One of the last Valentine’s that my loving husband was with me he came to greet me at work and brought me a BIG heart-shaped helium filled balloon. It was extravagant! He had never before got me such a big one. That was one of the last opportunities he had to surprise me so extravagantly.
These last few weeks I have been thinking very much about the theme I chose for this year, about spreading the fragrance of Christ, of being a sweet-smelling aroma to the world. Today I’ve been preparing some art-work to use for teaching about Mary and her extravagant gift of love.
I stood at my kitchen window, which could be called a “prayer closet,” looking out into the sky and thinking about that I have no fragrant perfume to offer Jesus. But I have my time and my talents. That is the “perfume” that I can pour out at the feet of my Master.
Let’s go to the story about Mary and Martha, two sisters that loved Jesus and did their uttermost to show him their love. Each of the sisters, in her their way, showered Jesus with love. (See Luke 10:38-42; John 12:1-8; Mark 14:3-9.)
The busy and hospitable Martha
Martha, the expert homemaker, loved Jesus with hospitality. I imagine her singing happily in the kitchen while preparing an exquisite dinner for the Master. I’m sure she was one of those women that loved to cook. She wasn’t making dinner just for the family and Jesus. No! She had at least a dozen additional guests, because Jesus always traveled together with his disciples.
When we read about Martha in Luke chapter 10, she was upset. She grumbled because Mary had left her alone in the kitchen. When Martha complained to Jesus about having to do all the work herself, the Master did not reprimand her because she was cooking. Somebody had to worry about the food! But he put things in perspective and told her that Mary had chosen “the good portion” and that it would not be taken away from her. Martha was distracted by all the preparations… A few moments at the feet of Jesus would have calmed her anxiety!
The gentle and loving Mary
I imagine Mary as the most gentle of the two sisters, a woman with a heart of gold. She was probably very industrious. I don’t think she got for free the expensive ointment or perfume she poured at the feet of Jesus. The jar with alabaster was valued at some three hundred denary, representing a whole year’s salary.
When Mary poured the costly perfume at the feet of Jesus, the disciples were indignant and asked, “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” (See Matthew 26:8,9.) There will always be critics!
Mary’s extravagant gift
Mary gave her best! How did Jesus react? He said to leave her alone.
“Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:6-9 ESV).
This is the key in any act of love: we do what we can. Martha was the expert cook; she “served” at the dinner party (John 12:2). That was her way of showing love. Mary sat at the feet of the Savior, listening to his words. I imagine that when she saw her assiduous sister preparing succulent dishes to serve the Master, she wondered what she could do to show him her love.
I guess that’s when she remembered the alabaster jar she had set apart for a special occasion. I don’t think the devil left her alone once she decided on pouring the perfume on the feet of Jesus. He probably bombarded her with arguments similar to the ones of the disciples, who considered it a waste to pour it on Jesus. Satan probably gave her thousands of ideas of a better use for the costly perfume; but she overcame those arguments and with the extravagant love of her gentle heart she knelt at the feet of the Master and poured out the perfume on her precious Savior. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume!
A Circle of Love
Today we can’t literally pour perfume at the feet of Jesus, but we can be his hands and feet to love others. We can fill the world with the fragrance of loving acts of kindness. Mary did what she could; and so did Martha. We can build a “circle of love” with willing and loving hands to serve Jesus. We can be extravagant in our love for the Master!
Martha, the expert in culinary arts, served Jesus with a hospitable heart.
Mary, gentle and assiduous, learned from the Master, seated at His feet, and she showed us how to offer Him our most precious possession.
What can you and I do to fill our world with the fragrance of loving acts? How can we show extravagant love to our Savior?
I’m sure there will be many “extravagant” gifts this Valentine. I will not get one. My “Valentine” has been gone for eight years. But the important thing is not to “get” but to “give.”
May our lives be an extravagant gift of love that honors Jesus! Ask Him today: How can I best be your loving hands? How can my life be a fragrant aroma to the world?