Jesus said to them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go.” John 11:44
This picture that Jesus paints in John 11 is quite amazing. You will need to read it for yourself, but I will summarize it a bit. A friend of Jesus named Lazarus got very sick and died. He was placed in a tomb and his family and friends were days into mourning this heartbreaking loss. Jesus steps into the scene and before long He is telling the people to move the stone that covered the tomb, thanks His Father for hearing Him and then tells the dead man to come out of the tomb. The stone blocking the exit has been moved, words of thanks spoken from the Son of God, in complete faith, have filled the air and a command has been given. What happens next is a miracle! “The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his faced wrapped in cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go.” (11:44). Can you even imagine witnessing such an impossible resurrection?
I read a teaching from Jill Briscoe the other day where she talked about the grave clothes that Lazarus was wearing. These linen strips and face cloth needed to be taken off of this very much alive man. She said the most interesting thing at the end of her lesson. “Throw away your grave clothes; they are poor dress for a living person!” This got my attention and had me asking the Lord if there were any areas in my life that looked like I was still bound in grave clothes. Then the words “linen strips” stuck out to me from the verse. Linen strips were also used as bandages for wounds. Bandages are necessary for a time as a wound heals, but eventually need to be removed. How many of us have bandages on from 20 years ago?
The Lord does not speak out loud to me, but His Holy Spirit does speak inside of my head and heart. I heard Him say that there were a few bandages I still had wrapped around me. They have been worn for so long that they just seem normal. The wounds have been healed, now unwrap them and live. Bandages are part of the healing process and we are all left with scars. But in my opinion, they do not need to be worn as almost an identification badge. Yes, there is past sin and yes hard things happen to us all, but we are alive! We have been brought from death to life because of Jesus. Forgiveness had a price and it has been paid.
These linen strips can keep us from moving and seeing properly. If we were looking through a piece of linen, images would not be very clear. We would see the fabric first and then what was in front of us. With the linen gone, we can see people in a fresh way and not distorted by our wounds. Life can be quite exciting when this freedom takes place! When we are free from anything that binds us, we can move. We can go to places that we have never been. We can explore. We can run. We can use each step as an act of worship. Think about the difference in our homes with this unbound living approach. We would not throw 10 year old hurts back into our spouses face. We would not remind our children of all the times they have messed up. Think about the freedom this would give them! When we are truly living, everyone we come in contact with gets a glimpse of love. Why would we go through this life any other way?