In the humble beginning of his apprenticeship, he is learning from his father to carve out the design of the wood, to slide his hands across the wood and feel the grain, and to carry stacks of wood.
Still a young lad and learning his trade, he needs the direction of his father’s callused hands to guide his unskilled hands, which now need a little rest.
Stepping away from the carpenter’s bench, he walks outside the shop to take a break from his work and stretch his back.
Standing in the warm, noon sun, he picks at another of the daily splinters in his hands, as the rhythm of the hammer pounds in the background. Extending his arms toward the sky, he says a prayer of thanksgiving to God the Father.
He breathes in fresh air to rid his nostrils of sawdust. First shaking his head to dislodge more sawdust tangled in his hair, he then removes his sandals and shakes out the wood shavings.
As the sun’s warmth soothes his aching muscles, he wonders when he first loved the savory aroma of wood. From the stories his father has told him, he decides the first whiffs seeped into his memory from the wooden trough at his birth.
When would Jesus realize all these things were harbingers of agony upon a wooden cross?
Did that dreadful day of agony revive all those fragrant memories of His childhood? What did those harbingers herald?
* Stepping aside from His carpenter’s life means stepping into His glorified life.
* The sawdust that clung to His hair is now exchanged for a crown of thorns encircling His head.
* Stretching His sore back could never compare to the excruciating pain from the flesh-revealing stripes received from a scourge.
* The removing of His sandals rid them of sawdust; now removing them reveals His feet for torture.
* The wood He once carried strengthened Him to carry a cross-beam along the Via Dolorosa.
* His hands, once suffering splinters from pressing against the grain of the wood, now feeling pain as shards puncture them from bearing the weight of the wooden cross-beam.
* The hammer that pounded in the background now pounds in rhythmic timbre upon the nail heads, piercing His hands.
* The memory-scent of the wood, embedded in His nostrils, infuses His soul as the punctured wood releases that familiar fragrance.
* The fresh air He so easily breathed in now barely makes it into His nostrils as He struggles to breathe.
* His muscles that ached from work now throb from the pain of crucifixion, which no soothing sun can ever relieve.
* His arms extended once again…in prayer to His Father.
Following His heavenly Father’s guidance, this young Man obeyed…unto death.
The scent of the wood released from obedience.
A sweet aroma to the Father.
If Mary lovingly created it, I am sure Jesus wore it, even wearing it before His betrayal when He went to Simon the leper’s house. As He reclined at the table, a woman came and broke open her beautiful, alabaster passion box, full of the extremely valuable, perfumed oil of spikenard. As she lovingly poured it upon Jesus’ head, it probably trickled down His cheeks, seeped into His beard, and gently dripped upon His shoulders, saturating His garment.
In Eastern culture, the garment of the bridegroom is saturated with rich perfumes. This woman lovingly poured out her precious possession upon the heavenly Bridegroom which permeated His garment. Almost as prophetic words, the Shulamite woman says of her beloved in the beautiful Song of Solomon, “While the king is at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance.” (SOS 1:12 NKJV)
Don’t you know that through the long hours of His agony in the garden, during His betrayal, in the courtyard of His judgment before Caiaphas and Pilate, and until that garment was removed, Jesus breathed in that sweet smell of sacrificial love that had been poured out upon Him, while this scripture may have echoed in His Spirit, “The odor of your ointments is fragrant, your name is like perfume poured out.” (SOS 1:3 Amp)
As He probably did not wash His hair, the fragrance clung to it. That sweet aroma must have wafted its fragrance of love into His nostrils throughout His torment at the whipping post and while hanging on the cross, more than likely thinking, “This is for all those who will pour out their love on Me.”
Jesus’ sacrifice for our forgiveness and eternal life cost Him His life and was a sweet aroma to God, as scripture says, “God was pleased, for Christ’s love for you was like sweet perfume to Him.” (Eph. 5:2b TLB)
Are our trust and faith as that sweet aroma of the alabaster passion box poured out to Jesus? Do our offerings cost us something, or do they have little meaning to us? If we give God what is of little value to us, how will it be of any value to Him? If a sacrifice is to be a true sacrifice, it must cost something to give it.
