John 11:39 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 11:39, NIV: "Take away the stone,' he said. 'But, Lord,' said Martha, the sister of the dead man, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.'"

John 11:39, ESV: "Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”"

John 11:39, KJV: "Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days."

John 11:39, NASB: "Jesus *said, 'Remove the stone.' Martha, the sister of the deceased, *said to Him, 'Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.'"

John 11:39, NLT: "'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.'"

John 11:39, CSB: ""Remove the stone," Jesus said. Martha, the dead man's sister, told him, "Lord, there is already a stench because he has been dead four days.""

What does John 11:39 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

What Jesus asks for here is not a minor request. One can only imagine the reaction if someone came to visit the grave of a recently-departed friend and commanded survivors to "dig him up and open the coffin." That, however, is the equivalent of what Jesus is asking Mary and Martha to do.

In that era, embalming techniques were not nearly so effective as they are today. Martha's concern is not just practical, it's emotional. Seeing the corpse of a loved one, even in the best circumstances, can be very difficult. No one can blame Martha for being unsure about the idea of seeing her brother's body after four days of decomposition.

The fact that Lazarus is so obviously and clearly dead is part of Jesus' plan (John 11:11–15). He purposefully delayed His return to Bethany (John 11:6) in order to perform this very miracle. The assembled crowd, who followed Mary when she left to see Jesus (John 11:31), is also part of that arrangement. What happens in the next few moments is the most spectacular of Jesus' miracles as recorded in the gospel of John. As with other "signs," the purpose of this situation is to prove that Jesus is divine and empowered by God (John 20:30–31).