This is the week leading up to the celebration of the ultimate demonstration of love. God who is Love, shoved us Extreme Love. This week I will be highlighting the wonderful love of Jesus as he gave his life for our salvation.
This afternoon I heard a very moving story about a different kind of “extreme” love. I visited with some newly made friends from California. They told me about their church. A few years ago when they were a “homeless” church, searching for a building where to meet, something extraordinary happened.
They were meeting in a borrowed gymnasium. A newlywed couple visited for their first Sunday. The young bride had a beautiful and very expensive wedding ring (worth $16,000). When the collection was made for the new building, this young bride felt that she should offer her ring to the building fund. The pastor felt overwhelmed and first did not want to accept the gift.
Can a gift to Jesus and his work be too big?
There was a widow in the times of Jesus that gave the smallest gift we can imagine (in our eyes)—“two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny” (Mark 12:42). In Jesus’ eyes she gave more than everybody else. She gave all that she had to live on!
There was another woman that gave with a heart of extreme love. Six days before the Passover Mary from Bethany showed her love for Jesus with a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet, and then she wiped them with her hair. And so, the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume!
Not everybody appreciated her act of extreme love. Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray Jesus, complained, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” There will always be complainers and people that don’t understand us when we shower our love on Jesus. But He understands and he sees our heart.
A year’s wages! “Why this waste?” asked the disciples indignant. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor” (Matthew 26:8,9). Nothing we give to Jesus is a waste!
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:6-9).
Back to the bride with the ring. Her husband must have made a big sacrifice to buy that ring. Maybe he even was paying if off on credit. But here was an opportunity to show extreme love, and she gave the ring out of love for Jesus and his work.
The widow gave a fraction of a penny, but it was all she had.
Mary poured perfume on Jesus worth a year’s wages. All week, wherever he went, the fragrance of the perfume lingered. In midst of the spitting, the beatings, the ridicule, the unfair treatment—Jesus and those around him could smell perfume. There was someone that loved Jesus so much that she didn’t mind pouring on him all she had worked hard to save up.
Not all the time will our gifts of love boomerang back to us as the gift of the ring did. Hear this! Someone in the congregation that heard about the ring offered to buy it, but on one condition: that the ring be given back to the young bride.
Can you imagine her surprise when it was given back to her? Thanks to her extreme love the church had $16,000 for the building fund. She did what she could, just like Mary and the widow with the copper coins.
What can you and I do this Easter to show Jesus extreme love?
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things [material needs] will be given to
you as well” (Matt 6:33).