My fiance and I have been going through John together, and when I read the story of Lazarus I couldn’t move past the final phrase of the story: “take off the grave clothes and let him go.” I’ve read this story what seems to be a thousand times – but how in the world have I always overlooked this incredible statement from my Lord?!
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?”… 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 11:39-40; 43-44)
Knowing Jesus and still be dissappointed
Lazarus loved Jesus. He knew Him, and Jesus loved him in return. They ate together, Jesus knew his family, they laughed together, prayed together, and probably cried together. Yet Lazarus died. He DIED.
He didn’t just get sick, lose all his money, or have a bad day.
HE DIED. D.I.E.D.
Okay, I think you got the point.
Let’s just step into Lazarus’ shoes for a second… He knew and loved the Lord of the universe. Yet he got sick. Earlier in John 11, it says that Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus) sent word to Jesus to say their brother was sick. They called hoping He’d come and heal Lazarus – because they knew Jesus and knew He could. But He didn’t. Jesus knew he was sick. Yet stayed where He was for an additional two days. He didn’t go to Lazarus.
“We love Him, and He loves us… so why won’t He come?”
I can’t even imagine the disappointment of Lazarus and his sisters. They’re probably thinking, “But we know Jesus! We love Him, and He loves us…so why won’t He come?”
You are or have probably been asking that exact same question to Jesus yourself. “Lord! I’m sick and in pain and I know you can help! So please come! Why won’t you come?!”
Clothes of death
That’s disappointing, isn’t? It’s hard when Jesus doesn’t show up when we want Him to. It’s hard to trust God knows and
has His timing and purposes – especially when it looks much different than what we want. But Jesus had a plan. He knew Lazarus would be healed… More than that: he’d be raised from the dead! How much more of a miracle that is. Jesus knew, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (ver. 4). Jesus
knew. But Lazarus didn’t. Instead, Lazarus died. Instead, he got wrapped up in grave clothes. He got wrapped up in disappointment, failure and loneliness. He was wrapped in clothes of death. And he remained in them for four days.
Clothes of righteousness
But Jesus came. He finally came! And despite people’s doubt and unbelief He raised Lazarus from the dead. And what was His first command?
“Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Dear heart, Jesus is healing you. He has raised you from death through salvation yet so many times we choose to continue to wear our grave clothes. We choose to wear doubt, disappointment and fear. But that is the old self. Those are the clothes of the old man. Christ calls us to “Put to death, whatever belongs to your earthly nature… and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:5;10)
Jesus gives us robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). That is our garment as believers. Not fear, not disappointment or failure; not death. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12).
Those are our clothes.
So dear heart, TAKE OFF THE GRAVE CLOTHES.
Let Jesus clothe you in robes of righteousness and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Only in those clothes can you really live and run free.
Read also: A cat or a lion?