Holy Week Devotional: Extravagant Devotion
John 12:1–11 (ESV) 1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” 9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
Mary, in her anointing of Jesus' feet, valued Jesus at more than three hundred denarii, which was about a year's wages for the average worker. In the US, the latest census numbers show that the median household income in the country was $63,000. Imagine taking something worth that much and giving it to Jesus. This was an exceedingly extravagant sacrifice. But for Mary, Jesus was worth more than that.
In contrast, Judas viewed this act as a waste. Judas would later betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. We can understand this in reference to Exodus 21:32, where thirty shekels of silver was the price paid in recompense for the death of a slave. Mary treats Jesus as a King. Judas treats Jesus as a slave.
In this week leading up to Easter, we can all reflect on Jesus' value. How much is he worth to us? What would we be willing to sacrifice in order to honor him? Do I feel so thankful for what Jesus has done for me and my family, that I would voluntarily, without being asked or commanded or compelled, "waste" something of great earthly value on him?
When I was in my twenties, I read a verse in the Bible that said I should give to all who ask. And so out of a desire to completely obey Jesus' word, I literally did that. I gave to everyone who asked me. But I did it without hesitation or remorse, just because I loved Jesus so much.
What can we do to honor a savior who went to the cross for us? There is something to be said for wasteful extravagance in worship. Instead of the cold, calculating, frugal approach of Judas, may we learn the way of extravagant devotion of Mary. Jesus is worth it! He values each of us more than his own life. That is the amazing love of God of us.