So here I am at North Myrtle Beach with my wife of 53 years. Climbing out of our air conditioned car, the first thing we smell is the salty ocean, great to just breathe in sea air! And is that the aroma of fish being cooked on a nearby grill, perhaps from a seafood restaurant?
We carry our luggage into a small family-owned hotel; we’ve been coming to the same place for about 27 years. Our room always smells the same; it’s an okay aroma of cleaning fluids and just a tiny hint of cigarette smoke. We’re nonsmokers and the scent is too faint to annoy.
I got to thinking about odors, both pleasant and bad, how they bring back memories. I recall opening a brand new Kodak camera back when I was 13. Being so excited, I even now can distinctly recall that precise happy smell, that camera focused on some great memories. But a bad smell—I recall cleaning out the yucky chicken coup on our family farm—not a happy smell as I reflect back—really downright nasty.
But gospel preachers, see much of life as a teaching or sermon illustration. I’m thinking of an ordinary smell that would became a gloomy odor for Jesus’ friend and disciple, Simon Peter. It was a dark springtime evening. Soldiers led away the Lord Jesus from Gethsemane’s shadowed garden. Peter followed along after a mob of armed men, climbing up ancient stone steps, watching in the distance as Jesus was prepared for a sham trial. You know the account. Jesus was moved from a courtyard into the house of the high priest. Soldiers and servants huddle on the level cobblestone square, being cold, they grouped together around a charcoal fire. Peter joined the warming folks. The saddest moment of Peter’s life happens in that pungent charcoal smoke, for the third time he denies his Lord. He turns and weeps over his grievous failure (John 21:3-17).
Now from a bad memory smell—we shift focus to a wonderful aroma of the resurrected Christ cooking fish (likely St. Peter’s Fish) alongside another beautiful Sea, five thousand miles from here at Myrtle Beach.
Peter and fellow disciples were in their 27 foot fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee, but there were no fish in their nets. A man standing next to a charcoal fire at the shore, called out, “Cast your nets on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” They were so overwhelmed with their catch that they couldn’t even draw in their nets.
Peter recognized Jesus, “It is the Lord!” He exclaimed. As the biblical account records the facts, Peter was the first to jump into the water and greet our Savior.
The aroma of a burning charcoal fire, to Peter, would become the sweet savor of knowing for sure that Jesus had forgiven him.
It’s this preacher’s desire that everyone will forget the bad “smells” of life apart from Jesus and come to Him for His “sweet aroma,” of forgiveness.