The Fragrance of Heaven Rising From the Stench of Death

What a discrepancy. All around is death. Putrid, stinking decay. And yet, seemingly from out of nowhere, the fragrance of heaven erupts. It’s like the man, possessed by the demons, who lived among the tombs. Day after day he cried out among the dead, cutting himself with stones.

All around him was death, and he, too, lived a shell of a life, surrounded by the rotting corpses. And yet from the stench of death erupted the fragrance of life:

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before Him. And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do You have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God, don’t torment me!” For He had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” (Mark 5:6-8).

Jesus, with a sentence, uncorks heaven’s fragrance of life into a place of death.

But to those who had grown accustomed to the death around them, the smell was foreign. Frightening, even:

[The people] came to see Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed by the legion, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid (Mark 5:15).

The smell of death is everywhere. On billboards. On television. In our jokes and anecdotes. So accustomed to death are we that we might even be frightened by the sweet smell of the freedom of the gospel. But for one who has inhaled deeply what Jesus brings, the effect is intoxicating:

As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed kept begging Him to be with Him. But He would not let him; instead, He told him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.” So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed (Mark 5:18-20).

The scent never left his nostrils. He proclaimed, to the amazement of others, taking the fragrance of life with him. Such is the case with all who look back at the tombs among which they used to live until Jesus uncorked the smell of heaven:

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place (2 Corinthians 2:14).

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5 comments on this post.
  1. Don:

    Nice illustration. Rev 21:4 tells us no more pain, grief nor crying but no more stench of death is a very nice added bonus. Come Lord Jesus.

  2. Worth a Look 4.26.12 – Trevin Wax:

    [...] sermon illustration for you, along with a moving video (see below) that makes the point. The Fragrance of Heaven Rising from the Stench of Death: The smell of death is everywhere. On billboards. On television. In our jokes and anecdotes. So [...]

  3. Phil Kloster:

    The beauty of that encounter with Jesus is that that madman of Decapolis did indeed go back to his people and told them of the mercy of God. We know this because when Jesus and His disicples came back through that same area sometime later many people had believed in Him due to the faithfulness of this one man in expounding the fragrance of heaven.

  4. MK:

    Thanks, Phil. Great points; thanks for bringing this out.

  5. Check out | HeadHeartHand Blog:

    [...] The fragrance of heaven arising from the stench of death Moving video and powerful illustration. [...]

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