Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Extravagant Sacrifice

When you look upon the tree at Christmas what do you see? Do you "oohhhh" and "aaaahhh" at the lights and ornaments? Adore the sheer beauty of it, in all it's splendor? There are presents all adorned and piled under it for our loved ones. But do you think on the symbolism of it?

Version: NAS

Luke 2:8-12

8. And in the same region there were [some] shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; 11. for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12. "And this [will be] a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger."

The angel proclaimed a message to the Shepherds. It is also for us. A baby is born, but not just any baby. He is the Messiah. He is the Savior of the World. He is God's perfect gift and sacrifice for us, His children. Born in humility, Jesus left Heaven and was born, just like us.

Version: NAS

John 12:1-11

1. Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining [at the] [table] with Him. 3. Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 5. "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor [people]?" 6. Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. 7. Jesus therefore said, "Let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8. "For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me." 9. The great multitude therefore of the Jews learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. 10. But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus to death also; 11. because on account of him many of the Jews were going away, and were believing in Jesus. 
I have thought for many years about this interchange between Mary and Jesus. Mary was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She had seen only shortly before, Jesus raise her brother from the dead. Little did they know that they would be experiencing the arrest, and crucifixion of Jesus in just a few days. They were celebrating Passover's approach: the three siblings who were friends of Jesus, and His twelve disciples. Mary was a young woman who had seen a miracle; her brother brought back to life and she was grateful, so very grateful to Jesus.

There are two accounts of someone anointing Jesus with oil, the other is thought to be Mary Magdalene, but this was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. The fact that this particular gesture happened twice is curious to me. After much prayer for understanding concerning these two separate incidents I believe we have to understand that this was a custom of showing humility on a woman's part.

It was customary to wash the feet of guests upon their arrival, in those days of dusty roads and streets and the wearing of sandals. This was usually done by a servant. But a woman doing the "washing" showed respect and humility. When Mary chose to step out and do this customary "act", it became more than just a courtesy, but an act of worship.

She chose, instead of water, a container of "nard". Nard is and was a valuable oil, containing sweet smelling spices. It is said that it was worth a years wages. Hard to imagine a pint of oil being worth a "years wages".
It was a "perfume" of sorts, but was also used in burial preparations to retard the smell of decay. Very powerful and expensive. Mary's gesture was more than just an act of worship, it was a "costly" one as well.

How does all this play in with Christmas you might be wondering. Let's say that Jesus is more than just the sweet Baby in the manger. He is our Lord and Saviour. He is Messiah, the Christ. Born as a baby into this world, but also as our Redeemer. He was born and prepared as the ultimate act of worship. From the moment He was conceived in Mary's womb He began a journey of sacrifice. It was God's redemptive plan for us. He laid down His life for us, for our sins, so that we can have fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

So let us remember that when we look upon the tree this Christmas morning, all shining and bright, that we see Jesus there. It is not only a "Christmas tree", it should be a remembrance and a symbol of His great and costly sacrifice for us on the cross. To celebrate the true meaning of Christmas we must remember that it is about the Birth of Jesus, but at the same time we also need to acknowledge the purpose for that birth.

I want to be more like Mary, thanking Jesus for all that He has done for me. Let's become extravagant in our worship, counting not the cost, but lavishing it upon Him.  

A blessed little baby has become
the Redeemer of the World.

May we all be blessed and
touched by God's Hand
this Christmas!


  1. Debra ~ May your holiday season be blessed & beautiful ~
    Merry Christmas ~
    TTFN ~ Marydon

  2. Debra,
    I love the idea of extravagrant praise! I want to be that woman found at the feet of Jesus pouring out my life before Him. He is worthy of such abandon!
    Have a Merry Christmas, Debra!

