Mark 14:1-11 | Discussion Questions

Mark 14:1-11

Preached at SoBo on October 2, NM on October 9, 2022


    • Who is the most passionate & devoted Christian you know? What stands out to you about their faith?
    • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your passion for Jesus and his Kingdom? Explain your answer.
  • CONTEXT: We are in the final week of Jesus’ life. On Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, while large crowds laid down palm branches and hailed him as the Messiah (11:9-10). On Monday, Jesus cursed a fruitless fig tree (a symbol of fruitless Israel), and then he entered the Jerusalem temple and drove out the money changers, who perverted the worship of God (11:12-19). On Tuesday, Jesus entered the temple again and began to expose that Israel, like the fig tree he cursed the day before, had become barren and dead. Ultimately, Jesus’ day in the temple ended with a prediction of the temple’s destruction (11:27-13-37).
  • SNAPSHOT: Our text today takes place on Wednesday, “two days before the Passover” and the crucifixion of Jesus (14:1). In this passage, the plotting of the religious leaders (vv 1-2) and the betrayal of Judas (vv 10-11) is contrasted with the extravagant worship of an unnamed woman (v 3).


MARK 14:1-11
1 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”

3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.


  • Begin by simply examining the text together. What do you notice? What stands out? What is unexpected? What contrasts do you see in the text? 1
  • Read John 12:1-8. What details does this account fill into Mark’s account?
  • Mark tells us that this event took place at the house of “Simon the leper.” Most scholars believe that Simon is identified as “the leper,” not because he still had leprosy, but to remind us that this was a man who used to have leprosy and had been healed by Jesus. What do you think it meant for Simon, a former social outcast, to host such a meal?
  • Look at the text again, and compare the different characters. What stands out about each of them? (Chief priests and scribes, Simon the leper, the woman, the disciples, Jesus, Judas)
  • A denarius was equivalent to 1 day’s wages for a common laborer. The disciples note that this perfume could have been sold for 300 denarii (a year's wages) and given to the poor. How do we reconcile the disciples’ concern to care for the poor (which they got from Jesus) and the woman’s seemingly wasteful gift (which Jesus commended)? 


  • This is a passage about the power of money. Judas traded the treasure of heaven for a few pieces of silver.
    • What do you think Jesus meant when he warned of the “deceitfulness of riches?” How was Judas deceived by money?
    • What are some specific “lies” money tells us? Which are you most tempted to believe?
    • Read Hebrews 13:5. What does it mean to “love money,” and what does it mean to be “content?”
  • This is also a story of costly love. While Judas traded Jesus for a few bucks, this woman “wasted” a year’s worth of wages in a beautiful act of love for Jesus. What would costly love look like in your life right now? Be specific. What might be holding you back?
  • This is also a passage about timing. The disciples scolded the woman for “wasting” money that could have been used to care for the poor. But Jesus, far from rebuking her, commended her because she understood what that moment in time called for. Jesus said, ‘You always have the poor with you, and you can do good for them whenever you want. But you will not always have me. “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial” (vv 7-8). This teaches us that excellent things (like caring for the poor) emphasized at the wrong time can blind us to the most important things God is calling us to do. Of all the “good things” you could be doing right now to know and love Jesus, what do you think is the most important thing at this moment?


O Father, give us your Spirit so we might love your Son the way Mary did. Protect our hearts from the lust for power, which drove the religious leaders to kill Jesus. Protect our hearts also from the love of money, which blinded Judas to the infinite worth of your Son. And finally, protect us from the “obsessive fiscal responsibility” which blinded the disciples to an act of beautiful love. Like Mary, give us grace to discern the moment's need, courage to love you no matter the cost, and faith to look upon your saving death. Amen.
1 Example Observations
  • The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus before the Passover because they were afraid the arrest of Jesus would cause an uproar.
  • The account takes place in Bethany, a small village outside of Jerusalem.
  • This dinner is hosted by Simon the Leper. Note: Mark identifies the host as Simon “the leper” most likely to indicate to us, not that Simon currently had leprosy, but that Simon was “the leper” in Bethany who had been healed by Jesus. It is almost certain that Simon had been healed by Jesus, because according to the Jewish law a “leper” was unclean and had to stay in isolation, and leprosy was contagious! 
  • The text has an ABA structure: hatred for Jesus (1-2), love for Jesus (3-9), hatred for Jesus (10-11)
  • The perfume was worth over 300 denarii, which is over 300 days wages.
  • The disciples’ “concern for the poor” blinded them to the woman’s extravagant love
  • The woman’ gave a year’s wages as an act of love for Jesus; Judas betrayed Jesus for a few pieces of silver.