Mark’s Supermodels: Mark 12:4-44; 14:3-9
Are you discouraged because you feel untalented, ungifted, and therefore, overlooked by God? Is it one in a million that your picture will grace the cover of a glossy rag? Take hope. God’s attention is not focused on stage talent, giftedness, the ability to sway a crowd, or popularity with adult concert groupies.
God’s attention is focused on values that are counter-cultural to modern Christians, even despised. You might be ignored by those seeking candidates for “America’s Got Talent,” but you can be the center of God’s attention. He is not impressed by talent, giftedness, or popularity. But He does choose supermodels.
Mark’s Gospel is full of female surprises. When Mark searches for human examples of what it means to be ready for the return of Jesus from heaven, he fails to find an example among his leaders, his male disciples. That is not surprising.
But the irony is hard to miss. His male disciples asked for a stage on which to perform. They wanted to be celebrities, applauded by their gullible Christian audiences (9:33-37; 10:35-45). But when Mark chose his version of a true celebrity, genuine heroes, model followers of Jesus, he completely bypassed them. He chose two unknown women off-stage who were either ignored or criticized.
The examples of how to be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ are two women. One is an unnamed poor widow. The other is Mary, a single woman. Both women rank low on the social ladder. Yet, they both rank highest on Mark’s ladder of greatness. In fact, these women are models.
Mark’s Female Models
Let me explain how this works out.
Jesus’ explanation of his 2nd return occurs in Mark 13, “The Olivet Discourse.” Jesus concludes the discourse of his return by urging his disciples to stay awake, stay alert, and be at their post throughout the four watches of the night when Jesus is away (Mk. 13:32-37). If they remain active in serving him, remaining on-duty until the time of his sudden return, they will receive their reward.
So, where are these women, these models?
It might be easy to miss. But Mark highlights it for us. He places a woman’s example right before the discourse (Mk 12:41-44) and another woman’s example at the conclusion of the discourse (Mk 13:32-37). In other words, Mark intentionally frames the message about Jesus’ return (Mk 13:1-31) between two accounts of faithful women. The women are bookends. Take a look.
The woman who gave extravagantly 12:41-44
Jesus’ message about His return and faithfulness in serving Him while waiting for His return from heaven. 13:1-31
The woman (Mary) who gave extravagantly (13:32-37)
The first account, just prior to Jesus’ message of faithfulness until he returns, is of the poor widow who gave out of her poverty (12:41-44). She gave all she had. She gave extravagantly. Jesus states that she actually gave more than all of the rich people who gave out of their wealth. She is Mark’s first model.
The second account, just after Jesus’ call to faithfulness until he returns (14:3-9), is of Mary who gave extravagantly in order to prepare Jesus for his burial. Her gift to Jesus amounted to a year’s wages. She is the only one in Mark’s Gospel that understands the necessity of Jesus’ death. She is Mark’s second model.
Women are Super Models
Mark’s framing of Jesus’ discourse about his return using the account of two model women is no accident. It is calculating and typical of the way he composes his account of Jesus. These two women showcase what it means to be prepared for Jesus’ return: faithful, sacrificial discipleship. Two generous women are heroes to Mark.
The poor widow and Mary illustrate how we are to be well-prepared for Jesus' return. The two women sacrificially surrender their all to Jesus. They surrender their finances to Jesus. Women, downplayed and dismissed in their own culture, are Mark's models of what it means to be prepared for Jesus' return.
Mark’s choice of supermodels can be an encouragement to us. God bypasses celebrities, the talented, and the gifted when looking for models to accent Jesus. Instead, he chooses likeness to Jesus who sacrificed his life for our sins on a cross.
Perhaps we should call for a moratorium on prophecy conferences, and instead call for followers of Jesus to sacrificially surrender their lives, their finances, and their all to Him.
The poor widow and Mary would be Mark’s pick for keynote speakers. Yet, ironically, neither woman sang on stage or spoke charismatically. Their sacrificial actions accent Jesus’ words. Mark’s female models write nothing, say nothing, play no instruments, and sing no songs. But they are front cover models because they sacrifice what they had for the Savior. They’re Mark’s supermodels.
“Forbid it Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death, of Christ my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.”