The AMI QT Devotionals April 10-16 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston. David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace who teaches at a public school.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR THE PASSION WEEK
“The Most ‘Wasteful’ Gift”
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Historians say the most expensive gift ever given in the history of mankind is the Taj Mahal. The Taj, located in India, was commissioned by Shah Jahan to be built in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It took 22 years, 20,000 laborers, and 32 million rupees (that’s around 1 billion US dollars if you convert and factor in inflation) to construct this monumental project. As beautiful and inspiring as the Taj Majal is, most of us would agree that the gesture was extremely wasteful. Think about how much you could do with 20,000 laborers in 22 years, with 1 billion dollars. And the Shah used all that to express his love for his deceased wife by constructing a building that has very little functional value. What a waste!
Those were the kinds of thoughts that enraged the onlookers of this dramatic scene from Mark 14. As the woman poured out 300 denarii (a year’s salary) worth of ointment upon Jesus’ feet, those who were nearby couldn’t help but be frustrated at the wasteful, inefficient nature of this woman’s offering. But what they failed to understand, and what we often forget, is that love is wasteful. When we genuinely express love to someone, it isn’t calculated, it isn’t necessarily efficient; in fact it’s often wasteful. No one understood this better than Jesus.
Historians got it wrong. The most expensive gift ever given in the history of mankind was not the Taj Majal; it was the life of Jesus Christ. A few days after the woman poured the ointment on Jesus’ feet, God paid our ransom by offering Jesus on the cross. He is the most wasteful giver of all time!
In your love for God, and your love for people, have you been wastefully loving? Or is your love always calculated and efficient? Today, let’s look for opportunities to love God and love one another genuinely, even wastefully.
Prayer: God, teach us how to give as You gave and to love as You loved—even if it means being inefficient for a time, or even being wasteful with our time, energy, and resources. Free us from anxieties and worries, which often inhibit us from loving wastefully. Thank You that You gave us the greatest gift of all in your Son, Jesus, and for sending Your Holy Spirit to be with us. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 3
LUNCH BREAK STUDY
Read Luke 11:9-13: And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Questions to Consider
- According to this passage, what must we do in order to receive from God?
- How can we trust that God would so easily give us good gifts?
- What gift is the heavenly Father so eager to give to us?
- The passage makes it clear that all we must do is ask! “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find….” Even though we know this is in Scripture, we aren’t used to this because the world doesn’t really function this way. We usually have to work and earn every other good thing we have. Consequently, this promise is easy to learn but hard to practice!
- Simply asking and receiving seems like too good of an offer to be true. How can we know that this is true? To help us understand, Jesus points to our earthly fathers. Even though they aren’t perfect, we can trust that most fathers know how to take care of their children and give them good gifts. In the same way, God is our Heavenly Father, and we can trust Him (even more than our earthly fathers) to give us good gifts when we simply ask.
- Some interpret this passage to mean that God would give us anything we ask for. And while we can certainly ask Him for anything, this passage is quite clear that the primary gift that God has in store for His children is the Holy Spirit. He knows that more than anything else, the Holy Spirit is the best and most crucial gift for us!
The most famous passage about receiving the Holy Spirit is from Acts 2, when the disciples were waiting, longing for the Holy Spirit to come, and He indeed comes. Consequently, we often think that we have to be in a certain spiritual state in order to be filled with the Spirit. But the book of Acts is filled with other instances of people being filled with the Spirit: those who knew nothing about the Spirit but just asked (Acts 19:1-6), one who was hostile towards God (Acts 9:17-20), and even Gentiles (Acts 10)!
Regardless of what “spiritual condition” you are in right now, ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit!