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Extravagant Love on Everlasting Display, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
March 24, 2023 7:05 am

Extravagant Love on Everlasting Display, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll

The Gospel writers told us about a moment when Mary approached Jesus with a personal gift. She brought Him a beautiful alabaster jar that contained expensive perfume. Mary's lavish generosity was well received by Jesus, but the onlookers gave her mixed reviews. Some thought it was amazing.

Others thought her gift was wasteful. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll recreates this dramatic moment and helps us understand the implications for today. Ever wonder how you can best express your gratitude to God? The answer might be found in this portrayal of extravagant love on everlasting display.

Father, there aren't enough things in our lives that will be remembered and discussed. So when we come across a moment such as this, we pause and let the wonder in. What a beautiful expression of this woman's adoration for your son, Jesus.

And without a word, she expressed it in this extravagant manner. How marvelous to witness such an extreme act of devotion. We seldom see such things in our lives. Thank you for the opportunity today to sit before you, to have your word resting in our laps, being able to read it in our own language, knowing there were those who gave their lives that this might happen. May we treat your word with enormous respect. May we see it as no other body of literature. May we realize that it is alive, it is active, sharper than a double-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joint and marrow, and as a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.

So we invite you to probe. Open our eyes that we might see what you see and hear what you say and adjust our lives to your plan, whatever that may mean. In the quietness of our worship, we acknowledge you as our only God, the one and only God. We turn to you, we rely on you, we believe in you, we answer to you, and we do so willingly, gratefully. Change us, Lord, so that we might become more like your son.

Begin deep within. And as you do your work inside us, may it evidence itself on the outside of us in random acts of kindness, words graciously spoken, kind statements, willing forgiveness. And finally, Lord, I pray that you will purify us and make us holy, holy, holy. Through Christ our Lord, we pray. Everyone said, Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living. To dig deeper into the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to slash studies.

And now the message from Chuck titled Extravagant Love on Everlasting Display. As you read in the first verse of Mark's words in chapter 14, of all things, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, those who should have been most consumed with the time of the year were preoccupied with murder. In their mind was one hope, and that was to capture Jesus secretly, push him through trials, take him to torture and then to death.

Get rid of him, this phony Messiah. So they thought. Now, why secretly? Understand, again, it's Passover and so they knew that if they acted in public and the word got out, there would be a riot.

That's the last thing they wanted. When you get to verses two and three of this 14th chapter, you see that Mark has escorted us out of the busy city of Jerusalem and up into a quiet and quaint village named Bethany. They're in the home of a man who had once had leprosy, but had now been cleansed of it. But he would live with the stigma the rest of his life. Simon the leper. Simon must have loved Jesus. He wanted him there in his home for a meal.

And with Jesus came the disciples. And they are reclining at the table. Interesting way to put it. We don't recline at tables today. We sit around tables. But in those days, tables had no legs. Tabletop set on the floor. And pillows were provided around the edges for comfort.

And people reclined on their side and they would eat with their hands and fingers from the table and drink from the chalices that were provided. So they're engaged in this meal. What they talk about, we're not told.

I imagine, and it's only that, worth nothing more than an opinion. I imagine Jesus said very little, if anything. He's preoccupied.

The time of the torture is soon to come, only hours away. So the small talk around the table, the passing of food, the eating of it, the conversation doesn't really matter enough for Mark or any of the Gospel writers to mention. But all of them tell of the interruption that occurred that was such all eating and all talking stopped. This is an all men's gathering and suddenly through the door, unannounced and unexpected, came a woman. We don't know her name from what Mark writes, but thanks to John and Matthew, we know that she is Mary of Bethany. Common name in that day.

Mary walks in. It's not who she was that was significant, it's what she was carrying. And here we're to take this in with a great deal of interest. Most unusual, most expensive. We read that she was carrying a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive, exquisite perfume made from the essence of nard.

We're unfamiliar with those words. You do a little research on this and you find that this was made from the leaves of a rare plant, the oil excreted from the leaves. A plant in the Himalayas. Perhaps the most expensive of all perfumes. We are told by each of the writers that it was worth a year's wage.

So if you want to know the cost, as I'm sure some of you would love to know, think about what you make each year. That was the value or the cost I should say of what was in this alabaster jar. She walks in, I'm impressed with this, she says nothing. Then she does something extremely extravagant.

