Not that I mind the powerful scent coming from the flowers Alison brought in from the garden. But I know that the aroma that I find so pleasant is quite problematic for others. Strong scents can be very polarizing.
I love the smells of spring. I think the olfactory delights of the season are often overshadowed by the visual beauty. The other day, I was walking by a bush and was literally stopped in my tracks by the bouquet of the flowers, whatever they were. I lingered, enchanted.
Last time, I wrote about the scars that remain on Jesus. I wonder if the same is true for the scent of the spices used on his body in burial. It may seem like a reach – since the gospel writers don’t mention it – but let me put in context, with significant influence from The Bible Project Podcast. (If you’ve never listened, I highly recommend it.)
The term Christ literally means The Anointed One. In Exodus, Moses is given very specific directions for creating the aromatic oil used in anointing:
“Take the following fine spices: liquid myrrh, fragrant cinnamon, fragrant calamus, cassia and olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.” (Ex. 30 22-25, measurements removed)
This perfumed combination was to be for the sole use of setting apart those people and objects that were, according to Tim Mackie of The Bible Project, to be a link between heaven and earth. To stand in the gap.
In Psalm 36, an eternal divine king is described fragrantly. Note the connection to two of the ingredients from the holy perfume recipe:
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; (Ps. 45:6,8)
I’m sure you also can place the whiff of myrrh in the life of Jesus. It was given to him as an infant by the visiting magi (Mt. 2:11) and used in his burial (John 10:39). Myrrh is an aromatic gum extracted from a thorny tree by wounding the trunk. (How’s that for symbolism?) It was used for both healing and for embalming – the smell of life and of death.
So, since Jesus is the Anointed One, the Christ, it’s possible that he still has the aroma of the anointing oil. In his death and resurrection, he now stands as the eternal go-between. Paul writes, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man (the Anointed One) Jesus.” (Gal. 3:19)
And in Christ, we share in that perfume of anointing, as divisive as the smell of myrrh must have been:
“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Cor. 2: 15-16)
Certainly not me.
As I sit, enveloped in the fragrance of these flowers, I am so grateful that, in his enlivening grace, his sacrifice on my behalf came to me as a wafting from an eternal Eden.
Through me, through us all, may he spread the scent.
Eternal God, let our lives spread the aroma of your Son, anointed on our behalf. As Christians, we are little “anointed ones.” Show us today where we can stand in the gap with him.
Reader: what’s the most powerful scent of spring for you?