Almost every day things happen where I think “That’s not how I would have done it”. This ranges from things at work, to the clothes people wear, from little things like making a ham and cheese sandwich, to big things like marriage proposals. Everyone has an opinion, whether they voice it or not.

But have you ever thought about something that God has done and thought “That’s not how I would have done it”.

Of course you have, but you may not be willing to admit it. Whether it pours with rain on someone’s wedding day or someone you know loses their job. There are times we think we could have done it better. But if you had the chance to tell God, in person, that you think he made a mistake, would you?

Well there’s a story in the Bible where two people did exactly that – Mary and Martha after their brother Lazarus had died.

Jesus turned up, but Lazarus had already died and in gospel of John Chapter 11 verse 21, Mary says to Jesus after he arrives, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”.

Was it that he arrived too late, or that he had not heard about it in time? Not at all. In a previous verse of the same chapter, Jesus had heard that Lazarus was ill. But he didn’t rush to be there – in fact it says that after he heard the news he “stayed two days longer in the place where he was”. We know that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”, but he also said about the death of Lazarus, “I am glad that I was not there”.

What is happening here? Why is Jesus doing and saying these things? It is kind of hard not to agree with Mary and think that it was right for her to say to Jesus “You really didn’t get this one right, did you?”.

But Jesus knew what he was doing. He had a plan, and it was not because of laziness or ignorance, it was like many if not all of the things Jesus ever did, it was for the benefit of others. He was glad that he was not there “so that you may believe”. He went to the tomb of Lazarus to raise him from the dead. But even after telling people that Lazarus will recover, that he will rise again, that he shall live and even after he asked for people to take away the stone, people were still questioning him, people were still doubting his plan.

Martha told Jesus that for four days Lazarus had been in a sealed tomb, and that it was probably not a good idea to open it up. So when Jesus asked for the stone to be rolled away, the King James version of the Bible wonderfully records Martha as saying “But Lord, he stinketh”.

This did not deter him and after praying to God, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, Come out” (presumably using his first name otherwise everyone may have come out of their tombs).

And what happend?

The man who stinketh came out. The man who had been dead and buried (or at least sealed in his tomb) came out, with his hands and feet still bound with linen strips and his face still wrapped with a cloth. In this act, Jesus revealed his true power and his true identity – he is the Christ.

But as much as it is a sign about who Jesus really is, it is also about us. We are all Mary and Martha, questioning whether God has got it right. But we are all also Lazarus. Why?

We all stinketh. We are dead and lifeless. We are stuck in our sins. We don’t just smell a little bit, we are are rotting corpses, so much so that if anyone truly commented on our character, all of it, even the secret bits, they would also say “But Lord, he stinketh”.

That is, and only until the day that Jesus call us by name to “Come out”.

And boy am I glad to hear those words. Why? Because although I’m sure that some days I stinketh less than other days, and I’m sure that some days I probably stinketh less than other people, I am so glad that someone has dealt with not only the stench of Lazarus, but my stench and the sins of the whole world.

But Lazarus was raised again (from his stench), only to die again at some later point. So how does that work?  I will leave you with Jesus’ own answer to this question from John Chapter 11 verse 25

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus funny 2

lazarus funny 1  Lazarus funny 3