Tucked in to the middle of Holy Week, the Gospels tell us that Jesus was having dinner with his disciples and some others when they experienced an interruption. A woman enters the scene – Matthew and Mark refer to her simply as “a woman” while John identifies her as “Mary”. She apparently causes quite a stir when she breaks open a very expensive jar of perfume and anoints Jesus’ head, then washes His feet with her tears. The disciples were pretty indignant that she had “wasted” such an expensive item, when it could have been sold, and the money given to the poor.
A couple new things hit me as I read through this passage tonight. For one thing, this woman risked. A lot. She walked into the middle of a group of men who she knew would judge her, and gave what may have been her most prized possession. She must have known she was going to be criticized, ridiculed, and condemned. But she didn’t care. I imagine maybe she didn’t even see the others around her. She knew they were there, of course, but I picture her so focused on the One she loved, that she didn’t care about anything else. She was there on a mission and nothing could stop her.
Another thing. . . she washed His feet with her tears! I have read or heard this story hundreds of times, and it never crossed my mind how hard she must have been crying if there were enough tears to wash His feet. We’re talking Big Ugly Cry here. Again, she didn’t care. Oblivious to the stares and judgments of those around her who didn’t understand, she unabashedly poured out her heart. She wept at His feet.
Jesus, unlike the rest of the guests there, saw her heart. He saw the pure love of someone who had been rescued and forgiven. He told the disciples and others to quit bugging her (my paraphrase) because she had performed an act of great beauty and sacrifice that would be remembered forever. She had loved extravagantly because she had been loved by Jesus.
Oh, how I want to love extravagantly. To pour myself out for those whom God has given me to love. To give sacrificially, joyfully, and with a heart full of gratitude. The best way I am finding so far to do this (since I am sadly lacking in very expensive perfumes, and I’m pretty sure my loved ones don’t want me anointing their heads and crying on their feet anyway) is to simply be present. To lay aside distractions and listen with my whole self. To give up the idea that I have to have answers for every problem and just be there. Sit with. Accept.
I haven’t even begun to figure out how to do really do this well. But I want to. And I have been extravagantly loved and lavishly forgiven by the One who can show me how.