“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.” (John 11:1)
The family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was well known to Jesus and His disciples. They lived in Bethany, less than two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus often stayed with them during His ministry, and several memorable events transpired in their home.
Word came that Lazarus was very sick. Jesus’ disciples reminded Him that “the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” (John 11:8). Finally it was clear Lazarus had died, and Jesus directed that they go to Bethany “to the intent ye may believe” (John 11:15). Thomas, however, could only see the danger: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16).
By the time they got to Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days (John 11:17). Jesus insisted they open the door to the tomb. Martha tried to stop Jesus because “by this time [Lazarus] stinketh” (John 11:39).
Bodies begin to decompose within three to six hours after death; muscular tissues become rigid, cells lose structural integrity, and the chemical process of decomposition causes breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and bone.
Death is horrible. Death processes cannot be stopped or reversed. Death is the “last enemy” to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26). Yet at the command of the Creator, Lazarus walked out of the tomb fully whole: no decay, no sickness. Jesus simply said: “Loose him and let him go” (John 11:44). Why did Jesus do this? Because “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). HMM III