Points Covered: God is in absolute control over our life. The people God used to put Jesus on the Cross. Anointing at Bethany. Judas planning to betray Jesus.
I do not know if you are sitting here anxious about your tomorrow. Maybe you have a legal battle, fear of exams, fear about your future, health etc. I am here to tell you that if your life is in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you do not have to worry about anything. He will take care of you.
I want to bring to you a message entitled “The Father at work!” where we are going to see how God the Father was in control over everything about Jesus Christ.
Open your Bibles to Mark 14. This passage ends with the cross in Mark 15. Mark here moves us into the biggest theme of the scripture – The death of the Lord Jesus Christ. So these next couple of weeks we are going to be looking at the cream theme of the Bible – God visiting Calvary.
To have Jesus on the cross there is a role played by the Jewish leaders; Mary who anoints Jesus; Judas who betrays Jesus; and even His disciples. But there is someone who isn’t mentioned here who is the main player. It was God who was orchestrating every detail of the death of Christ.
Acts 2:23 This man (Jesus), delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put him to the cross.
Revelation 13:8 The Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. The plan for the death of Christ was pre-creation.
Many times the enemy tried to kill Jesus, but they were never able to kill Him. Herod wanted to kill Jesus while He was still an infant but he could not. Very early in His ministry in Nazareth, in Luke 4; He went into the synagogue to preach. The people in His own hometown tried to throw Him off a cliff. But He passed out of their midst and they didn’t even realize it.
On another occasion, recorded in John 5, He went to the pool of Bethsaida near Jerusalem and He healed a crippled man. He did it on the Sabbath which infuriated the leaders. The Jewish leaders sought to kill Him because He was breaking the Sabbath, but they were unable. Jesus even got a title: John 7:25 Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?
John 10:18 No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from the Father. You see, God’s is directing everything.
I. People God used for the Cross.
Let’s just meet the first little group that the Father used:
1. The Chief Priests and the scribes.
Mark 14:1-2 1Now the Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread were only two days away, (This shows that it is Wednesday. It was the will of God that in AD 30 Passover at the very hour when the lambs were slain that Jesus would die.) and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. 2“But not during the Feast, “they said. God’s purpose was to have the Lord Jesus eat the Passover with His disciples on Thursday night. The plan was to have Jesus arrested very early in the morning, tried and sentenced in the morning, crucified and die at three Friday afternoon and be in the grave before six cause He had to be three days in the grave and then rise again Sunday. What an amazing timetable! If you got all these people together and try to organize that, you couldn’t pull it off, that kind of precision timetable.
In the meantime the leaders were seeking how to seize Him and kill Him, for they were saying not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people. So what’s the one time they didn’t want to kill Him? During the Passover, during this period. Why? Jerusalem had swelled with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who had all come for this most attended feast of the year. The leaders planned to kill Jesus but they don’t want to do it during this week.
Matthew 26:3-5 3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5“But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” By the way, they overestimated the loyalty of the fickle minded people.
The meeting minutes are recorded in John 11:47-50 47Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” 49Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
John 11:53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
They did not want to arrest Jesus in public, so they wanted to hold Him over until the Unleavened Bread Feast is over and the crowds have gone. But God moved them so fast; they arrested Him in on Thursday night and crucified Jesus on Friday noon.
Now we want to move from His enemies to His friends:
2. Mary, the brother of Lazarus.
Mark 14:3-9 3While he was still in Bethany, reclining at the table 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. 4Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. 6“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Now, pouring perfume on people was a routine kind of thing. It was a precursor of the modern use of deodorant. It was a common courtesy. It was necessary in a world of heat and perspiration. Perfume was kept around for such purposes.
Here is a woman who is a true worshiper of Christ. God gave her a role in Christ’s death by anointing Jesus for His burial, even before His death. John 12:3 tells us this is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.
As a footnote, Luke 7:36-50 has a story about another woman in another place on another occasion anointing Jesus’ feet. That event occurred in the house, interestingly enough, of a Pharisee also by the name of Simon. This was a sinful woman. The Simon there was a Pharisee. That is a different story on a different occasion.
