Treachery, Treasure, and Treason

Treachery, Treasure, and Treason

Treachery, Treasure, and Treason
Text: Mark 14:1–11

Main Idea: If greater knowledge about Jesus does not cause you to embrace him as your greatest hope and treasure, you will eventually trade him for another.


I.   The Leaders’ Treachery (Mark 14:1-2)
II.  The Woman’s Treasure (Mark 14:3–9)
III. The Treasonous Disciple (Mark 14:10–11)

Mark 14:1–11

This morning I’d like to begin by addressing everyone who grew up in a Christian home or a predominantly Christian environment. But I especially want to address the children of our church who are growing up in Christian homes today.

It’s an incredible privilege to grow up in a truly Christian home. To grow up with ever-imperfect but godly parents, friends from Christian homes, support from your church family, and consistent instruction in God’s Word.

From your earliest memories you have been taught the great stories of the Bible that help you understand:

  • the pain and brokenness of this world,
  • the desperate sinfulness of mankind,
  • the amazing grace and faithfulness of God in his promises,
  • and his unimaginable love for us in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

You have access to the saving power of the gospel from your earliest days.

But, at the same time growing up in a Christian home can be a dangerous thing as well. What I mean by this is far too many “Church kids” assume that they are a Christians because they are following their parents beliefs and behaviors. But here is the problem, going to church and following your parents religious convictions does not make you a Christian. Just like:

  • Swimming in the ocean doesn’t make you a fish.
  • Attending a Seahawks game doesn’t make you a professional football player.
  • Wearing camouflage does not make you a Navy SEAL.
  • And going to McDonalds does not make you a hamburger.

Everyone becomes a Christian the same way, by acknowledging their sinfulness before God and embracing their desperate need for forgiveness through faith in the death and resurrection of  Jesus Christ.

So why am I opening with this warning today when our passage is about a woman pouring her perfume on Jesus? It’s because Mark sandwiches the account of the woman in between the leaders’ treachery and Judas’ treason. He wants us to be horrified at the difference between this woman’s act of sacrificial love and Judas’ unprecedented act of betrayal.

Main Idea: If greater knowledge about Jesus does not cause you to embrace him as your greatest hope and treasure, you will eventually trade him for another.

The Leaders’ Treachery (Mark 14:1–2)

The Passover Plot

The first thing we see in the text this morning is that the religious leaders’ plot to destroy Jesus has finally come to a climax. They have listened to his teaching. They have witnessed his miracles. And they have tested him at every opportunity. Yet, instead of embracing him and his gospel message they have determined to put him to death despite the fact that he has not done a single thing wrong.

The Second thing we see is that the religious leaders are afraid to arrest Jesus in public.[1]

On the one hand, Jerusalem was a virtual powder keg over Passover. In that, the celebration of God’s past deliverance from slavery in Egypt naturally kindled hopes of their future deliverance from Rome occupation.[2] And there was an ever-growing hope that Jesus was the very one who would deliver them from Roman rule.

And on the other hand, a riot over Passover would significantly jeopardize the power and privileges that they enjoyed under Roman rule. Which ultimately reveals the truth that the spiritual leaders of Israel would rather be seen, known, and affirmed by men than counted faithful before the very God they are supposed to represent. They treasure the options of men more than they treasure God himself.

The Woman’s Treasure (Mark 14:3–9)

A Repetitive Motif: Insiders and Outsiders (14:3–5)

I have to be honest that when I started preparing this week’s message I didn’t see everything that is going on in verse 3. What I mean is that Mark is going out of his way to depict this woman as an outsider and the very last person anyone would expect to function as a positive example of Christian discipleship.

Mark emphasizes this outsider theme three different ways in verse 3:

  • The town of Bethany is about two miles outside of Jerusalem.
  • The house is owned by Simon the Leper a man who used to be an unclean outsider, since his illness would have rendered him unclean and unable to host such a party— though the party itself gives us every reason to believe that Jesus healed him.[3]
  • Social protocols of the day dictated that Jewish women were not allowed to interrupt a men’s gathering unless they were serving food.[4]

Therefore, as one commentator puts it, “the naming of Bethany and Simon the Leper and the [namelessness] of the woman all underscore the outsider motif, that is, that this place, this house, and this woman are those from which we should least expect an act of exemplary discipleship. But from this most unexpected quarter comes an act of sacrificial generosity that [blows away] anything [ever] reported of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples.”[5]

An Extravagant Sacrifice

She didn’t bring Jesus food, she brought him worship! And she didn’t come emptyhanded, she came with, “an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head” (14:3).

