Few stories in the Word of God describe extravagant worship any more poignantly than that of the unnamed woman in Luke 7:36–50. Basically the story goes like this:
Along with others, Jesus was invited to the home of a Pharisee named Simon. Consistent with the custom of the day, spectators were permitted to stand against the outer wall and listen to the mealtime conversation. (Indeed, Pharisees love to be heard and always consider their conversations to be noteworthy.)
During the meal, an uninvited woman entered with an alabaster box of ointment and stood behind Jesus. Emotionally overcome by His grace and goodness, she wept and her tears spilled onto the very feet of the Lord Jesus Himself. With no towel to wipe her tears, she used the hairs of her head to wash the feet of the Lord. What humility! What abandon!
Nor did her lavish devotion end there. She began to kiss the very feet of the Lord and to apply the ointment upon them. All the while she said nothing. And nobody else said anything to her.
But they did think some things about her.
Simon’s thoughts went something like this: “Jesus can’t be a true prophet! If He were, He would know what kind of woman this is—a woman notorious for sin and not worthy to be among such righteous company as we.”
In one short conversation Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of Simon’s thinking and commended the extravagance of the woman’s worship. Jesus basically said, “If two people each owe a sum of money (one owed about a year and half wages, and the other owed about 2 months wages), and neither has the wherewithal to pay, and both are forgiven of the debt; then which one of them will love more?”
You know the answer.
So did Simon, “The one that is forgiven more.”
The depth to which we realize our forgiveness correlates to the devotion by which we will lovingly and humbly serve.
Simon hadn’t bothered to demonstrate even the most basic acts of hospitality toward the Lord. Jesus had entered his home as a guest, but Simon had not bestowed upon Him the hospitable kiss of greeting, or provided the customary washing of feet, or anointed His head with the soothing and aromatic ointment a guest would typically receive.
But the woman… she performed all three, didn’t she? Consider these simple thoughts about extravagant worship:
Extravagant Worship Focuses on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ
Worship is not a climate we create, a methodology we employ, a program we implement, a song-set we schedule, or a service we plan. Worship is a fixed gaze upon the Lord and a humble realization of the marvelous grace such an opportunity represents.
That woman entered a religiously unwelcoming environment and endured the pharisaical gazes because she was completely absorbed in the presence of the Lord and apprehended by His grace. There was no greeter to welcome her, usher to seat her, or fellow congregation member to encourage her.
But there was Christ, and He was enough.
Extravagant Worship Flows from a Grateful Heart
An overflowing heart produced leaky eyes. Her soul (mind, will, and emotions) magnified the Lord! With her mind she understood the magnitude of forgiveness through Christ. With her will she chose to receive that forgiveness by faith. With her emotions she gratefully wept and kissed and anointed and loved.
A truly grateful heart, focused on the wonderful person of Jesus Christ, will cause you to praise, or shout, or leap, or sing, or cry. But it will not be static. It cannot be static.
Emotionless worship is foreign to the Bible.
Extravagant Worship Fears Not the Judgment of Others
Extravagant worship is impossible until my appreciation for forgiveness in Christ and my correspondent love for Christ supersede my fear of what others think about me.
Wiping feet with hair? Kissing feet? She didn’t care what anyone thought. She wasn’t trying to make a show or to market some nouveau worship style. She was loving her Saviour.
Extravagant Worship Finds Expression in Even the Smallest Acts of Service
This woman did not possess any special giftedness. She expressed worship in the simple customary ways by which anybody could have served the Lord. Great worship is much less about what I do than it is how I do it and, even more importantly, for Whom I do it.
Go ahead. Worship Him.
It’s why you exist.