As we read chapter thirteen of the Gospel of Mark, we should not be distracted from the main point in this chapter. The crucial matter here is that the Lord was telling His close followers that the entire world situation is for the producing of a new man. This new man can be produced only through Christ’s all-inclusive death and His wonderful resurrection. This is the reason we need to be brought into His death and resurrection.
If you study the account of Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost, you will see that he emphasized the two matters of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He told the people that the One they despised and crucified has been honored by God, for God raised Him from among the dead. They crucified Him, but God resurrected Him. The Lord’s followers were His witnesses. In particular, they were witnesses of His death and resurrection.
We have seen that Christ’s death was the termination of the old creation and that His resurrection was the germination of the new creation. In the new creation we enjoy Him, the all-inclusive One, as our universal replacement provided by God. Christ is not only our Savior—He is our life and everything to us. Not only is He everything to us; He is everything in God’s economy. God’s economy is to produce a new man, and in this new man there is nothing but Christ. In the new man Christ is in everyone, Christ is everyone, and Christ is everything. We all need to see this marvelous vision.
Concerning the vision of God’s economy, the crucial matter for us to see is that we need to enter into Christ’s death and resurrection so that we may participate in the full enjoyment of Him as the universal replacement. Today as our replacement Christ is the life-giving Spirit. It is not our intention to argue in a doctrinal way concerning the Trinity or the Spirit. Our aim is to help the believers know that we need to enter into the all-inclusive death of Christ so that we may be in His resurrection. Then in His resurrection we shall participate in Him and enjoy Him as the life-giving Spirit to be our replacement. This Spirit now dwells in our spirit. We have actually become one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). As we live in the Spirit and even live this Spirit, He will make Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension real to us.
The entire world situation is for the completion of the re-formation of Israel and also for the completion of the birth of the new man. Because we have a clear view concerning these two matters, we can see something that statesmen and politicians cannot see. They do not realize that the world situation is for the re-formation of Israel and the birth of the new man. Thank the Lord that we know the purpose for the things happening in the world. We thank Him for a clear view of the world situation.
Not only do we know where the world is in relation to God’s economy; we also know where we are as believers. We are in the death and resurrection of Christ, and we are in the enjoyment of Him as our all-inclusive replacement. This means that we are in Christ.
Many talk about being in Christ without having a full realization of what this means. To be in Christ is to be in the full enjoyment of Him as the entire, universal replacement through His all-inclusive death and His wonderful resurrection.
We need the Gospel of Mark to help us see that Christ is our replacement through His death and resurrection. It was not in an external, outward way that the New Testament believers entered into the death and resurrection of Christ. From the Gospel of Mark we see that the early disciples, our representatives, followed the Lord from the very beginning. Eventually, they, and also we, passed through the process leading into Christ’s all-inclusive death and into His resurrection.
If we see the vision of the all-inclusive death of Christ, we shall realize that when He was crucified, we were crucified with Him and in Him. Likewise, when He was resurrected, we were resurrected in Him. We also are in ascension with Him. Therefore, now we can declare, “Hallelujah, in Christ’s resurrection and ascension I am participating in the enjoyment of Him as my replacement!”
As our replacement, Christ is the indwelling, life-giving Spirit in our spirit. As we live by this Spirit, the Spirit will become in us the reality of Christ Himself with His death, resurrection, and ascension as our complete and full enjoyment. It is in this way that the new man is delivered. May we all see the vision of the bringing forth of the new man through our participation in Christ and in His death, resurrection, and ascension.
In 13:1—14:42 the Lord Jesus is preparing the disciples for His death. In 13:1-37 He prepares them by telling them the things to come. Then in 14:1-11 He prepares them by enjoying their love, while His opposers conspire to kill Him, and one of His disciples plots to betray Him. In 14:12-26 the Lord prepares the disciples by instituting His supper that they may remember Him and finally by warning them of their stumbling and charging them to watch and pray (14:27-42). In this message we shall consider the preparation carried out in 14:1-11.
In 14:1-11 three matters are merged: the opposers’ conspiracy to kill the Slave-Savior, the Lord’s enjoyment of His followers’ love, and Judas’ plot to betray Him. While “the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by craftiness and kill Him” (v. 1), the Lord’s followers were showing their love for Him. Simultaneously, Judas Iscariot, “one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests that he might deliver Him up to them” (v. 10).
Mark 14:1 speaks of “the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread after two days.” Although the chief priests and the scribes wanted to kill the Lord Jesus, they said, “Not at the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people” (v. 2). Eventually, under God’s sovereignty, they did kill the Lord Jesus at the feast (Matt. 27:15) for the fulfillment of the type.
The Passover was a type of Christ (1 Cor. 5:7). Christ is the Lamb of God that God may pass over us, the sinners, as portrayed in typology by the Passover in Exodus 12. Hence, it was necessary for Christ as the Passover Lamb to be killed on the day of the Passover for its fulfillment.
According to the type, the Passover Lamb had to be examined for blemishes during the four days preceding the feast of the Passover (Exo. 12:3-6). Before His crucifixion, Christ came to Jerusalem the last time, six days before the Passover (John 12:1), and was examined by the Jewish leaders. There was no blemish found in Him, and He was proved to be perfect and qualified to be the Passover Lamb for us.
