Extraordinary Lover dougfloyd - 4/3/2004 Crushing her treasured bottle of spikenard, Mary anoints the feet of Jesus.

In a single act of startling imprudence, she disgraces herself before the eyes of a critical crowd. How could she waste such an expensive ointment? How could she brazenly expose herself by letting down her hair in Jesus’ presence? But Mary doesn’t notice the critics. Her eyes are fixed on the only lover this world has ever seen. She sees what most cannot. By God’s grace, she has caught a glimpse of the love of all loves: the very source of love; the love that the heart craves but cannot possess. In the uncreated glow of such a love, no ointment is too precious; no sacrifice is too costly. This love is so blindingly beautiful that just a glimpse wounds the heart with a longing so great that time and space cannot contain it. As the Psalmist cries, “Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Ps 73:25). Paul caught a glimpse of this love and he quit being a good person and became a lover. Paul was as good as it gets: a trained and faithful Pharisee; a Hebrew of Hebrews; a shining example to the whole community. Then he caught but a glimpse of divine love. Whether in the body or out of the body, Paul couldn’t say. But what he saw and heard could not be contained in human words, in human imagination, in his system of right and wrong. In beholding the glory and beauty of the Lord, he was captured by divine love and everything; everything—all his righteous acts; all his ethical systems; all his good behavior—everything was poured out like the vase of oil at the feet of Jesus. Paul gave being a good Pharisee and abandoned everything to know this lover Jesus Christ. Christianity makes the audacious claim that the ultimate reality above and before all things is a lover. Reality proceeds from and is rooted in an overabounding relationship of personal love between the Father, the Son and the Spirit. This glorious love affair within our Triune God is deeper, more intimate, more passionate, more beautiful than any human lover could even begin to comprehend. All human love is stretching toward this love. We long for something we cannot fully grasp or understand—a love beyond all loves. A love that is complete, perfect and true. Human culture is the record of this longing and the failed attempts of humans to replicate such a love. As we approach the final steps in our Lenten journey and begin the final steps to Calvary, we long to catch but a glimpse of this beautiful, inexhaustible, glorious love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. For only in His love and the riches of His grace, can we let go our need for respectability and our fear of humiliation, acknowledging our broken lives and pouring them out, like Mary’s oil, as an act of holy worship unto God.