Mark 14:3-11 The Passion Translation
Now Jesus was in Bethany, in the home of Simon, a man Jesus had healed of leprosy. And as He was reclining at the table, a woman came into the house, holding an alabaster flask. It was filled with the highest quality of fragrant and expensive oil. She walked right up to Jesus, and with a gesture of extreme devotion, she broke the flask and poured out the precious oil over His head. 4 But some were highly indignant when they saw this, and they complained to one another, saying, “What a total waste! 5 It could have been sold for a great sum, and the money could have benefited the poor.” So they scolded her harshly.
6 Jesus said to them, “Leave her alone! Why are you so critical of this woman? She has honored Me with this beautiful act of kindness. 7 For you will always have the poor, whom you can help whenever you want, but you will not always have Me. 8 When she poured the fragrant oil over Me, she was preparing My body in advance of My burial. She has done all that she could to honor Me. 9 I promise you that as this wonderful gospel spreads all over the world, the story of her lavish devotion to Me will be mentioned in memory of her.”
It wasn’t long before this that I lived alone outside the town of Bethany. I wore torn clothes and shouted “Unclean!” to anyone within sight of me to declare myself diseased and cursed by God. But today—today Jesus is reclining at my table! Jesus the One who saw me, had mercy on me and healed me.
I was taking in the sight of friends around my table, enjoying my company and my food, something I hadn’t dared believe was possible, when a woman burst in through the door. We all looked up in surprise as the woman, who, without speaking a word, walked right up to Jesus, and without hesitation broke open a white alabaster flask. I had never seen something so beautiful. How expensive it must it have been? The oil that drenched Jesus’ head and robe, smelled of spikenard, a spice used to prepare a body for burial. One would have to work and save for a year to afford an amount such as she poured over Jesus.
The woman’s devotion to Jesus overwhelmed me. I was imagining offering Jesus something just as precious, when I heard the disciples gasp and protest, “What a total waste!” Looking around the room, I took in the angry faces and harsh words aimed at this woman. She shrank back from the room full of men, cowering at their rebuke.
But Jesus, this man Jesus, without ever taking His eyes off the woman, said to her accusers, “Leave her alone!” There was both an edge in His voice toward the disciples and a tenderness toward this woman. The woman looked up in surprise and began to smile, seeing no one but Jesus in the room. I smiled as well, for this was not the first time my heart had leapt within me in response to the lovingkindness of Jesus.
All but one of Jesus’ disciples had a change of heart after hearing His words. They too were the recipients of a love they knew they didn’t deserve. Jesus had looked into the eyes of each one of us and invited us to follow Him, and in doing so welcomed us home in a way no one or nothing else ever could.
Dear Jesus, thank You for Your lovingkindness toward me. Your love welcomes me home; home that is found only in You. Your love transforms me. I was unclean, diseased in my sin and so very far from You. But You see me, You’ve always seen me and You call me and invite me to follow You just as You did the disciples, and Simon, and the woman who gave You the best she had, all she had. I want to give You my best and my all, in extreme devotion to You. I love You Jesus.
THE OIL PRESS
Matthew 26:36-46 The Passion Translation Then Jesus led his disciples to an orchard called “The Oil Press.” He told them, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 He took Peter, [James], and John with Him. However, an intense feeling of great sorrow plunged His soul into deep sorrow and agony. 38 And He said to them, “My heart is overwhelmed and crushed with grief. It feels as though I’m dying. Stay here and keep watch with Me.”
39 Then He walked a short distance away, and overcome with grief, He threw himself facedown on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if there is any way You can deliver Me from this suffering, please take it from Me. Yet what I want is not important, for I only desire to fulfill Your plan for Me.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to strengthen Him.
40 Later, he came back to his three disciples and found them all sound asleep. He awakened Peter and said to him, “Do you lack the strength to stay awake with Me for even just an hour? 41 Keep alert and pray that you’ll be spared from this time of testing. You should have learned by now that your spirit is eager enough, but your humanity is weak.”
42 Then he left them for a second time to pray in solitude. He said to God, “My Father, if there is not a way that you can deliver Me from this suffering, then Your will must be done.”
43 He came back to the disciples and found them sound asleep, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. 44 So He left them and went away to pray the same prayer for the third time.
45 When he returned again to His disciples, He awoke them, saying, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Don’t you know the hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the authority of sinful men? 46 Get up and let’s go, for the betrayer has arrived.”
After dinner we walked to the olive grove, known as Gethsemane. This was the also the place where the olives were pressed to produce oil. Jesus grew quiet as we drew near. We became quiet as well. The air was heavy and we all felt a general uneasiness.
Jesus told the other disciples to sit while He prayed, but He took Peter, my brother James and me, and we walked a little further. He said nothing to us as we walked. As the sun was setting we could see His face was grim and His jaw set. Jesus stopped and told us He was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. We had never seen Him like this.
