by Charles Bertelsmeier
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Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair (John 12:3).
How excited or emotional do you ever get about your relationship with Jesus? In the culture many of us have grown up in, we tend to keep our emotions under control. Our society tends to frown on us for getting too excited about anything religious. I think the culture that Jesus lived in was much the same. Being religious was about obeying a set of religious rules and doing religious things, much like our own society. This type of religion isn’t anything to get excited about; mostly, it is a dreary duty, and many people give up.
Seeing Mary acting how she did – especially uncovering her head to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair – would have been considered degrading and embarrassing. So, what motivated her to act in this way? Mary had been the recipient of so much love from Jesus, culminating in him bringing her dead brother Lazarus back to life just a few days earlier. In one sense, she couldn’t help herself. She was so thankful and appreciative of Jesus’ love to her that it was just her natural response. I’m sure no-one watching would have doubted her sincerity. It definitely was not an act she was putting on or a religious duty she was performing.
When people watch me and see how I react, people may think I’m a reasonably decent person, but I’m not sure they would see me acting in a way that was a response to Jesus’ love for me. I’ve learned too many coping strategies for what life has thrown at me over the years; many of these strategies showed little to no love. I’m a long way from Mary’s level of responding to Jesus’ love.
Where God has led me (and he may be leading you on a different path) is focusing on seeing myself from his point of view. Before I was made his child, my life fell so far below God’s infinitely high standards that I was inherently repugnant to him. It was Jesus’ sacrificial love for me (and us all) that led him to enter our messy, smelly world to rescue us and make us his brothers and sisters. I can get excited and emotional about my relationship with God from this perspective. However, when I compare myself with other good people, many of whom aren’t Christians, I can forget how much I needed rescuing and the effort God’s love led him to.
What things do you do to remind yourself of God’s great sacrificial gift to you, and how does this help you to respond in thankfulness to him?
Heavenly Father, sorry that I’m often so preoccupied with my life that I forget all the wonderful things you are doing. Thank you that your love for us is so great that you keep reminding us of what you have done and are continuing to do for us, and you keep drawing us back into your embrace of love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.