Last year, for my birthday, I knew exactly what I wanted from my husband. So did my girls.
One day as we had been leaving the mall, I sprayed a random perfume on my wrists. I wasn’t focused on the bottle or the brand; just had a spontaneous craving to put a fragrance on my body. Continuing on our way out of the mall, I smelled my wrist. Immediately, I turned around to find out what exactly I had just sprayed on myself. I loved it. I didn’t want to forget what it was and with the large variety of fragrances at that store, I knew I would never recall it again if I didn’t catalog the name somewhere in my memory. For the remainder of the day, I couldn’t stop desiring to catch a whiff of the smell. Neither could my girls. It was a beautiful aroma. When it had completely worn off, I wanted more. It was captivating.
I must say, although I appreciate perfume, I rarely wear it. I don’t know why– perhaps I just am not in the habit of including that in my morning routine. However, when I do remember to put it on, I enjoy the smell that my body exudes and my husband is quick to comment on the scent.
On my birthday, I was overjoyed to unwrap this:
Have you ever known anyone who you recall by the thought of their fragrance? Someone who you think of immediately when you smell a certain aroma? Have you ever walked past someone who was wearing a fragrance that made you stop and ask them what exactly they were wearing?
Because it is pleasing to us. It is distinct. It is noticeable. It invites a certain feeling that makes us want more of it. It is captivating.
The Lord created us with an olfactory system which allows us to detect smells and identify them. It allows us to do something else, which I will mention at the end of this post.
We were created in the image and likeness of God. It should not be surprising that the Lord also is very in tune with His sense of smell. Early in Genesis after the flood waters had subsided and Noah built an alter to the LORD and offered an array of clean animals and birds on the alter, we read, “And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of a man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (8:20-21, ESV). In fact, throughout the entire new testament, over and over, smells of incense and burnt offerings were brought before the LORD in sheer reverence and for atonement.
When Jesus Christ entered the scene, you may recall that two of the three gifts the wisemen brought Him were fragrances. Namely frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense had been used in worship, offered to the LORD as a pleasing aroma. Myrrh, on the other hand, was a spice used in the embalming process among other things. Both fragrant gifts were significant in that the smell of frankincense would be reminiscent of CHRIST’S pleasing sacrificial aroma to the LORD. The other, of course, would be used to embalm Jesus after His death.
When I think of Christ, I know He had an aroma that is far better than that of Coco Mademoiselle! Perhaps his physical body smelled similar to everyone else back in that time in history who did not have deodorant, clean-smelling soaps, or freshly laundered clothing, however, the aroma of His life, His purpose, His Kingship, His authority, and His demeanor would have been everything that I described Coco Mademoiselle to be: pleasing, distinct, noticeable, captivating, irresistible.
That is who He was. To Most.
The first two of His twelve disciples “immediately left their nets and followed Him” when Jesus, who was walking by the Sea of Galilee, called out to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:18-20). Peter and his brother Andrew were captivated by His aroma.
Two other brothers would do the exact same thing shortly after: James and John who were also brothers were with their father in their boat, busily mending their fishing nets when they heard Jesus call to them, probably something very similar to what He had said to Peter and Andrew. They too immediately left their boat (and their father) and followed Him. They were captivated by His aroma.
Most people who came into contact were. There was something about Him that was noticeable. Distinct. Captivating. Was it His eyes? Was it His voice? Was it His mannerisms? Was it His presence? Whatever it was, people responded to His aroma. Many would say it was pleasant; they couldn’t get enough of Him.
Shortly before Jesus was taken into custody, His dear friend Mary “took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (John 12:3, NLT).
I love this passage in scripture! She took something of such value of dumped it on her LORD’s feet– feet that had accrued dust, cuts, scabs, and stench from miles and miles of walking to spread His sweet aroma to others (some who welcomed Him and others who brushed Him off). This sacrificial offering was sweet in His eyes. It showed Him (and those who witnessed this moment) that He was more important than anything she owned. That His aroma was sweet even before the fragrance hit His feet. That He was more than enough. That He deserved her best. That she was willing to humble herself, drop to her knees, and clean His dirty, smelly feet with her hair. That this very costly perfume was worth nothing in comparison to His sweet aroma. She was all in and her actions proved it. She laid it all at His feet, literally. That is exactly what He wants us to do! Lay it all at His feet.
Others would say the aroma of Christ was foul; they couldn’t get rid of Him fast enough.
The Pharisees and Sadducees couldn’t stand Him and were always working to stir up trouble for Him. Some in his hometown of Nazareth were offended by Him, wondering how the child of such simple a people as Mary and Joseph could possibly teach with such wisdom and understanding and do such mighty works with His hands. Entire communities/villages completely rejected Him. His own brother, James, was distant from Him. Many of His own people, the Jews, didn’t get Him. They chanted these words ever so loudly: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Judas, one of His twelve disciples, betrayed Him.
Some didn’t smell His aroma. But many did. They smelled His sweet fragrance.
That is who He is! To Me. To You.
How can we know His aroma if we weren’t living during the time when He walked the earth? How can we even begin to imagine how sweet it truly was?
1.) God gave us an olfactory system to understand what a sweet aroma smells like and the emotions that are tied to it in the limbic lobe of our brains. He has given us a world filled with sweet aromas so that we could better understand who Christ is.
2.) God gave us His Word so that we could get a chance to personally know who He Is! Are you digging in? Are you picking up His pleasing aroma? Can you catch a whiff of Him? You know when you have because it is pleasing, distinct, noticeable, and captivating. You know because you can’t get enough of Him.
3.) God gave us others who emit the fragrance of Christ.
Do you know what I am talking about? Do you have people in your life who emit Christ’s fragrance? They are people who walk the walk and talk the talk. They are those who don’t compromise their truth-based living, who love deeply, greatly, largely, and fully. They are walking examples of who Christ was and is. They are His hands and feet!
Thank you Mom! Thank you Marc! Thank you dear friends for being such a sweet, recognizable fragrance in my life! If you’ve known this in your life, would you tell those people? Would you encourage them by letting them know that you smell Christ in them! What a sweet, recognizable fragrance they exude! Praise be to God who gave us this perfect example in flesh-form to follow after.
“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Eph. 5:2, NLT).
The moment Christ was put on the cross, he sweat all of his blood, the purest of all sacrifices ever to be offered to the LORD, on our behalf. He took all of our sin and shame so that He could present us as holy and blameless to His father in heaven. Just as Christ is a pleasing aroma to God, so are we! Because of Christ.
He expects much of us. He expects much of you!
We are to be a fragrance of Christ to God among those around us. We are to be His ambassadors.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Cor. 2:14-16, ESV).
Even before I reach for Coco Mademoiselle, I reach for Christ. Will you too?
May His aroma that is experienced through us be pleasing, distinct, noticeable, captivating, and irresistible. May those we encounter as we live our days be so taken aback by our words and actions because they can smell the fragrance of Christ on us. May we share what fragrance we are wearing when asked– it is Christ! All Christ!