DayBreaks for 4/24/17: Fearing the Stink We Miss the Glory
Note: Galen is traveling this week.
From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:
One of my very favorite stories from the bible is the story of the raising of Lazarus in John 11. It has all the elements a great story should have: drama, passion, a villain, a hero and a happily-ever-after. What’s not to like about this story?
Yet, you recall how it goes: Jesus has been out of town, and his good friend falls sick. Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, send someone to Jesus so he can come and heal Lazarus of his illness. The messenger reaches Jesus, but he intentionally delays his return. By the time Jesus gets back to Bethany, Lazarus has been dead and in the tomb for 4 days. The sisters aren’t too happy with Jesus for not coming sooner, but Jesus leads them out to the tomb. In John 11:39, the sisters, after Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away, complain: Lord, already there is a stink because he has been dead four days.
Jesus responds: Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God.
It will stink. “Over and over again we are stopped by the repulsion of the stink, even when Jesus is offering God’s glory. To live lives of faithful worship, to cultivate God’s imagination for justice, to trust Jesus Christ to do a work of liberation and transformation means there will be times when our noses will be filled with the stench of human need and evil. But far more profoundly, we will also have glimpses of the glory of God that can set the captives free.” – Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship
How would you have felt if you were one of those who was asked to move the stone? Would you have drawn back in repulsion and said your back hurt so you couldn’t help move it? If the stone hadn’t been moved, would Jesus have raised Lazarus? I don’t know. I suspect he might have. But I don’t know that. But wouldn’t it have been a shame if the stone hadn’t been moved and God’s glory had been blocked by a human fear of smell?
How often have I been afraid to go somewhere with Jesus because I was more concerned about the “stink” than about the glory of God?
PRAYER: Take away our fear of the scent of sin and death so we can see Your glory, for it is in the darkest and most foul places that Your greatest miracles are wrought. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.