by Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D.
Sometimes we offend people and that’s a hard thing to resolve. However, in those moments where people are offended because we love so extravagantly and they misunderstand it, let’s thank Jesus for the opportunity stand with Him. Let’s celebrate taking a risk and following the leading of the Holy Spirit even into uncharted waters. It’s so much better to obey God than to remain stationary and immoveable because of the fear of someone getting offended.
I have been marked recently by the story of one who loved Jesus so lavishly that it offended even His closest friends. Mary of Bethany was compelled with such passion and gratitude that she courageously loved Jesus through the offense, anger, rage, and misunderstanding surrounding her. She stepped through the fear of man to pour out such an extravagant love that thousands of years later, her act of love is still being celebrated.
A Lavish Gift of Thanksgiving
Mary of Bethany had lost all hope. Her brother Lazarus was dead and Jesus came too late to help. Her brother was gone. Deeply moved in spirit and troubled when He saw the pain in Mary’s heart, Jesus also wept with her. Then He went on to raise Lazarus from the dead. After this miracle, nothing was too costly to lavish upon Jesus as an act of thanksgiving and worship (John 11). A life was saved and restored because He was moved by compassion. What can one offer in exchange for a life restored? Mary poured out all she had over Jesus.
“While He (Jesus) was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head.” (Mark 14:3 NIV)
A Love that Burns through Offense
This intimate act of love for Jesus offended even His closest friends.
“Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly.” (Mark 14:4-5 NIV)
We find out in Matthew 26:6-13, that it was Jesus’ disciples, who rebuked Mary. This act of lavish love apprehended them, offended them, and arrested them. This act of extravagant love pushed their buttons to the point of anger and indignation. They saw it as a waste and not as the best stewardship of the gift that she had. She wasted it all on Jesus. We find out in John 12:4-6 that Judas Iscariot was the forerunner in rebuking this woman of her lavish love. It was not long after this, that he went on to betray Jesus for a mere thirty silver coins (Mark 14:10; Matthew 26). Mary’s radical act of love was catalytic in bringing alignment, purity, and focus once again. Those who were for Jesus would remain while those against Him would be repelled by such intimate expressions of love towards Him.
Jesus Covers Us
Jesus received this beautiful gift from Mary and stood in the gap to protect her from the accusations, rebukes, and anger.
“‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6-9 NIV)
What beautiful yet offensive acts of love are we going to pour out today? Sometimes the more intimate acts of love that Jesus sees as beautiful, the more offensive even to those closest to Jesus. Don’t be afraid to love Jesus extravagantly today even if others around you don’t understand or get offended. As long as you are led by the Spirit and led by love, He will be honored.
What kind of radical love will you pour out to Jesus simply because you are in love Him and grateful for all He’s done on your behalf? Who in your family has He brought back to life? How have you been impacted by His mercy? Where would you be right now without Jesus?
Today, may you throw aside every weight or distraction that entangles, may you run wholeheartedly into the arms of Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on Him, the Author and Finisher of your faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame so that He could lavish His love upon you (Hebrews 12). May you be inspired to step through fear of offending others to love Him excessively today. May your extravagant love spark a revolution and set things in motion for people to be impacted generations from now. May the expressions of your intimate love for Jesus arrest people with a new kind of love and awaken a passion inside of them to fall in love with Jesus like never before.