In John 11, we read about the death of Jesus’ good friend, Lazarus. By the time Jesus gets to Lazarus’ hometown, the man has been in the grave for 4 days. Grief is the reality experienced by the family and friends.
Jesus arrives at the tomb and speaks the unexpected command: “Remove the stone.” Martha reminds Jesus that Lazarus has been dead for four days so there will be a stench. Jesus is undaunted by her words or that reality. After praying to his Father, he shouts these powerful words: “Lazarus, come out!’
Lazarus walks out of the tomb, wrapped in his grave clothes. The man who has been in the grave for 4 days has now been set free. In fact, Jesus commands the people watching to unbind Lazarus from those grave clothes.
Prior to working this miracle, Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would be raised from the grave. Martha believed Lazarus would be raised at the end of time. Jesus explains that he is the Resurrection and the Life and that Martha did not have to wait until the end of time.
This is where this story applies powerfully to us. We may hope that Jesus can resurrect all things at the end of time, but are we missing what he wants to do in us today? Just as Jesus was not afraid of the stench of death, he is not afraid of the mess he finds in our lives. Where we see death and defeat, Jesus sees the opportunity to work a miracle. Calling a dead man out of the grave exemplifies the truth that there is nothing too difficult for God.
The question is will we come out of our graves? As Beth Moore describes in her book Get Out of Your Pit, we often choose to stay in our grave, wrapped in our grave clothes. Though our graves are miserable, they are also comfortable. We know them, feel in control of them, have a sense of safety there.
Walking out of our graves is risky. There is so much unknown out there. Light shines brighter than darkness. Light brings vulnerability. Light also brings life. And we were made for life, abundant life (John 10:10).
Listen to Jesus’s words to us today: “Come out!” Will we come? Will we allow Jesus to carefully unwrap us of those grave clothes that hold us? Can we lay those things at his feet? Scary? Oh yes, but also liberating, exciting, and life giving.
Jesus speaks these words to us today: “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live” (John 11:25-26, The Message).