8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” – Matthew 26: 6-13
I can imagine the disciples grumbling to one another about how foolish this woman was for wasting such an inexpensive gift. “How can she be so wasteful?” “Imagine all the good that we could do with the money that perfume would bring.” “Why is Jesus just letting her do that?”
Instead of ignoring them and letting their grumblings linger, Jesus immediately silences them by defending the gracious actions of this woman. He calls what she did beautiful. Jesus acknowledges the disciples concern and the fact that yes, there are the poor to help, but that the poor would still be there to take care of, and he would not. He was reminding them not only of his impending death, but of a deeper lesson; to be able to see the big picture of how they were to serve, as well as those who had an immediate need of extravagant grace and love.
Sometimes the need to demonstrate God’s extravagant love is the only way to bring healing, hope, or grace to a broken life. Perhaps through an expensive gift offered in an extreme demonstration of loving surrender says, “You are valued and worthy of this sacrifice.”
Let me paint a picture….
Imagine a broken woman who has lost everything because she finally had the courage to leave an abusive relationship. She is brought by a stranger to a local church who distributes clothing and food, hoping she will be able to pick up a few necessities before starting a new life, alone, in a shelter. She walks in dirty, bruised, and ashamed. Her gaze never rises to meet anyone’s eyes, afraid she will see judgement and pity reflected back. She is fighting not only the tears that are constantly at the point of overflowing, but also the urge to just flee and return to the life she has been told she deserves. She is embarrassed by the dirty and torn clothes she has on, and as she looks through the few racks of neglected items, she wonders if this is what her life will be from now on. Will she always get second best, the leftovers, the unwanted, the discarded? Is this her worth? She at least had her own, new clothes at home, even if it meant disparaging insults and a few black eyes. No, this is better, she thinks. As she is looking at the selection of shoes, all too small or too large, she notices a woman about her age watching her from the doorway. She is surprised not to see a look of disgust on the woman’s face, but rather an open curiosity and , yes, a hesitancy to speak to her. As she offers a tentative smile, the woman makes her way over. The woman places a pretty, small bag in her bruised hand, squeezes her hands gently, and says a few words, “Just in case.” She then smiles brightly at her and leaves the room as quickly as she came. Unsure of what has happened she looks down at the purse. She is shocked to see it is a designer bag, and that inside is a note along with a coin purse. The note has a few sentences written in a script that reminds her of her best friend; pretty but easy to read.
“I have been where you are and I know the courage it takes to start again. This is just in case you don’t find anything you like or in your size, or you just need to remind yourself you are worth splurging on. It will get better, and there is always hope. I wish someone had told me that from the start, as well as how much we each deserve to be loved extravagantly. Know that there is One who already loves you just like that, as you are.”
There is also a small passage of scripture telling her that “God makes everything beautiful in its time.” Her hands are trembling as she opens the coin purse and finds a couple hundred dollars inside. This is more than she can handle and as the tears finally fall, she also smiles her old, true smile for the first time in years, and she feels the seeds of hope begin to take root.
An extravagant act of kindness? Absolutely. A chance to reach a broken, defensive heart in a tangible manner that speaks volumes about worth, grace, and God’s love? It’s worth the sacrifice to take the chance.
When we allow God to move us out of our comfort zone to serve others, to love others, in radical and sometimes “foolish” ways, not only will God often move in amazing ways, but we deepen our own faith and profound sense of joy. We know that by making a great sacrifice for what may seem foolish to the world or even others around us, or of little reward, God is able to bring great things, even miracles. We can glory not in our greatness, but in the amazing love of God. We take part in something beautiful created from ashes.
“25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” -1 Corinthians 1: 25-31
How has God urged you to love someone extravagantly?
I hope you join me tomorrow as we continue to journey to the cross and beyond.