WARNING: A Contentious Man is A Spiritual Cancer

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Mark 13-14

The Gospel of Mark, chapters 13-14, is a fascinating reading taking us from the LORD’s discussion of “Eschatology”, the Biblical doctrine of the “Last Things” and His Second Coming (Mark 13) to the dinner at the house of “Simon the Leper (Mark 14:3-9), the institution of “The Lord’s Supper” (Mark 14:16-28), His betrayal and arrest (Mark 14:43-65) and Peter’s threefold denial of the Lord (Mark 14:66-72).  Realizing a thorough commentary on these historical events is impossible; I limit my focus to Judas and his presence and influence on the other disciples.

Mark 14 finds the LORD, His disciples, and dearest friends Lazarus, and his sisters Mary and Martha, having dinner at the home of one “Simon the Leper” (14:3).  Leprosy is a physically disfiguring and was a dreaded disease in Jewish society.  Because lepers were outcasts, the occasion of this feast was most likely a celebration of our Lord delivering Simon from leprosy.  Setting aside postulating regarding Simon’s identity, the central focus of the feast becomes the sacrificial gift offered by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and the disciples’ criticisms of her actions led by Judas (14:3b-9).

In an act of sincere love, Mary entered the room where Jesus and His disciples were eating and, breaking the neck of an alabaster jar, a milky cream-colored jar containing spikenard, she poured out its contents on Jesus’ head (14:3b).  John identifies “Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray Him” (John 12:4), as the disciple who led the chorus of criticism of Mary’s actions, suggesting the spikenard, a perfume fit for royalty and, in Judas’ estimation worth over 300 pence (a full year’s salary in that economy), should have been sold and its proceeds given to the poor (John 12:5).  Leaving no doubt as to Judas’ motives, John writes, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief” (John 12:6).  At the time, the disciples did not know that Judas, the trusted treasurer of the Lord and His disciples (i.e. he “had the bag, and bare what was put therein” (John 12:6b) was a thief.

Consider with me Judas’ character and his influence on the disciples.  Judas’ objection carried the appearance of a charitable soul, but in reality he was a thief, a traitor and a deserter.  His words not only implied Mary’s sacrifice was a waste, but it was also a slight against the LORD for receiving Mary’s sacrificial act of love and devotion.

Offering us insight into the influence and leadership of Judas amongst the disciples, we read they shared his objections.  Rather than defend the LORD’s honor and Mary’s action, the disciples “murmured against her” (Mark 14:5).  Jesus rebuked the disciples and silenced them saying, “Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me” (Mark 14:6).  Then, affirming Mary’s act of love, Jesus once again spoke of His death and burial (Mark 14:7-8; John 12:7), revealing Mary’s sacrifice would be a lasting testimony of her faith and devotion (Mark 14:8-9).

I close by challenging you with a proverbial principle: Beware an angry man for he will spoil and destroy you with his contentious spirit!  Proverbs 16:21 describes men like Judas who are, “As coals [i.e. black coals] are to burning coals [red hot coals], and wood to fire; so is a contentious man [brawling; strife provoking; quarreling] to kindle [incite; burn] strife [controversy; contest; dispute; quarrel].”

 A contentious spirit has the same destructive effect on a family, church, and an organization as a burning ember of an unattended campfire in the middle of a forest…it has the potential of destroying everything…and the LORD hates it!

Proverbs 6:16, 19 – “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abominationunto him…19A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith