Scientists have discovered that the planet, Uranus, stinks to high heaven. I could inject a lot of crude jokes, puns, and satirical comments here, but I’ll resist that temptation. I’m sure there will be plenty of that without me adding to the ruckus. Apparently, the clouds of the much-maligned planet contain massive amounts of hydrogen sulfide.
Every chemistry major out there (and a whole lot of us peons who took a modicum of chem in high school) knows that hydrogen sulfide is the perpetrator of the odoriferous smell emitted by rotten eggs. It is also contained in some unpleasant human emissions as well, but I’ll not mention those here.
We Have No Tolerance
If it’s one thing in the western world we detest, it’s a foul odor (or is that, fowl odor?). If you want to clear out a room, introduce something that reeks. It’s almost guaranteed to introduce an evacuation. We just have no real tolerance for malodorous air.
Apparently, this is not limited to the western world, however. There is evidence that other humans in other places and other times have had this predilection as well. There is, in fact, Biblical evidence that this is true.
Almost 2000 years ago, the disciples of Christ were adamant that the tomb of Lazarus not be opened as Jesus had commanded. I’m not sure they had any idea what He was about to do, but they strongly objected to His suggestion that the stone be rolled away from His friend’s place of interment. They left no question as to the source of their dismay. They distinctly stated their reasoning. “He stinketh!” (John 11:39, KJV)
If it had been up to the future apostles, Lazarus would never have been raised from the dead. Their disdain of the cruel stench that accompanies a decomposing corpse would have precluded the miracle that was about to occur. Their olfactory sensations were overriding their faith. I can’t say that I blame them.
Fortunately, Jesus wasn’t nearly as squeamish as His protégés. At His insistence, the grave was opened, Lazarus was called forth, and the rest is history (as we like to say). Lazarus, once again, walked the streets of Bethany, and all was well.
Did He Need a Good Bath?
I’ve always wondered about the stench on the body of Lazarus. As the disciples pointed out, he had been in the tomb four days. It couldn’t have been pretty. Did the Lord wipe out the smell while He was restoring life, or did Lazarus have to be marched down to the river for a good bath? Inquiring minds want to know. John apparently didn’t see the need to fill us in on that detail, so we’ll never know until we get to Heaven. That’s assuming we’ll even care about such minutiae in Glory.
Now that I think about it, John also tells us that everything was created through Jesus (John 1:3). Jesus already knew about the clouds of Uranus. He spoke them into existence—like everything else. After that, even Lazarus’ emanations were next to nothing.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]