Oct 5 Take Off Your Grave Clothes

I have always been so intrigued with the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. There are so many rich truths in the story and it paints such a vivid picture in my head. In John 11 Lazarus, who is a dear friend of Jesus has fallen sick and his sisters Mary and Martha go to Jesus to tell Him. Instead of rushing to Lazarus’ side to heal him Jesus stays put and lets Lazarus die. Jesus of course knows that He will resurrect Lazarus from the grave, but He first comforts the sisters and actually grieves Himself. We see the shortest verse in the Bible during this account… Jesus wept.


We could spend hours talking about the significance of that short verse but for now I would just like to say that the fact Jesus wept over the death of His friend gives me comfort in this big, scary world where you and I need comfort. Jesus cried because Jesus felt. He was not some robot messenger from God, but He came to earth as God in the flesh. I believe He stood there thinking about his dear friend Lazarus and not only grieved the death his friend was now experiencing but also grieved the greater union of death our sin has entered US into. You see, when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the garden (before you blame Adam and Eve remember that you and I would have made the same decision too) sin entered into the world and not only brought death but united us with death; death on a spiritual, emotional, and physical level. Jesus knew the depth and the devastation of sin and death and at the same time He knew the eternal life changing reality that would await the other side of His very own empty tomb!


When Jesus finally rolls up on the scene to Lazarus’ tomb some crazy things happen. Read for yourself…


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.”

Can you picture it? Jesus tells the sisters to take away the stone and Martha starts arguing with Him. She doesn’t quite get what is about to happen. She is just worried about how her dead brother’s body stinks! Then Jesus yells into the tomb and here comes mummy man hopping out with his hands and feet tied up. It sounds like something from a Halloween movie.


And then Jesus says some life altering words, “take off the grave clothes and let him go.”


Yes of course Jesus was telling them to literally unwrap the man and let him go free, but I think there is also a deeper meaning to these words. Jesus had not only just brought his friend back from the dead and called him out from the grave but He also removed the disgusting death rags he was wearing.


Lazarus was not dead anymore so he didn’t need to walk around looking or smelling dead and the same goes for us!


If you have placed your faith in Jesus you have been called out of the tomb and have been made alive. You are no longer dead, so sister take off your grave clothes!


I used to run mud obstacle course races and after the race I would be covered in head to toe mud. I would have to strip off my mud caked clothes, scrub behind my ears, and detangle the dreads in my hair. Wouldn’t it have been absolutely ridiculous if I hopped out of the shower and put those crusty, stinky clothes on again?


Sometimes as Christians we forget who we are and who’s we are. We get gospel amnesia and we forget that we have crossed from death to life and that we no longer have to walk around living in the deadness of our sin. We no longer have to “wear” the ways of the world or be “bound” in the trauma of our past because we are a new creation in Christ. We don’t have to continue to practice sinful habits because we have been given the power to change. We don’t have to perform to be loved or accepted because we are no longer spiritual orphans. We belong to our Heavenly Father who has clothed us in His robe of righteousness.


Lazarus had to take off his grave clothes because he couldn’t live in the freedom Jesus was offering him with them still on. He couldn’t live out the calling in his own life and we can’t live out ours either if we choose to stay bound up.


So, what “grave clothes” are you still walking around in?


  • Name the lies in your life that you still believe. (The lies you believe about God, yourself, and others.) Name the addictions in your life that are not satisfying your soul (Addictions are not JUST to substances-Are you addicted to entertainment? The approval of others?)


  • Name them and bring them to Jesus. (Remember the finished work on the cross and the finished work of Jesus’ empty tomb. Remember that Jesus loved you enough to call you out of the tomb and to live in your resurrection reality.)


  • Name them and bring them to some sisters in Christ that you trust. (Did you notice that Jesus told the sisters and people around Lazarus to take off his grave clothes because He knew Lazarus couldn’t do it himself? We need people in our life to remind us that we are not dead anymore and to help us shed the layers of stink.)


 Jesus, be gracious and patient with us as we acknowledge the grave clothes we still hop around in. Help us to believe what you did counted for us and help us become unbound and walk in the calling you have placed on us.


-Caitlin Armstrong

The Church of Eleven22, Equipping Minister

The Truth Republic, Content Manager

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