An Extravagant Gift

Lou Lotz

READ : John 12:1-8

“Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.” (v. 3)

When they pass the offering plates at church, how do you feel in that moment? Is giving a source of satisfaction? Do you give with joy and gratitude? Or are you giving out of a sense of guilt or coercion?

Imagine how this story would read if Mary had given her gift grudgingly, as we sometimes do. Listen to this: “Mary took a pound of costly perfume and said to Jesus, ‘What is everybody else giving?’”

Or how about this: “Mary took a pound of costly perfume and said to Jesus, ‘How much do you really need?’”

Or this: “Mary took a pound of costly perfume and said, ‘That’s all you ever do is ask for money.’”

Those things sound ridiculous. Mary doesn’t give grudgingly or sparingly. She doesn’t count the cost. She gives extravagantly and joyfully. The disciples think it is a waste. But it’s not a waste; it is a gift of love.

In this season of Lent we are mindful of the crucifixion. I imagine some onlooker shaking his head at the sight of this young man dying on the cross, and thinking: “What a waste.” But it wasn’t a waste. It was an extravagant gift, a pouring out, given willingly—for you.

PRAYER

Lord, thank you for the gift of salvation.