Who does not appreciate fragrance? We unexpectedly catch the perfume of roses in a garden, or the smell of new-mown hay as we ramble along a lane, or the aroma of the trees in a pinewood. Fragrance is something we associate with the handiwork of God rather than that of man – with the field and the flower rather than the factory or the furnace.
In Psalm 45 we read of the fragrance of Christ; ‘All thy gar-ments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces’, v. 8. This highly poetical language is intended to convey that in all the Lord’s ways, in every word, act or gesture, there was infinite charm and attractiveness. Like perfect fragrance there was nothing at any time which could be repugnant or offensive to the susceptibilities of anyone who could appreciate perfection and loveliness. In the synagogue at Nazareth in the beginning they ‘wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth’; later the men sent to arrest Him could only say of His words, ‘Never man spake like this man!’, and again there was the occasion when they were forced to exclaim regarding His acts, ‘He hath done all things well!’.
We too rejoice in His wondrous ministry while on earth, but there is something that is even sweeter to us! In Leviticus we find several mentions of ‘frankincense’ in connection with the offerings. Frankincense was made from aromatic gum obtained by piercing and bleeding certain kinds of trees. The sharp instrument was driven in and the fragrance flowed forth. How suggestive this is of Calvary! The violence and brutality of crucifixion occasioned the supreme expression of the wondrous love of Christ in the shedding of His blood in sacrificial death for us. Of His ministry before the cross John says, ‘We beheld his glory … full of grace and truth’, but it is His death which ever causes us to exclaim, ‘Thy name is as ointment poured forth!’.
Fragrance is silent and unostentatious, an unseen, unheard benediction. It was the atmosphere which ever surrounded the Lord throughout His earthly ministry. What need there is today for those who arc His to carry, even though in measure, that atmosphere with them! There is too much of the clatter and clang of the workshop in our lives and ministry. We lack the quiet fragrance of the atmosphere of Christ. We suffer so much from the odour of the carnal in all. There is sin even in the holy things and the ‘strange incense’ is nauseating to God. What a dearth there is of fragrance which will cause men to take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus!
Let us seek to exude the fragrance of our blessed Master. May we be more and more ‘unto God a sweet savour of Christ’ in our ministry, 2 Cor. 2. 15, ‘an odour of a sweet smell’ in our love and thoughtful care for one another, Phil. 4. 18, and maintain ‘golden vials full of odours’ in our ministry of prayer, Rev. 5. 8.