Summary: When we are made alive in Christ we need to put off the grave clothes.
November 17, 2013
“38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “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.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 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.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 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.”
I love this record of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Death is so frightening to us and this should all give us courage and faith about that event in our future. I want to encourage you to read the whole chapter this week. You ought to just ‘seep’ in this chapter. Meditate on it. It is good stuff.
Having said that – let me point out a few things that caught my eye. I want to talk to you about ‘taking off grave clothes’ but there is a few things just too good to pass up in this chapter.
The first thing is that Jesus wept – verse 35. It’s best known for being the shortest verse in the Bible. I think it is significant that it is the shortest verse. The scholar (Robert Estienne in 1551) was the one who placed the chapter and verses in the Bible and he probably made this the shortest verse on purpose. Those two words are significant. To think that the Creator of heaven and earth, our Savior and Lord, wept is awe inspiring. I believe that Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus to life in just moments. But He wept. Why?
Because Mary was weeping. Jesus more than sympathizes with us – He EMPHATHISES with us. He was called ‘a Man of Sorrows’. He enters into our passion and our sorrow. What you are going through – He goes through. Why? Verse 36 tells us. “Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Jesus loves so greatly that even knowing the finial outcome – He still weeps with us in our sorrow. Just as we weep with our children – God weeps with and for us.
Wasn’t this an awesome display of God’s love? What a tender moment. But there are always some who are so cold-hearted and negative that they find fault in anything. The problem is not the act or the event – the problem is the heart. Look how some responded to God’s love and this miraculous event.
“But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” John 11:37
Isn’t that incredible? Makes me want to just grab them and smack they up side their head. But Jesus didn’t do that. He loves. He is kind and compassionate. But look what else they did.
“45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.” John 11:45-53
INCREDIBLE! Jesus raises someone from the dead and these spiritual leaders are so short-sighted that they ignore the implications of the miracle and plot to kill Jesus. Why? Because they were selfish and self-centered and unwise. They claimed it was for the good of the nation Jesus die, but in reality I think they did not want to lose their power and position. If Jesus could raise the dead – what did they have to fear? But their hearts and thinking was wrong