THE UNSETTLING BEAUTY OF EXTRAVAGANT WORSHIP

June 03, 2024

THE UNSETTLING BEAUTY OF EXTRAVAGANT WORSHIP

 
 
Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3)
 
There’s something unsettling about unhindered worship. About those around us who worship the Lord with absolute abandonment.
 
Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ sister, was like that. Days before Jesus was to be crucified, He had come to their home, as He often did. With the risen Lazarus reclining at the table beside her Savior, Mary was overcome with love for the one who had done so much for her family.
 
Overwhelming love drove her to take a perfume worth a year’s wages and anoint Jesus’ feet. Then, with no thought of public shame, she loosened her hair and used it as a towel to wipe His feet.
 
THE FRAGRANCE
… of extravagant worship floods a room and ascends as a sweet, smelling sacrifice to the Father. It so pleased Christ that He made sure John recorded it for all time. He wanted everyone through human history to see the high bar of unrehearsed, unhindered worship.
 
THE OBJECTION
There are always miserly people who will be upset with such a display. Judas blurted out an objection.
 
But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. (John 12:4-6)
 
His hesitation was not out of sincerity but from a dark, selfish heart. This is almost always the case when religious people react to extravagant worship. It upsets their status quo and challenges their shallow faith. The only way they know to stop the spiritual assault of such a display is to try to shut it down.
 
“LET HER ALONE”
There are some, for sure, who make great displays of worship for their own recognition. But not the Marys among us. She was thinking of nothing but Jesus, and she cared not what others thought. Jesus knew, and as He did with the little children who had come to Him earlier, He didn’t rebuke true worship but rebuked those who would try to suppress it.
 
Earlier, Jesus told an adulterous woman who was coming to Him that God is not so concerned with where you worship or how, but the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). He's more interested in the substance than the form.
 
I wonder if I am counted with those who bless Him with unhindered, extravagant love.
 
MARY'S LOVE
She sensed the subtle sadness of His eyes,
She felt it coming soon; His time was near.
What humble act that He would not despise
Would comfort and subdue His hidden tears?
 
She took the costly fragrance of her love,
And gave the all she had with sudden whim.
Anointing her Messiah from above,
She knelt before the Lord and worshipped Him!
 
And then, with not a thought of public shame,
She loosed the band that held her silken hair,
And out of adoration for this Name,
She ministered to Him with gentle care.
 
And suddenly, the supper room was filled,
With fragrances of love unusually sweet.
The picture of this precious love had stilled
The others as they watched her at His feet.
 
What matchless love the Master can evoke;
What ardor doth spring forth from hearts He's touched.
And though we were not there the night He spoke,
O, Jesus, may we love you ere that much!
 
Bill Elliff
1986
 




Also in Graceful Truth

HOW TO BECOME AN UNUSABLE MAN
HOW TO BECOME AN UNUSABLE MAN

July 12, 2024

I doubt the title above is very enticing. Nobody wants their life to be shipwrecked. But it happens.

Continue Reading

MAKING MUCH OF GOD
MAKING MUCH OF GOD

July 10, 2024

It’s easy to make much of myself. To think of myself—what I want or think I need, what I feel others think about me, my aches and pains and discomforts, how it’s going with me, and how it could be better—I could go on for hours. Without hardly any effort, I can spend my day consumed with thoughts of little else.

Continue Reading

WHAT ARE YOU ACQUIRING?
WHAT ARE YOU ACQUIRING?

July 09, 2024

But the man who hides God’s Word in his heart and builds it into his soul with faithful obedience gains the great treasure. He becomes a wise man who knows God and can be greatly used by God to help others.

Continue Reading