I see dead people; they are everywhere. We have a part to play in their resurrection. It’s exciting, want to join me?
When we last saw Mary, Martha, and Jesus, Lazarus was dead and buried.
But things were about to get really weird!
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha had to be OCD. Her response was, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” (I love the King James version of this!)
In other words, “Are you nuts? There isn’t enough room freshener to mask the stench!”
Jesus replied, “Let me show you just how big God really is!” (Okay, that’s my paraphrase!)
The grave now open, Jesus issues a loud and specific command:
Lazarus, come forth!
(I’ve heard it said that if He had, instead, called, “Come forth” without giving a specific name, the whole graveyard would have come to life!)
The Bible says, “And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.”
Here’s where we get involved:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him, and let him go.’ “
You see, Jesus did the resurrecting. He left it to those present to unbind him.
That’s our job as His disciples. Jesus gives people new life. We are to come alongside them and help them get free of the old, dead stuff.
As His ambassadors, we are to:
Proclaim liberty to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind.
To set at liberty those who are oppressed.
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
Lazarus fit these categories, didn’t he? Taken captive by death, blinded by the cloth wrapped around his head, restricted and oppressive movement caused by his graveclothes. This was certainly the year of the Lord’s favor for Lazarus. There he was, alive once again!
As is true with every story in the Bible, there is a practical application for us.
Before we received eternal life, we were spiritually dead. We also “stinkethed.” (I made up that word!) This is a gift. Good thing, too. If you think you got “born again” because of your effort, sorry to disappoint you. Dead people can’t do a thing to help themselves!
(Or, looking at it from another angle, just how involved were you in your first birth, hmmm? :))
We must proclaim liberty to the captives. We do this by telling others about Jesus. He will do the “calling forth,” but we must be the ones to remove the stone (and avoid being the stone!).
The cloth that wraps our head and keeps us blind is our old “stinking thinking.” It is for this reason that we are told to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. The old lies need to go, and be replaced with truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” That’s a renewed mind. How do we begin to unwrap that cloth? We give them a Bible, teach them how to study it, introduce them to good Bible teachers (iTunes podcasts abound!). We spend time with them.
Note that the last thing to go are the graveclothes…oppression. With their arms pinned, they are hopelessly trapped. They need other “family members” to come alongside and begin the unwrapping process.
The graveclothes may be:
Deep heart wounds
How will they get free without someone’s assistance? You are needed! You’ve learned some things through your own “unwrapping” process. You’ve had experience in some of those strips that bound your own body. You know what it’s like, and what it takes. Because you’ve been through it, you’ve got tools that are especially beneficial for the removal of specific bindings. You will never feel more alive than when you are helping get someone else free. Looking for meaning to your life?
Look no further!
There are some who think it is too late for them, though. They’ve been bound their entire life. Their time to be set free came and went. They’re a hopeless case.
WOOHOO!! Do I have great news!
Did you see the last phrase of Luke 4:19? It reads, the acceptable year of the Lord. In another translation, it’s stated: The year of the Lord’s favor.
Think about the date for a sec. Until people got all uppity, and didn’t want to include God, we divided the timeline of life into two parts: B.C and A.D. (Now they call it C.E. and B.C.E. – Current Era; Before Current Era. Any way they slice it, the year is measured by the life of Christ. ;). )
The A.D. abbreviation stands for Anno Domini…the year of our Lord. Stick with me here, you’re gonna love this!
That makes today’s date June 26, 2013 A.D. …in the year of our Lord.
In other words, every year is the Lord’s year…the year of the Lord’s favor.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR YOU – OR FOR ANYONE YOU KNOW!!!!!
Jesus wakes the dead…it’s our job to help unwrap ’em. Let’s get busy!
Don’t miss the first part of this story, “I Expected More,”
or the conclusion: “Don’t Make Me Naked!“