Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: Extravagant or Essential
- How do you respond to the scene of Mary pouring expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet? Is it extravagant or essential?
- How do you respond to investments in affordable housing, lower prescription drug costs, paid family leave? Is it extravagant or essential?
- Like the government, households and congregations make regular decisions about fiscal responsibility. How does your household and/or church make decisions about how to budget its support of human needs?
Then Mary took a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” – John 12:3-5 (NIV)
There is so much debate in America about extravagant government spending. Eyebrows are predictably raised about fiscal responsibility and national debt with each debate of the federal budget, each infrastructure bill, each financial bailout, each interest rate adjustment.
We’d be hard pressed to find any responsible person who does not support fiscal responsibility. But essential human needs should not be sacrificed in the name of balanced budgets.
When Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with very expensive perfume, Judas accused her of being extravagant. But Jesus responded that the costly perfume poured upon him was actually quite essential.
Expensive perfume poured upon Jesus as he prepared to pay the ultimate price for the sins of humanity is not extravagant, but essential.
Millions expended to lower prescription drug costs in America, which are 2.5 times more expensive than prescription drugs in the rest of the world, is not extravagant, but essential.
Millions expended to provide paid family leave for working parents and caregivers is not extravagant, but essential.
Millions expended to provide affordable housing for the essential workers in our major cities is not extravagant, but essential.
Millions expended to combat the devastations of global warming is not extravagant, but essential.
The high cost of discipleship itself is not extravagant, but essential to life, and life more abundantly.
“Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe.”
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Decatur, Georgia.