SLD Blog

Extravagant Love – Devotional Series

As we begin Holy Week and walk with Jesus to Calvary, one of the most precious and significant stories is the one in which the woman anointed Jesus, told in the gospels and written here from the gospel of Mark.

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Mark 14:3-9

Anointing with oil is not something that is widely practiced in our culture today, but in Biblical times, it was very common. Anointing oil was regularly used in daily practice, but it was also used at special times. In the Old Testament priests were anointed with oil to show that they were set apart for a specific, sacred purpose. When God chose someone to be king, first Saul and then David, he was anointed in a special religious ceremony to show that he had been selected by God and set apart to serve as king of Israel.

In the book of Esther, we read about anointing oil being used for beautification. The women were treated for six months with oil of myrrh and then six months with perfumes. Talk about a spa treatment!

Anointing oil was also used to heal the sick (Mark 6:13 & James 5:14) or to prepare a body for burial.

Sprinkling or pouring oil on the head of a visitor was a way to refresh him or her from their travel as well as a way to honor them as a guest in your home. The Psalmist speaks of this when he says, “You honor me by anointing my head with oil.” Psalm 23:5

This was the tradition being practiced by the woman – identified in John’s gospel as Mary – when she anointed Jesus at the dinner. Except she took it a little further than was usually done. Some might say – in fact some did say – that she got carried away!

When Mary used the oil to anoint Jesus, she wasn’t saving any for another time. She broke the neck of the bottle, so she couldn’t have saved it even if she wanted to. But she didn’t want to. She intended to pour all of it out on Jesus and that’s exactly what she did. Hers was an extravagant love! She didn’t count the cost of the oil, she simply lavished it on Jesus to demonstrate her great love for Him.

While the disciples criticized her for what they considered to be a waste, Jesus commended her for this act of generous, selfless love. “She did what she could.” According to one writer, “Indirectly, Jesus is telling the disciples, ‘You have not yet given your all and done what you could do. Don’t criticize someone who has.’”

Mary was extravagant. She considered Jesus to be worthy of all her love and all that she had to give Him.

I recently heard the song, Nothing Else and the lyrics spoke to me about how I want to love Jesus, not for what He can do for me or give to me, but just for who He is.

I’m caught up in Your presence; I just want to sit here at Your feet
I’m caught up in this holy moment; I never want to leave

Oh, I’m not here for blessings. Jesus, You don’t owe me anything
More than anything that You can do, I just want You

Nothing Else by Cody Carnes

Sometimes we just need to be in the presence of Jesus, to simply worship Him for who He is and not ask Him for anything. As we go through this Holy Week, perhaps we can ask ourselves these questions and spend some time reflecting:

  • What do I have of great value that I can pour out on Jesus as a sign of my love for Him?
  • Is there something that I am holding back, something I’m reluctant to give to Him?
  • Have I given my all? Have I done what I could?
  • Can I take some time this week to be in the presence of Jesus; just to sit at His feet and tell Him how much I love Him?

If you have 5 minutes today or later this week, you may want to watch this video by Cece Winans, The Alabaster Box.

Alabaster Box – by Cece Winans – YouTube

The room grew still as she made her way to Jesus
She stumbled through the tears that make her blind
She felt such pain; some spoke in anger
Heard folks whisper there’s no place here for her kind

Still on she came through the shame that flushed her face
Until at last she knelt before his feet
And though she spoke no words, everything she said was heard
As she poured her love for the master from her box of Alabaster

And I’ve come to pour my praise on Him like oil from Mary’s Alabaster Box
Don’t be angry if I wash His feet with my tears and I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me, you did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His loving arms around me
And you don’t know the cost of the oil in my Alabaster box

I can’t forget the way life used to be; I was a prisoner to the sin that had me bound
And I spent my days, poured my life without measure
Into a little treasure box I thought I found
Until the day when Jesus came to me
And healed my soul with the wonder of His touch

So now I’m giving back to Him all the praise He’s worthy of
I’ve been forgiven and that’s why I love Him so much

And I’ve come to pour my praise on Him like oil from Mary’s Alabaster Box
Don’t be angry if I wash His feet with my tears and I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me, you did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His loving arms around me
And you don’t know the cost of the oil in my Alabaster box

 

May you find peace in the presence of Jesus.

 

 

written by Lt. Colonel Patricia LaBossiere, Territorial Secretary for Spiritual Life Development, USA East

 

CCLI License: 1711536

 

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