10/09/F – Extravagant Worship

1 Samuel 30:21-31:13; John 11:55-12:8; Psalms 118:1-7; Proverbs 24:30-34

NT: “Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, the one Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there; Martha was serving them, and Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took a pound of perfume, pure and expensive nard, anointed Jesus’s feet, and wiped his feet with her hair. So the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot (who was about to betray him), said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the money-bag and would steal part of what was put in it. Jesus answered, “Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of my burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”” (‭‭John‬ ‭12:1-8‬ ‭CSB)

Just before Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He had a quiet and intimate dinner with His close friends in Bethany.  While Jesus was dining and enjoying the evening, Mary unexpectedly anointed Him with expensive perfumed oil and washed His feet with her hair. If Judas’ estimation of the resale value of the perfume was correct, the perfume was worth almost a year’s wages. That perfume was probably one of her most valuable possessions and part of her dowry – the representation of her worth to a potential husband. She offered it all in sacrificial worship to Jesus. Why would she do such a thing? Mary was someone who sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His words whenever she had the opportunity. She obviously treasured Jesus’ words, and most likely paid close attention to them and meditated on them regularly. She heard Jesus predict His death, and probably took those words very seriously… more seriously than the twelve disciples. So when it became evident to her that the inevitable was drawing close, she wanted to express her worship and devotion to her Messiah while He was still alive to receive it. The disciples (especially Judas) missed the significance of the moment. Judas was to concerned about appearing pious (and lining his pockets) to be able to recognize a truly selfless display of honor. The stark difference between Judas and Mary reminds me of the difference between Saul and David. Saul had no devotion to the Lord, while David said he would never offer anything unless it cost him something. David explained that God wasn’t after sacrifices… but costly sacrifices are evidence of a completely yielded heart – and that was what Mary displayed that evening. Work is never as important as authentic worship. Work that is not born out of worship is merely vain effort that produces little more than sweat. However, authentic worship will always produce work that is infused with divine grace and life. Mary’s act of selfless and extravagant worship blessed the Lord, blessed her, and blessed the entire house as the beautiful fragrance of her worship filled the room.

Psalms: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever. Let Israel say, “His faithful love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His faithful love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His faithful love endures forever.” I called to the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me and put me in a spacious place. The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me? The Lord is my helper; therefore, I will look in triumph on those who hate me.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭118:1-7‬ ‭CSB)

If we truly understood the depth of God’s goodness and the vastness of His faithful love and mercy, we could not help but give thanks to the Lord and praise His name. That is why the psalmist calls the nation of Israel, the entire priesthood, and all who are among God’s faithful (Jew and gentile alike) to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord God. He saves us, He delivers us, He provides for us, and He gives us peace. So lavishly give Him thanks and praise.

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