38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
Then [again] Jesus, again groaning in Himself,
Again, Jesus was angered. “Groaning” is the same word as “deeply moved” in verse 33. The word means angered. This second mention of Jesus’ anger shows His profound disappointment with the crowd’s carping unbelief. The mourners had just doubted His power in the previous verse. Jesus did not show this anger to the crowd because it was within or “in Himself.” What He saw was contrary to His nature. He could not watch with indifference what He observed.
came to the tomb.
Jesus arrived at the tomb with the sisters and a group of mourners. There was a strained atmosphere when the group arrived at the tomb.
It was a cave,
The “cave” was sometimes carved out of limestone rock and at other times the tomb was a natural cave.
and a stone lay against it.
Usually a flat circular stone slab sealed the cave.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Under Jewish law, to remove the stone of a grave was to risk defilement from the dead person. Jesus’ command was pithy and terse. He asked human beings to perform a human task; He would do the divine task.
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him,
The scene was very dramatic. Martha objected to removing the stone. She did not know at this point that the Lord was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.
“Lord, by this time there is a stench,
Martha indicated that the body of Lazarus was already decaying. The stench would have been powerful. They did not embalm dead bodies in Palestine in those days.
for he has been dead four days.”
The spices that the Jews used to cover the smell of the corpse would not thwart the decaying body stench at this point. Lazarus’ death of four days made it no doubt that the crowd was about to experience someone coming to life again, a resuscitation. The words “has been dead” shows the permanence of his death (perfect participle).
A major focus of our lives should be to keep perspective on divine power.
The focus of Jesus weeping and the healing of Lazarus was not on human sympathy but on divine power, supernatural power. There is love in divine omnipotence.