Walk with me
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint[a] 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.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 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.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
John 12:1-8 (NIV)
EXTRAVAGANT WORSHIP IS NEVER ENOUGH, BUT ALWAYS ACCEPTED.
One of my favorite things about my youngest daughter is how proud she is when she creates art. What may appear to be scribbles, shapes and abstract figures is her masterpiece. She will hold the picture up in front of her with pride and back up against the wall striking a predictable pose that says, "Dad, take my picture!"
Her artwork, while it never be hung up in an art museum, is always accepted by her Father. Our worship, as extravagant as it may seem, is never enought, but is always aaccepted our Father. We must give him our best!
This characteristic of extravagant worship is a negative one, but it’s a beautiful fact. Do you realize that Mary’s worship wasn’t enough?
Did she hope to repay Jesus? He’d raised Lazarus from the dead. She also seemed to understand that very soon Jesus would be dying for her. What’s that worth? Could one year’s wages pay for these things? She knew it wasn’t enough. God caused the plants to grow to provide the oil. God had placed the alabaster in the ground. God gave Mary her locks of hair, and she had the financial means to own that oil and the strength to be there that day because the Lord gave it to her. She couldn’t even give anything to Him that He hadn’t given to her in the first place! No matter how extravagant our worship to Jesus is, it will never come close what He deserves.
No matter how creative we are, nothing “wows” the Creator. No matter how much of our energy we pour into worship or how long we use our voices, we’ll wear out, and the praise in heaven never ceases. No matter how much we give what we consider our own, it’s already rightfully God’s. No matter how extravagant our worship, it will never be enough.
Now, Jesus didn’t say that about Mary’s extravagance. She already knew it. It was great, but it wasn’t “enough.” Still, it was her best. And when anyone gives their best, that honors Jesus.
Mary’s worship was accepted by Jesus. He didn’t stop Mary. There was no embarrassed turning away; no worry that what she was doing was inappropriate. There was no indignant look that what she was doing wasn’t good enough. In fact, nowhere do we ever read of Jesus turning away honest, heart-felt worship to Him -- and I’ll bet He saw some pretty different expressions of it!
I also notice this: realizing it wasn’t enough didn’t stop Mary. She still gave her best at the Savior’s feet. Whether her best was good enough or not, it was still what she would give. She understood something I wish we could all get our minds around: He deserved her best.
We should be so deliberate - even though our worship may not seem like much to us or to others. It’s never enough; it will never adequately honor Him. But He always deserves it, and He always accepts it.
Your singing, no matter how finely polished, isn’t perfect like God deserves. Still God deserves the best you can do for Him. The way you play an instrument now can’t approach how well I think you’ll be able to play it in heaven. Still, God is worthy of your very best right now. A poor widow lady knew that her two copper coins didn’t amount to much in the temple treasury, but her act of worship was her best to God, and Jesus praised her for that. Right now, our most extreme acts of worship will never measure up to the glory of heaven, but they’ll always be accepted.
Just like the crayon scribbles made with love by a child bring joy to a parent.