Shedding Your Graveclothes

Ben CerulloBy Ben Cerullo8 Minutes

As believers around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that His resurrection power is still available to us today. The Bible declares the amazing truth that we’ve been raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1), and the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead now lives in us (Romans 8:11). So there’s really no excuse to remain bound by sin, destructive habits, unbelief, or anything else that would hinder us from living an abundant, impactful life.

But perhaps you’ve been dealing with some difficult problems, and you’re distressed that the Lord seems to be showing up late to come to your aid. That’s exactly how people felt in John 11 when Jesus was called to the bedside of his dying friend Lazarus. Instead of rushing to the scene and healing Lazarus, Jesus delayed—waiting until his friend had died!

Fortunately, there’s a happy ending to Lazarus’ story, just as God wants to bring happy endings to the difficult situations you face today.

Knowing He Loves You

We’re specifically told that Jesus LOVED Lazarus (v. 5), so why didn’t He save him from death? The simple answer is that Jesus wanted to do a bigger miracle than merely provide a healing. He wanted to perform a resurrection! And all this was so that “the Son of God may be glorified through it” (v. 4).

Although I don’t know what you may be going through today, I’m confident the resurrection power of God can change things! And when the supernatural breakthrough comes, He alone will get the glory for setting you free.

When Jesus finally arrives on the scene, his friend has already been dead and buried for several days. As you can imagine, the family members blamed Jesus for not coming sooner.

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” Lazarus’ sister Martha complained (v. 21).

Although Martha’s conclusion seemed logical, her perspective was focused on the past instead of the present. From her vantage point, it was simply too late for a miracle. Her brother had died, and she assumed that would be the end of the story.

As a result of her wrong focus, she was filled with regrets instead of anticipation. If you’re feeling like Martha today, with regrets about failures or missed opportunities in your past, you need to keep reading…

Miracles Today

Even when Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would rise again (v. 23), she thought He was talking some future day of resurrection “at the last day” (v. 24). Yes, she had plenty of faith that Jesus could have done a miracle in the past, if only He had arrived sooner. And she also had lots of faith about the future resurrection, many years from then.

But, my friend, Jesus wants to do miracles in your life TODAY—in the present. Our Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), so today can be the day He touches your body, finances, family, or emotions with His resurrection power.

Later in the story, Jesus asks, Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (v. 40). Notice that faith is a present-tense experience that leads to present and future benefits (Hebrews 11:1).

Take a second right now to ask yourself whether you have this kind of present-tense faith, or whether you’re still consumed by the negative experiences of your past or concerns about your future.

Obstacles and Odors

We’re told Lazarus’ tomb was a cave with a massive stone blocking it. But the Son of God orders the bewildered onlookers, “Take away the stone” (v. 39).

I love this part of the story, because we all have boulders and obstacles that seem to be standing in the way of the miracle we need from God. It seems impossible for Him to even see our situation, let alone remedy it.

In the case of Lazarus, there was another major problem. “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days,” Martha informed Jesus (v. 39).

What an appropriate picture of the difficult situations we may face today. Not only is there a huge stone blocking any hope of breakthrough, but the distressing circumstances have gone on for so long that there’s a major ODOR involved!

You would think the spotless Savior would want to avoid our stinky situations, but He never does. As long as we’re willing to remove the stone and give Him access, He will take care of the rest.

The climax of John 11 occurs when Jesus cries out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” (v. 43). Jesus is saying these same words to you today, my friend. You can come back to life and exit your tomb. You can come out of the dark cave you’ve been locked in, walking outside into the bright sunshine of a brand-new day.

What About the Graveclothes?

There was still another step in setting Lazarus free, and it’s a crucial part in giving us true liberty as well. Although Lazarus miraculously came back to life at Jesus’ command, he “came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth” (v. 44).

This explains why some people get saved, yet struggle to find freedom from addictions, fears, and strongholds that were part of their life before meeting Christ. Even though they’ve been raised from death to life, they’ve allowed some aspects of their former life to follow them.

Thankfully, Jesus wasn’t satisfied with raising His friend back to life, only to have him walk around bound like a mummy! “Loose him, and let him go,” Jesus told the stunned bystanders (v. 44).

Be brutally honest with yourself today: Are there still some smelly old graveclothes impeding your progress and fruitfulness? If so, Jesus wants you to loose you and set you free. This can be YOUR day of resurrection and deliverance!