December 25, 2012


The sense of smell is a powerful one. A certain food baking in the oven, the smell of a candle mom once burned in the fall, and even the smell of clothing worn by a loved one, all bring back memories and can instantly transport us to another place and time. Over the next two days we will look at the ways fragrance played a part in the Christmas story and how it affects our lives today.  What does it mean to be a fragrant offering? How do we worship in a way that pleases God? 

December 25 – Matthew 2:1-12  Two scents

In Numbers 24:17, Balaam prophesied, “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” Seeking this “star,” the wise men came from the east. We know the men must have been well acquainted with Jewish history and prophecy, and might have been descendants of Jewish converts in Persia during Queen Esther’s reign (Esther 8:17). The gifts they brought have strong symbolic ties to Jewish prophecy of the coming Messiah. Gold symbolized royalty, for they were seeking “the King of the Jews.” The other two gifts were expensive fragrances. Frankincense was burned in the Jewish Temple’s Altar of Incense. As it burned, it would emit a sweet smelling white smoke wafting toward heaven representing the prayers of man rising to meet the ears of God. Myrrh was an anointing oil or strong perfume commonly used among Jews on their dead to conceal the stench of decay.

It is ironic the magi were able to recognize the signs set forth in prophetic scripture and embark on the lengthy, expensive, and perilous journey of 500 to 1000 miles to go and worship Jesus in Bethlehem, when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, only 6 miles away, were not. The presence of the wise men was their greatest gift to Jesus, for they are the perfect illustration of Ephesians 5:1-2: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”