Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.
Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.
But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
Mark 14:3–9 (NLT)
As a woman and as a mom, I constantly pour out love without expecting anything in return. Since my kids were babies, I’ve given up my body for their benefit. I nursed them, spending every waking hour (and many of the non-waking ones) feeding them, changing their diapers, doing their laundry, and bouncing or rocking them. I’ve made grilled cheese sandwiches, tied shoes, prayed over consequences, and stayed up into the wee hours listening and worrying and picking up the house. I’ve done most of this while wearing the previous day’s clothes that I picked up off the floor, and very likely without having eaten a hot or complete meal myself that day.
As a daughter, as a wife, and as a friend, I’ve also been on the receiving end of such love.
My mom, a single mother from the time my siblings and I were very young, burned the candle at both ends to provide for us. Now that we are adults, she continues to love and care for us in new ways. One time she drove ten hours to watch my baby daughter while I participated in a work retreat, and she told me she loved every minute.
My husband pours out his love in both big and small ways. The dishes are his domain, and for that I am so thankful. (I love to cook. The cleanup? Not so much.) He makes sure my water bottle is full at night and my mug of coffee is poured in the morning. He cheers me on through countless work projects, holds my hand during scary dental procedures, and folds all the laundry.
Over the years my friends have shown up at different times to love me well. They have scrubbed my toilets. Cooked and dropped off meals. Prayed over text messages. Laughed and cried through both fun and hard times.
Love often calls for sacrificing our own comfort. We see this kind of extravagant love poured out in our own lives, we see this in the life of Christ, and we see it in Mark 14.
Jesus was eating a meal, and a woman came ready to pour out her love. Can you imagine the hammering of her heart as she approached the table? Can you see the look of hope, adoration, and terror on her face as she offered her lavish gift? Can you imagine Jesus looking at her with love and acceptance?
And then the disciples had the nerve to ridicule her offering. I love the way Jesus rebukes them, saying her gift would be remembered. What a comeback!
That woman recognized the extravagant love Jesus offered, and expecting nothing in return, she lavishly poured out her own love on Him. We too can give extravagantly of ourselves.
We can love our families by returning home to continue our work after a long day on the job. We can clean bathrooms, cook meals, and go back to the office the next day. We can wipe baby bottoms in the middle of the night or stroke a middle schooler’s hair after they’ve had a hard day. We can switch loads of laundry and do the dishes for the fifth time that day. All are gifts we give — some to ourselves and some to others — but are likely never thanked for.
Some of the most fulfilling gifts we can give are anonymous, and therefore thanks-less. There’s something heart-swelling about giving to someone without the possibility of being thanked, recognized, or credited. Maybe it’s paying for a stranger’s coffee order in the drive-thru or leaving a small gift or card on a friend’s doorstep. These acts are quiet in their anonymity, and heartfelt for both giver and recipient.
Jesus loved us extravagantly to the end, literally pouring out His own life so that we may live fully, abundantly (John 10:10). Because of the extravagant way we have been loved by Christ, we can do the hard work of daily living. And just as the woman poured out her heart and soul for Jesus with a jar of perfume, we can do the same for our family, friends, selves, and God.
Lord, thank You for going first in showing me how to love extravagantly. May I learn from You and then turn to those around me and do likewise. I pray that like the woman who poured perfume on Jesus’s head, I would pour out to others generously. Amen.
This article was written by Anna E. Rendell, as published in Empowered: More of Him for All of You.
Empowered: More of Him for All of You, by Mary Carver, Grace P. Cho, and Anna E. Rendell is designed to incorporate the five major components of our being — physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual. The sixty Scripture passages and devotions invite you to see from different angles how God empowers us, and each day ends with prayer and reflection questions to deepen the learning. Grab a copy now. We pray it blesses you.Leave a Comment