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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Crisis Moments Pass, but Sometimes it Stinks

Dry bones are not in crisis, but they probably were at one time or another.  I mean—they’re dead.  They’ve been dead for a long time.  Something happened that sucked the life out of them.  And then time passed.  After the breath ceased, the flesh and tendons melted away.    

By all accounts, a dead Lazarus should have been headed down the road of dry bones.  Bodies start decomposing fairly quickly after death…  OK, immediately.  Bodies start decomposing immediately.  My Google history is actually pretty disturbing, right now, but I needed to wrap my mind around this. 

When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days.  I think we have to assume that Lazarus’ body was not embalmed (although there were some ancient embalming possibilities).  If that assumption is correct, Lazarus’ internal organs had likely decomposed by the time Jesus arrived.  Blood and foam would have been leaking from his mouth and nose.  Bacteria would have been rampant.  And there were probably maggots.  Martha was definitely not wrong when she verified exactly what Jesus was asking and made sure to give him the information he needed. 

Roll the stone away, Lord?  It’s been four days!  This stinks!  (John 11:39, really, really paraphrased).

But Jesus—you know, Jesus who was four days late—is all like, “You know what, Martha, just trust me.  Just do it.” (I can’t even stretch that for a paraphrase.  I hope nobody gets all over me for taking creative license with Scripture.)

And the thing that blows my mind here is that control freak, clean freak Martha must agree; because the next thing you know, they’re rolling the stone away.  And Lazarus—very dead, partially decomposed Lazarus—walks out.

I wonder what the process looked like.  Perhaps Ezekiel gives us a clue in the passage about the dry bones prophesy.  Like the Israelites, Martha and Mary might have cried out, “Our (his) bones are dried up and our hope is gone” (Ezekiel 37:11, NIV). 

How many times have I said something similar in less dire circumstances?  (But it stinks!  It’s too late!  This cannot be fixed!)

Yet, once the bones have been reconnected with the proper tissue, the Lord says, “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live” (Ezekiel 37:14).

Well, OK then…

If there’s life after death—after decomposition—then I have to believe there is also life after frustration… after disappointment… after crisis…

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