John 11.38-40 cont.
38 Then again Jesus being deeply moved within Himself, came to the tomb, which was a cave, and a stone was laying on it.
39 Jesus said: “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the one who had died, said to Him: “Lord, he will stink for he has already been dead for four days.”
40 Jesus said to her: “Did I not tell you that if you should believe you will see the glory of God?”
How often have we been asked to do something, but we have not understood why? Perhaps we have been in a situation where we have been told to do something, but not only have we not understood why, we have thought it not the best thing to do.
This was the situation that Mary and Martha found themselves in.
They could not understand why Jesus would want the stone removed from the entrance to Lazarus’ tomb.
W Barclay gives us some insight into the significance of the four days. It was the Jewish belief that during the first four days after death the spirit of the dead person hovered over the corpse, looking to get back into the body. It was the belief that after four days the decomposition of the face would be so great that it would be unrecognisable. Therefore, the spirit of the person would go.
Martha obviously thought that Jesus wanted to go into the tomb to have one last look at the face of His friend. In our day there are many bereaved who go to a Chapel of Rest to have one last look at their beloved relative and friend, before the coffin lid is finally screwed down ready for burial or cremation.
Martha was aware that the atmospheric conditions meant that Lazarus would already be in an advanced state of decomposition, which would mean Lazarus would be unrecognizable and the stench would be terrible.
Therefore, she expresses her horror and surprise.
Knowing these things makes us realize the greatness of what Jesus was about to do.
Jesus is the Lord of surprises; He will ask us to do things that we may not understand the reason for. This is where faith becomes a necessity. Lovingly obeying what He says, without knowing why is to give Him our complete trust. Such trust in Him may be seen with horror by those around us, but we must not let that distract us from our unquestioning obedience to Him. All we need to know is the truth of these words: Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path – Psalm 119.105 (NLT).