Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Smell (the sense of smell) (07/29/10)
TITLE: FIRST BREATH
By Nancy Sullivan
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The morning air always seemed fresher, perhaps because the day’s heat had not yet begun to warm the familiar smells of fish and nets still damp from yesterday’s catch. A lifetime of being at sea and working alongside other men of the fishing trade would not have completely dulled their senses to the less-than-pleasing aromas of the shore. Once they embarked on their day’s fishing journey, they could inhale the clean moist air.
However, the course of Peter and Andrew would soon be directed by a different Wind. Their labor came to a sudden halt at the sound of Jesus’ voice. Peter instantly recognized the One he had met earlier at his brother, Andrew’s insistence. The Messiah had come to visit them!
There was no discussion when Jesus summoned Peter and Andrew to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19 KJV) They walked away from their nets and any trapped fish struggling to free themselves and followed Jesus as He moved toward destinations yet to be revealed and explained.
As the remaining called disciples fell in step behind Peter and Andrew, the masses followed close behind, observing changed lives and reporting Jesus’ every miracle.
Jesus’ compassion for the throngs of hungry listeners resulted in one of His most memorable and endearing miracles. Had Peter ever smelled food like the wonderful aromas of the fish and the bread that was served to the multitudes at Tabgha? Something could have happened to the dried up leftovers of a young boy after they had passed through the ovens of Heaven. Even the leftovers in the twelve baskets must have retained the smells of provisions “blessed by the Best”.
Following Jesus meant entering a world of sickness and death as the disciples witnessed the healing and restoration of lifeless bodies. The disciples often encountered the repugnant odor of those like the ten lepers as well as the smell of death, at least until Jesus’ touch removed any trace of sickness and reversed the process of bodies returning to dust.
But one body Peter would have to face was the headless remains of John the Baptist. Peter was one of the disciples charged with claiming and burying the forerunner of Jesus Christ.
In the home of Simon the leper, the fragrance from the alabaster flask filled the air as a woman poured its expensive contents on Jesus’ head. Peter and his comrades were indignant. They did not understand that the woman was preparing Jesus’ body for burial, but Jesus would see that her nurturing act would be recorded for the ages.
The fresh air was no consolation to Peter the morning after the sound of the cock’s crow reminded him of the three denials of his association with Jesus following His arrest that night. Peter had pledged his devotion to the Lord, even if it had meant dying with Him.
At Golgotha, there was a whiff of something very bitter moving through the crowd as they watched the crucifixion of Jesus. Could Peter smell the acrid odor of a sponge soaked in sour wine and offered the King of Kings in response to His faint “I thirst” moments before He “cried again with a loud voice and yielded up the spirit?” (Matthew 27:50. KJV)
Three days later, the fragrances of a spring Sunday morning filled the air as Peter and the others rushed toward the tomb. Could it be true? Was the sealed tomb really standing open and empty? Peter pushed past the one disciple ahead of him and entered the vacant sepulcher. (John 20:6) No smell of death here!
Following Jesus’ Great Commission, His ascension, and the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Peter would soon experience the odorous prison world. Conceivably, Peter was too busy praying and witnessing behind prison walls to complain about his living conditions. But surely the smell of dank surroundings, illness beyond comprehension, and even death must have filled every pore of his body.
Although not established as fact, tradition holds that Peter was crucified head down (based on John 21:18-19.) Whatever method was used for the martyred Peter, imagine how sweet and pure the air must have been once he drew his last breath of this tainted earth’s sin-filled atmosphere and took his first breath in Heaven!
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