Summary: 5th in the Series "Near to His Heart: The Gospel of John." Looks at Mary’s Extravagant gift to Jesus and asks if we give extravagantly to Him.
There is a wonderful story by the name of Babette’s Feast, by Isak Dineson. The setting is a small village on the coast of Denmark many years ago. Two spinster sisters provide leadership for a small church, which was founded by their now dead pastor-father many years before. The group has dwindled to eleven sour-faced, self-righteous, elderly people filled with pride and suspicious of each other.
One stormy, rainy night Babette arrives at the door of the sisters. She is drenched, exhausted and needing refuge. She is a middle-aged refugee from France bearing a letter of recommendation from an old friend of the sisters. The letter simply says, “Babette can cook."
Babette ends up staying 14 years with the sisters, cleaning and cooking for her own room and board. Then comes the exciting news that a lottery ticket, which a friend in France has renewed for her every year, has won 10,000 francs. The two sisters celebrate her good fortune but begin to grieve what they believe will be the leaving of their friend, Babette.
What Babette does next is an exuberant expression of love and gratitude. She proceeds to give an extravagant gift to the sisters and the small group of pious elders. She asks permission from the sisters to prepare a meal in honor of the 100th anniversary of their pastor-father’s birth. Furthermore, she wants to pay for this with her own money. Reluctantly, the sisters agree.
The eleven members of the church and a few other guests are present at this feast. As the cold wind howls outside Babette treats them all to an incredible, gourmet dinner of turtle soup, caviar, quail, pastries, champagne and rare aged wine. It is unlike anything the village has ever seen. After the feast Babete reveals that she was once chef at a world-renowned cafe in Paris. The sisters are aghast to discover that she has spent her entire 10,000 francs on the feast.
At first glance it would seem that this extravagant gift is wasted on an unappreciative group of pious sour-faces. But, that’s not the way it turns out. The gourmet dinner has a transforming effect.
The amazing grace of turtle soup and caviar creates a space in which old feuds are settled, friendship and love are rekindled, and genuine fellowship is experienced.
Babete’s extravagant gift was one of genuine love. Jesus’ experienced Mary’s gift just this way. In fact how Jesus received her gift ensured that she would forever be an example to us of genuine worship.
Mary shows us one of the most important things we need to understand if we want to draw near to the heart of Jesus. We need to learn to love him extravagantly with our whole heart.
As we look at Mary’s extravagant love I hope we’ll see what true worship looks like and learn to practice it in our own lives. The first thing we should understand is that Extravagant Love
Doesn’t Count the Cost
3aThen Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.
Many of you know that Kathleen and I are in the process of adopting a baby girl from China. It’s a long and costly process but something that we strongly feel the Lord is directing us to do. One of the things we’re doing in preparation for our adoption is saving money in a plastic jar. But I don’t want to tell a story about my wife and me, I want to share a story about our son Aaron.
At Royal Rangers on Wednesday he earned a dollar for learning books of the Bible. I found it in his pocket as I picked up his pants off the floor. He told me where he had gotten it and I said I would put it on his shelf so he could spend it at the dollar store—there’s nothing he likes better than being turned loose knowing he can get anything in the store. But he said “No, put it in the jar for the Chinese Baby.”
What a wonderful picture of what Mary did for Jesus. Aaron wanted to give all that he had for the love of a baby he’s never seen.
Judas helpfully tells us that the perfume Mary poured out was worth a year’s wages. In the ancient world perfume was one of the commodities that people used to store their wealth—there were no banks or stock market. In all likelihood this box of perfume represented Mary’s life savings. And she recklessly spilled it out for love of her Lord. You see he had brought her brother back from the dead and she wanted to show her gratitude in the most meaningful way she could.
In less than a week Jesus would pour himself out for herand for us as well, giving his life on a cross to pay for our sins so that we all might live forever with him.