Death Stinks

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, February 4, 2021

When I was seven years old I made a stink. Literally. The basement of the house we lived in was dark, dank, and delightful for an adventurous boy. Mom’s laundry machines were down there, and all the water from the washing machine would run toward the drain along the outside wall in an open trough. I would sail my boats in the water.

There were also shelves attached to the walls holding jars of home-canned fruit and vegetables. Plus, there was a room filled with coal for the furnace to heat the house. I learned the hard way to stay off what I at first thought was a rock pile.

One day, while exploring in the basement, I found two things that I used to create a mess, even though my intention was to be productive. On the floor under the shelving, I found a flowerpot filled with dirt. On the shelves was a jar of mustard seed. I remembered my Sunday School lesson about having faith like a mustard seed, and that those tiny seeds would grow into large bushes. I poured the jar of mustards seeds into the dirt, buried them, and watered them. I placed the pot on the top shelf near the small window in the top of the wall. I had faith that I would soon see how large a mustard bush would become.

Seven-year old boys are forgetful, especially those as active as me. A few weeks later I heard my parents talking about the awful smell in the basement. I remembered my horticultural experiment and went down to check. It really stunk. There was no plant, just a stinky decomposing mess of mustard seeds. I showed it to my parents. Fortunately, they laughed.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany after the death of Lazarus, the seed had already been planted in the ground. Decomposition had begun. Except for the stone that covered the grave, there would be an awful smell. The smell of death captivated the minds of Martha and Mary. Their focus on stink blinded them to the truth of resurrection.

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)

Death stinks, and if all we have in life is a focus on death, then life stinks too. How often does the stink of life’s circumstances blind us to the truth of the resurrection power of God in us? We can choose to focus on the stink, or we can hear the words of Jesus when He says, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

But that is not the end. When we focus on the life of Jesus in us, we become a sweet aroma of life to others who can only smell the stink of life. The Apostle Paul says, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”  (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

Here are two thoughts to ponder:

  1. What are you smelling?
  2. How do you smell to others?

Pastor John

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