So what is Nard? Nard is an oily aromatic ointment extracted from the roots of a perennial herb that is native to India, which helps us understand why this ointment was worth over 300 denarii—This isn’t pocket change. Remember from earlier in our study of Mark, a denarius was the average wage for a day laborer in first-century Israel, which means this single flask of Nard was worth one year’s wages.[6] In our day and age that would be enough to purchase a new car.

Yet, she didn’t hold anything back, she broke the expensive flask. Nothing withheld. Nothing preserved. One year’s wages consumed in a single dramatic outpouring of extravagant worship. An act which no one valued but Jesus himself.

The Peoples’ Assessment (14:4–5)

Notice, how do the people at the banquet respond? Do they follow her lead and join in her moment of worship? No. They rebuke the woman for wasting her treasure on Jesus instead of donating it to the poor.

And this is not a quiet side conversation, they are indignant! This is very same verb that Mark used to describe Jesus’ anger with his disciples when they were preventing little children from coming to him (10:14). And it is the same verb that described the 10 disciples’ response to James and John’s request for the best seats in the kingdom (10:41). They are livid with this woman!

But it gets even worse, if we look at the parallel passage in Matthew 26 we are able to see that this woman is not being attacked by faceless party-goers, pharisees, or scribes. She is being attacked by Jesus’ inner circle of disciples.

Matthew 26:6–8 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.

Just think about that for a moment… the 12-disciples are saying that Jesus is not worthy of her sacrifice but that other people are. Despite everything they have seen and heard, they still have a deficient view of Jesus, a view that Jesus needs to confront and realign.

The Lord’s Correction (14:6–9)

What do we see in this? This woman may be depicted as an outsider in the gospel of Mark, but Jesus’ scathing rebuke reveals that she has better insight than the 12 men who have spent the last 3 years ministering at his side. The disciples are judging by appearances; but Jesus is judging by motives. By their standards she has robbed the poor by doing a wasteful thing; but according to Jesus, she has done “ ‘a beautiful thing.’ ”

Yet, in saying this he is not denigrating the poor or saying that we should not care for the poor.[7] Rather, he is telling his disciples that there will always be opportunities to help the poor and when those arise they should do so every single time. Whereas, this woman’s actions highlight three important truths about Jesus himself:

First, Jesus is the greatest treasure in the universe. He is worthy of all of our praise, honor, and worship because he is God. And as such, this woman’s act is a testimony to the infinite worth of Jesus Christ. Nothing is wasted in his worship or in his service whether that be ones: money, time, career, or life itself—nothing is wasted.

Second, Poverty is merely a symptom of a much greater problem—a signpost that constantly reminds us that we live a broken world filled with broken sinners. Some people are poor because of oppression and injustice. Some are poor because they are foolish with their money. And some are poor because of health needs or circumstances that are truly out of their control.

But, Jesus didn’t come to simply heal the sick and feed the poor. He came to inaugurate the kingdom of God by defeating sin, death, and Satan himself. He came to rescue sinful man from the consequences of Adam’s sin. He came to fulfill God’s promise in Gen 3:15 that a future male descendent would crush Satan’s head and set everything right.

Which bring us to the third truth, her act is a fitting response to the still-hidden reality that in a matter of days: Jesus will be betrayed by one of his closest associates, executed as a common criminal, and hastily buried in someone else’s tomb.

She may look stupid to everyone at the party but she is not. According to Jesus she is the most spiritually astute person in the entire group and her singular act of extravagant worship will be remembered forever. And if you think about it, this Scripture is being fulfilled in our very midst…

Yet, the memory of her extravagant sacrifice for Jesus is inextricably tied to Judas’ sinister betrayal of Jesus.

The Treasonous Disciple (Mark 14:10–11)

Hear he warning in our text this morning. “Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them” (Mark 14:10).

