Spy Wednesday

Tissot, The Meal in the House of the Pharisee

Tissot, The Meal in the House of the Pharisee

Eric Huntsman continues his series on Holy Week.

The texts for today are Mark 14:1–11; Matthew 26:1–16; Luke 22:1–6 and cover the plot to kill Jesus, the Marcan and Matthean anointing of Jesus prior to his Passion, and Judas’ decision to betray Jesus. The fact that the lovely story of the anointing is in an intercalation (or “sandwiched”) between two dark, deceitful scenes has given the day its traditional name “Spy Wednesday.”

One note on chronology: many LDS harmonies list “no events recorded” for Wednesday, and as far as I can tell this arose from J. Reuben Clark, and others, adopting the harmonization of some nineteenth century Victorian divines, who read “two days before Passover” inclusively. For my reasons for counting it exclusively, see the discussion in my working chronology. I think this also fits the pattern of relative time markers in Mark, and even if it did not, remembering these events on “Spy Wednesday” puts us in harmony with the majority of other Christians who are following traditional observances during Holy Week.

The anointing of Jesus’ head by the unnamed woman in the home of Simon the leper is one of my favorite scenes. Jesus says that her explicit reason for doing this was to prepare his body for its burial. In other words, while many were still expecting a triumphant Savior, perhaps along the lines of contemporary, mistimed messianic expectations, this woman knew that he had come to Jerusalem as a suffering, dying Savior. Jesus honored this woman and her loving act by proclaiming, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matthew 26:8–13). As a result, my family reads this passage every Wednesday before Easter, not only to remember this women but also to recall and honor all the women of Christ in our lives who have testimonies of Jesus and his mission. Please see my complete Wednesday blog entry for discussion and musical ideas on how to do this.