1Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Reflection: Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard and anointed Jesus’ feet.
This week we are beginning our exploration of the four basic rhythms of the individual and corporate Christian experience. These rhythms are holistic worship, intentional spiritual communion, compassionate missional service, and Christ-centered community. We will be looking at what it means to participate in holistic worship. By holistic, I mean worship that engages and utilizes every part of who you are. Remember that Jesus calls upon us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Every aspect of our being can engage in worship.
Worship involves loving God extravagantly. True worship is accomplished when our fully authentic self connects with God in an unbridled expression of love and honor. Mary understood this and she offered Jesus something of great price that could have benefitted her financially if she held it back for herself. But she understood that ultimately all that she had belong to God, and so she gave what was valuable to her to the one who was valuable to her.
This makes me think of something Paul writes to the church in Corinth. He reminds them that “we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). God has filled our lives with the good treasures of grace, light, love, mercy, hope, etc., and we are called to pour those things back out of us as an offering to God for the benefit of the world. And we are not to hold anything back in that expression of worship!
Worship is not a style of music or an hour set aside for singing and preaching on Sunday. Worship is the continuous action of pouring out the substance of our lives to God in honor and devotion. Holistic worship is a life lived pointed toward God. How might your very act of breathing and existing serve as a offering to God’s glory? What costly act of extravagant love are you pouring out to God in worship?
Journaling Focus: You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.
On the surface, this might look like a callous statement by Jesus. But when we realize whom he is responding to, we understand that Jesus is actually challenging the false motives of a traitor. And, of course, Jesus is honoring the gift of worship that Mary is offering. Sometimes we can get caught up in doing the right things for the wrong motives (such as giving out of obligation without putting our heart into our gifts). The desire of God is that we find our own unique ways of worshipful expression that are motivated by pure and loving hearts. As you reflect and write, explore the different ways God has called you into the practice of worship that maximize your desires and giftedness. For instance, if you are an artist, how might you worship God through your art? If you are a writer, how might you use your writing to glorify God? If you are mechanical, how can this gift be used to praise and honor God?
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Read and sing the hymn To God Be the Glory. By following the link, you can access the text and audio files for the hymn. Pay special attention to how the verses remind us of what God has done for us, and the refrains are our response to what God has done. What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Prayer Focus: She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.
Every person has deep giftedness within them. Some experience blocks that prevent them from realizing their God-given potential. They save back their gifts not knowing how, when, or where to use them. Pray for those who have not yet found the way to share their gifts with the world. Ask God to continue to develop your gifts so that you might use all that you have been given in service and glory to God.
Meditation Focus: The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Throughout the Old Testament, we read about the fragrance of the people’s offerings going upward to the nostrils of God, filling them with a pleasant smell. Spend some time praising God. Visualize your praises rising from you and into the presence of God upon the heavenly throne. Imagine God receiving these praises with delight. They are pleasant and welcomed in God’s sight. What does God send back to you in response?
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- In what ways have I given my all to God?
- In what ways have I made room for worship?
- Where have I witnessed extravagant acts of love?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Show your love to someone you care about through an act of extravagance. It doesn’t need to come at a high monetary cost. But offer them the depths of your love through a free, open expression of your heart, mind, or spirit. Perhaps it will be an hour of undivided attention or a long talk where you freely listen. Perhaps it will be accompanying them in a task that they love. Maybe it will be looking at old pictures and reminiscing, or fixing them their favorite dinner, or doing a chore for them that they loathe. Whatever it is, show them love extravagantly!
Breath Prayer: LORD God, be glorified in us.