What was the very first translation of the Bible that you owned? The very first Bible I bought for myself when I was 19 was a pink King James Version. Yep. It was pink. (Don’t judge me.)
I loved that Bible. It went to Rhema with me. It went to Africa with me. It’s the first Bible I preached from. It’s all marked up and underlined and highlighted. It’s falling apart now, but I still have it upstairs.
Oh, I had a paperback NIV Study Bible. But my KJV – that was my “official” Bible. (Don’t ask me why…it was so hard to understand with all the thee’s and thou’s.)
I read a lot of different translations now. Presently, my daily Bible is the New Living Translation, and I’m reading in John where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
In the NLT, John 11:39 says, “…Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” The Voice Translation says, “…the stench will be unbearable.”
But there’s nothing quite like the trusty ‘ole KJV that says, “Lord, by this time he stinketh!”
Stinketh. That’s quite the word. Did people really talk like that?
Did Martha really say that? Jesus was standing at her brother’s grave ready to roll the stone away and raise him from the dead, and Martha was trying to stop Him. Because he stinketh.
Martha was more concerned about her comfort level…more concerned about not smelling a foul odor…than she was about the plan of God.
Jesus, on the other hand, wasn’t concerned about the smell at all. Was it going to be pleasant? Ummm….no. I’ve never smelled a dead human after 4 days, but my garbage can will get ripe with chicken guts in it after just a day in the hot sun. Eeeewwwww.
What was the difference? Jesus knew the plan. He knew exactly what He was going to do, and He knew that enduring the stench for a short time would be worth the outcome. Worth the miracle. Worth having Lazarus back from the dead, alive for years to come.
Martha didn’t understand even though Jesus had tried to tell her.
“I am the resurrection and the life.”
“Your brother will rise again.”
I mean, really. What did she think Jesus was going to do? Why would He roll the stone away? Just to check on Lazarus? Make sure he was buried properly? Duh! She had to know He had something more in store. She knew Him. She knew He could do miracles.
But Martha didn’t get it and reverted back to her own understanding. To her own comfort.
God will always be more concerned about His plan than our comfort. Just ask Noah or Joseph or Moses or David. Ask Mary and Paul and Peter. Ask Jesus Himself.
God’s plans are not always easy. Getting to the dream is not always comfortable on the flesh. Sometimes it downright hurts. Parts of it just “stinketh!” But if we endure the “stench,” we will see the power.
I doubt Joseph thought being thrown in a pit and then slavery and then prison – for YEARS! – was comfortable.
Getting pregnant before you get married and having your finance want to leave you kind of stinketh. I’m sure it wasn’t a walk in the park to carry that stigma around the whole rest of her life.
Do we even need to mention Paul’s uncomfortableness? God led him to Macedonia on purpose through a vision where he got beaten and thrown in jail. That kind of stinketh, don’t ya think?
And then we have Jesus. I’m so thankful He wasn’t more concerned about being comfortable than He was about my salvation. The cross and all the torture that went with it was far from comfortable, and in His flesh, He cringed at the thought. He was distressed about it and His sweat became great drops of blood. He begged God for another way, and then He just set His face like flint and ran at it. Thank God!
The disciples were devastated by it. They couldn’t understand how in the world this could be God’s plan. It looked awful. It looked like defeat. They fought back against it – ran from it even.
It’s natural to back away from what’s uncomfortable. To fight against it. And in some cases, we should. If a bear is chasing you, you should totally run away. In fact, if you ever see me running, you should run too because something is chasing me. 🙂 If a shark is attacking you, by all means, fight it off.
But being uncomfortable in the flesh as we walk out His plan, we need to press in to that. Those are the things that smooth off the rough edges like sandpaper. Those are the things that knock off the jagged pieces of the flesh.
Those are the things that get us ready to be used in the most beautiful and powerful of ways.
That is when we need to surrender. When we need to say, “This is not fun – but Your will not mine be done. I may not even understand but I trust You. Have Your way!”
It’s in those times of sweet surrender that His presence comes along with His strength and joy and empowers us to keep moving forward.
They could have stopped at, “Lord, he stinketh!” They could have mourned his early death. But they chose to move past the uncomfortable. They pressed in to the stench and saw the glory of God work a miracle right in front of their eyes.
What “stinketh” in your life? What is uncomfortable that you’re trying to back away from? Let’s press in to those things. That’s where the power is manifested, and I’m ready for a miracle. How about you?
Say it with me now. I surrender.