SO SIX days before the Passover Feast, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had died and whom He had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those at the table with Him. 3 Mary took a pound of ointment of pure liquid nard [a rare perfume] that was very expensive, and she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, the one of His disciples who was about to betray Him, said, 5 Why was this perfume not sold for 300 denarii [a year’s wages for an ordinary workman] and that [money] given to the poor (the destitute)? 6 Now he did not say this because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief; and having the bag (the money box, the purse of the Twelve), he took for himself what was put into it [pilfering the collections]. 7 But Jesus said, Let her alone. It was [intended] that she should keep it for the time of My preparation for burial. [She has kept it that she might have it for the time of My embalming.] 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.
Six days before the Passover Feast Jesus arrives in Bethany. He goes to have supper with newly resurrected Lazarus and his family. We read that Mary takes her precious and costly perfume and pours it out upon Jesus. She offers to Him such extravagant worship. This makes me think of how too many times I reserve myself, or hold myself back, from giving Jesus all that I know is in my heart to give. Her brave extravagance pulls at my heart to give more and more of my worship and surrender to Jesus.
As I was meditating upon her act of extravagance I am reminded of some of the reasons why reservation takes hold of our heart of worship:
Concerning Yourself with the Opinions of Others
Mary didn’t concern herself with the other people in the room. She wasn’t allowing what their opinions may or may not be to hinder her. She may have had some inward turmoil about what they all may think of her, I think that is a normal part of our humanity. However, her focus was not on them. No, her focus was intently on the One she was there to worship. Extravagant worship doesn’t allow itself to be bound by the opinions of others.
Concerning Yourself with the Price and not the Prize
I would imagine that Mary may have thought about the price, or the amount, of what she would be sacrificing. Did she have a moment when the thought of the amount of money crossed her mind? When we have in our heart to give Jesus our best we are assailed with the “what ifs” of darkness. She would have to push those menacing thoughts aside and remind herself of the Prize, Jesus. He is worthy of this and more. When we keep our heart and mind centered on Jesus we will not succumb to the doubts of darkness.
Concerning Yourself with Right Moment
Jesus had come to fellowship and have dinner. I wonder if she considered whether or not He would think she was being “out of line.” Perhaps He would tell her this was not the time or place for such an act. These possibilities didn’t matter. He was there, present, and that was all she needed. Extravagant worship just needs Him to be there.
This expensive and rare perfume was reserved as the fragrance of Kings. Sure, it may have been collected by illicit acts of prostitution, but what was in the box was rare and used for those who wore crowns upon their heads. Jesus wore no crown, but she could see the King He really was. She knew that He ruled over a dominion that had power and authority greater than any other. Just ask the seven demons who had been expelled from her. She had experienced firsthand His kingdom. Perhaps this is exactly why she chose that very alabaster box. There was no other King she knew.
Mary found her place on the floor, staring directly at the feet of the one she loved more than money, others’ opinions, and even herself. There was no doubt He was the worthy King. Suddenly, the breaking of the box is heard. Perhaps it interrupts chatter and commotion in the room. Perhaps perplexed glances are darting around the room wondering what that noise was. Suddenly a scent fills the room before their questions can be answered. Thoughts are now pierced by the aroma of Kings. I imagine the room has gone quiet. All that can be heard is the sniffling of an extravagant lover as she wipes His feet and pours out her love.
The next sound to penetrate the room is a voice proclaiming, “What a waste!” Talk about a moment stealer! More importantly this voice is the voice of one who cannot comprehend this type of giving. It is the antithesis of what is happening.
A thief cannot understand this type of extravagant giving.
A betrayer cannot fathom this sacrifice.
A prideful heart cannot comprehend this surrender.
A religious spirit will always criticize the one who gives too much; worships too much; stays too long; loves too hard; sacrifices so much. A religious heart and an extravagant heart will always oppose one another. Yet it was the extravagant one whom Jesus defended. He did not find her offering offensive. Instead He indicates to us all that her act of worship was accomplishing more than any of them could understand. She was preparing the Lamb for His sacrifice.
Mary shows us what it looks like to be an extravagant lover of Jesus. Over and over again she demonstrates to us that Jesus is worthy of our all. Today, as we reflect on the Lamb of God and His sacrifice of laying down His life for us, may we pour out the same extravagant worship.