On a particularly dreary afternoon a few years ago, when he was about 4 years old, my son Drew came to visit his daddy. He strolled in with a “Hi, dad” and then without a breath, continued with “I found a flower.”
Somewhere on the magnificent journey from our front porch, across the road and through the parking lot to the church’s back door, Andrew had spied a flower. And now, clutched in his stubby fist and thrust towards my chin was the most forlorn and bedraggled rose I had ever seen. The delicate bloom was torn and flattened from an encounter with a car tire or a careless foot. The leaves were crinkled and discolored from cold nights and car fumes. Pitiful.
Drew held the rose to his nose. “ It smell good, Daddy. Smell!” And so I took the forlorn, pitiful flower and sniffed. Amazing! The faint, but unmistakable sweetness of the rose greeted me. The rose was crushed—but not destroyed.
I remember that rose every year as we enter Holy Week. In many ways, Jesus is like that rose. He lived a unique life – perfectly sinless, full of tenderness and magnificent in strength. There was an unmistakable sweetness about His life that drew multitudes of people to Him. It was the fragrance of the reckless love of a gracious God.
But people couldn’t stand to confront God that closely. So, they crushed God’s Rose. Not on an asphalt road, but on a Roman cross, with nails. Isaiah wrote about it : “ He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
The Rose looked finished…pitiful…dead.
But somehow, the fragrance of that life kept getting stronger. And on the third day, He arose! Jesus is not dead, not weakened, not faded or torn –- but strongly, victoriously alive! The nail prints in His hands and feet, and the spear wound in His side remind us that God’s Rose was crushed—but not destroyed.
And since He is alive, we are freed from the curse of death in eternity and all the little ‘dyings’ that happen every day. We are freed to live, and to share the fragrance of that life with all we meet.
This holy season make it your commitment to help everybody you meet experience the fragrance of Jesus. With a child’s simple enthusiasm, bring God’s once crushed, now living Rose before their eyes…
…or their nose!