Disturbing, Extravagant Love – John 12:1-8


Calvary was near, Gethsemane and Golgotha were drawing close…the smell of death was in the air.  Jesus was going to love us to the uttermost.  He was going to demonstrate a disturbing, extravagant love.  The Guiltless One was going to die for the guilty ones, which in itself is disturbing, but it was more than this, He was going to die for us while we were still unrighteous, godless, sinners and ingrates.  We were not good.

Imagine a man is in prison for murdering your family. He is guilty and he could care less that he has done this evil, in fact he is smug about it.  The Judge tells you that this guilty, godless ingrate can be completely exonerated if you will willingly lay down your life for his. Would you do it? Would I?

This is an imperfect illustration, but it gives us just an idea of the disturbing, extravagant love that the Savior has shown to us.

Mary somehow knows what awaits her Savior, the disciples are still too dull, they do not understand what is coming.  She has been overcome by the love of Christ so she anoints Him for His burial, she loves Him back with a disturbing, extravagant love.  She breaks open a flask of costly spikenard and pours it over the hair that will soon be matted with blood.  The value of the spikenard is more than a year’s wages.  For a short time, the smell of death is overcome with the aroma of the fragrant oil.

The depth of her love is disturbing, it is so extravagant that it makes the disciples completely uncomfortable.  They verbally scold her.

This act of love for Jesus, disturbs the peace. This is often the case today. Disturbing acts of extravagant love are still met with criticism from people, often those in the family of God. I think we are not surprised when extravagant love for Jesus is misunderstood and criticized by the world, but when it comes from the family of God, this is another thing altogether.

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Missionaries throughout the church age have something in common with Mary, their lavish love for Jesus has often disturbed the peace. This is still the case today.  I have talked with many missionaries over the last 25 years who tell of the criticism and opposition that has come from those in family of God.  How many missionaries have in essence been asked the same question that the disciples asked Mary, “Why this waste?”

Jesus responds to their question, with a question of His own. “Why do you trouble her?  She has done a beautiful thing to me.”  These are words of comfort and encouragement for every risk taking, danger seeking, Gospel-spreading, peace disturbing, Christ-loving missionary that has faced criticism and scolding from other Christians.

“Missionaries, you have done a beautiful thing for Jesus! As you pour out your lives, may He use you to spread the sweet aroma of His love to places that smell only of death. Jesus would always remember what Mary did for Him, He too will not fail to remember your acts of love to and for Him.”

Matthew Ellison


Matthew serves as the President and Missions Coach of Sixteen:Fifteen. He is the co-author of When Everything Is MissionsFor more information on how Sixteen:Fifteen can help unleash your church’s potential to reach the nations, call to talk with a Church Coach at 505-248-1615, email info@1615.org or www.1615.org to visit our website.