Have you ever walked through your neighborhood on a summer’s evening and smelled the aroma of meat cooking on a grill? You might have lifted your nose and inhaled the mouthwatering scent. What about stepping into a bakery, or a grocery store when bread is coming out of the oven? One whiff and you’re certain supper will be so much more delicious if you have some of that fresh bread to go with it.
The offerings and sacrifices of the Old Testament probably smelled something like the neighborhood barbecue and the bakery. The burnt offering required the whole animal to be burned on the altar. Other sacrifices used only the fat and certain parts of the animal. A morning and evening sacrifice ensured that God would be pleased with the “soothing aroma.” Whenever someone brought a grain offering, some of the grain was thrown onto the fire. It may have smelled something like our bread and was considered a soothing aroma to please God.
Since Christ‘s death, we are no longer required to offer sacrifices. But imagine the smells that day when our Lord was nailed to the cross. Blood. Dust. Sweat. Fear. Hatred. Death. What a stench there must have been. The stench of sin. No wonder God turned away.
But now, we who believe in Jesus Christ are a sweet aroma.In The Message version of the Bible, 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says, “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way to salvation–an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.”
Do you carry the exquisite fragrance of Jesus with you to work? While you’re sitting in traffic, do you give off a sweet scent or a stench to others?
When I worked at a hospital, one doctor was known for the fragrance he left behind. When he’d finished his rounds and was heading back to his office in another building, he’d often light his pipe. The fragrance of his vanilla-scented tobacco lingered in the halls after he’d passed through. It was not uncommon to see someone lift their nose in the air, inhale the sweet aroma and exhale with a smile.
What a fitting image of the way we should live as Christians, carrying the exquisite fragrance of Jesus so that anyone following us will also desire to inhale the sweet aroma of the Saviour.