I am currently reading through John and got to the story of the resurrection of Lazarus the other day. This is an account I have read and heard frequently. But I was struck by what I am sure is a deeply significant theological question. And I don't recall ever hearing anyone discuss it before. It's almost like everyone has been avoiding it. But now, I think that I have made a very significant contribution toward a deeper understanding of the scripture.
In John 11:38-39 Jesus is standing at Lazarus' tomb and calls on them to roll back the stone. Martha responds that Lazarus has been in his tomb for four days now and he should be stinky. Jesus tells them to roll it away anyway. So, my question is, "Did he stink?" Please correct me if I am wrong, put I find it hard to believe that no one before me hasn't asked this question; but seemingly without any response. So after careful consideration I feel like I am able to respond to this for all those with inquiring minds.
And the answer is: "Yes"!
No longer do you need to read past this passage in confusion and with unanswered questions. When the stone rolls away they are all treated to the smell of a decaying body mixed with a heavy layer of aromatic spices.
Now of course, being the deeply spiritual and inquisitive person that I am, I was of course unable to leave this passage just yet. I had to know, when Lazarus walked out of the tomb, was it still stinky? I asked this question of several other folks (my wife and son) and just got incredulous looks in return, almost as if I had gone off the deep end. But this was, to my mind, a question that demanded an answer. So I began to explore this in the fertile depths of my imagination.
Lazarus is dead, and has been so for four days. His brain function has quit. His blood has either been drained from his body or it has congealed. The bacteria in the gut that allows for proper digestion are all dead. Worms are tunneling through his body. And the muscle tissue is decaying, hence the stink. I'm sure there are other things but I think you get the picture.
So for Lazarus to return to life, it is not enough to just zap him with the cardio-paddles. The blood has to either be reintroduced or thinned out significantly. New bacteria need to be reintroduced into his gut. The worms need to be extracted. Side bar: can you imagine what a conversation squelcher it would be to have a worm pop out of someone's forehead as you were talking to them? And all of the decay has to be reversed. And this is the key to the second stinky question. If the decay, which causes the stink, is reversed, then he becomes 'as if he had not decayed', and thus the stink should also be 'as if it had not been there'. In other words, when Lazarus walks to the tomb entrance he should smell just like he did the moment before he died. Of course that could still be stinky, just in a different way.
And of course, whatever it was that killed him also ends up getting cured, otherwise he would walk out of the tomb and fall down dead again. Kind of a downer.
Glad to have been able to clear that up for all of you. And now, if you have any more questions that no one else has ever been willing to tackle, please feel free to keep them to yourselves.