September 5, Monday

markEditor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from September 5-11 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F. Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 20 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

Devotional Thought for Today

John 12:1-8 (ESV):

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” [1]

5In contemporary Christianity, extravagant worship is often equated with the extent and quality of its production. We assume a stage of good musicians accompanied by floodlights and special effects playing in front of a filled auditorium constitutes worship that is acceptable and worthy of God. Many of us enjoy these times of corporate worship and I would certainly include myself as a fan of church services that are well put together. However, Christ seems to prefer something far more intimate and personal than just a good performance in his name.

The anointing of Jesus’ feet by Mary is a display of personal extravagance that is rare and uncommon to the modern Christian. The thought of pouring out expensive ointment that was valued at a year’s wages would seem excessive and a waste even if it was meant to cover the feet of our Savior. Perhaps, if we were there we would have said the same words as Judas, that the money could have been better used to serve the poor. There are times when our pragmatic and utilitarian view of the Gospel keeps us from lavishing Christ with our personal devotion and love.

Love is often expressed through extravagance that can be mistaken as a waste. This is the only way to explain why men use three months of their salary on average to buy a ring that will spend most of its time in a jewelry box. Whenever our anniversary comes around, I take my wife to restaurants that I would never consider for myself. I tend to be fairly cheap so I don’t really see the value in paying 30 or 40 dollars for a plate of food because there are so many other things I could do with that money. Yet when it comes to spending money for a special evening with Mira, my financial preferences take a back seat to the love that we have shared over the years.

In the same way, Mary is pouring out her love upon Jesus in a way that doesn’t make sense to those who have never experienced this love. By anointing his feet with the ointment and washing them with her hair, Mary fills the room with worship that is as sweet and fragrant as any costly perfume. Each morning, we have an opportunity to express our devotion to the Lord, to pour out our love, and to live lives of extravagant worship.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that we would become worshippers who understand what it means to worship in Spirit and in truth. Teach us how to offer up our lives as a living sacrifice and to hold nothing back regardless of cost. May we learn to give you the extravagant worship that you are so worthy of. Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Jn 12:1–8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Bible Reading for Today: Luke 16

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Lunch Break Study 

Luke 7:36-50 (NIV): One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” 

Questions to Consider:

  1. Is this account the same as the one from this morning? How are they similar? How are they different?
  2. Why did Simon really invite Jesus for dinner?
  3. Who has the greater sin in this story?

Notes:

  1. Although the two stories are similar in many ways, it is clear that these are two completely different events based on their setting and others who are involved. Therefore, we can assume that Jesus moved two individual women to pour out oil over his feet in an act of worship and love.
  2. As the story unfolds, it is evident that the only intention that Simon the Pharisee had was to entrap Jesus. By withholding the common cultural courtesies, Simon revealed his open disdain for Jesus.
  3. I really enjoy the way John Ortberg summarizes the end of Jesus’ dinner with Simon, the Pharisee. He writes:

There is great sin defiling this room. But it is not the sin that Simon thinks. It is the sin of

Lips that won’t kiss

Knees that won’t bend

Eyes that will not weep

Hands that will not serve

Perfume that will never leave the jar

It is a sin of a heart that will not break,

A life that will not change,

And a soul that will not love.

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Evening Reflection  

Have you spent some time today in intimate communion with God? Are you listening for His voice? What if anything did He say? Take time to write down your thoughts and to respond to Him in worship.

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