In the first century, when a king or leader had conquered a new territory, he would bring the captives back to his country and parade them down “main street’. This was to show his subjects how powerful he was and to receive their worship and praise. It also reminded them of what could happen if they ever decided to be disloyal to the king. These were unwilling captives. Paul is giving thanks to God that we are led in this triumphal procession as willing captives. We are captives and bondservants because we have chosen Jesus as our Savior and King. Now, it is time for each of us “to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere”. That Word will be good news to some because they will receive the Word with gladness of heart, accept Jesus and receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. It will be a stench in the nostrils of those who refuse to accept our God as the only true and living God and Jesus as their Savior and King. That rejection will lead to death and eternal punishment. Just as Paul felt inadequate to do that job, so should we. As he says, “who is equal to such a task?” None of us can do this work alone, It must be Spirit-led and Spirit-fed. As Paul also explains, “I can do all things through Jesus Christ”. And so can we do all things through Jesus. It is His plan, His purpose and it is accomplished by His power, not ours. We are to be faithful and follow His example.
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 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. — Eph. 5:1 NIV
We are to offer our lives as a sacrifice and a fragrant offering to God. Just as bees are drawn to honey, others are drawn to Jesus by people who live sacrificial lives.
Do our lifestyles release a sweet smelling aroma of life or a stench of death?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
1 Six days before the Passover Feast, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus lived. (Lazarus is the man Jesus raised from the dead.) 2 There they had a dinner for Jesus. Martha served the food, and Lazarus was one of the people eating with Jesus. 3 Mary brought in a pint of very expensive perfume made from pure nard. She poured the perfume on Jesus’ feet, and then she wiped his feet with her hair. And the sweet smell from the perfume filled the whole house. 4 Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ followers who would later turn against him, was there. Judas said, 5 “This perfume was worth three hundred coins. Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” 6 But Judas did not really care about the poor; he said this because he was a thief. He was the one who kept the money box, and he often stole from it. 7 Jesus answered, “Leave her alone. It was right for her to save this perfume for today, the day for me to be prepared for burial. 8 You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”–John 12:1-8 (NCV)
The purpose of every human is to glorify God. On an earlier occasion, Martha had complained about Mary setting at the feet of Jesus while she cooked and served the people. Now, Judas is complaining about Mary “wasting” the expensive perfume to anoint the feet of Jesus. God has gifted each of us with different talents to achieve His glory. Martha was a worker and a helper. She knew how to get things done. Mary had the gifts of giving and encouraging. Some of us are vessels of gold and silver while others are vessels of wood and earth. Sometimes we try to do things outside of our gifting and calling. Those are the times that cause problems in the body of Christ. If you haven’t already, ask God to show you the gift He has given you to glorify Him. The body of Christ needs each of us to fulfill our calling, God needs each of us to exercise our gift so that the body will be complete. Once you discover “what is right” for you, you will find the joy and peace that God wants to give each of His children every day.
38 Again feeling very upset, Jesus came to the tomb. It was a cave with a large stone covering the entrance. 39 Jesus said, “Move the stone away.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “But, Lord, it has been four days since he died. There will be a bad smell.” 40 Then Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they moved the stone away from the entrance. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42 I know that you always hear me, but I said these things because of the people here around me. I want them to believe that you sent me.” 43 After Jesus said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with pieces of cloth, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take the cloth off of him and let him go.”
—John 11:38-44 (NCV)
Just imagine this scene! A crowd standing at a tomb, which was a cave covered by a large stone. Some were crying, some were doubting, all of them, I am sure, wondering what Jesus was going to do next. Is it any wonder that Jesus had cried earlier? He was surrounded by a sea of unbelief. It would have been particularly hurtful because the ones who knew Him and He loved so much were also doubting. But, thank God, Lazarus didn’t have to depend on the faith of all those people or he would never have come out of that grave. Picture the look on their faces when Jesus said “Lazarus, come forth!’ Their attitude went from one of doubt to amazement! Some of them were even convinced that Jesus was really who He said He was. “Let Him go!” There must have been some rejoicing there that day in Bethany! STOP! Now, picture yourself in that same crowd that same day. In which group do you see yourself? Do you come there as a believer or a doubter? Do you leave there as a believer or a doubter? Fast forward to “now”. In which group are we now? Are we fully persuaded?
1 Remember what I said earlier about the role of the high priest, even the ones chosen by human beings? The job of every high priest is reconciliation: approaching God on behalf of others and offering Him gifts and sacrifices to repair the damage caused by our sins against God and each other. 2 The high priest should have compassion for those who are ignorant of the faith and those who fall out of the faith because he also has wrestled with human weakness, 3 and so the priest must offer sacrifices both for his sins and for those of the people. 4 The office of high priest and the honor that goes along with it isn’t one that someone just takes. One must be set aside, called by God, just as God called Aaron, the brother of Moses.–Hebrews 5:1-4 (The Voice)
God appointed Aaron, the brother of Moses, to be the first high priest of the Jewish nation. After Moses followed God’s instructions in anointing Aaron and his sons, Aaron was then able to offer the prescribed sacrifices to God, Everything offered had to be without blemish or the sacrifice was not acceptable. These were offered on the altar and when they were offered properly, God would accept them as a sweet smelling sacrifice and forgive the sins of the people. Aaron understood the weakness of the people and their inability to refrain from disobedience. He suffered from the same weakness. (Read Exodus 32 for that story). So he could have empathy and compassion on the people as he offered the sacrifices for both his and their sins. This was a temporary fix that God allowed until a true sacrifice could be given.There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood, Since sin came into the world through the disobedience of the first man, Adam, complete permanent remission of sin would have to wait on the sacrifice of a perfect man.