“Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” — Ephesians 5:2.

I’ve long embraced the gist of the verse — that Jesus, God’s Holy Son, willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice on the cross for the payment of our sins so that we could enjoy fellowship with our Heavenly Father now on Earth and for all eternity in heaven.

But one small phrase puzzles me: “fragrant offering.”

I can’t imagine any possible fragrance in the whole horrid ordeal of Good Friday’s murderous crucifixion. Only the stomach-churning odor of Jesus’ blood mixed with the soldiers’ sweaty body odor.

Yet “fragrant” implies pleasant aroma, not stink.

I remember the story recorded in Mark 14 where Mary of Bethany poured a jar of expensive perfume over Jesus’ head at a dinner party.

I picture the thick, rich, sweet-smelling liquid (spikenard) saturating Jesus’ hair, then flowing down to his shoulders, arms and torso, blanketing him with Mary’s fragrant love offering.

Although some disciples rebuked Mary for ‘wasting’ the rare, potent ointment, Jesus responded, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial … wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, that also which this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her.” — Mark 14:6-7, 9 NASB.

Wow. Mary’s fragrance offering was a BIG DEAL to Jesus. He proclaimed it a faith memorial to her forever.

And this happened only days before His crucifixion. What if the penetrating aroma that had saturated Jesus’ hair and body lingered as Jesus’ skull was impaled by the crown of razor-sharp thorns and his tender back was torn open by Roman whips?

I like to imagine that Jesus, as he hung the suffering the vileness of ultimate evil, could catch a faint whiff of Mary’s love offering. That maybe a tiny remnant of that sweet aroma, the proof of a faithful woman’s devotion, clung to his hair and gave some small comfort to his soul.

The scent of love intermingled with the stench of hate.

And I’d like to think that somehow my own fragrant offering of love, like Mary’s, could be detected by Jesus on that cross.

Have a pensive Good Friday and a blessed Resurrection Day, my friend. May we carry the fragrance of our love for Jesus with us everywhere we go.

“Thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.” — 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NASB.

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Debora Coty
Debora M. Coty is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of over 40 books, including including the best-selling Too Blessed to Be Stressed series. Visit Debora at www.DeboraCoty.com