Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Encouragement of Jesus’ Love

Jesus rebuked those who criticised the woman anointing him, “Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” ~Mark 14:9 (NRSV).

True justice, like wisdom, always has a potentially prickly way about it. Who could have predicted Jesus’ reaction when the ‘righteous’ onlookers noticed the woman wasting such expensive perfume? Not many in their day; not many in ours, either.

Love reflects this awkward-to-approach justice; it divines motives, separating worth from waste, sanctity from sacrilege.


Jesus is found pouncing on the injustice; he is that woman’s only defender, even as he is our only defender when we love extravagantly yet have it thrown back in our face.

There is a conviction in the encouragement of Jesus’ love toward us as we act in love. Like the little children that were spurned in Matthew 19:13-15, Jesus will encourage us by leaping to our defence.

But this is something that can only be felt—a thing that the Holy Spirit disposes toward us. As we understand our motives for purity, those that are dispatched by others in callousness, we receive the compassion of the Lord. We seek it and we receive it.

Feeling This Love of Jesus’

What is a bizarre mystery, a tantalising issue, is the feeling of God’s loving Presence in and through us during such times.

Of course, we cannot describe it, write up a method statement to replicate it, or show it to someone. Feeling the love of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is something only God can make happen. That is, apart from a wholly surrendered approach that’s exclusively ready to receive such love.

Such exclusivity is the requirement.

If we hold back we risk the experience because faith has not yet spent itself on our behalf. Still, God is not stingy. Feeling this love of Jesus’, when there’s sparingly little love elsewhere, can be the most surprising of pleasant gifts that arrives just in time, despite our doubting.

Jesus Rewards Faith

There is no doubt that the woman who anointed Jesus at Bethany risked greatly to love him so. She no doubt owned, or had access to, the expensive perfume—worth a year’s wages—and was doing a very unusual thing, especially considering who she was doing it to; the Champion of champions to the poor.

Her faith is great in that the depth of her love for Jesus didn’t foresee any rejection coming. No fear reveals the perfection in her love. How could she know that Jesus, himself, wouldn’t reject her? No, her faith was greater than the risk it took. She was anointing her Lord, no matter what! And Jesus saw through the extravagance into the heart and the intensity of her love.


Faith, hope, and love are all risky businesses. The Lord Jesus, however, is in that discrete business of rewarding such purity of motive. If, and whenever, we’re rejected for love, the Lord will himself ensure our wellbeing through the comfort and confidence of the Holy Spirit.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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