“Because of the savor of Thy good ointments Thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love Thee” (Song 1:3).
The name of Jesus should be precious to the church: yes, in the experience of all His saints, fragrant as ointment poured forth, awakening their warmest love, and inspiring their loftiest praise. There is everything we need in Jesus to endear His name to our hearts. He is our Prophet – teaching us the will of the Father. He is our Priest – offering up Himself as our atoning Victim. He is our King – erecting His throne in our hearts, and subduing us to Himself as His loving and obedient subjects. How fragrant, too, His name as our Friend – loving us at all times. As our Brother – bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, born for our adversity. As our Great High Priest – touched with the feeling of our infirmities, tempted in all points as we are and in our sorrows, griefs, and trials encircling us with the many-folded robe of His tender, loving sympathy.
But when is the name of Jesus really as ointment poured forth? It was partially opened to the Old Testament saints who saw Christ’s day and were glad. Four thousand years before the great sacrifice upon the Cross was made, its fragrance floated upon the sin-tainted atmosphere of Eden. In the first promise of salvation to man the ointment was poured forth. This it was too, which imparted such a sweet-smelling savor to the offerings and sacrifices under the law, and so deep a significance to the types, and shadows, and symbols of the Mosaic dispensation. Christ was the meaning, the sweetness and the substance of all. And yet how partial was the unfolding!
But the full outflow of this precious ointment was reserved for the solemn scene of CALVARY. We travel back to His agony and bloody sweat, His Cross and passion, in the garden and on Calvary, when the nails cruelly penetrated His hands and feet, when the soldiers rudely pierced His side; when the thorn-crown bound His sacred temples, when the Father bruised and put Him to grief. Then was the sacred casket broken – then did the precious ointment pour forth its rich perfume, wafted to the remotest part of earth, and filled the temple of heaven with its fragrance.
Oh what must have been the wonder – swelling into transport and then bursting into song – when angels and the spirits of the glorified caught the first breath of that precious perfume as it rose from Calvary and ascended into heaven! Around the throne of glory it circled, and Jehovah Himself was well-pleased with the sweet-smelling savor of that sacrifice, which had harmonized all His attributes and glorified His name in the full salvation of His church!
The fragrance of this ointment is poured forth when the PULPIT lifts high the Lamb of God, and sets forth the glory, the grace, the love of the Lord Jesus. That is the most fragrant sanctuary, that the holiest atmosphere, and that the richest temple-service, where Christ crucified is the most simply and fully preached. It may be with severe simplicity of ritual, in a crude structure, with but little human talent: nevertheless, Christ is preached, the box of ointment is opened, and the sacred house is filled with the odor thereof.
Oh how great and blessed the privilege of a ministry which sets forth a full Christ for empty sinners, accompanied with the unction of the Spirit, and enfolds our whole being with the fragrance of His name. I ask not where, nor how, nor by whom. It is enough that “Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Phil. 1:18).
This ointment is poured forth at the Communion of the LORD’S SUPPER, when the disciples of Jesus meet in His name, to remember and commemorate His dying love. Happy, holy season this! Here, if ever, all other names fade for the while from memory, and all our thoughts and affections and desires concentrate upon that one name, which is above every name – the name of Jesus, our Redeemer Lord. Approach this sacred banquet, desiring only to meet Jesus. Come to these solemn symbols, these precious memorials of His dying love, looking only to Jesus. Draw near in faith, expecting to meet and to receive a blessing directly from Jesus.
It is not your name in this ordinance you remember, nor your love you celebrate, nor your worthiness you present; but the name, the love, the worthiness of Jesus! Hesitate not, then, to take your place at the feast, losing your sins, your sorrows, your trials, your needs, yourself in the sweet fragrance of this “ointment,” as with a cloud it envelopes you.
This ointment is poured forth in Christian communion and FELLOWSHIP of the Lord’s people. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another…” (Mal. 3:16). This is the true idea of the “communion of saints,” speaking often one to another of Jesus. Christian fellowship is one of the sweetest privileges, one of the most heaven-helpful engagements of the saints on earth. How the ointment flows, how the fragrance diffuses, how the spirit revives, how the heart burns when Christians meet to talk of Jesus.
Jesus Himself draws near and communes with them. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). And where Jesus is, there is heaven. Aim in every circle to promote the communion of the saints – not restricting it to your own peculiar sect, but embracing all of every sect upon whom this fragrant ointment rests. Let not the communion of saints be a cold, lifeless article of your religious belief, but a vital, influential element of your Christian life. See how the holy apostle panted for Christian fellowship – “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Rom. 1:11-12). So let us speak often one to another of Jesus.