Mark 14:3 says that Christ was in Bethany “in the house of Simon the leper.” Outside of Christ, it was not possible for anyone to find God. This One had left the temple. He had condemned the temple to be destroyed. However, the disciples were still occupied with their religious concept of the temple. According to their understanding, God was in the temple, for it was His house. I doubt that the disciples realized that God had left that house when the Lord Jesus walked out of the temple in chapter thirteen. Since Christ Jesus is God, when He left the condemned temple and forsook it, God forsook it as well. Going to the Mount of Olives with some of His disciples, He prophesied to them that the temple they admired would be destroyed. Furthermore, that temple would be replaced by Christ Himself.
In chapter fourteen we see that after leaving the temple, the Lord came to a house of a cleansed leper in Bethany. A leper signifies a sinner. Simon, as a leper, must have been healed by the Lord. Being grateful to the Lord and loving Him, he spread a feast in his house for the Lord and His disciples in order to enjoy His presence. A saved sinner would always do this.
Today God’s house is with cleansed lepers. As believers in Christ, we all are cleansed lepers represented by Simon.
Simon loved the Lord Jesus and prepared a feast for Him. “When He was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He reclined at table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of ointment, of pure nard, very costly; and breaking the alabaster flask, she poured it over His head” (v. 3). This woman truly loved the Lord. God’s house, the church, is composed of those who love Him. His house is composed of cleansed lepers and those who anoint Him.
The house of Simon in Bethany is a miniature of the church life. According to this miniature, the church life is composed of cleansed lepers who love the Lord Jesus. Those who love Him, as did Simon and as did the woman who anointed Him, take Him as their full replacement. In their heart there is no room for the temple. They would not even be distracted by caring for the poor (v. 5).
Some who were present “were indignant among themselves, saying, Why has this waste of the ointment been made? For this ointment could have been sold for over three hundred denarii and given to the poor; and they were scolding her” (vv. 4-5). Those who were indignant regarded the woman’s love offering to the Lord a waste. Throughout the past nineteen centuries, thousands of precious lives, heart treasures, high positions, and golden futures have been “wasted” upon the Lord Jesus. To those who love Him in such a way, He is altogether lovely and worthy of their offering. What they have poured upon Him is not a waste, but a fragrant testimony of His sweetness.
According to verses 6 and 7, the Lord Jesus said to those who were scolding the woman, “Let her alone; why are you causing her trouble? She has wrought a good work upon Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want you can do them good; but you do not always have Me.” The Lord’s word, “You do not always have Me,” indicates that we must love the Lord and seize the opportunity to love Him.
Today many Christians care more for works of charity than for Christ. A charitable concern for the poor often replaces Christ. But in Mark 14 the Lord Jesus would not allow the concern for the poor to be a replacement of Himself. Here it seems that He does not care for the poor, but cares only for Himself. He seems to be saying, “Do not trouble this one who loves Me. She has done a good work on Me. If you want to take care of the poor, wait for another time and go to another place. The poor are always with you. But this is the unique time for you to take Me as your replacement and to pour out everything upon Me.”
In verse 8 the Lord went on to say, “She has done what she could; she anointed My body beforehand for the burial.” She anticipated the need, or took occasion, to anoint the Lord’s body for burial. This indicates that she received the revelation of the Lord’s death by the Lord’s words. Hence, she seized the opportunity to pour the best she had upon the Lord. To love the Lord with our best requires a revelation concerning Him.
In verse 9 the Lord continues, “And truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, that also which she did shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” In the foregoing verse the Lord referred to His burial. The word “burial” implies His death and resurrection for our redemption. Hence, the gospel in verse 9 should refer to the gospel of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
The story of the gospel is that the Lord loved us, and the story of the woman who anointed the Lord is that she loved Him. We must preach both—the Lord loving us and our loving the Lord. One is for our salvation, and the other is for our consecration.
In foregoing messages we have seen that when the Lord Jesus was on the Mount of Olives with four of His disciples, He spoke to them concerning the beginning of birth pangs (13:8). These birth pangs are for the delivery of the new man, a delivery that involves a long process. How can this man be delivered, be brought forth? We have seen that the new man can be brought forth only through the death and resurrection of Christ. Through His death and resurrection He becomes everything in the new man.
After the Lord spoke to His disciples concerning things to come, especially concerning the birth pangs, he entered into Simon’s home in Bethany, where a feast had been prepared for Him. While He was feasting, a woman who loved Him poured out the best thing she had upon Him. This indicates that He was everything to her. The Lord said that this woman had done what she could, anointing His body beforehand for burial.
What the Lord says in verse 8 is crucial, for it indicates that this woman had certainly received the Lord’s word concerning His death and resurrection. I do not believe that Peter received this word, but she received it. She knew that the One she loved would soon be killed and that she would not have another opportunity to anoint Him. Therefore, while He was still present, she seized the opportunity to pour out her ointment upon Him. In doing this, she anointed Him for His burial.