Grave Clothes

Do you know anyone bound with grave clothes?“Take off the grave clothes and let him

Lazarus and his sisters were friends of Jesus.  In the account in John 11, Lazarus was sick.  His sisters immediately sent for their friend Jesus to come. Because of their close relationship with Jesus, they knew who to call.

Jesus waited two more days.

Lazarus died and according to the custom of that day, he was buried immediately. His sisters were devastated.

Then, Jesus showed up after Lazarus had been buried.

Jesus was four days late.

Lazarus’ sister, Martha went to meet Jesus as soon as she heard he was in town.  She said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha believed that Jesus was the son of God. She affirmed her belief that God will grant Jesus whatever he asks for. She expressed hope that she will see her brother again in the resurrection at the last day.

To Martha, all hope of seeing her brother alive again in this world was gone. She was focused on the future and looking ahead.

But Jesus had a surprise waiting for Martha!

After her conversation with Jesus, Martha went to tell her sister Mary that Jesus was here.  Several mourners accompanied Mary.   Mary said the same thing that Martha said to Jesus, “if only you came earlier, our brother would not have died.”

Mary and Martha’s sorrow along with those of the mourners who accompanied them was palpable!  Jesus, moved in the Spirit felt compassion for them.

Jesus wept….Our Lord and Savior wept.  He identified with their pain….He identified with their sorrow.  Jesus identifies with your pain and my pain.  Allow that to sink in for a moment.

Jesus went to the tomb.  Then the amazing thing happened, Jesus called Lazarus in a loud voice, “Lazarus come out!”

Lazarus came out, wrapped from head to toe in strips of linen that had been used to bury him.  Jesus said to them,

“Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Jesus was four days late.  He was fully aware of this storm, yet he was on time.  At the appropriate time, he raised Lazarus from the dead and God was glorified. He is the only one that can be four days late, yet still on time.


In our world today, many people are alive but bound up with grave clothes.  Many are bound by the grave clothes of sin, storms, addictions, joyless living, woundedness and brokenness.

As believers, Jesus calls you and me to reach out to them..….to help them take off their grave clothes….. to help unbind them.. .. to point them to him, the one who can make them whole.

If Lazarus could take off his grave clothes alone, why did Jesus ask those who witnessed Lazarus’ resurrection to help him take off his grave clothes?

Who is the Lord calling you to help take off the grave clothes from?  What is your response to this call?

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