Posted by: Brad Beaman | December 13, 2007

Mary of Bethany: Total Commitment to Christ

I get motivated when I hear songs about the extent people will go for love. I read this poetic expression of love recently.

I would climb the highest mountain for your love. I would swim the deepest ocean. Oh my love, I will come by and see you Saturday if it is not raining.

Not much of a commitment there. But we find a woman in scripture named Mary, who was the sister of Lazarus that would give the moon if it were hers to give. Mary gave extravagantly to the Lord.

Should we speak about extravagance when the economy is bad? Working people are losing jobs. The house market is sluggish. People are being impacted by interest rates, and inflation. There is less money to operate on. Is it really a good time to pour out lavishly for the Lord?

Extravagance is really a measure of your values. What is really important to us we will spend insurmountable time on. We see it as essential, a must.

Mary of Bethany the sister of Lazarus. She was accused of being wasteful and extravagant because she poured out expensive ointment on our Lord. But what she did tells us where her values are. She had total commitment to Christ.

John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 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.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 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.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. ” It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

John chapter 11 we read of Jesus in Bethany raising Lazarus to life after he was dead four days in the tomb.

Jesus had his skeptics in Bethany. Even after Lazarus was raised from the dead there were still those who would not accept Jesus ministry. These were among some of Jesus most hard hearted skeptics.

After Lazarus was raised from the dead they wanted to kill Jesus. They even wanted to kill Lazarus for being alive.

But there were also those who honored Jesus for what he did. They honored him with a dinner. While Lazarus was reclining at the table his sister Martha was in the kitchen. Mary was at the feet of Jesus.

Mary took very expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus feet lavishly. The whole house was filled with the aroma. Mary responded out of love. Not only had Jesus brought her brother back to life, she experienced the blessing of Jesus ministry.

Mary poured the expensive perfume on Jesus feet and then wiped it off with her hair. What was the response to Mary’s devotion to Christ?

What Marry did represented total commitment? When the farmyard animals had a meeting they decided they would like to really do something nice for the farmer who had treated them so well. Finally the hen suggested; why don’t we give the farmer bacon and eggs? The pig responded, for you that is a contribution, for me that is total commitment.

Judas objected to the waste. This perfume was worth a year’s wages. It could have been sold to and given to the poor.

The writer of this gospel may have believed the words of Judas at the time, but writing this he knows better. Judas was no Mother Teresa. He said this not because of his concern for the poor but because of his own greed. He kept the money and he wanted this money kept where he could pilfer it.

When you pour out everything for Christ like Mary did expect to be criticized. Don’t expect people to understand that kind of zeal for Christ. When there is an offering for the ends of the earth expect people to say, this is wasteful. There are too many needs at home.

Don’t let hard heartedness of others and their spiritual blindness keep you from expressing your love to Christ. We can never match God’s extravagance on the cross.

Mary responded from her heart in love. You can’t give too much to Jesus. Nothing given to our Lord is extravagant or wasteful.

Maybe you passed up a wonderful job opportunity that would compromise your faith. When I was working for Quaker Oats in the 1980’s Fortune Magazine published an article about Quaker Oats having golden handcuffs. How could you leave? The high pay had the management handcuffed to the company. I did leave a high paying job at Quaker Oats to work with youth in a low paying job in youth ministry. I heard criticism for making that move.

You need to realize your sense of debt to Christ then you can give freely from a grateful heart. Mark 8:35 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

Mary was criticized by Jesus disciples. But Jesus himself acknowledged the worth of this gift. Jesus didn’t view Mary’s actions as wasteful. This was God’s will.

Giving a year’s salary to the Lord? That is extravagant some would say. Yes. How would Jesus respond? Leave them alone this is God’s will. Yes these are difficult financial times. The time to be extravagant is now.

Don’t be found criticizing others who pour out lavishly for Jesus. Don’t pretend to have a zeal for some other cause. Mary was rebuked by man, but praised by Jesus. You cannot apply the term waste to pouring out devotion to our Lord.

It’s not extravagant to give, to pray to go. None of this is extravagant if your values are in Christ. Do something big for God. Its time for the kind of extravagance Mary had.



  1. Great Job!

  2. This came up on my que tonight. April 8 2009. I really like this writing. well done.


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