“Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” (John 11:39 NKJV).
Lazarus was already dead and buried in a cave four days before the Lord Jesus eventually showed up at Bethany to raise him up. At the tomb of Lazarus when Jesus commanded that the stone laid against the cave be taken away, Lazarus’ sister, Martha, protested.
38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (NKJV).
Apparently, Martha wanted the stone left alone so as to contain within the cave the repulsive stench from the decomposing body of Lazarus and so away from the people.
Like Martha, there are many people today who are striving hard to carefully conceal or keep away the stench from their dead and rotten sinful life from the people, and even from Jesus Christ.
Many people today who are hurting, dying, decaying and stinking inwardly employ “diverse and colourful stones” to seal their caves and hide away their hurts, pains, sufferings, distresses or anguishes from people’s sight.
Many of the good, charitable or religious deeds and activities of people in the public are mere religious masks or camouflages to contain or conceal their sinfulness, rottenness, stench, depression, or emptiness from the public eye.
Many people today who are guilt-ridden, sorrowful, bitter, angry, and depressed in life are trying hard but in vain to hide or suppress their negative feelings by taking to drugs, drinking, smoking and clubbing.
Many of the celebrities or superstars who always wear a good smile in the public and appear to be calmed, happy, or fulfilled are often troubled, restless, empty, hurting and stinking inwardly. Many of the rich and influential people who always laugh heartily in the public weep bitterly in their closets.
Martha would not want Jesus and other guests who had gathered to sympathize with them to be offended, disgusted and repelled away by the repulsive stench from Lazarus’ decomposing body in the cave, so she wanted the stone left alone.
Nevertheless, at Jesus’ insistence, the stone was taken away and instead of the people to be offended, disgusted or repelled away by any stench, they glorified the Lord Jesus Christ when they saw Lazarus rose from the dead at the command of Jesus (John 11:39-45). Hallelujah!
The Lord Jesus commanded that the stone laid against Lazarus’ cave to contain his stench within the cave be taken away before raising Lazarus back to life. Why?
Because God abhors hypocrisy!
Jesus decries the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
28 “Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (NKJV).
Although the Lord Jesus came to raise Lazarus from the dead, yet He didn’t do anything until the stone laid against Lazarus’ cave was taken away.
Similarly, although the mercy and grace of God is available to all men today through Christ Jesus, yet it is only those who are willing to take away their “stones of hypocrisy” or take off their “religious masks or camouflages” and humbly turn to Christ and put their trust in Him that will experience God’s mercy and grace.
The Scripture amply states this truth.
1 John 1:
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJV)
6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. (NKJV).
13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. (NKJV).
Beloved, it is sheer foolishness to seek to hide your sinfulness or rottenness from the Lord, for He knows you inside out. Quit striving to conceal or keep away your stench from Christ. No stench can repel Christ from you; only your hypocrisy and unbelief can repel Him.
Truly, the stench from your rotten past or present sinful life may be such that people cannot stand, but Jesus Christ will never find your stench repulsive. No matter how rotten and stinking your life is, Jesus loves you and will never turn His back on you.
Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ is by your cave today, waiting for you to take away your stone or mask of pretence, hypocrisy or deception, and to acknowledge your sinfulness and helplessness, humbly and wholly put your trust in Him for your salvation or restoration.
Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, and He still heals, saves, revives and restores dead and rotten souls today (John 10:10).
Take away your “stone” today and receive from Jesus Christ the gift of supernatural, everlasting and abundant life. Don’t worry about the stench, just take away the stone and leave the rest to Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I take off my mask of hypocrisy and take away my stone of deception today, and I open the door of my heart and welcome You as my Lord and Saviour, in Jesus’ name. Amen.