Removing the Grave Clothes
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.“
The story of Lazarus is the story of us.
If you’ve never read it, it’s in John 11. Take the time to read it if it’s new to you. I’ve heard it and read it many times myself, and I’ve always focused on the fact that Jesus was deeply moved and mourned the loss of his friend (knowing very well that he was going to raise him from the dead). This story amazingly shows the truth of Jesus being fully man and fully God.
But have you ever paid any attention to the last line? I can’t say that I always have. But it’s profound…
“Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
You see, Lazarus was indeed raised from the dead, just as Jesus intended. However, to everyone watching he still resembled a dead man. Why?
Because of the grave clothes.
All of the strips of linen with spices underneath to keep ‘ole Lazarus from smelling foul in the tomb was still on him after he was resurrected.
He still appeared dead.
But he didn’t need them any longer. Jesus had called him into life, but Lazarus was still identified by what was on him.
I think that’s why Jesus told the people to remove the grave clothes. They had served their purpose while Lazarus lay in the tomb, but now he was called into something better.
You and I have been called out of death and into life if we follow Christ, so my question to you (and most certainly me) is:
Don’t you think it’s time we remove the grave clothes?
Do we live our lives wrapped in grave clothes, when we’ve been called out of the tomb? Are we identified by our bindings and fetters instead of our call to freedom in Him?
I think it’s time for them to go.
And I think Jesus thinks so even more.