Smells of Christmas

th-1Nostalgia play a large part in how we celebrate the Christmas season.  There are certain traditions, experiences, decorations…and foods we like to have year after year.

In my family, there is a certain cookie that my grandmother always made that I still like to have today.  And my husband has memories of his mother baking the handed-down recipes for certain cookies, breads and pies– the smell filling the whole house.

Today I want us to take in the Christmas SMELLS… the SMELLS of the first Christmas in Bethlehem.

Smell #1 – Found in the town where Jesus was born

Originally named Beth”lahum”- meaning “House of War” in Hebrew.  But after Israel conquered the Canaanites the Jews changed the blasphemous name to Beth”lehem” meaning “House of Bread”.

Isn’t it interesting that the One who calls Himself- “The Bread of Life” was born in the “The House of Bread”?

Can you smell the aroma of peace arising from the “House of Bread” in what used to be known as the “House of War”?


Smell #2 – Found in the stable where Jesus was born

Mary laid Jesus in a manger, a feeding trough for animals.  Animals that we assume to be sheep, cattle, donkeys and maybe some goats.  If you’ve been near those animals you can imagine the unpleasant smells.

Some of these very animals were those animals associated with sacrifice at that time.

Smell #3 – Found with the Shepherds

Shepherds slept outside for weeks at a time watching guard over their sheep.  (Possibly sheep who would soon be slaughtered as the Passover lambs.)  No shelter. No shower. Can you imagine what their clothes and their bodies must have smelt like?


Smell #4 – Found with the Wise Men

The wise men followed the star looking for the “One born King of the Jews”.  They came offering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Gold is a fitting gift for a king and without distinct smell. But what about the others?

th-1Frankincense was an aromatic compound that gives off a sweet aroma when burned.  It was applied to the fat of rams, which is the part always burned in sacrifice.  So while the sacrifice is being burned it gives off a pleasant smell.

Myrrh is a gum resin extracted from an Arabian plant used as an embalming perfume.   This fragrant perfume was used to lessen the stench of a dead decaying body by rubbing it on the body cloth and body before placing in a tomb.

Strange gifts for a King?  Gifts associated with sacrifice and death … given to one just born!

Can you smell the aromas associated with that 1st Christmas?    What a mix!  All these smells making their way through Bethlehem carried forth the foul stench of the cross.

When Jesus was born, the shadow of His cross was immediately cast upon his cradle.


This Savior was born with the Smells of Sacrifice and Death surrounding Him.  These smells remind us why Christ had to take on flesh and become one of us.

Mary’s baby is God’s eternal plan to save us from the stench of our sin.  He was born to suffer and die not for the righteous, but for sinners.  He is the only one who does not give off the stench of sin.

He is the Messiah, the Lord, God incarnate, the only One who can remove the stench of our sin so the aroma of our lives would instead smell sweet.  The pleasing aroma of His life as the only One faithful, obedient and loyal to God now surrounds me!

So when you struggle to believe that your warfare with God has ended…

FEED on “The Bread of Life” as He lies in a feeding trough and SMELL the peace that He bring.


Today’s post was taken from one of my all-time favorite sermons of my husband.  To listen to the sermon in full, go to:

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