Think about the most extravagant gift you have received. Mukesh Ambani gifted his wife an aeroplane on her birthday.
What do we know about extravagant people in the Bible? What do we know of extravagant people in Church history?
C. T Studd was a very, very rich cricketer – he was the Tendulkar of his time. One day his brother came close to death and that got him thinking. It made him think about his popularity, his money, his fame. He went to listen to D. L Moody and there he became a Christian. His life was transformed and he became passionate about telling people about Jesus. He continued to play cricket for a while so that he could take his friends to listen to D. L Moody.
At the age of 25 he came into a rich inheritance. He decided to give it away- he gave a part of it to D.L Moody, to George Muller, the Salvation Army (from that money, they sent 50 people to India), Hudson Taylor (who went to China)and he gave a bit to the lady he was to marry (she in turn gave it all away).
C.T Studd went to China. After that he went to Africa. He said “no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him” What an amazing life!
Of course, the most extravagant giving of all time has been from God. He gave His only son, Jesus, to come to earth and died a horrible death on a cross, so that our sins could be paid for and we can be forgiven and experience new life.
There is another life I want to talk about this morning. It’s in the bible. Our text for today is
John 12:1-7 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.3 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.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
In the gospel of Matthew in chapter 26 we are told this dinner was given at Simon the leper’s home.
Simon the “leper”_ - possibly he was healed by Jesus or else he would not have been socializing with people. (He would have been ostracized and living in a “leper colony”). Martha was serving – probably helping the hostess. She was always serving in the background. People may not have noticed but God records it for us here. When you serve, don’t think that God doesn’t take notice of what you do.
Verse3- Mary takes a pint of pure nard and expensive perfume. (Commentators say it came from North India – must have been what we call “Attar”) She does the unconventional thing i.e. enter the men’s section in the house and pours approximately 300 grams/ ml of perfume. The Alabaster jar was no ordinary jar. The jar was expensive in itself. She could have delicately poured out the perfume – but she spares nothing – she breaks it. She poured it on his feet and head and then wipes his feet with her mixed that gets mixed with her tears as well. This was indeed a demonstration of very extravagant love and devotion.
Luke 7:36-48 Records it as Mary’s expression of love because she realized how much she had been forgiven. By contrast, Simon who was healed gets rebuked for not washing Jesus’ feet ( Luke 7:44) which was the customary thing to do when a visitor stepped off the dusty streets into your home.
The reality is that we are all BIG sinners. We need to reflect on how much we have been forgiven. When we do this our prayers and thanks giving will overflow.
How did the disciples react?
Verse 4 – Judas was vocal but the others also rebuked her harshly. Judas calculated that it was a year’s wages. They were calculating the cost. Mary was thinking with her heart.
Today is Gift Day. Let’s give with our hearts and not our heads. Let us express devotion to Him.
Did he say “Oh you shouldn’t have done that! He allowed it. Mary got a chance to participate in Jesus’ burial. The perfume was wasted on Jesus – it prepared him for his burial.
How can we be extravagant like this?
1) Extravagant devotion – in worship. Mary wasted all she had on Jesus. Who and what are you wasting your life on?
2) Serving – out time and energy for things of the kingdom. Steven Jobs is dead – he left it all behind. Where is he now?
3) Reputation – she did the unconventional. Only slaves touched another’s feet. That’s what she did and more. Nothing is below our dignity when it comes to serving Jesus. WE are unworthy to untie his sandals.
4) J. C Ryll – “the grateful act of one humble woman is recorded in 150 languages (maybe more today) and all over the globe” and will be remember for generations to come.
Are we willing to waste our time, money, serving, and reputation for Jesus? There are great rewards when we do this.