Extravagant Featured Article

Extravagant

The woman spoke not a word; her actions said it all as she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears (Luke 7:38). But her tears were nothing compared to the torrent of love pouring from her heart. Her hands cradled an alabaster box of pure nard, worth a year’s wages — a gift of immense value, fit for a King.

The woman then kissed Jesus’ feet. The Romans were prolific kissers. Friends were greeted with a kiss on the mouth or cheek, and persons of importance were greeted with a kiss on the hand. Subjects would greet a king by kissing his feet. Mary’s kiss was no sensual act but the highest adoration. To those skeptics gawking at her in disgust, every kiss screamed, “This is my King!”

Where did she obtain such selfless love? From the extravagant love of her Mentor. Mary was a partaker of God’s nature. His love was so stirring, it transformed sinners into saints. His love was so deep, it did what no nails could ever do: It held Jesus on the cross. God’s love was so extravagant, it compelled the Creator to surrender His life for His creatures (Ephesians 5:2).

The story continues: “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (John 12:3). The stupendous act of Jesus at Calvary has filled the theater of the universe with the fragrance of His extravagant love. His nature is to not just love but to love extravagantly.

This agape love is a sign of the true church of God: The fragrance attracts people to Jesus. Entertainers don’t attract sinners to the Father, nor a charismatic preacher or talented praise singers. It is people who experience the extravagant love of the Father through our selfless acts of love. It is sinners who witness in us passionate worship commensurate with the Object of our love.

Mary did not permit the cold-hearted critics to distract her from her adoration. She was laser-focused on her King, enamored by His grace and glory. She was there for Him, not for them. When the critics expressed their outrage over her gift, Messiah silenced their babbling: “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6, NIV).

Jesus recognized in Mary’s extravagance a reflection of His own raging love. Jesus was not stingy. To the hungry He gave bread and fish. To the disciples He gave power to heal and cast out demons. He gave five talents to one, two to another; He gave sight to the blind, health to the leper. He gave richly to those who didn’t deserve a cent. He gave and He lives to give.

Consider the tokens of God’s generosity. The Creator painted the plain fields with colorful flowers, then delicately scented them. He fashioned a variety of delicious fruits and vegetables, grains, and spices to make eating a joy. God didn’t just give us ears to hear words; He made our ears to hear melody — the song of the bird. He went out of His way to garnish our earthly home with beauty: foam-capped waves that crash on the white, sandy beaches; green hills and snow-capped peaks. He gave us blue lakes and clear mountain streams, the shining moon and diamond-studded night sky.

But most of all, the Father gave His only begotten Son, His most precious possession. What more could He give than He has already given? The least we can do is give Him our heartfelt adoration. When we truly experience Jesus’ extravagant love, our lukewarmness will be set ablaze. No longer will we be content with half-hearted, feeble worship. Our hearts will overflow with passionate adoration, just as Mary’s did two thousand years ago when she walked into a room and blew everyone’s mind. Her adoration was proportionate to the value of the One she adored. It was worship worthy of a King. Is ours?BA

Dirk Anderson leads a CoG7 congregation in Jacksonville, FL, and has authored six books.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail