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First Glance

First Glance

Mark 11:1-11; 14:1-11

At first glance, things aren’t always as they seem. This is certainly the case in today’s two Gospel readings. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem in emphatic messianic fashion, it seemed that he received what, in today’s terms, would be considered as the ‘red carpet treatment.’ Yet if Jesus was welcomed with such a standing ovation on the Sunday, how could it be, that by the next Friday, they were crying for his blood? This perplexing question is often answered by pointing out the phenomenon of ‘mob mentality,’ yet the real answer is hinted at in the text itself. What we can see on closer inspection is that it wasn’t the citizens of Jerusalem who celebrated his entry (who soon wanted him dead), but his fellow Galileans (the despised Northerners), who joined him on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the Passover festival. It was not a spontaneous reception but a well-planned entry, with obvious messianic overtones. What Jesus had only talked to his disciples about privately, he was now making know publicly in emphatic style. Yet he was not to be the Messiah that everyone was expecting, for he came not to destroy the Roman occupation by brute force, but to suffer, die and rise again, to defeat the true oppressor; sin and death.

Likewise, in our second Gospel reading, the disciples outcry against the apparent waste of very costly perfume (worth about a year’s wages), just carelessly poured on Jesus’ head, at first glance, seems perfectly reasonable, as it could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. Yet what we learn from John’s take on the events, is that Judas, the appointed treasurer, led the outcry, not because he was interested in helping the poor, but in helping himself to the cash (cf. John 12:4-6). It was this lost opportunity to get rich quickly that motivated his willingness to handover Jesus to the chief priests for money. Yet Jesus was not unaware that he was soon to be handed over to death, for he saw in the woman’s extravagant gesture, a preparation for his imminent burial.

Although the disciples totally missed the loving intention of the woman’s costly offering, Jesus did not.  Thankfully, Scripture attests to the fact that although people often miss the point, God never does. For it was said of the King from whom the Messiah, namely Jesus, would come, ‘that the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7b).



Mark 11:1-11 Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve

Mark 14:1-11The Anointing of Jesus

14It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; 2for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.” 3While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. 4But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. 8She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 9Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” 10Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.