She breaks open the jar, quite likely the first time ever in her life. The scent must have filled the room instantly. And of all things, she poured it out on his head.

John adds that she poured it on his feet and massaged his feet with her hair. In the verses that follow the magnificent moment is almost ruined by the impudence of some of the men who were, we read it, indignant. They missed the whole point of her act of worship by a mile. This was her profound moment of devotion. This was her sacrificial worship, the most significant of her life.

Her deep desire to pour it all out for Christ. Without saying a word, I repeat, and here sit these carping critics. What an extravagant waste.

What are you doing, woman? It was an impulsive act of grandstanding to them. Did you notice? They're redignant.

They scold her like you would a mangy dog that had roamed through the room. How thoughtless, they added, you could have even given this money to the poor, those hypocrites. Why would us say that? Well, unfortunately, we do not have John, what he wrote in front of us. If you take the time to read John chapter 12 verse 6, I encourage you to do that.

You will see who spoke first. Judas Iscariot, and John adds, because he's writing after the fact, he was a thief. He was the one who held the purse. He was the one who stole from the treasury of the disciples.

Did you know that? He's the only disciple not from Galilee. He's from Judea.

Probably, intelligence-wise, the brightest of the bunch. So he was chosen to keep the money bag. What little bit they had, and he stole from that. He's the one who says, you could have given the money to the poor. He didn't care about the poor. He cared that he didn't get into it. And I love it that Jesus finally speaks.

And when he does, it is really worth reading. Leave her alone. Our way of saying back off. Mary still has said nothing. She's simply going about what she came to do. Jesus commends her for her extravagance, having rebuked those disciples who were criticizing her. Had it been a hymn in those days, Mary would have had on her mind. King of my life, I crown thee now. Thine shall the glory be. Lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow. Lead me to Calvary.

Lest I forget Gethsemane. Lest I forget thine agony. Lest I forget thy love for me.

Lead me to Calvary. God bless you, Mary, Jesus is saying. Acknowledging the fact that her act will be rewarded from here on. In fact, if you read closely, please do that. Look at the end of the passage. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.

Look, I tell you the truth. Anytime you read that from Jesus, it's saying, listen, listen up. Wherever the good news is preached throughout the world, this woman's deed will be remembered and discussed.

Here we are, 21st century, still reading it, still discussing it. How magnificent. Good for you, Mary. You have honored me as no one has up to this point. How magnificent is your extravagance. I'll leave the passage there and let it speak for itself. I'll let the aroma of it go with you through the afternoon, but not until I have finished with a couple of points of application. Very personal words to all of us regarding extravagance. Hold on tightly, you'll hear words like this very seldom in churches like ours. I want to extol the rare presence of extravagance. My first point in application is there's a great difference between the price of something and the value of something. Bean counters never get that.

Never. The question always is how much did that cost? What how much he or she paid for that? That's what these disciples are thinking. That's why they called it a waste.

I mean, they're pouring that out on his head, on his hair, on his beard, on his garments, on his feet. They saw no value in what she did. All she did see was value. She forgot the price. I'm convinced it's the most priceless thing she owned.

And therefore, only that was good enough for her savior. By the way, if you are dealing with the type of people who care only about price, don't waste your time trying to convince them of value. They'll never get it. It happens in various ways. When a church decides it wants a pipe organ.

There we go. You have to figure out a way to take up an offering for it so that those who care only about cost won't have to pay for it. So you have special offerings. I've done that in two churches. It works.

It works. Interestingly, over the years I've never once been asked, not once, how much did that cost? But again and again and again and again and again and again, I've received notes, email, texts, even phone calls thanking me as if I were the one doing the music. Believe me, had I been, there would have been no phone calls, no messages. But because we have people who know how to play beautiful music, it enhances our worship. Am I saying this is for everyone? You never heard me say that.

Don't go there with me. I'm saying if I'm going to be pastor of this church, we're going to have a pipe organ. That's what I'm saying.

That's all. It's not about me. It's just that's what enhances worship for us. I'm not saying one should be in every church. I'm not pastor of every church and they're all happy about that. I'm pastor of this church and I'm grateful that many of you were visionary enough to look past the cost because it was expensive and it should have been when you build one with quality.

