7th October 2019


“The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
John 12:3 (NRSV)

Sometimes when I want to buy something, I go into a department store. Often my way is through the fragrances: Chanel, Max Factor, etc. Sometimes I will linger to buy something special for someone special.

What about the fragrance John is telling us about? There was a big party. Probably most of those present were celebrating Jesus’ raising Lazarus to life. Martha was preparing an abundance of food and drink for the guests. But Mary was also providing something that stimulated the guests’ olfactory senses –a very special and expensive ointment. Leaving aside its purpose, the fragrance must have made almost everyone feel good.

Paul also wrote about aromas. But his analogy was in the context of a triumphal procession of the army. “God…through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing Him. For we are the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

Mary’s perfume once released, spread a pleasant aroma throughout the whole house. Paul is telling the Corinthian church, and us, that we are this pleasant aroma and that for everyone who comes into contact with us it should be as if they were coming into contact with Christ Himself. Paul makes no bones about it. He finishes this passage with the words “in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in His presence” (verse 17).

But not everyone appreciates the same odour. Paul wrote that “we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and to those who are perishing” (verse 15). And the same is true of those who were in Mary’s house. It was the same perfume, but whereas to most it was a beautiful scent, to others (Judas) it was perceived as an unpleasant and wasted ointment. Maybe he thought the same of Jesus.

Mary did not keep her ointment sealed up so that nobody could benefit from its fragrance. She took the lid off and almost everyone benefited. It is so easy in our present society to keep the lid on our faith. We might be asked a question that could lead us to say that we are a Christian, but what often happens? We keep quiet, thinking, “I don’t know how to put it” or “Can I cope with what might come next?” And so the opportunity is lost. The aroma is Christ’s, but it’s up to us whether others benefit from it. Let’s try not to keep the lid on it.

Lord Jesus, thank you that I have come to know You through the aromas of others in this world. May I be a means whereby others come to know You with gladness and not to be put off.

Study by Christopher Reeve

About the Author:
Christopher Reeve is assistant pastor of the Invicta (Blean) Congregation near Canterbury, which is part of Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Invicta Fellowship
Blean Village Hall
School Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11.30 a.m.

Local Congregational Contact:
Mrs Annette Woods
Phone: 07473 188326
Email: annettewoods2@nhs.net

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