Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Extravagant Devotion

In John 12 we find Jesus reclining in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus just before the Passover, in fact, just before His own death and resurrection.

It says, “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.” (v. 3) Judas Iscariot took issue with this extravagance, saying, “’Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’” (v.5) Apparently he was not overly concerned about the poor, but had been pilfering from the money bag and saw what could have been his going to waste.

So, with whom in the passage can I most identify: Mary, Jesus, or Judas?

Oh dear. I have to confess, although I don’t see myself pilfering from the moneybag, I do see Judas’ point. Why all the waste? Why all the extravagance? Let’s be practical, even in our devotion to God. After all, what good does perfume really do? And the money from that perfume could have purchased how many nights' lodging on their travels, how many meals for the Jesus and the disciples?

Even if you concede that putting perfume on feet is an acceptable activity, let’s at least be frugal about it! I mean, Mary didn’t know that Jesus was about to die. Why not use a little bit today, and then there will be plenty left over for future visits?

But Mary used the entire pound all at once. The fragrance of the perfume filled the entire house. In fact, I've heard it said that as Jesus hung on the cross a few days later, that fragrance would still have surrounded Him, reminding Him even in His agony of Mary's love.

How often am I “prudent” in my devotion to Christ? Careful not to expend all my resources in one place. A little devotion, a little service, a little Bible reading, a little prayer. So guarded, measured. How often am I practical on God’s behalf, rather than allowing my motivation to be pure, unfettered love for my Master?

Oh Lord, let me be extravagantly devoted to You, just like Mary was. Let me pour my all out for You, everyday. Tomorrow’s devotion will take care of itself.

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