Everyone gathered at the tomb. Jesus finally came, but Lazarus had been dead for days. The whispers started to circulate.
Why didn’t He come sooner?
I thought they were friends.
Surely Jesus could have done something to prevent this!
Look how the sisters are grieving. Oh Lazarus, why did you have to die so young?
Look, Jesus is weeping too. Well, a lot of good that does now.
Open the grave? You’ve got to be kidding! He’s been in there four days; the smell is going to be dreadful!
Jesus called to His friend and Lazarus came out, still wrapped for burial. “Take off his grave clothes and let him go,” Jesus told those standing near (John 11:44).
What did Lazarus say? How did he look? Was he deathly pale, pocked, and scarred by the disease that killed him? Or was he pink like a newborn baby? Was he embarrassed by the watching crowd? Or did he dance with joy and hug his astounded sisters? Surely he and Jesus grabbed each other for a man-hug and some hearty laughter.
The Bible doesn’t tell us, except the chief priests decided to include Lazarus in their plot to kill Jesus (John 12:11). Lazarus’ resurrection was big news; evidence that convinced people Jesus was the real deal. And the religious leaders couldn’t have that.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus asked those standing by to remove the grave clothes? Couldn’t Lazarus have done that himself? Did they need to be a part of the miracle? Did they need to smell death on his wraps to be convinced the resurrection was not a hoax?
I believe that’s part of what we are to do for each other in the Body of Christ today— strip away the grave clothes of death. We need to witness and be a part of the miracle. We were once dead in sin and are resurrected to a new life because of what Jesus did on the cross. The Church is meant to help and heal, comfort and challenge with the Word of God. Sometimes that means stripping away lies and worldly wrappings that hinder resurrected living. Sometimes it means offering hope and rebooting one another’s faith.
What are the grave clothes that keep you from fully living the resurrected life? Do you still wear remnants of shame from your past or worries about your future? Do you fear standing naked before the Lord, or hesitate to leave the comforts you’re accustomed to, even those that smell of death? Does hopelessness weigh you down?
Tomorrow we will celebrate our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He conquered death and sin and God raised Him to life. Because He lives, we can die to sin and be raised to life with Him. He calls us out of the dark tomb into the bright light of resurrection living.
Like Lazarus, we need the Spirit of God to fill us with joyous energy that can’t stop praising Jesus. Our resurrected life should pose a threat to Jesus-haters, because it draws attention to His power and authority.
Jesus has called us from death to life. Who is choosing to follow Jesus because of our story? I pray it will be an ever-growing number as we help each other remove the grave clothes of sin and death, and give Jesus all the praise.
Happy Easter! He is Risen!
So can we!
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