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John37 – a malodorous corpse?

So Jesus, seriously challenged in himself again, comes into the tomb. In fact it was a cave, and a stone was overlying upon it. Jesus states, “Take the stone!” Martha, the sister of the finished man, states to him, “Lord, he already stinks, because it is four days.” Jesus states to her, “Did I not say to you that if you may believe, you will discern the glory of God?” (John 11: 38)
We try very hard to avoid the facts concerning death. Even in funerals we apply bright veneers to everything. That would not have been possible in Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem, around AD 30. Death is real when a tomb is opened for all to see – and smell. John, the eye-witness first century biographer of Jesus records that Jesus ordered the tomb of Lazarus to be opened four days after the burial. He asks his protesting sister to believe into him and through that “discern the glory of God.”

So they took the stone and Jesus took the eyes up above and said, “Father, thank you that you heard me. In fact, I myself had discerned that you are always hearing me, but through the crowd standing around I said so in order that they may believe that you sent me out.” And having said these, he shouted in a great voice, “Lazarus! Here! Outside!”

At that time two things were then “lifted up”: the stone covering the corpse in the tomb; and the eyes of Jesus whose Father “above” was listening to him.

The dead man came out, the feet and the hands tied up with bandages, and his face had been bound around in a napkin. Jesus stated to them, "Undo him and leave him to go.”

The thing today which is so exceedingly strange at funerals is that, maybe because we veneer death, we listen but deliberately avoid finding out about the one who raised a four-days dead man from the pangs of death.

So many of the Jews, having come to Mary, perceived what he did and believed into him. In fact some among them came away to the Pharisees and said to them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a Sanhedrin and stated, “What are we doing in that this man is doing many signs! If we leave him like this, all will believe into him, and the Romans will come and take both our place and nation.”

Back there in AD 30 “many of the Jews”, friends of Martha and Mary, the dead man’s sisters, believed into Jesus. Most of us studiously avoid knowing anything at all about him. Are we afraid of something?

In fact, the Pharisees in Jerusalem, kept informed about the resurrected Lazarus, could not possibly deny the truth about these “signs” of the true identity of Jesus and his Father. There could be no doubt about that. But there was an even more important issue which was of greater concern to them than their own resurrection: our position (temporary – only until death) and our place in our nation and society will be "lifted up" (third use of "lift up") from us if this Jesus, and his Father, carry on like this.

The danger was that everyone will believe into Jesus (not us, though).

In fact someone, one of them, Caiaphas (who was chief priest that year), said to them, “You discern nothing! Nor do you reckon that it profits you that one man may die on behalf of the people, and that the complete nation may not self-destroy.” In fact he did not say this from himself, but being chief priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was about to die on behalf of the nation, and not on behalf of the nation only, but also in order that the children of God who are scattered may be gathered into one. So from that day they resolved in order that they might kill him.

Members of the Sanhedrin (similar to the States of Jersey) are so deeply concerned about their “place and nation” that they readily agree that the killing of Jesus is the best answer to their own short-term needs. Let’s do it. Let’s eliminate Jesus from all history, from all lands and peoples. Super idea.

So Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but came away from there into the open space near the wilderness, into a town stated “Ephraim”, and there he stayed with the disciples. 

“Ephraim” was not in Jewish territory – the name means “double fruitfulness”

So, what do you think? Did Mary and Martha “discern the glory of God”? Lazarus was resurrected. But did they, later, see something much more glorious? They saw Jesus give his own life “to gather into one” all who love his name - to gather them into eternal resurrection life.

Sinner Syvret

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