Holy Week in Real Time: Wednesday

from the Lent 2016 reading plan

Mark 14:3-11, Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:3-6, Zechariah 11:12-13

BY Guest Writer

Text: Mark 14:3-11, Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:3-6, Zechariah 11:12-13

Today is the fourth day of the portion of the church calendar commonly known as Holy Week.

In the coming days, we will slow our pace, walking through the events that took place between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Rather than offer personal, written responses to each day’s Scripture reading, we’ve asked our friend, Pastor Russ Ramsey, to provide a real-time summary of the week’s events. Our prayer is that this more descriptive approach will usher you into the narrative and allow space for you to fully engage the beauty and ache of Holy Week.

Take this week slowly and reverently. It is a somber time, but let us never forget: Sunday is coming.


On the Wednesday before His death, Jesus was still. Though Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of Holy Week were filled with harrowing experiences that seemed to be drawing Him ever nearer to His death, on Wednesday Jesus stayed out of the public eye.

On this day, Jesus and His disciples had gone to the home of a man in Bethany known as Simon the leper (Matthew 26:6). Simon belonged to a growing part of the population known not for their accomplishments, but for what was wrong with them. It was a difficult life, but it must also have been strangely liberating since the first thing people learned about Simon was his broken past. Simon lived among the few who did not have to pretend to be what they were not. He was Simon, the leper. People could choose his company or reject it, but that was who he was.

In Simon’s home, during their meal together, Mary of Bethany, Lazarus’ sister, came to Jesus with an alabaster flask of perfume (Mark 14:3). She had been saving this perfume, worth a year’s wages, to perform this very act.

She began to pour the perfume on Jesus’ head and feet, which required breaking open its container. Like popping the cork on a $20,000 bottle of champagne, Mary intentionally and deliberately offered Jesus everything she had. By giving Him her most valuable possession, Mary was expressing that she knew what Jesus was about to give of Himself was for her.

The disciples reacted like many men often do. They considered the value of her perfume and regarded her actions as though she might as well have been burning a year’s wages in a bread oven. But they dressed their indignation up in the noble auspices of concern for the poor: Think of the poor people who could have benefited from the sale of this perfume (Mark 14:4-5).

But this was not how her actions hit Jesus. He came to her aid. What Mary is doing is beautiful, He said to them (Mark 14:6).

Appreciate the doctrinal principle here. The perfume could have been sold for a year’s wages, but what is perfume for? Is it merely a commodity Mary should have held on to in the event that she needed to cash it in? Is this how God would expect her to regard this valuable resource?

Apparently not. Perfume is meant to be poured out, released into the air until it is gone, in order to fill the room with its beautiful and startling aroma. So Mary breaks open the jar and the scent electrifies the senses of everyone present, and Jesus says it is beautiful.

Everything in creation testifies to a Creator who delights in beauty for beauty’s sake. So many things that are beautiful didn’t need to be. And it was God who elected to make them that way. He opted to make autumn a season saturated with bold, changing color. He didn’t have to make the setting sun the spectacle that it is. But He did. Why?

One reason must be because beauty pleases Him. And another may simply be to arrest people by their senses when they’re otherwise just plodding along, heads down, living within the economy of pragmatism.

What Mary did that day was beautiful and Jesus wanted everyone to know it. She was preparing Him for burial. There was honor and kindness in her gesture. He returned the honor by saying history would never forget her act of beauty (Mark 14:8-9). And we haven’t.

SRT-Lent-Instagram43swritten by Russ Ramsey
adapted from Behold the King of Glory

Post Comments (92)

92 thoughts on "Holy Week in Real Time: Wednesday"

  1. Megan says:

    As I read today’s passage it really stood out to me the contrast of how money can bring such beautiful or destruction. Looking at what Mary did, she used her money for a beautiful act of service. She sacrifically gave. Judas on the other hand used money for personal profit, creating such a disaster of a mess. Money in the end that would cost him his own life. Money can be a powerful tool, used for the greater good or evil. When I look at the news there are so many stories where money drives such terrible deeds and ultimately I believe it is because those people are consumed by “worldly things”. Just a reminder for me to keep my perspective on the good book, not the new clothes, BBQ or next big health food. Not that there is anything wrong with these items, it is my drive that I need to acknowledge. Because when I feed my worldy desires they only seem to grow louder and larger. Have a blessed day ladies, LOVE this community. Was feeling lonely tonight and knew the first place to go to. xo

    1. Arika says:

      Amen well said

    2. Anita says:


  2. Denise says:

    I think the writings of this day struck such a chord in me so much more so than the previous.
    Our creator who delights in beauty shares it with us to lift us up out of our dark, dull lives so that we may find peace, comfort and joy and catch a glimpse of heaven. Oh, come Lord Jesus, come !

  3. Luisa says:

    Hi!How do we know the women that broke the jar of pure oil was Mary of Bethany?

    1. Gina says:

      Hi Luisa! Mark does not say the woman’s name is Mary, but in John Chapter 12, Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus with an expensive oil.

      1. Krystine Garcia says:

        Yes but that is also said to be 6 days before the Passover, not 2 as is in the other 3 gospels. The anointing by Mary in Jihn also takes place in the house of Lazarus

      2. Brenda Martin says:

        Hi Gina! In John 12 it does say that Mary poured the oil on Jesus but that was where Lazarus lived. In Mark 14, Jesus was at Simon the Lepers house, these were two different places and two different women.

  4. Sarabeth says:

    I thought of this during my contemplation on God’s delight in beauty. Though I have been cast down and can be ugly, Jesus changes me and makes me beautiful.
    Is 61:3 “to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
    to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
    festive oil instead of mourning,
    and splendid clothes instead of despair. 
    And they will be called righteous trees,
    planted by the Lord
    to glorify Him.” Thank you Lord for your sacrifice.

    1. Kirstin Marie Mason says:

      I’m glad you shared this verse.

  5. Kate S. says:

    I really loved the reading today. “Smell the aroma of me.” is what I heard from the Holy Spirit. It sent me on a lovely research finding out what spikenard (the oil used) is, how the five senses can heal the body and I how need to invest more in soaking up not just the Spirit but that which is lovely and beautiful in our surroundings.

    1. jessiechatchat says:

      Yes! Me too

  6. Sarah says:

    How exactly is the Zechariah passage meant to fit in? Is it emphasizing how in our sinfulness we demean the gift of Jesus, as Judas did? Why exactly did Zechariah throw the silver into the house of the LORD?

    1. Sean says:

      To which Zechariah Scripture are you referring?

    2. Margaret says:

      This is a prophesy from the Old Testament of what Judas did with the payment he received.

    3. Katie Mae says:

      It was a prophesy of what Judas would do. LalLater

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Never have I read and understood this passage in depth the way I did today. Thank you again SRT!

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Thanks for joining us today, Elizabeth! Blessings to you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *