There are some lines in scripture that are so simple and plain, we often pass right over them. I’m the first one to admit, when I’m reading the Word, I’m on the hunt for inspirational passages and educational tidbits. It is so difficult to remember that, in the framework of inspired Scripture, nothing is included without a purpose.
“Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” – NIV
I have to wonder…was this phrase just an afterthought in the mind of John when he was writing His book, or, is there something bigger in the message?
Poor Lazarus. The man has died, raised, and as if that wasn’t traumatic enough, now he was being stared at by tons of motionless peers. Can a guy get a hand? Bound by strips of linen from head to toe, hands and feet unmovable, the first thing that Lazarus hears is an explicit command from Jesus: “Take off the grave clothes.”
Obviously, the stunned onlookers were in need of some instruction, and Lazarus, disoriented and still confined, surely needed assistance. At first, he sees nothing. He only hears the voice of Christ. Does this, in any way, sound familiar?
When Jesus raises us from our sinful state, there is still something left to do before we can run free in our newfound citizenship. The grave clothes must go.
What grave clothes have us bound? Habitual sins? Guilt? Shame? Before we can enjoy our new liberty, we must be free of the things that restrain us, and we are helpless to accomplish this on our own. Jesus tells our loved ones to help us. Yes, He raises us to new life, but we in the church must be in the business of “taking off the grave clothes and letting people go.”
In bearing one another’s burdens, we, the walking resurrected, are assisting one another in removing the remnants of death.