Jesus asked us to stay and keep watch while He prayed. He walked away from us and fell to the ground. We could not hear the words He prayed, and we could only see His form on the ground as the sun was setting. It seemed He had crossed over to another realm in the shadows.
Jesus came back to us and found us sleeping. “Could you not stay awake with Me for even an hour?” He asked. He had never in once in all our time together, ever expressed that He needed something from us before that night. And we could not give Him this one thing.
I know you want to ask me how we could have fallen asleep that night. We all wanted to, for we loved Him. The darkness of that night created a void between Jesus and us, and our weak humanity gave way to slumber beneath it.
One, two, three times He prayed, “Dear Father, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. I know that You can do all things. But not My will, Father, but Your will be done. If this is Your will, I will do it.” One, two, three times Jesus asked us to keep watch and to pray, and one, two, three times we fell asleep. One, two, three times He came back to us.
Lights appeared in the distance. A mob entered the olive grove armed with clubs and swords, led by Judas. He betrayed Jesus with a kiss. The hour had come for the pressing. Soon, the precious oil would begin to flow.
Dear Jesus, my spirit also is willing, most of the time, but my flesh is so weak, my humanity so frail. I want to be able to do what You ask of me. I want to watch and pray, I want to be strong in times of temptation and testing. And most of all, I want to do Your will, and not my own. Jesus I pray, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Strengthen my heart, my humanity. Inspire and empower me to obey You. I cannot do this on my own. But with You, all things are possible.
Luke 22:54-62 The Passion Translation The religious leaders seized Jesus and led Him away, but Peter followed from a safe distance. They brought Him to the home of the high priest, where people were already gathered out in the courtyard. 55 Someone had built a fire, so Peter inched closer and sat down among them to stay warm.
56 A girl noticed Peter sitting in the firelight. Staring at him, she pointed him out and said, “This man is one of Jesus’ disciples!”
57 Peter flatly denied it, saying, “What are you talking about, girl? I don’t know Him!”
58 A little while later, someone else spotted Peter and said, “I recognize you. You’re one of His, I know it!”
Peter again said, “I’m not one of His disciples.”
59 About an hour later, someone else identified Peter and insisted he was a disciple of Jesus, saying, “Look at him! He’s from Galilee, just like Jesus. I know he’s one of them.”
60 But Peter was adamant. “Listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t you understand? I don’t even know Him.” While the words were still in his mouth, the rooster crowed.
61 At that moment, the Lord, who was being led through the courtyard by His captors,[b turned around and gazed at Peter. All at once Peter remembered the words Jesus had prophesied over him, “Before the rooster crows in the morning, you will deny three times that you even know Me.” 62 Peter burst into tears, ran off from the crowd, and wept bitterly.
“I DO NOT KNOW HIM!”
The third time I raised my voice, and it echoed throughout the courtyard just as the rooster crowed. Hearing the rooster crow was like waking up to a nightmare. Jesus turned and looked at me. His face did not register disappointment or anger, but understanding. And then He was led away and I could see Him no more.
What had I done? He told me this would happen, but I had boasted that I would follow Him to prison and even death. He tried to warn me, but I had flat out rejected the possibility of ever denying Him.
What else did He say? After supper, at the olive grove, before He prayed, before they came to arrest Him? At the time, His words to me were just too much to comprehend. He knew I would deny Him, and yet He tried to warn me and . . . also, to prepare me? What else did He say?
“Peter, my dear friend, listen to what I’m about to tell you. Satan has demanded to come and sift you like wheat and test your faith. But I have prayed for you, Peter, that you would stay faithful to me no matter what comes. Remember this: after you have turned back to Me and have been restored, make it your life mission to strengthen the faith of your brothers.” [Luke 22:31-32 TPT]
Faithful? Restored? Strengthen my brothers? He saw that I would deny Him. Did He see those things as well? Could I really return to Him just as the prodigal son did in one of His parables? Would He welcome me back with open arms after what I had just done? Was it possible?
Jesus was my friend and my teacher. And He was the Christ, the One who would bring salvation. He was also the Son of God, who had the power to forgive sins. He had said so Himself. What else did He say? He told us to drink the cup. He said it was His blood poured out for the complete forgiveness of sins!
I was a fisherman when Jesus found me and called me to follow Him. A fisherman knows that when you’re out at sea in a storm, you drop anchor and hope that anchor holds. I had been tested, but Jesus had prayed for me that my faith would not fail. Jesus was my anchor.
Dear Jesus, I have also denied you once, twice, more than three times. Thank You for praying for me and for warning me and preparing me for tests and trials. I too drink deeply of the cup of forgiveness You poured out for me. And when I waver in my faith, when storms of life blow me off course, my anchor will hold. You welcome me home with open arms and hold me secure, now and always.