We come now to the story of Lazarus. John 11 is where we find the recounting of this event. Jesus travels to Bethany upon his friend, Lazarus, dying. The immediate impetus for travel is that Jesus heard from a messenger, but John quickly dispels any notion that Jesus did not already know in verses 13 and 14, showing He knew exactly what was happening.
If you have read through this chapter, you know how this goes: Jesus goes to Bethany. Martha meets Him on the road, admits that she wanted to Jesus to heal the sick Lazarus, and weeps. Mary then comes and they have the same interaction. Jesus then goes to the tomb, commands the stone be removed, and raises Lazarus.
That’s all well and good. We could spend hours dissecting how amazing this is. We could spend time on how this miracle was the pinnacle of the signs in John’s Gospel, and how that transitions so well into the Passion Week. We could focus on how Lazarus, being in the tomb four days was not merely mostly dead. He was all dead. His pockets had been gone through, the loose change was gone. And this was no pill, no medicine, just the word of God to bring him back.
Instead I’d like to point you to my favorite verse here: John 11:39 and Martha’s insistence that “by this time, he stinketh!”
Stinketh. Smelleth bad, in the alternate versions to the King James.
Martha is convinced that things have gone from bad to worse, and gotten past the point of redemption. She has lost the hope that God can do anything about it anymore, all that she has left is the hope for the final resurrection, the end of time.
And it is so easy to fault her, laugh and go on with life. How silly! He stinketh, but God is bigger! God is stronger.
But then I stop and think about what stinketh to me.
I think about the foul stench that comes from the United States Government. Honestly, if I could buy 537 seats on the Titanic, I would give them to every elected member of the federal government. Why? They stinketh. Every last one of them, in my opinion. The ones who are honest enable the criminal element among them, and altogether they are making a wreck of this nation. The reason we haven’t been attacked by terrorists and other enemies in the last decade? Who could do more damage than our own government? Seriously.
Yet are they beyond hope? Despite my desire to lock them all in a cave and roll a stone in front of it for four years, there’s not a Repulicrat or Democan that is irredeemable. None are too stinky.
Then there are those religious leaders who mistreat and abuse their charges in ministry. Yet even these are not so stinky that God cannot work in their lives.
Who do you class as stinketh? Your political enemies? People who did not have the same advantages as you and don’t fit your moral categories right now?
Perhaps you would call another culture one that stinketh?
Your attitude harms one person: yourself.
You will spend your time weeping rather than seeing the miracle of the work of God. It’s a marvelous thing to see, that God works in situations that none of us fathom as workable.
Stop looking for the smells and look at the Saviour.
Today’s Nerd Note: Take a look later in the chapter. What do you do with the idea that the High Priest prophesied with clarity due to his office and not his own spiritual understanding?
How does that apply to any work done by those who God has placed in authority or leadership situations? Even if they are not the kind of people we like?