This occurs at the home of Simon the leper. He is a former leper probably healed by Jesus. Now he is with his family and he planned this meal knowing that Jesus was coming to Bethany. There would have been Mr. Simon, Mrs. Simon, and all the little Simons there. There would have been the Twelve and it would have been Mary, Martha and Lazarus, so anywhere from 15 people.
It is a typical evening meal, reclining is the posture. At that meal, came Mary. It was a common custom at a meal to wash feet. In John 13 we see Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. So this was a normal thing, even putting perfume on feet was somewhat of a tradition or custom.
In this case, this act by Mary is way beyond common courtesy or custom because what she does is lavish. She has an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard. This marble bottle typically would have a long neck and perhaps some kind of a plug from which small drops of perfume could be poured out, sprinkled and it lasted a long time. It is said here that the value of it was three hundred denarii. That’s a year’s wages.
By the way Nard is a plant from India. Pure nard means its undiluted. She doesn’t drop a drop out, she breaks the neck of this vial and it says poured it over His head. And John adds, “Then anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair.” She has dumped a year’s value of perfume on His head and on His feet. And John adds, “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” You can understand that. You spray a little on you and you can smell it through the house. This dousing of a year’s worth of perfume all over Jesus would have dominated the environment. This is lavish, profound, sacrificial affection.
The response is interesting. Some were indignant and so they remarked to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted?” It was Judas Iscariot who objected. Come with me to John 12:4-6 4But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
This reveals what motivated Judas…money. He was a thief and stole out of God’s money bag. He wanted the money in the box because he stole it. He wants all the money he can get and he thinking, “We could have sold that and put it in the box and I could have stolen it.”
Our Lord is kind. He doesn’t expose Judas at the moment. Mark 14:6-7 6“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her?” She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.
Did you get that? Giving to the poor has a place. That’s a priority. But the ultimate priority is to worship Christ. Care for the poor is important, worship of the Lord is more important.
She had her priorities right. This is a very devoted lady. Do you remember the story in Luke chapter 10 when Jesus went to the house of Mary and Martha? What was Martha doing? Martha was serving, serving, busy, busy, busy. What was Mary doing? Sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning, hanging on every single word He said. She sat at His feet.
I think Mary really understood things. And that’s exactly what Jesus says Mark 14:8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.
Mary had a firsthand resurrection experience living in her house every single day. She just had the recent experience of anointing her brother for his death and burial. And he was raised from the dead by Jesus.
She must have thought, “What can I do? What can I do for my Lord from whom I’ve learned so much and raised my brother from dead?” She said, “I could anoint Him,” and that’s what she did. She knew that He would die but she also believed that He would rise. But she did what she could do. What could she do? She couldn’t stop Jesus’ death but she could show her love in a lavish anointing for the burial and that was an expression of her love. Jesus said, “She did what she could do.”
Mark 14:9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. Two thousand years have gone by, the testimony of her adoring, sacrificial, selfless worship, her gesture is a memorial. Her act stands as a tribute to love.
So this is a gesture, not by a sinful woman, but by a devout woman. The enemies of Jesus have their preparation, as they seek a way to arrest Him and kill Him. And here is a worshiper of Jesus who provides preparation for His death and burial in her own way.
3. Judas Iscariot.
The next person we need to look at is the betrayer: Mark 14:10-11 10Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Judas is one of the Twelve. He joined the group for selfish, materialistic reasons. And when that Kingdom dream, that dream of having a literal kingdom, glory, and goods began to collapse, he wanted out but not without compensation for three wasted years. He wanted a Kingdom, not a cross. So, he went off to the Chief Priests in order to betray Him to them.
Luke 22:6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. He too was fearful like the leaders that it wouldn’t be a good idea to do it in the crowds. So while Jesus is going through the week, Judas is looking for the best way to hand Him over to the Sanhedrin for money without any public interference.
Matthew 26:15 Judas asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. He knew that when Jesus was arrested, the disciples would be in disarray and chaos and he would have the money and he would disappear while the rest scattered in fear. So, for one whole week, he looked for his moment. Mark 14:11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
By the way, Judas didn’t operate alone. Luke 22:3 Then Satan entered Judas. Not just demon possessed, Satan possessed. John 13:27 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered into him.