Seek to be a sweet savor of Christ in every place. Be not ashamed of Him. The alabaster box must be opened. The ointment must be poured forth. Christ must be confessed before the world. There is no diffusive, reviving, healthful influence, where the name of Jesus is either basely denied, or timidly concealed.
The ointment on our right hand must betray us. The world and the saints must take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus. Every hour we occupy, every service we engage in, every relation we sustain should be redolent of the ointment poured forth. We must seek to brings souls to Christ. Life should be one continuous sacred fragrance. But to this end we must be more with Jesus the Anointed One. The spiritual verdure that clothes us, the divine fruit that enriches us, and the holy fragrance our personal religion sheds around us, emanates from Christ!
We must know our union with Christ. We must walk with Christ. We must abide in Christ. We must throw wide every avenue of the heart that the ointment may penetrate, yes even saturate, our entire being – blending Jesus with every sorrow, entwining Him with every joy, and associating Him with every service. Thus will our “garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces…” (Psa. 45:8); and we shall go forth to duty, to suffering, and to toil, perfuming the moral atmosphere in which we move with the odoriferous influence of His precious name.
This ointment possesses a marvelous soothing, softening virtue in seasons of sorrow. Never is the name of Jesus as the “Brother...born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17) more precious to the believing heart than in the time of adversity. It would seem as if Jesus bore a title appropriate to every condition of the believer’s life. It pleased the Father that in Him, as the Mediator of His church, all fullness should dwell – all fullness for all circumstances. But especially does His life of sorrow fit Him to be “the Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). Born in adversity – Sharon’s Rose bruised and crushed by God, by man, and by Satan – how well was Jesus fitted by the discipline through which He passed, to enfold His suffering church within the robe of human sympathy.
Accept, then, the fragrant sympathy of Christ. No being in the universe is so near to you, loves or compassionates you so deeply in your present calamity as Christ does. Deem it not hard that He has dealt with you thus. Jealous of your love, He would have your undivided heart, and absorb your whole being in Himself. And Oh how honored and blest you now are! You shall experimentally know more of Christ, see more clearly His surpassing glory, drink more deeply His fathomless love, and experience more fully His tender sympathy than in all the past of your experience.
It is only in the school of adversity that we really know what the Lord Jesus is. How much we learn from Him and of Him in one trial! Until the trial brought us sobbing upon His heart, how little we knew what that heart contained. Welcome, then, the grief that lifts you nearer to God, and that increases your acquaintance with, and your peace and joy in, the Lord Jesus.
Equally salutary is this sacred ointment in its influence upon the intellectual powers of the soul. It enlightens and quickens the mind. The human intellect is dark, stunted, and scentless, until it knows Christ; and until it knows Christ by the teaching of the Spirit (that anointing that teaches us of all things), it does not know God. We may put it simply thus. God is the great Object of man’s knowledge, and Christ is the true Revealer of God. Therefore, we must know Jesus properly and savingly to know God. Thus he who becomes a humble and earnest student at Christ’s feet, however limited his intellectual powers, really knows more of the wisdom and power and goodness of God, than the most learned astronomer, the profoundest philosopher, or the wisest sage, whose research has been limited by the range of creation. Thus the study of Christ strengthens the intellect, while the knowledge of God thus gained enriches, sanctifies, and ennobles it.
Would you quiet and sooth your heart? Bring it in close contact with Christ’s human sympathy. Would you enlarge and enrich your mind? Bring it into believing contact with Christ’s divine Person. Oh to know Jesus, that most excellent and superlative knowledge! With Paul we may well count all things but loss for its possession. To know Him as the Savior, to know Him as our Friend, to know Him as our Brother, to know Him as our Advocate, to know Him as our Portion, is endless life and glory. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
It is the fragrance of this ointment which imparts such sacred and divinely acceptable perfume to the believer’s PRAYERS. What, O suppliant, bending before the mercy-seat, gives such touching eloquence and such irresistible power to the devout breathings of your heart, to the fain and faltering utterances of your lips, filling the temple above with their fragrance? It is the power of Jesus’ atoning merit, investing with its incense-cloud every petition you send up to heaven. “Whatsoever,” says the Savior, “ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
Oh for more faith in the power of prayer offered in the name of Jesus! Not for your merit, O suppliant, will God grant this request, nor for your demerit will He deny it – but He will do it all for Christ’s sake. Approach then, sad heart, the mercy-seat. You wave in faith the true censer, whose much incense is offered with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne, when you ask your blessing and present your petition and make your confession of sin, in the name of Jesus, which wafts it to heaven as the sweetest perfume.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon