Holy Week: Tuesday -There are better things than being useful.

So on Tuesday (before Friday) Jesus spent a lot of time teaching in the Temple (Mark 12 for one of 3 accounts), then dined in Bethany with his discples and was annointed by Mary Magdeline ( Matthew 26).

I know a girl who re-uses her zip lock bags. She even has a little baggy drying rack. She saves scraps of tin foil to re-use and never throws away wrapping paper. Unlike me she never has to buy those disposable plastic containers for leftovers but simply washes and saves all the ones that food already comes in (like yogurt or sour cream).
I admire this. Even if I like to be able to see my left-overs and like a fresh baggie for my sandwich. I mean not only is it better for the environment but it is frugal. And God calls us to be good stewards of our finances as well as this beautiful Earth. I could take a few lessons from this girl.

But.
Sometimes we over do it.
This whole value on “usefulness” and frugalness and being practical.

Jesus lived simply.
Most of the time.
But I’m not sure that I’d call him practical.
He had the reputation of being a drunkard. A glutton. A friend of tax-collectors. Prostitues. And sinners. ( based on Luke 7:34-35). Now I don’t think there is any biblical support of Jesus really being a drunkard or a glutton (I mean come on he fasted for 40 days), these were probably comments from Pharisees trying to point fingers …..but you don’t exactly get that reputation by saving your tin foil. You get it by breaking rules and doing unexpected things.

Jesus stuck it to Martha. She asked him for some help getting her little sister in line to help with the cooking and cleaning and instead, Jesus told her that Mary was just fine where she was. At his feet.
Not very practical. Or useful. I mean if he wanted to eat dinner any time soon.

And then he praised a widow for giving away her last two cents.
Again not so practical.

And finally, the straw that possibly broke Judas’s back. On Tuesday night while dining at the house of Simon the Leper just outside of Jerusalem.
He not only allowed, but praised, Mary Magdeline for pouring out the contents of a very expensive alabaster jar of perfume on his head.
What extravagant waste.

The disciples at least, saw it as a waste.
Jesus on the hand saw it for what it really was.
Beautiful. Worship. Surrender. And incredibly tender.

The disciples had good intentions though. They were pretty indignant and
scolded the woman (as she washed His feet with her very own tears) for not letting them sell the perfume and give the money to the poor. Because that was the “useful” thing to do. The practical thing to do. The good steward thing to do.

Her act of worship was too much for them. Too extravagant. These 12 men who had followed him for years and seen him perform miracle after miracle didn't even respond this intensely. They were good students ( well most of the time), they had given up a lot to follow him. But they didn’t have a clue how to worship.

And I’m thinking if Mary had wanted to she could have anointed Jesus with only part of the perfume. And there would have been some left to sell or use again. And it would have been enough. And maybe the disciples wouldn’t have raised such a stink. But her outpouring was extravagant. Too much. Outrageous.

Which is exactly the same kind of gift Christ was about to give us. His own extravagant, outrageous outpouring of love on the Cross.

And the best part of the story he saved for last.
Then Jesus, with special emphasis, then said, "I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her" (verses 8-13).

With special emphasis.
Jesus wanted her story told with his gospel. Throughout the world.
Wherever his story goes so should hers.
He wanted to make sure that this part wasn’t left out. Or skimmed over. That it received special emphasis.
So that we don’t get too caught up with our “usefulness”.
So that we are not so busy doing good works and being good students that we forget how to worship.
So that we realize how incredibly extravagant and outrageous his gift to us is.

9 comments:

mommaof3 said...

How do you come up with stuff? SO GOOD! Can I link it?

michelle said...

thanks! link away.

samskat said...

your posts always inspire me. think i'll post on FB for my other friends to read!!

Ann Kroeker said...

Powerful! I'm going to read this tomorrow to my family for a devotional thought of the day.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

This reminds me of the way Sally Lloyd-Jones describes God's love in THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE -- His never failing, never giving up, always and forever kind of love.

Extravagent, gracious, abundant.

jasonS said...

So good. Her not holding anything back was indeed prophetic of what Jesus was about to do.

Extravagant worship is what our lives should be about. It's not practical, but it's beautiful. Thanks.

Megan Willome said...

Amen!

JC Dude said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Katie Bodsworth said...

I'm a ziplock bag collector myself and what you say is so true. Sometimes we overdo it and have chicken every night for a week because it's cheap and then I'll have 20 euros left at the end of the month. And looking back on the moans of the kids; "Chicken, mum, AGAIN?" I wish I'd just spent that 20 euros on puddings or maybe lamb!
Appreciating the wonders of life, whether it's Jesus' gift to us on the cross or just how many flavours our tongues can pick out and enjoy is so much more important than we give it credit for!