Now, what is Satan trying to accomplish? What’s he after? Some people have said, “Well, you know, Satan wants to kill Jesus.” Really? That’s the opposite of what he wanted to do. Satan didn’t want to put Jesus on the cross because Satan knew what the cross meant. Do you remember back in Matthew 16 Jesus when Jesus said, “I’m going to die.” Matthew 16:22-23 22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!
Satan wanted to keep Christ from the cross. Halt the plan of God. He knew Jesus was going to be the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He understood all the Old Testament prophecies. Yes. It was God who wanted Jesus dead. It was Satan who wanted to stop it.
Then the question is: Why does satan move on Judas to betray Jesus? The answer is pretty simple. If he can get Judas to betray Jesus and he can get the Sanhedrin to move fast and arrest Jesus, the crowd will rise up and stop the crucifixion. That’s what Judas feared. That’s what the leaders feared. That’s what Satan wanted. He had no desire to see Jesus on the cross. He wants to create the scenario which will halt the direction of Christ to the cross. So he moves into Judas.
The saddest thing about Judas is: Mark 14:10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve. Is that not sad? 24/7 with Jesus for three years and he turned out like this. After walking and talking with the living God every day Judas betrayed Jesus. The sin of Judas has no equal. But the closest parallel to the sin of Judas is the sin of Adam because Adam walked and talked with God.
It’s so hard to imagine a betrayer among the Twelve. But in spite of that, God was in complete control. The betrayer was fulfilling Scripture.
Finally, one more group does the play here: The disciples. Mark 14:12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
There has to be a Passover on Thursday night where Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper. Jerusalem is crowded. They need a private room where twelve of them, plus Jesus, can go. I think this is something Judas excitedly anticipated because this would be a perfect place to have Jesus arrested. Why? It’s at night, only the twelve. No one in the streets late that night.
Why all the secrecy? Why not just say, “Hey guys, we’re all going to meet over on at 5th Cross HBR Layout, Bangalore. Jesus can’t do that. Why? Because Judas will know and Judas is hungry for the money even though he’s trying to avoid the crowds, and this is a perfect place away from the crowd and the leaders can capture Jesus who will be alone with His disciples.
Mark 14:13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. First of all, carrying a pitcher of water was women’s work. They needed a sign that was unusual, go and find a man carrying a pitcher of water. He sends His two confidants, Peter and John.
Mark 14:14-16 14Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. This tells us that our Lord had prearranged this. Now this is a believer, the Teacher. It has to have been someone who knew Him, loved Him, believed in Him.
And by the way, Peter and John never came back to Bethany. They went and prepared the Passover and Jesus and the rest of the disciples went to the house on Thursday. They didn’t know where they were going until they got there. And by the time they got there, Judas couldn’t leave. He couldn’t go and report where they were or he would have been revealed. The Lord covers every single detail because of the urgency and importance of His time with His own.
But during the Passover Jesus talks about the betrayer. Mark 14:18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
There actually were two different evenings when the Passover was celebrated. The northern people in Galilee celebrated it on Thursday evening while the Judeans the people in the south celebrated it on Friday evening. This is perfect, so that Jesus could celebrate the Passover with His friends in Galilee when they celebrated it on Thursday and still die as the Passover lamb on Friday at the time when the Judeans were slaughtering their lambs for their Passover.
Jesus died in God’s perfect timetable and even though people were against him, God turned it around for his advantage. All these people doing what they’re doing, and our Lord moving inexorably to the cross as God directs everything. Jesus Christ as planned died on Friday noon, was buried, and he rose again on the third day. God was in absolute control over every detail of Jesus’ life. God is in control of everything even today over your life.
1. God has a plan for your life.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
2. God is always absolute in control.
Psalm 47:8 God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.
Isaiah 41:10-11 10So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11“All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.
3. God uses people and situations for our good.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called
according to his purpose.
4. Our future will always be glorious.
Job 8:7 Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.