Again, it's the value, not the price. Cynthia and I know she's gone now, but we knew a great lady who was married to a pastor back in earlier years and they had two children and he was pastoring a little church and his deacons were all bean counters and most of the people in the church watched carefully what they wore and what they drove, where they lived. They needed a car and her husband, the pastor looking in the want ads, back in those days that's how you search for a car and he found one. He said, look at this Helen and it was unbelievable. Low mileage and of all things, very little price.

So it's got to be a gimmick, got to be something wrong. So we went there and the dear family had lost their loved one and they had decided we just need to sell it and he said, mine, I'd love to buy it. Thank you. So we drove away in this four door lengthy Lincoln. You could put about five bodies in the trunk of really a big, big, big car and he suddenly realizes driving home, oh man, I got to explain this to the deacons. How are we going to ever tell the congregation? And she said, we spent the next seven years parking the car eight blocks away from the church so we could walk to church lest anybody knew we had a car that nice.

I got a friend that was one of our youth leaders in a former church and he and his wife became real good friends with an older lady in their neighborhood, cared for her right up to her death. She happened to drive a nice big fat Cadillac and they were driving a little Volkswagen and she said, now when I'm gone, I want you to take this and drive this. And it began to think, oh man, how am I going to make this happen? And he came up with a fantastic idea. He had his wife print out a sign to go in the back window.

It said, this was a gift. Never got flack for it. Isn't that a shame? Why in the world do you care who drives what? Why do you care who lives where?

Why do you care who makes what? Who died and put you in charge? Who left the accounting of their life up to you? Do you pay their bills? And while I'm asking questions, do you know how much they give?

Are you aware of their financial portfolio? Of course you're not. You're just busy criticizing because it's something you couldn't afford.

That means that what they afford is none of your or my business. I better move on here. The wonderful part of Mary's great gift to Jesus, I add, is her silence. Not once does she defend her act.

Not once does she explain her motive. Jesus read everything. The disciples missed it.

Even if she had tried, they would have silenced her with their critical comments. Chuck Swindoll titled today's message, Extravagant Love on Everlasting Display. And there's much more teaching from this passage that Chuck will share with us, so please keep listening to Insight for Living. Today's teaching is the second sermon in a brand new six-part teaching series called Compelled by the Cross.

It's intentionally designed to help us understand the resurrection of Jesus. To learn more about this series or to access Chuck's study notes online, go to slash studies. As we finish up our study today, we want to recommend a brand new book by Chuck Swindoll.

It's called Life is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React. If you're a longtime listener to Insight for Living, that title might sound familiar to you. That's because it's one of the most highly quoted statements that Chuck has ever made.

While Chuck popularized the quote, the wisdom is not his own. It's rooted in scripture and described in his new seven-chapter book. He's written on topics such as freeing yourself from drama and overcoming envy and another one on how to have a joyful and prosperous life. If you're looking for the perfect gift for the student in your life, this would be the one.

Again, it's called Life is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React. To purchase a copy, go to slash store or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. While we say it often but it bears repeating, this program is made available through the generous support of friends just like you. There's no large church or institution that subsidizes our expenses. So as God leads you to give and support this worthy effort, please follow His leading.

If you're listening in the United States, you can call 800-772-8888 or you can go online to slash donate. Take it from Chuck Swindoll. There's nothing quite like the beauty of the great frontier. Wide open skies, pristine glaciers with various shades of blue and turquoise mingled within them towering pine trees and all manner of wildlife. I'll tell you, Alaska is truly a masterpiece of God's creation. I've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things, but honestly, nothing compares to the beauty in Alaska.

God is awesome. Come with us on the Insight for Living Ministries cruise to Alaska July 1st through July 8th, 2023. When I'm in Alaska, I feel like I'm in an amazing painting created by God. Let yourself get lost in the majestic beauty. Spend quality time with those you love. Allow God to refresh your soul as you reflect on His Word and His goodness in your life. To learn more, go to slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444.

The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his brand new series called Compelled by the Cross on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Extravagant Love on Everlasting Display, was copyrighted in 2022 and 2023, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2023 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-23 14:12:39 / 2023-03-23 14:20:41 / 8

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