The Bible tells us that each of us has an odor issue. That is something we never want to hear, right? No, it is not THAT kind of smell. If we are Christians, it is something wonderful. When we follow Jesus in this world, we give off an unmistakable fragrance to everyone around us. It is the aroma of Christ. With it, we announce the Lord to everyone around us. The more time we spend with the Lord, the stronger it gets.
Have we ever had anyone comment that there is something different about us? Have we ever seen a person and just known by looking at them that they were another believer? This is the result of the fragrance of Jesus. People cannot help but notice something imperceptibly different about us. We belong to Jesus and are therefore marked as His to all the world.
My father was a fireman. He would come to visit after having a long couple of days at the firehouse. As soon as he walked in the house, we knew where he had been. The odor of smoke was overwhelming. It was in his clothes, in his hair and even on his skin. The smell would just assault us. There was no way to escape it. If it had been a really big fire and he had been in the middle of it, the smell filled the whole house. Everyone he met knew immediately he was a fireman. His calling was announced by the smell of burning wood and plastic that clung to him.
When we kids would run up and throw our arms around him or sit in his lap, what do we think happened? We were flooded with the smell of smoke. Not only that, but the smell transferred from him to us. We went away announcing to everyone around that we had just hugged a fireman. The smell of smoke still brings me back to sitting in his lap to this day. It was part of who he was as my dad and who I was as his child. A 5yr old smelling like a housefire testified to his proxity to his fireman dad.
If we have ever been in a hothouse filled with orchids, the same feeling of being overwhelmed with an odor is present. The air seems heavy with the scent. It hits us as soon as we step into the room. The whole area is dominated by the smell coming off of the flowers. If we spend many hours in the orchid house, what are we going to reek of?
The same is true with followers of Jesus. When we are spending more and more time with Jesus, it changes us. His presence rubs off on us. We end up seeming less like us and more like Him. We cannot help but exude Jesus like it is coming through our pores. A church on fire for Jesus is like that hothouse with orchids at full bloom. The smell of Jesus is everywhere and overpowering.
The closer we get to Him, the more we smell like Him. The less Jesus is involved in our lives, the lighter the aroma.
When Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus for burial, it is a wonderful picture of this process.
Mary gives up all of her concerns about stature and propriety in order to serve Jesus. She goes so far as to use her hands and her hair to get the oil onto Jesus’ head and feet. She is at His feet serving Him with all that she has in this world. She is a simple follower of Christ doing what she can to worship the Lord. So we see the picture that is laid out for us?
The oil involved was very aromatic. The Bible says that the whole house was filled with its smell. Jesus was covered with that oil as part of His role as the Messiah. He would have smelled strongly of it. He is the focus of the account, obviously, and we know that there is deep symbolism involved but it doesn’t affect just Him. Mary’s devotion to serving Jesus changes her as well. When Mary gets up to leave that house, she is not the same as when she arrived. Her devotion to the Lord has changed her dramatically. She is just as covered in aromatic oil as Jesus. It is all over her hands, arms and hair. She exudes the same fragrance as her Lord. Taking part in the ministry of Jesus has left her smelling just like Him. That doesn’t just go away when her time near to Jesus ends.
When Mary leaves His presence, she still is covered the same anointing as Jesus. Those who encounter Mary will know immediately who she has been with. It is obvious that something unusual took place and she has been very near the Messiah. Not only that, consider the oil that covered Mary’s hands. No matter how much she washed after the anointing, that oil and aroma will still cling to her hands. Every single thing she touches after leaving Jesus’ feet will be affected by a bit of the fragrance. She will leave a trail of sweet smelling fragrance wherever she goes.
It is an awesome picture of our life in Jesus. We are just as changed by time spent at the Master’s feet. Our efforts to serve Him and worship Him allows us to share in His anointing. The aroma os His ministry rubs off on us as we rejoice in His presence and it follows us wherever we go.
But like Mary, we do not leave the presence of Jesus covered with the fragrance of anointing unless we are willing to serve, sacrifice, love and worship Jesus. Sitting at His feet, learning from Him and serving Him are necessary components of becoming like Jesus to this lost and fallen world.
Where are we spending our time today? What do we smell like? What fragrance does the world smell most powerfully on us?
Are we soaking in the fragrance of Jesus ourselves so that we can go out and offer it to the world?