Our sense of smell is something that can trigger powerful emotions and memories, can’t it? The smell of coffee, coupled with bacon frying, instantly takes me back to my grandmother’s house 40 years ago, making me smile with the memory of waking up to her bountiful breakfasts!
The flowery scent of freesia hand soap happily catapults me back 20-some years as a blissful newlywed, and to the smell of a lotion used in the powder room of a hotel in England we lived in for a month waiting for our home to be completed!
The sweet tropical smell of coconut oil transports my brain to the sunny, summer days filled with laughter and friends at Oak Street Beach in Chicago back as a high school student in the 1980’s, when we used SPF2 Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil and burned ourselves to a crisp (ouch…)!
Conversely, the smell of cigarette smoke can cause me to claustrophobically choke on the memory of enclosed spaces in airplanes back in the day when smoking was allowed on planes (can you even believe that was ever allowed?!). The unmistakable odor of diesel fuel triggers a mini panic attack in me from memories of a nasty car accident I was in.
Yes, just like our vision, smells can take us places we cannot (and maybe DO not) always conjure up by memory alone.
Did you know there is a Bible story that plays on that very sense of smell to invoke the knowledge of the people who witnessed Jesus during his last 6 days of earthly life that He, indeed, was the Messiah? I seriously have been chomping at the bit to share this one with you! It seems only fitting to be cracking it open to you right now – in the midst of this most Holy Week!
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3
After Mary did this, Judas accused her of wasting valuable money- he claimed the perfume could’ve been sold at a very high price and the money given to the poor. But Jesus, sweet Jesus, rebuked Him, saying that Mary knew what she was doing and it was alright.
I’d heard that story so many times and never stopped to wonder why Mary chose such an expensive perfume. On the surface, it DOES seem like more than an extravagance that a growing ministry such as Jesus’ could’ve/should’ve afforded. But a little digging reveals, like all things Jesus, there is much more than meets the eye (and NOSE)!
Nard (the perfume with which Mary anointed His feet) was so expensive that its worth was greater than diamonds. Why would Mary have used this? Not necessarily JUST to prepare His body for burial…BUT ALSO BECAUSE IT WAS THE SAME PERFUMED OIL THAT WAS USED TO ANOINT KINGS.
By anointing Jesus with that pungent, sweet smelling, long lasting, expensive ROYAL oil, Mary was placing a scent on Him and His clothing that would be unmistakable as He was led by donkey into Jerusalem as a hero, and led to through the street to His death on Calvary as a criminal. Unmistakable. This man was KING.
There was surely nowhere He went that last week where He could’ve been mistaken as anything but a person of most royal standing. When kings would pass through villages in that day, even if they never left their carriages, their scent was recognized by all as it wafted and lingered through the town, long after the entourage had left. It was that pungent, that recognizable, that unmistakable.
This anointing of Mary’s was a powerful message to all who would come in contact with Jesus during that final week that they were indeed in the presence of the King. Whether it was the people along the parade route in Jerusalem, the soldiers in the garden of Gethsemane, the prison guards who beat Him and stole His tattered clothing; they each smelled it. The aroma would linger and would cling to Him to the very end.
What a cool God we serve, hitting us from every conceivable angle and sense with His amazing love for this world that He would send His son, our KING, to be crucified for us. The sights and sounds are there for us in the reading and hearing of His word. But sisters, it was also there in the aroma.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in victory through Christ. God uses us to spread his knowledge everywhere like that sweet-smelling perfume. Our offering to God is to be the perfume of Christ that goes out to those who are being saved and to those who are being lost. To those who are being lost, this perfume smells like death, and it brings them death. But to those who are being saved, it has the sweet smell of life, and it brings them life. So who is good enough to do this work?
2 Cor. 2:14-16, ERV.
The sweet smell of a mighty, mighty king. Born so that He would die in order to reconcile us to our Father in Heaven. It makes me tremble with humility, gratitude, and awe.
I wish you all a most blessed Easter this weekend. I pray for wonderful moments of remembrance of what has been done for us in His mighty name. I pray for family and friends to come together not only to celebrate the holiday, but to experience it with ALL our senses.
We are REDEEMED. Thanks be to God.
Peace, love, and JOY!
(Reposted from this blog, originally posted on 3/27/13)