Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Kings 14
"The sin of Jeroboam was that he perverted the divine worship -- and not that he directly opposed it. He neutralised the spirit of David and Solomon within the nation, by tampering with and weakening the principle of worship. The festivals, sacrifices, sabbaths, etc, of the Law continued in the northern kingdom (Hos 2:11; 6:6; 8:13; 9:4). Tithes, etc, were brought to the temple at Bethel (Amos 4:4; 5:21-22). The Psalms of David were heard (Amos 5:23; 6:5), but the people were deterred from worshipping at Jerusalem (Deu 12:11). There was an encouragement to ignore the fundamentals of Faith, and to ignore those who were valiant for the Truth in times past. There was a deliberate change of policy to allow a greater liberty of expression, and political pressure on those who desired to uphold the things of the past. Now sickness and death strike at Jeroboam's family, the premonition of greater tragedy to come.
"So the prophet Ahijah was instructed to convey the divine warning to Jeroboam (vv 1-16); but the appeal of the king was to no avail, for the child died (vv 17,18), and this was followed by the death of Jeroboam (vv 19,20). Meanwhile, in Judah to the south, Rehoboam's reign brought an evil environment (vv 21-24). Then came the invasion of Shishak of Egypt (vv 25-28), concluding with the death of Rehoboam (vv 29-31). It was a sad story of failure by a nation that ignored its pioneer spirit of former times" (GE Mansfield).
Reading 2 - Jeremiah 40
Gedaliah became governor of Judah, appointed by Nebuchadnezzar after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC (2Ki 25:22-26; Jer 40:6--41:18). Gedaliah was a member of a prominent and powerful family. His grandfather was Shaphan, probably the one who served as state secretary under King Josiah and reported the discovery of the book of the law to the king (2Ki 22:10). Shaphan's son, Gedaliah's father, Ahikam, became Jeremiah's protector after the famous temple proclamation (Jer 26:24).
Gedaliah set up his government at Mizpah, which was about five miles north of Jerusalem. However, before too much time passed, Ishmael, a leader of a fanatic nationalist band and a member of the exiled royal family, murdered Gedaliah while he was a guest in the official residence in Mizpah (Jer 41:2).
The death of Gedaliah seemed to be the loss of the last hope for a peaceful and orderly administration in the defeated Judah, and soon the remnant that remained (including Jeremiah) were on their way to Egypt, to flee the unrest in the land, and the possible reprisals of the Babylonians.
Reading 3 - Mark 14:3
"While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head" (Mark 14:3).
Five broken things in the Bible and the results achieved by them:
broken pitchers (Jdg 7:18-20), causing the light to shine forth;
a broken jar (Mark 14:3), causing the ointment to be poured out;
broken bread (Mat 14:20), causing the hungry to be fed;
a broken body (1Co 11:24), causing the world to be saved; and
a broken will (Psa 51:17), leading the sinner back to God.