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04.21.11, Maundy Thursday, What Gets Handed Over? Mark 14:1-52

by on April 21, 2011

The night of Jesus’ betrayal contains many well-known episodes. Less well known is what happened the night before Jesus’ betrayal, despite Jesus’ intention that it never be forgotten. On the night of his betrayal, Jesus celebrates a Passover meal with his disciples in an upper room. He infuses the meal with symbolism of his body and blood. Jesus’ Last Supper becomes for us the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion. They go the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prays. Judas betrays Jesus to a violent crowd with a kiss. Jesus is arrested, and all the rest of the disciples flee.

On the previous night, the chief priests and scribes begin actively looking for a clandestine way to arrest Jesus. An unnamed woman anoints Jesus with expensive perfume. And Judas determines to betray Jesus to the chief priests.

Jesus had been predicting his death for some time, as he and the crowds made their way from Caesarea Philippi to Jerusalem. Three times, each with increasing specificity, Jesus predicted his fate in Jerusalem. Three times the named disciples spectacularly fail to understand. But one unnamed disciple does understand.

God’s desire is that everyone trust him, so he asks everyone to hand over their lives to him.

Jesus handed himself over. By going to Jerusalem, by being faithful to God’s will for his life, Jesus handed himself over. The communion bread he left us symbolizes this handing over, “for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

The unnamed woman hands over nearly a full-year’s wages. She alone listened to Jesus’ predictions. And she believed. And she translated her belief into action. She handed over what she could. She prepares Jesus for burial.

God’s desire is that everyone trust him, so he asks everyone to hand over their lives to him.

Judas . . . hands over Jesus. It is the first betrayal, but by the end of the night all the named disciples will betray Jesus.

God’s desire is that everyone trust him, so he asks everyone to hand over their lives to him.

If we are to follow Jesus as Lord, if we are to be his faithful disciples, then we have to remember the action Jesus said would never be forgotten. We have to remember the action he said always accompanies the gospel. We must do what the unnamed woman disciple did: Listen, believe, and act.

Perhaps she is unnamed so that anyone can play her role. She has no name on the program so your name can appear there. Tonight, how can we begin to do what the unnamed disciple did? Perhaps it’s best to begin by doing what the named disciples failed to do tonight: let us begin by watching and praying.

God’s desire is that everyone trust him, so he asks everyone to hand over their lives to him. What will you hand over?

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