John 11:38 Jesus, once again deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39“Take away the stone,” Jesus said.

“Lord, by now he stinks,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man. “It has already been four days.”

40Jesus replied, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus lifted His eyes upward and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42I knew that You always hear Me, but I say this for the benefit of the people standing here, so they may believe that You sent Me.”

43After Jesus had said this, He called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

44The man who had been dead came out with his hands and feet bound in strips of linen, and his face wrapped in a cloth.

“Unwrap him and let him go,” Jesus told them.


What we know is this from John 11.

  1. V17 & 39 - Lazarus had been in the tomb 4 days. This, plus the time to wash, prepare and wrap the body means that he had been dead almost 5 days at least (people in the the middle east bury the dead quickly because the climate makes decay set in quickly.)
  2. V39 - Martha then confirms that decay would be well underway by her comment that the stench of decay would be significant.
  3. V44 - Lazarus was wrapped in grave clothes that consisted of the usual materials to fully cover the body
  4. Unlike Jesus, there was nothing humanly special about Lazarus - he was a physically normal human being that died of some sickness and was buried/entombed. Thus, there is no reason to suggest that the physical body of Lazarus did not suffer decay in the usual way.

Therefore, after almost 5 days of death, the body of Lazarus would have certainly begun to decay. This would have included the collapse of cell walls and the release of internal body fluids, possibly staining the grave clothes.

Now, the extent of Jesus miracle is not stated. That is, did Jesus:

  • merely resurrect Lazarus and leave the stained putrid grave clothes in there dirty condition?
  • Resurrect Lazarus and clean up the dirty grave cloths as well?

We are not told, except that Jesus instructed the people to "release him", that is, unwrap him from his grave clothes (V44). What we do know, is that Jesus was NOT dependent on pre-existing body parts and material in order to resurrect Lazarus - this was a miracle of the first order, comparable to that described in 1 Cor 15, namely, Jesus own resurrection and our own future resurrection (yet Lazarus didn't have a glorified body just yet in the sense that he is still in the grip of death).

Lastly, twice (V4, V40) Jesus refers to this miracle of the resurrection as "the glory of God" and by which Jesus would also be glorified. This confirms that this was a truly great miracle.


If Lazarus died, then his corpse would have to go through the natural process of decomposition. But when God works, He works nothing short of perfection, so Lazarus may have smelled like roses when he is coming out of the tomb.

  • 'May have' is not sufficient on an hermeneutic site, I'm afraid. We need some substantiation and references, please. – Nigel J Dec 18 '20 at 15:41

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the blazing furnace.

Daniel 3:27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Like Daniel's friend, Lazarus didn't stink either. That's how their bodies glorified God.

  • How do you know that Lazarus didn't stink? Daniel 3 doesn't prove (or even imply) that. – curiousdannii Dec 17 '20 at 2:18

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