Mark was first to record the story of Easter. As a young man, these events imprinted on his heart and soul. Through his lense, let us look at the story of the anointing with oil, the witnesses to the resurrection, and his perception of the ongoing story.
Mark records the story of a woman memorialized by her actions rather than her name. She anointed Jesus with oil for His burial. He is very specific, identifying the expensive perfume as spikenard. Further, he includes its value of over 300 denarii, which is equivalent to a year’s wages. Mark does not however include in his story the price of Judas’ betrayal nor his suicide. Could Mark, in his own way, be showing his readers the esteemed value of the anointing above the scandalous Judas narrative? The value of the Messiah honoured over being betrayed?
Next, as we read Mark’s narrative, we see more details about the witnesses to the resurrection. Mary Magdalene was the first to witness Jesus alive. He not only names her but identifies her as the one from whom Jesus cast seven demons. He then writes of Jesus disguising himself to two walking along the way. Later, when together with all of them, Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart upon hearing He was alive.
The Ongoing Story
Mark adds punch to the end of his story. Rather than saying Jesus will be with us always, he shows how we will recognize His presence. He writes, “signs will follow those who believe. In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them, they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Then Mark writes that Jesus was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. The disciples went and preached everywhere and the Lord worked with them, accompanying the word with signs. Here was the proof of his abiding presence.
This story, as Mark relates, is not just about trickery and betrayal, convenience and denial, false witnesses and mockery. There is an unnamed woman with an alabaster flask, a murderer named Barrabas, a Cyrenian Simon with two sons Alexander and Rufus. There was a politician caught between a rock and a hard place, two robbers which flank him at His death, a centurion declaring, “Truly this Man was the Son of God.” In addition there was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses and Salome and many other women. It is the story of God mingling with, and then redeeming all sorts of people, in all sorts of situations for the glory of God and it continues today in the power of His resurrection. All face the question, “What will you do with Jesus?”