  3. What a beautiful thought Debra, extravagant Worship!!!! I love it .
    Wishing you abundant love peace and joy this Christmas!
    Blessings, GG

  4. Interesting as always! But I'll throw a curveball and say that Jesus' sacrifice doesn't fit the definition of extravagant, which is basically "excessive" or "more than is needed." Our sin is very serious business (wages of sin is death) and required a perfect sacrifice, right? So, in that sense, anything less would have been an insufficient payment. (Sure glad my account says "Paid in Full" and not "Insufficient Funds" LOL!) Yeah, I know it's just semantics and I'm not trying to be argumentative. I just know you enjoy a lively discussion! ;-)

    I'm so glad you do this blog. I enjoy it very much! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  5. My friends in Christ...I too want to praise our Father/Son/Holy Ghost tonight for His perfect sacrifice...but my son is on my mind...Please pray for him. He is a high functioning autistic and for the last few days has been experiencing a serious psychosis. We have not taken him to the hospital yet as we think this was brought on as a side effect of an allergy medication and we are hoping and praying that the side effects subside. We are believing that by Christmas morning he will feel like his old self. We do need your prayers for healing and that he will not lose his job for missing work at the grocery store. God Bless and, yes, Merry Christmas!

  6. Hi Debra. This was such a thought provoking post. You are so correct in suggesting that we should become extravagant in our worship. During this time of year (at least the past few years before the economy tanked) we have been so extravagant with our families and friends even ourselves. Always striving to have more, give the best, one up someone. Doesn't Christ above all others deserve us to think of him in this way. If we were planning to meet a member of the royal family, a government official or even a celebrity face to face how consumed we would be with preparing for that meeting. Yet because we/me or most of us aren't expecting Jesus to show up at the door we tend to make sure everyone else is taken care of and give him what is left over (of our time & energy). I hope that I can become extravagant in my giving to the Lord this year. I plan on giving him the utmost importance in my life.

    And David, I certainly understand your point and don't take it as argumentative at all. The Lord's gift to us is beyond compare. All I can do is remember that he deserves what ever extravagance I can offer.

    P.S. The one good thing that has come from this horrible and painful downturn in the economy is the simplifying of things and that there does seem to be a empathizing between the economic classes more than before. It has humbled us a bit.

    Merry Christmas to all of you. Hugs...Tracy

  7. Hi Debra,
    I just got to be part of an absolute Christmas miracle, and knew you would have a wonderful Christmas worship post here so I stopped into check it out. And you didn't disappoint. Love your post, and we do need to become extravagant in our worship.

    And just want to encourage you to keep up this blog, you really do never know how you can impact the lives of people out there. I just witnessed one internet miracle, which really could only have been the work of God.

    Once again, Merry Christmas, my sweet new friend! Let us be Marys.

  8. David, you really got me thinking about what you said, so I'll try and explain where I was coming from when I entitled this post "Extravagant Sacrifice".
    First of all I want you all to know that I pray over each one of these posts. That I don't hit the "publish" button until I get the OK from the Holy Spirit. I ask Him to direct my thinking and writing in these, as I want Him to be using me as a vessel.
    Immediately upon finishing reading your comment, David, Ephesians 3:17-21 flooded my heart.
    "I pray that out of His glorious riches, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God, Now to Him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus thoughout all generations, for ever and ever ! Amen."
    That is "extravagant" love and power and I serve an "extravagant" Father.
    When I gave the scripture about Mary's extravagant sacrificial gift, it could in no way compare to Jesus' act of sacrifice. He left the glory of the Father and the adoration of the angels and heavenly host to come down here and be born in a place where animals lived, ate, and yes, defecated. He allowed Himself to be spit on, jeered at, beaten and disfigured, hung on a cross, and to suffer death for me. That is "extravagant" love in my thinking.
    I looked up the word "extravagant" and these are the definitions it gave:
    "spending excessively, costing much, unreasonable, absurd, lavish, outrageous" etc. I feel that the concept of "costing much" falls within what I consider His sacrifice for me to be. And I did say in the 3rd. paragraph, right before the picture of Baby Jesus, that "He is God's perfect gift and sacrifice, for us, His children".
    I don't want anyone to ever, ever think that there is not room for discussion here. That is what I have wanted. So thank you David, your comment gave me room to further say what I felt. God could have made it easy on Himself when it came to what had to be done for our "justification" to be made complete. But He didn't "skimp" He made sure we were legally given the "right standing" before Him for our salvation.
    I say these things in great love and friendship, so bless you David, I'm glad you're a reader, and I greatly appreciate your input. "Big Hugs" In Jesus :D

  9. To Marydon, thank you so much, I'm so glad you're here. You touch the lives of so many people and bless them daily. Have a wonderful Christmas!

