Holy Week Devotional: Monday
“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies” (Psalm 36:5).
READING: John 12:1–11
On Holy Monday, we remember this intriguing story about Mary, the sister of Lazarus who had sat at Jesus’s feet like a disciple even though she was a woman. This time, instead of sitting as His feet, she anointed His feet. Jesus described Mary’s action as anointing Him for burial, a surprising thing for Him to say at this point in the week. Wasn’t it just yesterday that He rode triumphantly into Jerusalem to waving palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna”? Why was He talking about His burial? But things would change drastically in the next few days. Before the week was over, Jesus would offer Himself as a sacrifice in an act of extravagant love for us (Romans 5:8).
Mary’s anointing was an act of extravagant love too. Judas said it was worth a year’s wages. Though Judas’s motivation was sinful, he was right—the money could have gone a long way in helping the poor! Yet Jesus praised her for it. Because it was extravagant. She didn’t just put a few drops of perfume on His feet, she emptied the whole jar. Anointing Jesus with this oil did not just reflect Mary’s generosity. It was a picture of the extravagant sacrifice Jesus would make for us.
The type of jar that held this perfume had a very long neck and a very slow drip. The perfume was very strong, so only a little was needed—usually just a few small drops at a time. To pour out the whole jar, the neck of the bottle had to be broken. Just as Mary broke the jar over Jesus’s feet, Jesus was broken for us on the cross. Out of His extravagant love that reaches to the heavens, He offered His whole self for us.
When we really understand the extravagance of Jesus’s sacrifice for us, we will do just as Mary did and offer all we are and all we have to Him. Not out of guilt or obligation, but out of extravagant love. This is our act of spiritual worship—our whole lives offered to Him (Romans 12:1). Not just Sunday mornings, but every minute of every day. Not just ten percent, but all that we have. When we love Jesus like that, some people will call us too extravagant. Some of them might even claim to be Jesus’s followers, like Judas. But it’s only because they don’t really understand just how extravagant His love for us is. A few drops is not enough for Jesus. He deserves our all.
Q: Take a few minutes to reflect on what it really means that the God of the universe loves you so much that He came to earth and died for you? How does understanding God’s love for you compel you to respond?
Q: In what ways does your life need to change for you to offer your whole life to Jesus as a living sacrifice?
PRAYER: Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
DISCIPLINE PRACTICE: Submission
This discipline may seem a little more abstract than others. How do you “do” submission like you do meditation or prayer or Bible study? Submission isn’t so much a specific action as it is a posture of the heart and a decision of the will. Submission is self-denial and setting aside our own will in allegiance to Christ. It is the essence of discipleship (Mark 8:34–35). As a spiritual discipline, it’s not something you just do once; it’s something you practice every day and grow in throughout your life with Jesus.
To practice submission today, put your body into a position of reverence, kneeling or bowing down if you are able. You can even stretch out your hands with palms open upward to symbolize giving up your will to God’s. Then offer your life to God in worship. Commit to submitting yourself to His authority in all things. End your prayer with the words of Jesus, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Then get up and live that way too. Don’t let it just be a prayer. Make it your lifestyle.
ADDITIONAL READING: Psalm 36:5–11; Romans 8:34–39; Ephesians3:14–19; Hebrews 9:11–15
 William Hendricksen, Luke, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978), 405.