The Fragrance of Worship
”3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating,[a] a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5 “It could have been sold for a year’s wages[b] and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
What a way to crash a party! This unknown woman, comes unannounced and maybe unexpectedly to a dinner party with one objective, to publicly honor and worship Jesus with her wealth. Because her jar of perfume has a recognizable and incredibly pungent scent that fills the room, her worship causes the others in attendance to take notice and give their unsolicited thoughts about her act of devotion and worship. Those who disapprove of the woman's actions begin to critique her, for not using her wealth for a more “benevolent cause”. Technically speaking they are correct, she could have used her wealth to be more charitable, though Jesus rebukes them. “Better yet” He explains, because this woman was obedient to her own convictions regarding her wealth in relation to worshiping me, this woman will be known for all eternity as blessed and favored. While coincidentally, you jealous busy bodies will forever be remembered as those who are offended by somebody worshiping with something you don't have.
This is a great picture of How the presence of God causes us to either break what we have at the feet of God in worship, or jealousy protect what we have made the god of our hearts, in Jesus name. His presence will always expose what we truly worship. Those who truly worship the one true God, will always provoke those who are bound up in their own personal religion. Of course, there are times when people pervert extravagant worship into a self glorifying show, but clearly this is not the case with the woman detailed above.
True extravagant worship is us, breaking and pouring ourselves out upon our King Jesus with all we have. This is a pleasing aroma to the Father. This is the only kind of worship that counts for eternity. At the same time, this is also an incredibly offensive scent to people who have not experienced the love of God. To someone whose heart has not been conquered by God’s radical love, the fragrance of worship filling the room has a different type of smell.
It smells messy, obnoxious, like a waste of time. It is not sensible or dignified. It’s distracting and gets in the way of the important things in life we really should spend our time doing. To the heart of a person who has confined Jesus to their personal box of appropriate forms of worship experiences, real worship is nonsense. Unfortunately for them, they are eternally wrong…
Worship really is the beginning, end, and point of our existence. No matter how messy and costly it may seem to the world around us, there is no better way to spend ourselves and our resources breaking and pouring all we have at the feet of the only One who is worthy of our worship.