September 5, 2021

“Fragrance For Christ”

Passage: 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

There was a factory in northern France where lavender for use in perfumes was produced.  Each evening as the workers headed home and walked the streets the whole village was filled with the sweet aroma of lavender that had clung to the workers.  It made such an impression on some of the residents that they lined up on the streets to meet the workers that carried the aroma.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that we are to be the aroma of Christ among people.  He tells us that our personal relationship with Jesus and our followership of Him impress on others in the same way an aroma fills a room and affects people.  To the apostle it was something like – “When you live close to Jesus, others will be drawn in the same way you came to the Lord.”  The apostle used a common experience that many of his readers  understood.  It was the phrase “triumphal procession.”  It expressed the event of a victorious general coming home from battle leading his soldiers and their captives through the city streets.  Those processions took place with people on the sides of the streets burning incense in honour of the victorious general.  Imagine a conquering general in his chariot slowly riding through the streets of Rome toward the centre of the city and the temple.  The procession moved slowly, because celebration is meant to be enjoyed and not rushed.

When Paul describes a victory parade there was no ordinary general being celebrated.  The One in the chariot was 1 The True Conqueror, Jesus Christ –  the One who left from heaven on a mission to conquer death and to restore life to humankind.  He was victorious and now sits enthroned in power awaiting the day He would culminate His kingdom.  Can you appreciate with me, my friends?  There is so much confusion among people – they think that the battle is still to be won by Christ and His people.  That, because there is so much evil in the world and many have to face the injustices we see in every place in this world.  My friends, the battle was won by Jesus when He died on the cross.  There was an earthquake and the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom.  All that we are awaiting is the final triumph of Christ, but we already are more than conquerors of God.

But then think about it – as you and I are walking in this victory parade 2 The Reality Of Jesus Christ Is Flowing Through Us to our families, friends, colleagues, fellow Christians and community. In verse 14 we read, “But thanks be to God, Who...uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere.”  You see, each time when we do something good in the name of Jesus, the fragrance of our Lord stays behind.  All those small things make a difference, things we never consider as important.

Somewhere in a book on English preachers, an incident was recorded of a lady, named Anne, who gave her testimony of Christ.  She said that when she was a child, the Evangelist Moody was coming to town.  She didn’t believe in Jesus at the time and wasn’t planning to go to Moody’s services.  But then something happened on the street – bullies knocked the parcels she was carrying out of her hands and a man helped her to pick it up.  When he walked away, someone commented, “That was Mr. Moody!”  Right then Anne said it was like Moody was leaving something behind that she had to go and investigate further.  She went to Moody's service and with him as Christ’s fragrance she surrendered her life to God.

The idea of a pleasing aroma goes back to the Old Testament.  Time and again as the Israelites made their sacrifices by fire the scripture says the aroma was pleasing to the Lord.  We read in Leviticus              1: 9, “You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar.  It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.”  But then, all the Old Testament sacrifices ceased when Jesus  became the perfect sacrifice God, the Father accepted.  And after Jesus accomplished that, His intention was that we would become living sacrifices for God.  St. Paul wrote about that in Romans 12.  As our lives become interwoven with Christ and as we proclaim Him we delight the heart of God because we focus on the Son whom He loves.

There is a reality we have to face every day of our lives, my friends – to some this fragrance of Jesus through us will be pleasing and to other it will be upsetting. An old Rabbi spoke words of wisdom – “As the bee reserves her honey for her owner and her sting for others, so the words of the Torah through our lives will be honey to some and the sting of the bee to some.”                                                                                                     There is a question many will ask who are influenced by the example of Jesus' followers 3 What Are The Ways To Become The Fragrance For Christ? 

First of all –  you have to get involved in the procession of Jesus.  You have to be involved in His kingdom work – in your church family, in your community and any place you can think of.  You see, you can have the nicest candles, but when you don’t light them, you won’t be able to smell them.  Jesus wants to say to each one of us – you are my candles with the nice fragrance inside and I want to light you.  But if you go with the assumption, “It's only me and Jesus in my life, no room for others”, I can’t use you as my fragrance.  You and I have to get involved in those places where people are longing for Jesus – at a sick bed in the hospital; in a Care Home where someone has no one visiting...and yes, we need to go to the addicts on the streets who has lost all hope and tell them, “Jesus loves you.” 

Secondlyyou have to know that the victory belongs to Jesus.  We have to remember that Christ is the One who rides in the chariot of victory.  Christ has won the victory and it’s His parade that moves through the streets of the world until the procession of His return.  The parade we walk in is clearly His and our first and primary role is to cry out, “Triumph! Christ is King” and to point to Him.

Listen to the words of Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

The joy before Jesus, was the victory that was awaiting Him.  Friends, sometimes people of the church forget that Christ is the Victor.  They run their ministries like a business and talk about their church, their programs and what they accomplished.  No, Jesus made us His fragrance and He is sending us out. You know, we live in challenging times, but we should always remember that all those before us faced challenging times.  Each generation of God found its strength and victory in Jesus Christ.  Now, He is inviting us – “Come and walk in my procession.  The victory has been won.  I'm taking you with me as the ones in my parade to celebrate the victory.  Through you I spread my fragrance – pleasant to those who believe and confrontational to those who hasn't come to me yet.”  Let's follow Jesus and remind ourselves – in Him we are more than conquerors.

Amen.

Rev Willem H. van de Wall