Because many celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14, I find myself reflecting on instances of extravagant love in the Bible. While Jesus ultimately demonstrates the most pivotal expression of boundless love through His sacrifice, many examples of people demonstrating love for God fill the pages of Scripture.

What examples of extravagant love in the Bible come to your mind? Ponder them for a moment. How do these people spur you on in your journey with Jesus?

One of my favorite stories of extravagant love is the Woman who poured out her perfume or ointment upon Jesus. I’m not referring to Mary, who anointed Jesus in Bethany as recorded in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-8. The Woman to whom I refer anointed Jesus in the home of Simon, the Pharisee, in the northern region of Nain and Capernaum where Jesus ministered (Luke 7:1, 11, 36-50).

This Woman came uninvited to a dinner party. At the dinner party, she humbly stood behind Jesus and poured out her most extravagant and expensive possession: perfume from her alabaster jar. Her love for Christ, so strong, erupted into weeping. She abandoned herself to Christ so much that she chose to forego cultural decorum and let her hair down to wipe her tears of gratitude and fidelity as they bathed Jesus’ feet.

What moved this woman to such an extravagant act of adoration and love?

The Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner sat in judgment of this woman’s behavior. Within his soul he assessed and criticized her act of devotion; her choices. The Pharisee’s censorious attitude betrayed the sickness within his own soul.

I wonder about the ways we judge and criticize others who choose to do things differently than ourselves? Do we jump to inconclusive assumptions and deem other’s actions “wrong” because they feel uncomfortable or confusing to us? How do we handle those who move through life unlike ourselves? What prevents us from extending grace to those who behave differently?

Jesus knew the heart of this Woman, and so shared a parable which humbled the dinner host and honored the Woman. She took responsibility for her past and recognized the depth of forgiveness offered to her through Christ. Great forgiveness led this Woman to great love. Her act of devotion to Jesus flowed from a forgiven and cleansed soul, freed to follow in His footsteps and walk a new way.

The forgiveness Jesus offers extends to all humankind and all sin. Yet, do we qualify some sins not as “bad” as others? Do we judge others for the exposure of their sins and silently applaud, the hiddenness of our own?

The Woman brought her most extravagant gift. As a woman of disreputable lifestyle, the alabaster jar she brought represented self protection, provision, and likely peace. The perfume or ointment in the alabaster jar represented her livelihood. In her past the contents of the jar covered the smell of shame and sin. It sanitized her sinful choices and seduced others into immoral practices. The contents of her jar offered a false sense of care, shelter, and opportunity.

By pouring out the perfume upon Jesus, the Woman outwardly demonstrated repentance. By letting go of her most prized possession, she revealed her allegiance had shifted to Jesus Christ. Her actions revealed her trust in Jesus to provide, protect, and offer peace.

I wonder what is in my alabaster jar? What is in your alabaster jar? I wonder about those things that I think I need for my life to go “well.” The Spirit within me reveals those disorder places which I must confess. How does the Spirit stir you?

What are the disordered spaces in your own soul that are bottled up in your alabaster jar? Perhaps attitudes such as selfishness and pride settle within your alabaster jar? Or maybe avarice, and deceit? Perhaps judgment and hubris? Or maybe even apathy and neglect? How do these sinful attitudes and characteristics expose themselves through your family, work, and lifestyle?

Is it time to empty your alabaster jar; to release the false narratives of self-protection, personal provision, and contrived peace? This Woman models the way to freedom: to let go of what bonds our lives to sin. What are those things you value and hold onto believing they give the life you think you need? How do you seek your own care, shelter, and opportunities, but instead they emptily represent unhealthy attachments?

I admire the extravagance of this woman’s sacrifice. How can we live with extravagant sacrifice? What does it look like for us to re-order and re-orient our lives to reflect devotion to Christ? In what ways can we love in a way that shows awareness of the depth of our need for forgiveness?

Jesus freed this woman from the scoffs of those in the room and He does that for us as well. He honored the extravagance of the expression of her love. And, the aroma of her perfume upon Jesus, filled the room. The expression of her love and sacrifice, turning from her way of living, flooded the space so that no one present would be the same.

What about your expressions of love and sacrifice? Have you ever considered that the way you love or don’t love Jesus impacts those around you: the onlookers, friends, co-workers, family, etc.?

Reflect on the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of God (Ephesians 3:18-19). Empty your alabaster jar at the feet of Jesus. Demonstrate that the focus of your love and devotion is Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of Jesus calls each of us to hope, healing, and honor. May the boundless forgiveness of God lead each of us to extravagant love.

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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Luke 7:47-50 – Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Psalm 32:5 – Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord. And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

Richard J. Foster.  Learning Humility: A Year of Searching for a Vanishing Virtue . Downers Grove, IL 2022.

Henri J.M. Nouwen. The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence. New York City, NY. 2003.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

We The Kingdom. Holy Water.

Rend Collective. Alabaster.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

February 10  – Littleton, CO
Breathe Retreat (A two hour spiritual retreat for women) – Join us. Email me for more information.