The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
These are three of many such ancient graves I could show to demonstrate what the tomb and the stone would have been like that both Jesus and Lazarus would have been buried behind. It would have been between 4-6 feet in diameter but only a few inches thick and would have weighed somewhere between one and two tons.
Normally, it takes two men to roll it into place, but that is usually moving it downhill. Getting it up and out of the way would be much more difficult. Jesus commanding the stone to be rolled aside it no mere whim. He is asking a group of men, working together, to really work up a sweat.
Martha brings up another valid point. Trapped on the other side of that stone is a recently decaying body. I remember in high school a time a mole had become trapped in my room and died. I literally had everything moved out of my room and was starting to tear out the molding along the base of the wall before I could identify the source of that stink. It was horrible. That repugnant odor came from a two inch long mole. On the other side of that rock a roughly 5’6″ man had been decomposing for days inside a confined space. The last and greatest of Jesus miracles before His triumphal entry took place right in the middle of a lot of sweat and stink.
React: If we want to be able to experience the miraculous, we need to be willing to operate in the mundane. It’s not the way I would like it to be, but it is the way things tend to work. God is always the one to do the miracle, but it usually seems to happen only after we have done our part. The angel didn’t spring Peter from prison until after he had put his clothes on (thank God). Namaan wasn’t cured of leprosy until after he washed in the muddy river. The oil flowed only after the jars were collected. The miracles seem to happen only after we have done the work we can do. What miracle is God just waiting to call forth in my life and situation? What stones is He waiting for me to roll aside?
God, when I’m honest, sometimes the very reason I want a miracle is because I don’t want to have to put in the work. Sometimes I’m a bit lazy. I know that there are things that only You can do. Give me the diligence to do the things that I can do to position myself for the miraculous. Help me to understand the difference between dependence and impotence. Help me to be faithful through the sweat and the stink until the moment you step in and raise the dead.