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Anonymous extravagance

“I wish I knew his name.” He paused for a moment. “You know, I’ve never forgotten him, never forgotten his face.  God knows who he is, but I sure wish I did. You asked me what my most memorable event was in my over 30 years as a cop, and here it is.”

“I remember it like it was yesterday. I was new on the beat, just a rookie in the worst part of town. You could say I was in the dark in more than one way that night. I didn’t even know what was going down, not till this homeless, nameless kid screamed ‘Get down.’ I remember him running in front of me, remember diving for the sidewalk, remember the shots, remember the blood all over the place.”

“That kid didn’t even know me. Worse yet, cops weren’t real popular in that neighborhood, you know? Before I knew it, my partner was there, medics were on the scene, and I figured out most of that blood wasn’t mine. That kid, he couldn’t have been more than 14 years old. He gave his life up for me, a cop – a guy he didn’t even know, and probably never even saw before.”

He pulled an old, worn picture out of his wallet. “I call him Jimmy.” 

Cameras zoomed in on the picture. 

“We never found out his name, but I’ll never forget his face. This whole thing today, the party, this wonderful retirement celebration – I want you to know it’s in memory of him.”

Few eyes were dry by this time as he raised his glass and looked heavenward. 

“Bless you, Jimmy, and thanks for blessing me with such an extravagant gift – the gift of a lifetime.”

Did you know that Jesus suffered and died – for people who didn’t even know Him? For generations of people not even born yet? Now that’s the tops of anonymous extravagance. How many of us would do that?

Think for a moment about this gift brought to Jesus, and His response: “Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had leprosy. During supper, a woman came in with a beautiful jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste of money,” they said. “She could have sold it for a fortune and given the money to the poor.” But Jesus replied, “Why berate her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but I will not be here with you much longer. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I assure you, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be talked about in her memory.”  (Matthew 26: 1-13, New Living Translation)

What about this woman with the expensive perfumed oil? How much food could she have provided for her family if she’d sold it?  Why would she “waste it” on Jesus’ head? What if it was all she had? Never mind the objections of the disciples; what about her family? Can’t you just hear it now, “So, what did you get for that expensive oil at market? What did you bring home for us? You did what with it? You know he’s trouble, that ‘Jesus.’ And you did what?”

Anonymous extravagance. Jimmy did it. The woman with the oil did it. Jesus was God in living, breathing, loving extravagance. How about us?

How do we live our lives in the light of God’s “anonymous extravagance?” How do we respond to His amazing grace given for us – even before we were born? Let’s spread Jesus’ extravagant gift – everywhere we go and in every company we keep.

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