March 03, 2008

The Extravagance of Love

John 12:3-7

Mary took about a pint of pure nard … poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.
John 12:3


While Jesus was at the dinner party in Bethany, an extraordinary thing happened. Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair.

Mary’s actions would seem very strange in our society today, but they were unusual in Jesus’ day too. In those days it was considered indecent for a woman to “let down her hair” the way Mary did—not to mention using her hair to wipe someone’s feet. What’s more, the perfume Mary used was worth about a year’s wages. Jesus’ disciple Judas spoke out against Mary for “wasting” this expensive perfume, but he was probably only stating what most of the others were also thinking.

Have you ever given a year’s wages to the Lord at one time? Think of your own income from last year. Imagine giving that much away. Does that seem extravagant to you? Behind Mary’s generous financial sacrifice, though, was an even greater gift—her entire life given in service to her Lord.

Jesus did not rebuke Mary. Instead he said, “Leave her alone,” and explained that her act of devotion would help prepare him for his burial, which he knew would happen in less than a week. Though we may not understand all that Jesus said in this passage, we know that he appreciated Mary’s expression of love and that she did the right thing by honoring him above all.

Lord, our gifts to you pale in comparison to your gift of eternal life by your sacrifice on the cross. May our lives placed in your service be our fitting response. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Jerry Hoytema

Pastor Jerry Hoytema is a retired minister living in Ontario. In his retirement he has served several churches as an interim pastor. He and his wife, Winnie, have four children and 13 grandchildren.

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