[W]ayne Forte is an exceptional visual artist and a good friend. He is one of the strongest biblical artists I know. His large figures convey a strength, power and beauty that captivate me every time I visit his studio.
It’s one of my favorite stories in the Gospels about wasteful extravagance. A redefinition of love. A holy twist. It’s two days before the Passover. Let’s pick up the story…
“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:6-13)
A whole year’s wages poured on Jesus’ head! Why this waste? It’s a great question and it was asked by a bunch of indignant disciples. It sounds like they have good intentions (We could have sold the perfume at a high price and given the money to the poor”), but I’m reminded how even our good intentions (and indignation!) can miss the heart of God. Note: The perfume wasn’t cheap. It wasn’t expensive. It was “very expensive.” And right after this story (read on in Matthew and Mark), Jesus gets betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.
Don’t you love that this woman’s extravagant love for Jesus doesn’t care what others think of her?Whatever her sin is or was, she is grateful for the extravagance of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. She doesn’t hold back! She is wasteful. Brokenness poured out in love. Imagine the perfume’s aroma filling the room and covering the stench of the disciple’s contempt. Why are you bothering this woman? You don’t even know what beautiful is! I love it.
The amazing story of wasteful extravagance and sacrificial love begs a few questions during this Holy Week 2011…
- How is our love extravagant towards God?
- Would we be willing to give up a whole year’s salary without being asked?
- How often are we held back by loving God more extravagantly for fear of what others might think?
- How are our lives marked by gratitude and generosity instead of judgment and criticism?
I’d love your comments and feedback! Have a wonderful, Christ-centered Holy Week.
Click here to visit Wayne Forte’s website.