“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 NIV)
I was recently reading this historical account of Lazarus being raised from the dead and even though I love the emotion and power of Jesus revealed here, the part that stood out to me was the part where Jesus said, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Reading this, gave me a picture into the spiritual condition of many Christians, including myself at times in my life. It is the spiritual condition where we have been called to life by Jesus but we stay in death.
Let me explain. Jesus commanded the grave clothes (strips of cloth that wrapped his body from head to toe) to be removed. The strips of cloth represented death. That is what a deceased body was wrapped in back then. Jesus made it clear that those grave clothes no longer defined Lazarus because he was now alive.
That is the power of Jesus. He calls that which was dead to life. He calls those who were in darkness into light. Jesus has power over sin and death and calls us to life.
How many times do we stay in the grave clothes of our sin or brokenness even though Jesus has given us life beyond those things? How many times do we choose those grave clothes as a crutch to keep on sinning? How many times do we choose those grave clothes as an excuse to blame others? How many times do we choose those grave clothes because we have taken our eyes off of Jesus and have walked back into the darkness of whatever grave that once held us?
Jesus has the power to call us to life over any grave (sin, weakness, or brokenness), but we need to choose to live in that identity and victory that He has given us.
Are there strips of grave cloth that you are still allowing to define and control you? Are there strips of grave cloth that Jesus is calling to be removed so you can be let go to live in His victory and freedom?
I hope all of us are humble and broken enough to ask God to reveal any areas that we are still covered in death. If we know those areas, or when we allow God to reveal them, I pray we seek the power of Jesus every day, if needed, to move us from death into life. I pray that we allow the power of Jesus to make the promise of newness a spiritual reality for each of us.