Freshly baked bread, warm chocolate chip cookies, hot apple pie, and pizza. These are comforting, inviting smells. Sadly, this post is not about that.
Warning: Stop eating before you read this part. Scientifically speaking, decomposition of the internal organs begins 24 to 72 hours after death. Three to five days after death, let’s just say is gets really yucky and oozing is involved.
Accompanied by divine messengers and conscious of its origins, the soul enters the womb at the time of conception. (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 60b). When people die, the soul ascends to heaven. (Genesis Rabbah 14:9) Although the soul protests its birth into the world, it also protests the body’s death. It lingers near the body for three days, hoping that it will return to life. (Tanhuma, Miqetz 4; Pequdei 3) After three days, the soul returns to God to await the time of resurrection (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 90b-91a)
This was the culture Jesus grew up in. That’s why the story of Lazarus is so important.
From Wiersbe’s Commentary he states, “Jesus was at Bethabara, about twenty miles from Bethany (John 1:28; 10:40). One day, a messenger arrived with the sad news that our Lord’s dear friend Lazarus was sick. If the man had traveled quickly, without any delay, he could have made the trip in one day. Jesus sent him back the next day with the encouraging message recorded in John 11:4. Then Jesus waited two more days before He left for Bethany, and by the time He and His disciples arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. This means that Lazarus had died the very day the messenger left to contact Jesus!”
“The schedule of events would look something like this, allowing one day for travel: Day 1—The messenger comes to Jesus (Lazarus dies). Day 2—The messenger returns to Bethany. Day 3—Jesus waits another day, then departs. Day 4—Jesus arrives in Bethany. When the messenger arrived back home, he would find Lazarus already dead. What would his message convey to the grieving sisters now that their brother was already dead and buried? Jesus was urging them to believe His word no matter how discouraging the circumstances might appear. No doubt the disciples were perplexed about several matters. First of all, if Jesus loved Lazarus so much, why did He permit him to get sick? Even more, why did He delay to go to the sisters? For that matter, could He not have healed Lazarus at a distance, as He did the nobleman’s son (John 4:43–54)? The record makes it clear that there was a strong love relationship between John 10—11 267Jesus and this family (John 11:3, 5, 36), and yet our Lord’s behavior seems to contradict this love.”
“What about our Lord’s delay? He was not waiting for Lazarus to die, for he was already dead. Jesus lived on a divine timetable (John 11:9), and He was waiting for the Father to tell Him when to go to Bethany. The fact that the man had been dead four days gave greater authenticity to the miracle and greater opportunity for people to believe, including His own disciples (see John 11:15).”
“He did not say He was glad that His friend died, but that He was glad He had not been there, for now He could reveal to His disciples His mighty power. The result would be glory to God and the strengthening of their faith.”
“[The Sisters (11:17–40)] Jesus was concerned not only about the faith of His own disciples, but also about the faith of Mary and Martha (John 11:26, 40). Each experience of suffering and trial ought to increase our faith, but this kind of spiritual growth is not automatic. We must respond positively to the ministry of the Word and the Spirit of God. Jesus had sent a promise to the two sisters (John 11:4), and now He would discover how they had received it.”
“But perhaps the greatest transformation Jesus performed was to move the doctrine of the resurrection out of the future and into the present. Martha was looking to the future, knowing that Lazarus would rise again and she would see him. Her friends were looking to the past and saying, “He could have prevented Lazarus from dying” (John 11:37)! But Jesus tried to center their attention on the present: wherever He is, God’s resurrection power is available now (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:10). Jesus affirmed that believers would one day be raised from the dead (John 11:25).” (I am the resurrection and the life”)
“Jesus knew that Lazarus had died (John 11:11), but He had to ask where he was buried. Our Lord never used His divine powers when normal human means would suffice.”
“Jesus wept” is the shortest and yet the deepest verse in Scripture. His was a silent weeping (the Greek word is used nowhere else in the New Testament) and not the loud lamentation of the mourners. But why did He weep at all? After all, He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:11). Our Lord’s weeping reveals the humanity of the Savior. He has entered into all of our experiences and knows how we feel. In fact, being the perfect God/Man, Jesus experienced these things in a deeper way than we do. His tears also assure us of His sympathy.”
Then in John 11:39 KJV “Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”
“Jesus paused to pray (John 11:41; see also 6:11) and thanked the Father that the prayer had already been heard. When had He prayed? Probably when He received the message that His friend was sick (John 11:4). The Father then told Him what the plan was, and Jesus obeyed the Father’s will. His prayer now was for the sake of the unbelieving spectators, that they might know that God had sent Him. A quaint Puritan writer said that if Jesus had not named Lazarus when He shouted, He would have emptied the whole cemetery! Jesus called Lazarus and raised him from the dead. Since Lazarus was bound, he could not walk to the door of the tomb, so God’s power must have carried him along. It was an unquestioned miracle that even the most hostile spectator could not deny. The experience of Lazarus is a good illustration of what happens to a sinner when he trusts the Savior. (Eph. 2:1–10)”
Day four and the body of Lazarus was stinky, yucky and oozing. Day four and his soul was no longer lingering waiting to come back to life. But Jesus did it anyway, and Lazarus came out absolutely normal and full of life.
Sometimes, life stinketh. We go through difficult things that feel like death to our soul. We feel yucky and are oozing negativity. But when we look to Jesus as our Savior, He calls us out of the tomb into a renewed life. Lazarus did not have to do anything, Jesus did it. Just like He can do for you when you ask Him to save you.
How do I know this?
Because of the resurrection of Jesus on day three. In other words, of all people, he was the only one whose soul lingered by his body for three days and was returned to life. He conquered death once and for all, for us all.
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