    To Lisa and GG, that is something God called me to many years ago and I have to admit, this last few years it is not a calling I have lived up to. but He's put a spark in my heart and so I am desiring to be there once more!

    To Kitt, I am praying for your son to be not only back to normal, but I'm praying that everyday you will see new "life" in him, that God will touch his mind and body and that he will begin "stepping out" of his old self and showing improvement. I'm confessing the "mind of Christ" over him.

    And to Tracy, you are a woman that has such a loving precious heart. You are in my prayers daily.

    Love to you all, and have a wonderful,
    "Jesus-filled" Christmas!

  10. Good Evening Debra - I love that term - Extravagant Worship and I bet God loves it too. He truly is worthy to be praised, we serve an awesome God. I love the reminder about the tree, primarily because at Christmas we often think about the gift of the Christ child, but we don't focus on why He came - he was born to die. I can't even imagine the great love of the Father to give sinners like me such a magnificent gift - while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I will definitely be more mindful to offer Him extravagant worship and not let my worship become mundane. Thank you for sharing this much needed message with us.

    Have a wonderful day celebrating the birth of our Savior.

  11. Dear Kit. Your son is in my prayers.
    Love, Tracy

  12. I too looked up extravagant and found two definitions that struck me as apt for this post and how I feel about praising the Lord. "Extremely high price" and "exceeding the limits of reason" were the two that I just kept thinking about. He paid an extremely high price for our sins and exceeded the limits of reason in doing so. I can't imagine as a parent sending my child to die...not even in wartimes. The thought is devasting and yet God gave His only begotten son for me and why? Because He loved me that much beyond the limits of reason. Who are we that God would do that? It's a humbling feeling and one that overcomes me when I sit and truly think of the price paid on Calvary. To me this is where "less is more" doesn't work. Our praise should be extravagant and over the top, for without this perfect gift, our accounts wouldn't be insufficient...they'd be closed due to inactivity.
    I hope in 2010, if the Lord gives me that, to strive to be more like Mary and praise Him and lift Him up.
    I love a good discussion, btw!
    I wish for you a most wondrous Christmas.

  13. I do marvel at her too. Oh what love. Yes ~ to love Jesus like that! Easy to want to do hard to do. Great for me to keep in mind this day forward.

    Merry Christmas Debra...I know you will love every minute of celebrating Jesus with your family. What an exciting occasion!

    Thahnk you for lloving me & my family too! Sending a prayer for your family your way right now. THere I did :) Merry CHristmas!

    Take care!
    Love Libbie!

  14. Hello All-

    After reading the lesson for today- again, so much of what I want to say is in the comments for the previous post (I was a little late! If time permits, please read-)

    Having said that, what speaks to me is a switching of words- from extravagant to intentionally extravagant- to seek ways to do so- to be proactive and even aggressive.

    I will be thinking of all of you today, and I look forward to where this Bible study will lead.

    Have an Extravagantly Spirit Filled Merry Christmas,

  15. Thank you for stopping by my blog! I perused through yours...what great insight you have! Thanks for writing! I love God's Word and I love when he speaks! Thank you again! Merry Christmas!

  16. Thank you Debra! Many blessings to you this Christmas and may the Lord bless us all with a deeper understanding of His precious word as we come here. I pray that He gives us His knowledge of our walk with Him in the coming New Year.

  17. I want this broken vessel to pour out everything I've got in extravagant worship to my extravagant God. He's above and beyond all that I could ever ask or imagine, and He daily offers me an unending supply of love, wisdom, joy, peace, protection, guidance... oh I could go on and on!
    He is worthy of all that I have to give and more.
    Bless you for the reminder that we serve a God who's so much 'bigger' than we can understand with our finite minds.


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