Standing in Lazarus’s Place

Rev. Stephenson preached this past All Saints Sunday from John 11:32-44, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Read the passage yourself. (If you don’t have a Bible near, click the Scripture reference to read it on-line.)

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead by His word:  Lazarus, come out.

And as Jesus commanded, Lazarus came out. Wrapped in his graveclothes, needing to be unbound in order to be free.
I think about the contrast with Jesus and His resurrection…
Then Simon Peter came… and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.
John 20:6-7 ESV
Jesus left His graveclothes behind, in an orderly arrangement. John Stott, in his book Basic Christianity, teaches that He rose out of the linen shroud just as He walked through the door of the upper room when He appeared to the disciples. Completely free of the linen wrappings and pounds of myrrh and aloes used to prepare His body for burial. Quite unlike Lazarus who arose still tied up.
Perhaps, in our spiritual resurrection (our being raised to eternal life) we look more like Lazarus. We do not receive a resurrection body, but we are a new creation still bound up in the old. We need to be unwrapped from the graveclothes.
This leaving behind of all that binds seems to me like the process of sanctification. Through our increased knowledge of God and His love for us we become freer and freer to live as the new creation He intended us to be.
Lazarus was resurrected before the cross and needed someone to physically loosen the graveclothes and release Him.
On this side of the cross, in our spiritual raising to new life, our graveclothes are not visible. Only Jesus sees what binds our hearts and prevents us from being fully free. It is God: Father, Son, and Spirit who loosens us from what binds. 
As He frees us we find His Word written on our hearts and here is where we begin to share it with others. Reaching out to those who do not yet know Him and to those who are still bound up in their graveclothes.
We stand in the place of Lazarus. Raised from the dead by Christ. Needing to be loosed. 
Imagine what Lazarus felt as he stood there alive but bound. What do you think was going through his mind? How do you think he lived after he was set free?

Can you relate Lazarus’s experience to your spiritual resurrection? Are you alive but bound? free of what bound? or somewhere in the process of being loosed?

How are you living your resurrected life?
Allow Him to work in your life to bring healing, wholeness, and freedom.

Father God, loosen me from whatever continues to keep me bound. 
Free me to love You as You created me to.
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