Thursday, April 17, 2014

He Smelled like Lavender

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.


  1. Love this so, so much! And I love you so, so much friend. I am praying for you today. You are being covered in many prayers. I am certain that Jesus is meeting with you in a special way this week....He loves to meet us in our weakness. After all, he did come to meet us here and die for us. So I am praying you lean into Him. Into His strong, and lavender smelling arms. Cause I know He loves you, weeps with you, and is so proud of you. Love you friend! P.S. Sunday will be here soon!!! Praise Jesus!!!

    1. Thank you, Julie :) You are another dear friend who has navigated many dark spaces and come out with joy. I so dearly appreciate your friendship and your heart!

  2. Thanks for writing this, Liz. It's a wonderful statement of how deeply we all need a Savior and what Jesus Christ makes possible for each of us. Part of your post ("He knows how to navigate pain, grief, and separation and lead onward to a place of peace, hope and joy") made me think of one of my favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon - Alma 7:10-13.

    10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.

    11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

    12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

    13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

    Jesus Christ knows our challenges, sadnesses, and infirmities intimately. He knows what it was like for you to lose your father and what it was like for your father during his final days. And I'm so thankful for his life and resurrection. And that He knows how best to reach each of us individually - through the scent of lavender this past week for you and all the other ways we can draw close to Him.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful response, Greg! I've never read the book of Alma, but I am definitely thankful that Jesus took on humanity (even the ugly parts) in order to love us better. Happy Easter!