I burn scented candles and use scented oil diffusers, both designed to enhance the atmosphere of my home. Pleasant aromas evoke fond memories, and serve to affect mood and emotions. They change my world.
In the bible, a pleasant fragrance is associated with pleasing God.
The prayers of believers are counted as incense before their Lord. (Psalm 141:2)
We are to imitate God, as his children, and walk in love, as Christ loved us. He sacrificed himself as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
2 Corinthians says believers are the aroma of Christ to those who are being saved among those who are perishing. (2 Corinthians 2:15) We are to smell like Jesus.
Jesus was in Bethany at a dinner given for him. Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead, was at the table, as were Jesus’ disciples. Martha, sister or Lazarus and Mary, served the meal. Mary quietly entered the room and broke an alabaster jar of pure nard, an expensive perfume. She then poured the entire contents on Jesus’ head and feet. Taking down her long hair, she wiped his feet with it. Conversation would have stopped as the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:1-8, Matthew 26:6-16, Mark 14:3-9)
(Nard was an expensive perfume or ointment worth a about a year’s wages.)
Mary understood Jesus’ Lordship, perhaps better than his other disciples. In her worship, nothing distracted her from making this sacrifice to her Lord- not the expense of the nard, not the men at the table, not the harsh comments from Judas and other disciples. She wouldn’t be hindered by embarrassment. In the Jewish custom, a woman’s hair would always be bound in public, but Mary took hers down to wipe Jesus’ feet.
Jesus defended Mary against Judas’ comments, saying she prepared him for his death, and her worship would be remembered wherever the gospel was shared. And it is remembered.
The fragrance of Mary's sacrifice to the Lord, filled the house.
When I make my sacrifice to my Lord, when I serve in church or as a charity, or when I give to the poor, when I worship him—do I pour it all out? How often does my practical side hold some back? Do I give just enough that people will think well of me?
In the case of my sacrifice-service, giving, worship—if it were perfume, would the fragrance permeate the whole house? Or would it dissipate before getting past my own sense of smell.
Would it be the fragrance of Christ to those who need to know him?