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Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
I believe John chose to include this account in order that we might understand something of what real worship is. Worship is the center of Christian life. Mary took a pound of costly ointment and poured it on Jesus. Later, Judas complains about the extravagance of using what, in effect, was a year’s pay for a laborer, to anoint the feet of Jesus. This account makes clear that she understood the work of Jesus and the change he had made in her heart. She was also deeply appreciative not only of the restoration of her brother Lazarus, but in the magnificent teaching she heard from him as she sat at his feet. This is what accounts for her extravagance here. She spared no expense, she cared nothing for the customs of the day, entering into a supper where women were usually not welcome, letting down her hair in public, an unthinkable act in that culture, and openly expressing her love for Jesus. But that’s how love and worship act. They are uncaring of expense.
I don’t know what young men bring to young women these days to express their love, but, when I was a young man, it was a dozen American Beauty roses. I remember digging deep in my pocket once for what seemed an enormous amount of money, for a dozen such roses for a young lady. But love takes no note of things like expense.
I spent the summer one year traveling and speaking around the country, while my wife had to stay at the home of her parents, with our two little girls. One day when I was in Buffalo, New York, I was feeling sorry for her as I thought of her taking care of the children and working very hard, while I was free to travel and meet exciting people. I very much wanted to express my feelings of love, appreciation and gratitude for her. As I walked down a street in Buffalo I saw a beautiful fur coat in a store window. The price, however, was way out of my range. I wanted to take that coat home to Elaine to show my appreciation for all she had done that summer. My quite wealthy and very sympathetic companion, when told what I wanted to do, was very understanding, and offered to loan me the money to buy the coat. We worked out terms whereby I could repay a few dollars a week, and I bought the coat. When I got home and gave to my wife that incredible gift, which we never could have afforded, she was amazed and delighted. To this day that coat hangs in a closet in our home. I don’t think she can bear to part with it because it represents a gift of love, an extravagance that love delights in giving to show what is deep in the heart.
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Again, that’s how love and worship are uncaring of expense. Worship is a heart transformed that expresses itself regardless of cost.
Lord, you are worthy of the most extravagant gift. Teach me to worship you with love that delights in giving.
The essence of true prayer is worship. Are our prayers characterized by adoration, gratitude for who God is and His unequivocal and lavish love toward us in the gift of His Son, our Lord, our Savior?