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).