I once heard a sermon which mapped out the last journeys of Jesus. Do you know where his last stop was before he entered Jerusalem, which He knew would lead to agony and death? He went to see his dear friends, Mary and Martha and Lazarus.
Why did He want to spend his last days with these three? Think about where you would want to go if you knew you were about to die. You would go where you knew you were loved. Jesus went where He would be loved extravagantly. And that extravagant love would usher in the resurrection power of the risen Christ.
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 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. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ 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. ‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.’” John 12: 1-12
Looking at the above passage, we must ask ourselves what extravagant love looks like.
They showed their love for Jesus by welcoming and honoring Him.
They showed their love for Jesus in the way they spent their money.
They showed their love for Jesus by their willingness to be misunderstood and ridiculed because of Him.
They showed their love for Jesus by being willing to serve Him in humility.
Mary fell at Jesus’ feet, a sign of respect and awe. And she ceremonially washed His feet, which was the job of a servant or slave. Mary wiped His feet with her hair. In those days a women’s hair was her personal glory. When Mary let her hair down to wipe His feet she was communicating two things. She was saying, “Lord, I give all my glory to you, for you alone are worthy.” And she was saying, “I don’t care what others think. I am willing to appear foolish in expressing my love to my Lord.” That is extravagant love.
Others, also, experienced and enjoyed the fruit of Mary’s extravagant love. Note that “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3). When we love Jesus in an extravagant way, the overflow of that love spreads to others.
Most significantly, we see that Mary showed her love for Jesus by anointing His feet.
It was more customary to anoint the head. In many passages of the Bible, we find that the head was anointed to signify a prophet, like Elijah or Elisha. And anointing of the head was especially important in anointing a King, like David or Solomon. But nothing could make Jesus more of a King. He was already King of Kings when He was lying in a manger. He was worshiped as a King by the shepherds, and the wise men brought him King-worthy gifts.
What needed anointing were his feet, for he had a long, painful journey ahead of Him.
He had to walk the hill of Calvary.
He had to have those anointed feet nailed to a cross.
But most importantly, his feet were anointed for burial, because through death, His anointed feet would fulfill the very first prophesy of the coming Messiah.
“So the Lord God said to the serpent [Satan, who had tricked Eve], ‘Because you have done this, ‘Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. [Here comes the first prophesy!] And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he [Eve’s future offspring, Jesus!] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’” (Genesis 3: 14; author emphasis added)
You see, Jesus would use those anointed feet to spiritually stomp Satan’s headship, forever giving victory to all who believe!
We will spend a lot of our time in eternity at those anointed feet, falling down at His feet, casting our crowns at His feet. Why don’t we just go ahead and start loving Him extravagantly like that now, worshipping Him with all our heart and souls and mind and time and resources and homes.
After I thought all about what it looked like to love Jesus extravagantly, I had to ask myself: Would Jesus have come to my house?
Do I show extravagant love for Him?
Would He have come to your house?
It is significant that Jesus stayed in Bethany for six days. On the seventh day, He entered Jerusalem. Remember that seven is the biblical number for completion and perfection. Everything was fulfilled which needed to take place before the ultimate sacrifice began. And the last thing needed was the anointing for burial which Mary fulfilled through her extravagant display of love. Once we come to the place of surrender and extravagant love, then we are prepared to see an extraordinary God work mightily in our ordinary lives.