“We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved and in them that perish,” said the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:14 nor could a higher expression of true Christianity be given by man. That wonderful savour cast its fragrance on all hands; and saint and sinner alike felt, however little they may have appreciated, its heavenly influence. But it rose up to God in its perfect redolence, and spoke to Him of the charm of that life that was marked continually by those “things that pleased the Father.”
And this was, through grace, the odour that this devoted servant of the Lord expressed as it ascended up to heaven—“a sweet savour of Christ.” Could any testimony be sweeter, richer, or more fragrant to God? What a reproduction of that lovely life that shone, in its moral perfection, without a single intermission, from the manger to the cross! How sweet its savour to God!
Every quality that is worthy of right esteem was centred in, and exhibited by, that life. Is truth estimable? It was there. Righteousness, love, lowliness, patience, compassion, unselfishness, everything that God as man could show, was seen in that life. What a combination of moral perfections were there, and there as nowhere else! Hence the unique and sole and exclusive glory of “the Man Christ Jesus.”
He alone was the true bread that came down from heaven, the only Man who “knew no sin,” but who for that very reason was qualified to give His life in atonement for others. Well might Paul, in this very connection, ask: “Who is sufficient for these things? but also give the answer: “Our sufficiency is of God.” For, apart from that, what could there be but failure?
Look at Peter in Matthew 16; after having confessed, under the teaching of the Father, that Jesus is “the Son of the living God,” and being pronounced “blessed” for that confession, he shortly afterwards opposed the words of his Master, when asserting His coming death. “Pity thyself, Lord,” said he, “this shall not be unto Thee.”
Little did Peter know the meaning of his own words. They meant the denial of the cross and all that flowed therefrom, the accomplishment of that for which the Son of the living God had become incarnate, so that He might go into death for the glory of God and the blessing of poor sinful men. What a fearful mistake on the part of Peter.
No wonder that the Lord rebuked him with such terrible severity, “Get thee behind Me, Satan; thou art an offence unto Me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” He savoured of man! His offence was directly of Satan, even though prompted by the amiability of nature and its misdirected feelings of kindness.
This is the test and touchstone all the way through. The cross is the crucible; and the three leading languages that framed its indictment only betray the combined and concentrated enmity of man, religious, forensic, or scientific; man in every conceivable state in his opposition to that one essential display of light in darkness, good amid evil, and God in saving grace toward a world of sin. Thank God for ever that no savour of man could prevent the blessed Lord from going to “the death of the cross” and proving surely that its shame, deep as it was, was no deterrent to the carrying out of the will He had come to accomplish.
Today, with its terrible seductions of worldly schemes and delusions, the moral power of the cross must be sought, and the savour of man eschewed and dreaded. “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”