“Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
– John 11:38-44
There are not really words that can explain the smell of a decomposing body. Some years ago when crisis hit Haiti some pastors and I jumped on a plane to deliver medical supplies to those suffering and dying. Somehow, our relief plane was allowed to land shortly after the crisis; walking around helping pastors and churches along with various victims was surreal. People were screaming, bleeding, crying, and wandering in every direction. We visited churches where the pastors were trying to dig the members of their family and church family out of rubble with their bare hands.
Within a day or two, the dead bodies were simply stacked up to decompose in the sun. The scent was so overwhelming that we stuck orange peels in our nose to try and reduce the urge to vomit by simply smelling the air.
A man named Lazarus smelled like that. He had been dead four days. The King James version of the Bible says that “he stinketh”.
Suddenly, Jesus called His name. An old preacher says it’s a good thing, otherwise the entire graveyard would have emptied. Lazarus then came forth revived from death.
What awaits each child of God is even greater than this. Lazarus was revived, but not resurrected. He would die again. Today, Lazarus’ body again lies in a tomb while His soul is with the Lord.
Today, the Lord Jesus is alive both in body and soul, ruling and reigning from His throne in heaven. One day, Jesus Christ who conquered death through His resurrection will return. On that day, He will call Lazarus forth a final time by yelling out the name of His friend. And, Jesus will also call the name of every child of God and we will like Him resurrect from death to join the forever party.
We will all on the last day that Martha spoke of, like Lazarus, hear the voice of Jesus call us from our graves for our eternal life or death (John 5:25-29, 6:40; 2 Corinthians 4:14). And we who believe in Jesus our resurrection and life we will be raised from death like Jesus (Philippians 3:21; I Corinthians 15:21, 15:49) to see Him face to face (I Corinthians 13:12) and have his nail scarred hands (Zechariah 12:11) wipe every tears from our eyes (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 7:17, 21:4) to never die again (Revelation 21:4) because Jesus has died and risen for our sins and given us life in Him (Romans 6:1-14).
Imagine what it will be like to stand in eternity and hear Jesus call the names of your family and friends and watch them resurrect and be perfect forever?