The Extravagant Offering
Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
- John 12:3-6
This is a powerful story, for many reasons. One of those reasons is because it illustrates very clearly one of the differences between the nature of God and the nature of the devil: God’s nature is generosity; Satan’s nature is selfishness.
God wants to give to us, to love us, and to bless us. He gave us the ultimate gift, His only son. Satan wants to take. His nature is to steal, kill, and destroy.
We have to realize that a battle rages within each person over which nature will control them. Will we be generous, or will we be selfish? Will we be givers, or will we be takers?
Mary chose to be generous. Her bottle of perfume was valued at a year’s wages. Imagine how much money that would be for you. Then imagine what it would be like to pour that expensive perfume out on the feet of Jesus. Her gift cost her something. It was an extravagant offering.
Judas chose to be selfish. He criticized Mary for not giving her perfume to the poor. But in his heart, he didn’t care if any of it went to the poor. He kept the money bag, and if the money got into his bag, it wouldn’t be long before it got into his pocket.
Generous or selfish? Extravagant or greedy? Every one of us still faces that choice.
How did Mary become so giving? To answer that question, we need to turn back a chapter to John 11. Mary’s brother, Lazarus, had been dead for four days when Jesus came to his grave. Jesus commanded the stone be rolled away. He cried out, “Lazarus, come forth,” and Mary’s dead brother came out of the tomb.
Mary’s generosity sprang from her gratitude.
We may think we’d be generous, too, if God had raised someone we loved from the dead. But weren’t we spiritually dead in trespasses and sin? Weren’t our children spiritually dead in their trespasses? We were on our way to condemnation and eternal punishment, but the grace and mercy of the cross rolled the stone away, loosed us, and raised us from the dead.
Lazarus was sitting at the table having dinner with Jesus when Mary walked in with the valuable perfume. She didn’t hesitate to give it to Jesus because her brother once was dead but now was alive. She felt a great desire to give extravagantly because of her great gratitude.
A generous spirit springs from a grateful heart.
We all have so much to be grateful for. God blesses us more abundantly than we could ever deserve. He gives lavishly to us out of His own loving and generous nature.
God doesn’t want our stuff. He wants our hearts. But He knows our hearts follow our treasure. The question is: Do we treasure our possessions and our money more than we treasure God? Or do we joyfully, with a grateful heart, give generously when God prompts us?
Believe me, it’s really not all about money or possessions—it’s about what God does in our hearts, in our work, in our finances, and in our families when we really get to a place of total submission to Him. When we offer our life and everything we possess to God to be used for His glory, He promises to bless us far beyond what we could imagine.