This is one of the saddest passages in the New Testament. As an insider, Judas knows Jesus better than almost any other person on the planet. He should know that he is God. He should know that he is worthy of his praise and worship. He should know that Jesus came to die for the sins of man and be raised on the third day. He should know that Jesus is the greatest treasure in the universe.

But, instead what does he do? He trades him for a handful of silver that might have been worth 100 Denarii or four-months wages (Matthew 26:15). Because, when it came down to the bottom line, Judas loved his money more than he loved Jesus.

John 12:4–6 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.

What do we see in this? We see the same warning that we have seen throughout the entire Gospel of Mark and that is that, Affinity for Jesus, proximity to Jesus, service for Jesus, and knowledge about Jesus are not the same thing as true repentance and faith in Jesus.

Main Idea: If greater knowledge about Jesus does not cause you to embrace him as your greatest hope and treasure, you will eventually trade him for another.


Why do some Church Kids/People walk away from Jesus and other do not?

I don’t want to sound like I’m being overly simplistic:

  • I realize that many of these kids aren’t completely engaged at church because they would prefer to do something else… they are kids.
  • I realize that some kids are simply entertained and never taught the truth or given the opportunity to wrestle with the kind of questions that they will face in HS and college.
  • I realize that some kids have bad experiences with other kids or leaders.
  • I also realize, that over time church kids are able to recognize the adults in their church that are simply going through the motions. And sometimes those adults are their parents.

But, the ultimate reason that Church kids or anyone else abandons Jesus is that they were never really Christians to begin with. They might have memorized countless verses and believed many things about God that are true. But, they never embraced the two-fold truth of the gospel:

That God is against them in his holy righteousness and that they are separated from God in their sin and that they are doomed to eternal wrath because they are sinners by nature and by choice—as is every human being on the planet.

And that their only hope of forgiveness and restoration to God is by receiving God’s free offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:23–24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

And if you are someone who grew up in the church but walked away from Jesus or completely rejected Jesus, I want you to know that you have not forfeit your opportunity to find forgiveness and restoration in Jesus Christ. Whatever your reason for walking away there is always forgiveness for those who repent and believe.

No one will embrace Jesus until they truly see his supreme worth in the gospel.

Why in the world would anyone follow a savior who demands absolute allegiance unless they believed there was a true advantage in following him?

Mark 8:34–37 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?

I am convinced many people do not embrace the gospel because they think that Christianity is a lose-lose proposition. In that, Christians lose their right to be the master of their own destiny, they lose their so-called right to discover their “true self,” and they lose their right to give themselves over to the pleasures of this world. (To put it another way, they believe these things are more valuable to them and necessary for their happiness than Jesus)

But, what they do not see is that there is a kind of losing that is in fact saving. It’s only through the gospel that we are able to see that Jesus is not just another historical figure, moral teacher, or religious advisor. No. He is the greatest treasure in the universe.

Through faith in him we are forever freed from the penalty of our sins and counted righteous and holy in God’s sight; just as if we never sinned.

On account of this, we are transferred from the dominion of darkness—slaves to sin and the devil—and delivered into his glorious kingdom in which we will enjoy everlasting fellowship with Jesus Himself.

And we can be certain that we will receive this promise because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to preserve us until the day of redemption, which means that he will not only complete his good work in us but that he will protect us from falling away. Those who are truly in Christ can never abandon Christ because they are forever kept for Christ.

Do you merely know about Jesus? Or have you truly come to faith in Jesus?

[1] Robert H. Stein, Mark, Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 631. (Cf. Exodus 11:1–13:22; Numbers 2–14–20; Deuteronomy 16:1–8)

[2] James R Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 632. (Cf. Josephus, Ant. 17.9.3 §§213–15.)

[3] Mark L. Strauss, Mark, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 606.

[4] Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, 413–14.

[5] Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, 414.

[6] Strauss, Mark, 607.

[7] “His statement is surprising—even shocking—in light of Jesus’ strong concern for the poor elsewhere in the gospel tradition (Matt 5:3; 6:2–4; 19:21; Luke 6:20, 36–38; 19:8, 19–31; 21:1–4; John 13:29);” (Strauss, Mark, 608).