Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Plot To Kill Jesus

Mark 14:1-9

“After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.  But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.” (Mark 14:1-2)

In modern colloquial English is common to say an accident happened Friday night about two o’clock when technically, according to our official way of figuring time it occurred Saturday morning at 2:am since the date officially changes at midnight.   Instead of changing the date as midnight, the Jews officially changed it at sunset, when evening officially began.  We need to keep this in mind if we are to understand the sequence of events during Crucifixion week. 

Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  He had purified the temple, and had made the Pharisees and Sadducees look foolish in the attempts to discredit him, reinforcing his standing among the people.  They were determined to do whatever it took to Get rid of him.  Tuesday, they assembled to plan to have him killed.  They were concerned that if they arrested him on the day when the Passover was to be celebrated it would cause a riot. 

Under Jewish law, the Passover was to be celebrated, beginning at sunset on Wednesday, which was officially the beginning of Thursday, making it officially two days away, although it would be following day by our way of figuring it.  Jesus had taught publically in the morning, but for the rest of the day, he went into hiding to prevent being arrested, according to John 12:26.  “…  These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.”  That evening he went back to Bethany.

“And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.  And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?  For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.” (Mark 14:3-5)

The previous week, Jesus had come to Mary and Martha’s house, where Mary had rubbed ointment on Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair, according to John 12:1-8.  The night before he was arrested, an unnamed woman came to Simon’s house, and poured an expensive ointment on Jesus’ head.  Matthew 26:6-12 gives almost and identical description, while Luke 76:36-40 appears to be acomposite of the two stories.  Remember that Luke was not one of the disciples and was writing based on the stories others told him.  According to Pappias, writing about 90 AD, John the Apostle said Mark and Luke  sometimes got things out of order. 

“And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.  For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.  She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.  Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” (Mark 14:6-9)

Both times Judas led complaints about the waste of such expensive ointment instead of selling it to give to the poor.  He was more concerned with the money than with the respect shown to Jesus by Mary and the other woman’s actions, as John 12:6 tells us.  “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”  Both times Jesus sharply rebuked him for his attitude, pointing out that they were honoring him. 

“And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.  And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.” (Mark 14:10-11)

Resentful at having been rebuked by Jesus for his attitude, Wednesday morning, Judas went to the chief priests, offering to betray Jesus to them.  They promised to reward him for his efforts if he succeeded.  He began to look for an opportunity when it wouldn’t cause a riot.   

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