He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:3-5
Yesterday we talked about the smell of Christmas, carried by the fragrance of the crushed evergreen needles.
Today, what special fragrances from Easter past do you recall? Lilies, Lilacs, daffodils, new shoes? Easter candy? Ham baking in the oven? Grandma’s perfume, long diffused in your memory?
What about spikenard? Spikenard was a common oil used in the time of Jesus. Imported from India in sealed alabaster jars, when the container was broken, the perfume was released for medicinal purposes, but usually to prepare a body for burial, the last kindness for a loved one. Spikenard, such a precious and important fragrance, the scent of which would release memories of death and sorrow.
There are several references to the anointing of Jesus with spikenard in the gospels of the New Testament. There are enough differences in the stories, to indicate two separate occasions of anointing just prior to his crucifixion, one an anointing of his head, the other of his feet. Broken. The alabaster jar was broken, and its fragrance released onto the hair, the feet of Jesus, absorbed, his body marked with a healing fragrance, diffused and released everywhere he walked those last few days in preparation for Passover.
When those soldiers pressed that crown of thorns into his head, a broken release, each drop of blood trickling down his cheek, carrying the fragrance of spikenard, from his skin, his hair. When they beat him and whipped him, with each lash, the scent was diffused, released into the air, and if his blood sprinkled onto his tormentors, they couldn’t remove it, without leaving a lingering trace of the fragrance of suffering on their guilty, blood-stained hands.
Ever thought about what it smelled like on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering? The pathway of the Via Dolorosa, the road named for Jesus’ path to Golgotha, was sprinkled with the fragrance of spikenard, with each step he took. Any children in the crowd, even if their mothers shielded their eyes, might ask, “What’s that smell?” And for the rest of their lives, when they smelled spikenard, they would see the face of the gentle lamb led to slaughter, see the blood of atonement sprinkling the way, like the hyssop branches sprinkled the passover blood across the doorposts.
Kneel at the cross today, broken, and allow the fragrance of Christ to be released into your life, permeating all of your brokenness. Do not withdraw from the precious spikenard scented blood of Christ, a symbolic cleansing, sprinkling of forgiveness, offered freely from his broken body to you.
Do you have the scent of spikenard on your life? Is there a fragrance that follows you, leaving a waft of the triumphant victory of Christ in the fragrance of suffering? Are you in a suffering trial right now? There is one who walks the Via Dolorosa with you. Are you guilty with blood-stained hands? He thought of you in his suffering when He said, “Father, forgive them.” There is forgiveness for you in the spikenard scented blood of the sinless passover Lamb of God, shed for all of us — sinners.
Are you one who follows Christ, eagerly coming to the tomb in the early morning, communing with the Gardener, catching the fragrance of the empty grave cloths, lying folded and unused, still with the scent of spikenard? Do you long to place your hand in His hand, to know for sure, without a doubt that the nail pierced hands of a risen Saviour are real? Reach out in faith, follow the scent of spikenard to the cross, to the tomb, to victory, to life, to the ascension, to eternity.
As we near Easter, bring your own fragrant offering, broken and released, breathe deeply of his love for you, allow the cleansing fragrance to permeate your soul and life. As you pass through the lives of others, make them wonder, “What is that fragrance?” as you leave a lingering waft of grace and love.
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