A true, sacrificial worship gift costs us the surrender of our money, for we give sacrificially, as the widow who gave her two mites. It costs us the surrender of our time, for we sacrifice it to put God first. It costs us the surrender of our hearts, for we sacrifice our love to those who hate us. It costs us the surrender of our lips, for we sacrifice our praise to God when all seems lost.
Whatever it costs, it must come from a loving and willing heart.
Jesus gave you His sweet sacrifice of salvation.
What have you given Him? What does it cost you? Have you given your heart to the One Who gave you His life?
Are you “a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God”? (Phil. 4:18 NKJV)
May you experience that sweet smell of Easter’s sacrifice in a fresh, new way this year.
Have you ever experienced a devastating circumstance in your life? At one time or another, we all go through trials that attempt to crush us, squeeze us, bruise us, or set us on fire. Though these difficulties strike us, many times their impact will bring beauty out of chaos, if we allow it.
Some things only achieve their greatest design through crushing blows…
*The squeezing of grapes produces sweet wine.
*The pressing of olives extracts their delectable oil.
*Only when wheat is ground is it useful for making bread.
*The crushing of flower petals releases their oil for fragrance.
*Incense is useless – its purpose not fulfilled, its odors not set free – unless touched by fire.
*Only through great pressure, heat, and time does coal produce the gemstone of a diamond.
Just as many things of nature suffer contrary conditions in order to be expanded, strengthened, or enhanced, so, too, do we. Some circumstances only achieve God’s greatest purpose in our lives through pressure and crushing, through tears and suffering, allowing the pleasing fragrance of obedience and sweet graces of God’s will to be released.
But during these trying situations, how do we behave? Do we whine, kick, scream, question God or tell Him it isn’t fair? Or do we succumb to the Lord’s power to work, bow to His divine purpose, and submit our will to His, offering praise from lips of thanksgiving? Which behavior do you believe is the sweet aroma in His nostrils?
How did God’s children of the Bible react when they experienced bruising, crushing, or fires? Granted, some, such as Israel, were whiners. However, the Bible is filled with the accounts of great trust.
One is Paul. Of the multitude of afflictions he experienced, he said, “We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for He can even raise the dead. And He did help us and saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect Him to do it again and again.” (2 Cor. 1:8-10 TLB)
Another is the Three Amigos. You know, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. While they were in the fiery furnace, they believed their God would deliver them, and, even if He didn’t deliver them, they believed He would save them from Nebuchadnezzar.
As those flames lapped up around them, God rescued them and, when they came out, not even the smell of smoke clung to them. Their sweet aroma of faith was not changed.
Did you know God has sensitive sinuses? He anticipates our fragrance long before we emit it. So, during those times of adversity, do we present Him with a pleasant aroma in His nostrils or a stench stuck in His throat? Are we like Estee Lauder’s Beautiful perfumery or a men’s locker room? Like a flower shop or a machine shop? Like a bakery or a fertilizer plant?
Are our trust and faith as that sweet aroma of the alabaster passion box, lovingly poured upon Jesus’ head, which seeped into His beard and gently trickled down upon His shoulders, saturating His garment?
Prayer: Lord, may my life be broken open as a precious passion box, poured out to You.
May each burden of my life work as a weight to crush my disobedience, my instability to stand on Your word, and my inability to be used of You.
Crush me as the flower petals are compressed for their fragrant perfume. Crush me as the olives are squeezed for their valuable oil. Crush me and make my life into that delectable wine.
Let my life overflow with the sweet-scented oil of Your Holy Spirit, poured forth upon the hearts of others to soothe the hurts that the trials of this world have etched into their precious lives.
I pray that the things crushing each reader’s life right now will only work to bring out the precious fragrance of obedience and sweet graces of Your will. Amen!