Fragrant OfferingSunday, April 17, 2011
“Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).
Who killed Jesus?
That question has echoed down the ages. Did the Jews kill Jesus? Was Pilate guilty of murder? What about Caiaphas the high priest and Herod the king? What role did the centurions play? What about the crowd shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”?
And we can’t forget Judas who betrayed him.
Each person and each group mentioned had a role to play in the unfolding drama of redemption. But in the larger sense, no one “took” his life because he “gave himself up for us.”
You cannot understand the love of God unless you go to the cross. You cannot understand the cross unless you see in it the outpouring of God’s love. Christ’s death became a sacrifice that was a “fragrant offering” to God. The NLT uses the phrase “a sweet aroma.”
If we had been there on that Friday in early April, we would have been repulsed by the odor. Crucifixion was a ghastly way to die. The Romans intended to make it brutal and bloody. They had mastered the art of cruel killing. That day at Calvary the smell of death was everywhere.
But the cross smelled good to God. He was well-pleased by the sacrifice of his Son.
Man’s murder became God’s sacrifice.
A heinous crime paid an impossible debt.
Through the death of an innocent man, we the guilty go free. After the cross, how can we ever doubt God’s love for us? Ponder these words from a hymn by Isaac Watts:
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Lord Jesus, may the fragrance of the cross fill my life today that I may not forget your love for me. Amen.