Removing the Grave Clothes

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “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.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard me. I knew that You always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent me.” 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.”

John 11:38-44

The Lord of Life now comes to the tomb to confront his opponent, death, symbolized in the cave tomb before Him. When the stone is rolled back, Jesus prays and shows his personal intimacy with God the Father. He also demonstrates that his work is done in concert with God’s will. Jesus cries out in a LOUD VOICE with authority. The Greek word is kraugazo, meaning “shout with authority.” When Lazarus emerges from the tomb, he is bound in grave wrappings which were strips of fabric wound around his limbs and filled with burial spices. Jewish burials likewise tied the jaw closed and covered the face with a linen cloth. Can you imagine the scene?

Mourners wailing, Jesus is angry, and Jesus shows His amazing authority and power over death by calling Lazarus out of the grave.

Jesus then tells the people to unbind Lazarus. Notice He tells others to unbind. Jesus tells us today although we cannot regenerate people, we can help free them from the wounds and destruction of the past. The strict ritual laws of purification would have caused the people to shrink back and not touch the unclean dead body. So it is for us. We find ourselves today in the same dilemma – are we willing to reach out to the unclean, the hurting, those who do not look like us or act like us? Are we willing to reach out and unwrap their grave clothes? The grave clothes are those things that represent death to our spiritual, physical, and emotional lives. In the most important sense, our grave clothes represent our unbelief or whatever holds us back from believing in Jesus and receiving salvation and eternal life.

Take a moment and ask your Father in heaven to begin the work of removing any area in your life that steals away the abundant life Christ has for you. Ask Him to send others to help you remove the grave cloths.

Remember to give God the glory when He sets you free!

Heavenly Father,

You alone give life. You are the author of life and the One who sustains life by Your hand.

I am struggling with a spirit of heaviness and sense that You are calling me to surrender my grave cloths. As You call me out from the grave of my circumstances, I rejoice that You will restore my life in great abundance.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

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