It is the sense we probably appreciate more when it is gone, and yet the sense of smell is certainly important to God. One thing we have in common with our God is that we both have a sense of smell. All through the Old Testament, we are shown demonstrations of sacrifice to God, and when done correctly, the sacrifice provides “a soothing aroma to the LORD”. Over and over again, the aroma (the scent, the smell) is soothing (or pleasing) to the Lord.
And yet, we no longer burn our best animals, grains, or oils. And God no longer receives the soothing aroma. Our brother in Christ, David Sargent, writes, “Due to our sin, you and I don’t have the right ‘scent’ to be accepted by the holy God…and we are left as needy orphans destined to die. But God loves us so much that he provides a remedy to our predicament: He gave His Son – the Lamb of God (John 1:29)…to die on the cross for our sins (Ephesians 1:7)…[taking] upon Himself the sins of the world, paying the price for them.”
We just don’t smell right.
Sargent uses the illustration of sheep. When a ewe dies while giving birth to a lamb, the newborn lamb desperately needs the care of its mother, but that is not possible. The problem is you can’t just introduce the lamb to another ewe. A ewe recognizes her own lamb by its scent, and when a lamb has the wrong scent, the ewe rejects it.
Because of this, shepherds know they must find a ewe that has recently lost her lamb. They take the skin of the lamb that died and wrap it around the motherless lamb like a sweater. Then the “clothed” lamb is presented to the mother of the dead lamb. The ewe sniffs the lamb, recognizes the scent, and accepts the lamb as her own.
You should know that, like the lamb with the wrong scent, I can be acceptable to God. “Jesus said to him,” in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
We are more than thankful when we realize that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
As the lamb that was clothed in another lamb’s coat, Galatians 3:26f completes the illustration by telling us, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
By clothing ourselves in the sacrificed Savior, we can once again present “a soothing aroma to the LORD”. We should close with 1 Corinthians 2:14f. In this part of his letter, Paul writes, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in 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…”
And there you have it. Do you smell like Jesus?