I appreciated Rayburn's summary of v1-11
We have noted before Mark’s technique of the literary “sandwich” in which he inserts into the middle of one account another narrative and uses the relationship between the outer pieces and the center to make a point without having to spell it out. In this case the account of Jesus’ betrayal by the religious leaders and by one of his inner circle of disciples forms the two pieces of bread. Between them is inserted an account of another disciple’s devotion. Once again, as often in Mark and the other Gospels, the emphasis falls on this account of true discipleship and that emphasis is strengthened by contrast with the lack of loyalty on the part of people we might most have expected to be loyal to Jesus. The theologians should have understood best who Jesus was and what he had come to do. Judas had heard all of Jesus’ sermons and witnessed many of his miracles. He had firsthand acquaintance with the proof that Jesus was no one less than the Son of God. But they rejected Jesus while this dear woman declared her love and loyalty to him in the most impressive way....
what Mark seems to be making clear with his sandwich technique is that the fundamental contrast between these two groups of people, those who hated and betrayed Jesus and those who loved and worshipped him is the sense of debt and obligation and the corresponding gratitude that filled the hearts of some but not of others. Real followers of Christ love the Lord and they love him because they are so grateful to him.
Do you remember that the Heidelberg Catechism that we recite often in our worship here is organized according to a three-fold division? The Catechism divides the great subjects of Christian belief – all the teaching covered by the catechism which is, of course, meant to teach a new or young believer the basics of the faith – I say, it is summed up in three general assertions. In other words, there are three things that you must know to understand the Christian faith and the teaching of the Bible....
Question 1, you remember, asks “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” And you remember the beautiful answer to that question. “That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul – to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ,” and so on.”
The third section of the Catechism is entitled “Gratitude” and its entire presentation of the Christian life is expounded as the way we give thanks to God for his delivering us from our sin and misery. What motivates a Christian in his daily living? Thanksgiving to God. What is the Christian attempting to do with his or her thoughts, words, and deeds? Demonstrate his or her gratitude to God. Sometimes thanksgiving to God will be expressed by selling the perfume and giving the money to the poor. Sometimes it will be expressed by breaking the bottle and pouring it over the Lord himself. But it is thanksgiving in the one case as surely as it is in the other. Mary, the disciple, was impossibly grateful to Jesus for what he had done for her and her family; gratitude and love were compact together in her heart. The priests and the scribes were not grateful to Jesus for anything. They had no understanding of his gifts and no appreciation for what he would suffer for man’s sake.
You can divide the world into two classes: those who are deeply grateful to God for what he has done for them and those who are not. The difference will not always demonstrate itself so starkly as here: with the ingratitude of one group leading them to plot Jesus’ death and the gratitude of Mary leading her to pour out a year’s worth of a man’s salary in an act of devotion to the Lord....
And here is the final lesson of Mark’s way of presenting this narrative, in a sandwich with her devotion between two acts of perfidy and betrayal: If you abandon yourself to the Lord, you will not abandon the Lord and he will never abandon you!
There is reason enough for great gratitude and great love! More than enough!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 14:17-26