Summary: As human beings, we have five basic senses - touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. Of these, the sense of smell is considered to be the strongest. As God’s people, we are to emit the fragrance of Christ wherever we are.
All of us know, as human beings, we have five basic senses - Sense of touch, sense of sight, sense of hearing, sense of smell and sense of taste. Of these five senses, the sense of smell is considered to be the strongest.
Certain smells are nostalgic. When you smell that particular thing, it brings back old memories. There is a study that says the sense of smell is closely linked with memory, possible more than any of our other senses.
Interestingly, God also exhibits this sense of smell. In Gen 8:20, Noah sacrificed burnt offerings - a sacrifice of thanksgiving. What was God’s reaction? The next verses says, “The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”
The anger of God was replaced by peace, because of what he just smelled.
In the book of Leviticus, God instructs His people to give offerings and burn incense.
In the New Testament, the sacrifice of Christ is a fragrant offering unto God. We read that in Eph 5:2.
“and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Father God smelled the offering of Christ and it is a sweet aroma to Him.
Then book of Revelation talks about our prayers being a sweet aroma.
Rev 5:8 - And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, reach holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Let’s meditate on another important verse that talks about how we can spread the fragrance.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.
Here we see the word aroma. Certain translations use the word ‘fragrance’. And this is extremely important.
As you first read this verse, you can picture something. You can picture is a great victory procession wherein Christ is at the head of the procession. We follow him, celebrating him as the universal conqueror or the victor.
As Paul was writing this, he had in mind the picture of Roman Triumph. Romans were ruling at that time. Everyone who lived in that period in history probably would have got to witness at least once the victory procession.
There was a custom that the Romans followed. When a Head of the Military team wins over some other country or city, and brings them as captives, he was given a grand welcome into the city of Rome. There was literally a procession that took place to celebrate the victory.
In that procession, the victorious generals marched in a certain order through the streets of Rome
The Roman Caesar or the General who won led the parade. It was the highest honour one could receive. He sat on a chariot of white horses. He was followed by different groups of people:
1. The city magistrates, state officials, Roman senate, and then the trumpeters.
2. Soldiers carrying their spoils from the conquered land.
3. Pictures and models of the conquered citadels and ships.
4. The white bull for the sacrifice.
5. The captive rulers, their leaders and captured generals in chains, ready to be executed even as the white bull would be sacrificed.
6. Finally, the musicians and priests swinging their censers with sweet-smelling incense burning in them.
Wherever the parade went, people could smell the pleasant smell of the incense.
For the victorious army and for the Roman citizens, the fragrance has the sweet aroma of victory. The smell made them extremely pleasant and happy.
On the other hand, for the victims who were captured, the smell of incense was frightening. They know they are going to die, they are going to be executed before the end of the day. So the smell for them was the smell of death. It was unpleasant and brought in fear.
This was the picture that Paul had in mind, even as he penned these verses.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 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.
Christ is our conqueror who is leading the procession. We follow him as His chosen warriors, enjoying the benefits of what he conquered.