Extravagance

Do you have something that you’re keeping for a special occasion?  Waiting for just the right moment to use something so precious.

John 12:1-8

At Bethany

12 Six days before Passover Jesus went back to Bethany, where he had raised Lazarus from death. A meal had been prepared for Jesus. Martha was doing the serving, and Lazarus himself was there.

Mary took a very expensive bottle of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet. She wiped them with her hair, and the sweet smell of the perfume filled the house.

A disciple named Judas Iscariotwas there. He was the one who was going to betray Jesus, and he asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?” Judas did not really care about the poor. He asked this because he carried the moneybag and sometimes would steal from it.

Jesus replied, “Leave her alone! She has kept this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me.”

This is a story of ridiculous extravagance.  Of being so caught up in the occasion, the response comes solely from the heart.  What a fabulous way to respond to Jesus.  Mary is fully aware of what Jesus has done for her and will do for everyone.  She doesn’t care about the cost, she has to show Jesus how much he means to her.

It was customary for guests to be anointed with oil at well-to-do dinner parties as a mark of respect – what Mary does for Jesus this night goes beyond respect.  She is caught up in the moment of worship of Jesus, and nothing else matters – not cost, not personal embarrassment – just adoration of her Lord and Master.  What passion – what love!   It is acknowledgement of all that Jesus is and all that he means to Mary.  She by her actions embodies kingdom principles.  She does what Jesus did in turning water into wine – much more than is needed and much better than is needed.

It would however have been totally shocking for a woman to loosen her hair and wipe Jesus feet with it.  Such was the depth of her feeling for Jesus that this was what she wanted to do.  She let her hair down and let her true feelings out.  Nothing, no-one was going to hold back such an extravagant expression of what Jesus meant to her –it was there for all to see.

Her passion for Jesus was not to be kept in check, it was not to be watered down so that it didn’t upset anyone, she allowed it to run free, and Jesus was blessed by it.

Remember, Mary was the one who sat at Jesus feet, while it appeared Martha did all the work – now Mary is doing something and it is worth sitting up and taking notice.

This is six days before Jesus’ death…  What Mary did pointed to his death.  There would be no opportunity for him to be anointed after his death, she does that now – beautifully, extravagantly, in a great offering of love…

Mary’s response can be contrasted with that of Judas – cold, calculating and missing the point.

How do I respond to all God has done for me?  If  Jesus were here with me now, what offering would I make to him?  Or would I be counting the cost?

 

Lord you have never held back in what you have given me,

may I give to you with such extravagance.

I give you everything I have,

the precious things,

the things I’ve been keeping.

Help me not to count the cost.

 

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