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)
Raising Lazarus from the dead was an amazing thing to do. Calling him back to life after he had been dead for FOUR DAYS was super amazing!
We all know what happens when our bodies die – fluids seep out, tissue begins to decay, and there is a stench that is unlike any other and unforgettable. At least, that's what I've been told by people who know.
We are embarrassed to have our stench exposed.
Lazarus' sister even cautioned Jesus about the smell when He instructed them to move the stone away from the tomb's entrance. That didn't stop Jesus! He called Lazarus to come out of the tomb, which is exactly what happened, and then instructed his family and friends to "take off the grave clothes". Those pieces of linen were, no doubt, extremely gross and stinky. Yes, Jesus brought Lazarus back to life but death had been soaking into the linen strips for four days.
I believe we can apply this same principle when we are set free from sin and death. We are dead and bound up in our sinful self – greed, anger, lust, pride, immorality, deceit, etc. Fill in the blank. We are born again with Jesus as our Savior and wondrously brought back to life! Yay, Jesus!!
Based on this example in the Bible, we need help from others to remove those stinking grave clothes. I'm not talking about waving our dirty laundry around for the world and Facebook to see. We just need help from a few people who love us - help getting rid of the bondage of our past and learning how to walk in freedom.
Jesus has called us to live.
This takes some courage. It probably won't be pleasant. The deeper you get, the stinkier it gets. We are embarrassed to have our stench exposed. However, the alternative is to simply live out our lives paralyzed by our past. This is definitely NOT the life Jesus has called us to live. He purchased abundant life, a divinely supernatural life, for us with His death and resurrection. We cannot live that life until we get rid of the things that keep us bound up.
You know, Jesus did not remove Lazarus' grave clothes Himself. He instructed the people around him to do it. We all have our Lazarus moments and our "friends" moments. It is key that we do it all with love and compassion and joy because we are all in the process of being set free.
What happens next? We need to get rid of the grave clothes! Not only do they stink, they keep us bound up. We are alive underneath, but bound by the shame of our sin.