Journey to the Cross
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!
from “What Wondrous Love Is This,” American Folk Hymn
Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.)
Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”
That’s how much Mary’s perfume would be worth today. Think for a minute how long it would take to save that much money from your job or allowance. Pretty extravagant, right? Especially since Judas is right — Mary could have used her savings to help the poor.
Jesus has other ideas. It’s even more important for Mary to help prepare him for the cross than it is for her to help the poor. It’s not that helping the poor isn’t incredibly important — it’s just that walking with Jesus toward the cross is even more important! In other words, joining Jesus on his walk to the cross is not just more important than insignificant things around us; walking toward the cross is more important than even the most important things around us.
What might you do to show how important it is to join Jesus on his walk toward the cross this week? How could you put others first? What does extravagant self-sacrifice look like at your school? Around your breakfast table?
O God, Holy Spirit, help me to love Jesus extravagantly and to put him first — even above other things which are also very important. In Christ’s name, amen.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
from “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” Isaac Watts