Finding Strength in Community

Mark 14:3-11

Nelson Mandela learned what Jesus knew: Struggles are harder when we go alone.

Jesus is now getting close to the end. He has to decide how to live out what are likely his last few days. He knows that most of the people in power are angry. He knows his disciples lack unity. He knows that as he came into the temporal world and joined us in our mortality that dying is the only doorway out.

So how will Jesus spend his time?

Mark tells us of a dinner at the house of Simon the leper, who lives in Bethany. Although Jesus grew up in Nazareth, Bethany is his home away from home. It is where Mary and Martha live.. It is where Lazarus was raised from tomb. It is where he goes for dinner at Simon’s house. Jesus wants to be sure that the stress of the week ahead is not more than he can bear. One way to do that is to be sure not to bear it alone.

We don’t know who this woman is. We do know she’s willing to come with some pretty valuable stuff and use it to honor Jesus. Not everyone is happy about this But Jesus defends her. She loves him and wants to support him in what lies ahead. She consciously or unconsciously is getting Jesus ready to be buried. Jesus feels cared for and supported in this incident – she is just what he needs when it seems like so many are turning against him.

By the end of this lesson, we see that Judas is one who has become disillusioned with Jesus. He wants Jesus to push harder and be more zealous about overturning the Romans and setting Israel on a new course as a nation. Of course, Jesus’ agenda is far bigger than that, he won’t be swayed by the delusions of people – even his own disciples.

Jesus simply accepts what is coming as the price of faithfulness to who he is and what he is about. But he doesn’t accept it without also finding ways to process it. And a key to this is dinner with friends. Jesus, like all of us in times of crisis, knows that struggles are best lived out with the love and support of others. He finds strength in community.

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