prayer to finish :-
Lord, thank you for this day, for all its blessings and for the beauty that surrounds, help us not to be brought low by our immediate circumstances but alive to your constant blessing.