Sermon: Spontaneous Love
Sunday, April 7, 2019
5th Sunday of Lent
Rev. Elizabeth Aguilar
Scripture text is John 12:1-8
Have you ever been at a gathering where someone shows their love for someone else in such a way that you can’t help but just stare at what’s going on? I have. I think of weddings where the love between the couple is so evident it is so sweet or down right moving and powerful to witness. Their love seems almost breathtaking. I also think of when Ive been with many a patient or parishioner and their family members gathered around the hushed room, as it is close to the persons time of death. I think of when Ive witnessed a family member lovingly place lotion on their loved ones hands, arms, feet. It is a tender touch, a lavish display of love.
This scripture makes me think of these kinds of demonstrations of spontaneous love. Not forced, not phony in any way. But pure, powerful, palpable
It was in the midst of a dinner gathering where Jesus was shown spontaneous love. The gathering began was surrounded by some of his best friends- Mary, Martha, Lazarus whom he had recently brought back to life. His disciples were there as well. It makes sense if you think about it- Jesus would want to spend quality time among those whom he knew and loved right before his journey into Jerusalem, into his eventual journey toward Calvary, just six days away
So here we see Mary take out expensive perfume and drenches Jesus feet with it and then unabashedly wiped his feet with her hair.
Now remember for a woman to touch a man she is not married to would have been scandalous enough. To drench him with perfume would have been almost unthinkable. Not to mention the perfume was indeed expensive. It was, in fact, worth 300 times a daily wage for a laborer at that time. That WAS expensive perfume!
You might find yourself feeling more like Judas perhaps. After all, couldnt that amount of money be spent on some more needy people? Some folks who are down on their luck, poor, destitute?
But then again, if you were Mary, whos brother had died recently and then Jesus has brought back to life- what would you NOT do to show your gratitude to Jesus?
Remember, Mary has been the one who was already able and willing to listen to Jesus. She knew who he was long before Martha, her busy sister could understand the magnitude of Jesus in her midst. So, she knows Jesuss worth, sort to speak, right away. Now, after her brother has been brought back to life, she is especially grateful and especially ready to show Jesus her love for him.
But back to Judas- we know what Judas later did, of course. But at this time, he was the treasurer of the disciple’s money. Scripture tells us he was stealing from their common purse. Therefore, his concern wasnt genuine. It was fake. But putting that aside for a movement. If we think of the amount that perfume was worth, what would you think?
What would you do if you were given $28,000 dollars? Perhaps you would give some of it to the church. Some to pay your bills. Some to take a vacation- summer is right around the corner
Todays scripture invites us to consider how we show love toward God. Are we like Mary someone SO grateful for what Jesus has done for us that we cant help but show extravagant love toward Him? Or are we more practically minded? Conservative even with what we have because after all we want to be wise with what we have to make it last as long as possible.
Honestly, while I can say I am truly grateful for all that God has done for me- does for me; for who God IS in my life I dont think I would have the guts to do something quite like Mary did at that dinner. I would probably be more like Judas, suspicious of her actions, judgmental of her lavish display of affection and reckless use of costly perfume.
But after Judas questions Mary notice Jesus’s famous response. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me. Erroneously, many have believed that Jesus meant the poor didnt matter. But, what he meant was that their love for Jesus would not take away from their service to the poor. There is enough love, in other words, to go around.
And that takes me back to us, today. We are now living in a time of our country where we have been sold a lie- which is that we only have just so much resources to go around. That we must be very careful with our resources because there just isnt enough to share. We are taught what is ours, is ours. It isnt supposed to be shared extravagantly.
But Jesus words tell us otherwise. Jesus tells us that it is more than okay to show great love to Him by sharing our resources with Him, with His church, and yes, with All of his children- where there they look like us, vote like us, speak like us, love like us, are the same color as us, are so called deserving like us.
God DOES invite us to be careful yes but to be extravagant in our love and generosity.
That extravagant love is contagious.
Jesus visits with his close friends a few days before his entry into Jerusalem and his days before his crucifixion. As we approach Holy Week, next week, we too are asked to consider showing Jesus our gratitude with extravagant love. Not to show off our faith. N
Not to prove that we are somehow good Christians, but out of a natural response to our gratitude for who God is, for what God does, for the many ways in which God shows us Gods love.
We have a choice. Will we look inward or will be look out-ward? Will we love the loveless?
As we approach the communion table where Jesus is the host, let us approach it with thanksgiving for what He did- for stopping at nothing to save us of our sins. For giving us the chance of eternal life. For giving us the opportunity of new life in Him. For showing us what love looks like. Amen.