Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint
Today’s Passage: 2 Corinthians 2
I’ve heard it said that when God looks at us as Christians, he sees the righteousness of Christ. Theologically speaking, it’s a way of thinking about substitutionary atonement: Jesus Christ, as sinless substitute, stands in for us and bears the penalty for our sins on the cross, so that God sees him when he looks at us. Now, a couple cursory searches didn’t reveal any verses that explicitly state that God views us as Christ, so the concept is at best a theological inference. However, I can say with confidence that when God smells us, he smells Jesus Christ.
It sounds insane, but that’s what Paul says outright in today’s passage. He tells the Corinthians: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (14-15). For Paul, the smell is a metaphor; I’m sorry if I misled anyone into thinking that when we become Christians, God suddenly thinks we smell like first-century sweat and carpentry. But for the metaphor, Paul is drawing on the tradition of animal sacrifice prescribed in the Torah.
Throughout the first five books of the Old Testament (and a few other places), the smoke of burnt offerings is often referred to as “a soothing aroma to the Lord,” as GotQuestions.org notes. For example, in Leviticus 4, you have the instructions for sin offerings: sacrifices to cover sins both individual and communal, both accidental and deliberate. One section concludes: “[T]he priest shall offer it up in smoke on the altar for a soothing aroma to the Lord. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven” (Leviticus 4:31). The smoke of the sacrifice, and its smell, are a very real physical thing here: they’re no mere metaphor. But it’s not the smell of burning goat flesh that pleases God.
Rather, it’s the smell’s meaning that appeals to God. It’s the smell of a person repenting for his sins and trusting God to make a way of forgiveness through sacrifice. And here in 2 Corinthians, Paul reveals that Jesus Christ is that sacrifice: he pays the price for our sins, and as Paul puts it, we become “a fragrance of Christ to God” (15). It’s the smell of a clean slate, the smell of a perfect, blameless offering to cover everything we’ve done wrong. It’s the smell of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. And God likes that smell.
Anyway, there was a sale at Kroger last week on Endangered Species chocolate bars at just $2.50 each, so I hope you like Endangered Species.