The tension has been building between Jesus and the religious leaders for a while now...
- He claims to forgive people as only God can (Mark 2:1-12).
- He makes friends with messed up people (Mark 2:13-17).
- He has no regard for their religious rules (Mark 7:5).
- He trashes their temple marketplace (Mark 11:17-18).
- He acts and teaches with authority they don't know or accept (Mark 11:28).
- He tells stories where they are the bad guys who murder God's Son (Mark 12:12).
- He outwits and embarrasses them when they ask loaded questions (Mark 12:13-17).
- He blatantly undermines them by warning others against them (Mark 12:38-40).
Conversely, the woman is another example of someone who has the proper perspective of Jesus. We've seen several of these so far in Mark's account too. She comes to show love, honour and worship to Jesus. The jar of nard was worth more than a year's wages (v5) and so this really was a big deal. She worships Jesus extravagantly. She knows Jesus is worth it and she even seems to know that his death is imminent too. God is clearly at work in her heart, mind and actions.
The disciples miss the point (how many times have we seen this in the story so far?) and Jesus again explains with patience. The woman was right to prioritise the unique opportunity to worship God face-to-face. That's worth a million jars of nard! He also teaches them that it is another sign of his death. The disciples don't totally understand why Jesus keeps bringing this up but they must realise by now that Jesus' death was going to be a big deal somehow.
This seems to be the moment where Judas loses it (v10-11). He leaves this scene to betray Jesus to the religious leaders for cash. Why now? Maybe it's because Jesus welcomes another messed up woman. Maybe it's the waste of money. Maybe it's Jesus banging on about his death again. Whatever it is, Jesus is clearly not what Judas is looking for and so he turns him down once and for all and it's his fatal mistake.