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 11:44 NIV
I can imagine Lazarus in the tomb, his body beginning to decay and bound with the robes and stench of death. With His word "Lazarus, come out!" Lazarus was given resurrected life by Jesus. However, it was what Jesus said afterwards that caught me off guard. He said: "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." Ok, so it's not what He said that surprised me, but who it is said to. Jesus did not unbind Lazarus himself. He told his people to do it.
In Christ we have true freedom from all bondages: bondage to religion, to legalism, to sin, to the world, to serving God in the flesh, and every other kind of bondage. If we know anything about Jesus Christ at all, we know this: He's the most liberated person in the universe. And He liberates all who turn to Him in faith. We have been freed by Love- and grace is our anthem. Now, you and I are co-laborers with God in bringing freedom to others. Such is the nature of resurrection life.
Although we've been made new inwardly and were given His remarkable new life, many of us find ourselves still wearing our grave clothing. Christ commanded the community, His people, to be agents of freedom by helping others to remove their clothing of death and legalism. We do this as a church by celebrating a life in our freedom in Christ and by sharing with others the story of Jesus - the mantra of grace! We do this not only with our words, but with our actions - demonstrating God's kingdom and His heart for his people, serving one another in big and in small ways, and by being intentional about reaching and welcoming those outside our walls.
"Take off the grave clothes and let him go" - is the beautiful charge given by Christ to his people and storytellers of His narrative.
Out of the dying, the Lord's life is expressed and we are built together into a home for Jesus Christ.