Jesus smelled like lavender.
His last week on earth, Mary anointed Jesus (John 12:1-8). She poured Nard over his entire body and washed his feet with her hair in adoration and abandonment. Jesus’ followers looked at her in confusion, disgust, and derision. Jesus looked at her in recognition and love, and bound their stories together for eternity- her act of sacrificial worship and his coming act of sacrificial love (Matthew 26:13).
I learned this week that Nard is believed to smell like lavender.
Mary emptied the entire bottle over Jesus. His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was only 4 days later, which means Jesus likely smelled like lavender his final days on earth and even as they led him away for crucifixion.
His body had been anointed for burial almost a week before his death, and it was the smell of lavender that reminded him every day that the cross was coming. A redolent aroma, picked up by passing breezes, whispering the love he had for mankind. Bringing readily to mind an image of a woman’s dark hair tangled around his feet every time the fragrance brightened.
As he kneeled in prayer in Gethsemane, tears flowing, I imagine his posture of prayer with face pressed against his forearms, his wrists. As the agony of anticipation seized his body, he may have smelled that soothing aroma of lavender.
As I worship this week, eyes toward Easter, I’ve been anointing my world with lavender. Lavender hand lotion and oil, room spray, and candles surround me. I purposefully breathe in the fragrance to bring to mind being by Jesus’ side his final week.
I need a reminder that my lavender anointed savior is near this week.
I need reassurance that death has been conquered.
Good Friday this year is the 7th anniversary of losing my dad to cancer.
From the time of his diagnosis in stage 4, he was anointed for burial. I wish that he could have been purposeful and wise and reconciled all the hurt during his final days, or even simply said goodbye. The tumor in his brain didn’t allow that. Like Jesus, he too was barely recognizable before his final death. The violence of radiation had raged against his skull. I felt powerless as I watched it happen. The circumstances of death and grief are wildly different in significance and severity between my own personal loss and the cross. Just know that I can’t sing words or say phrases about death in any sort of mindless way. My heart breaks.
The cross is why I follow Jesus. Jesus did more than pay the price on the cross to make it possible for me to be forgiven. He walked through the darkest valleys of the human existence and came out the other side. He knows how to navigate pain, grief, and separation and lead onward to a place of peace, hope and joy. He’s not a plastic savior, or a superhero. His heart and his hands have scars.
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” -1 Corinthians 15:54-55
Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He is the promise of freedom for the soul after the death of a broken body. He turned the universe upside down. His dramatic victory over death was in some ways quiet, mysterious, brutal. Smelling like lavender.