“Come Out, Lazarus!” “But I Don’t Want To!”

John 11:1-6, 17, 38-44

From yesterday’s post: “We have all lost piece of ourselves — and buried those pieces along with the old hurts we simply could not bear. The good news for you today is that God knows where every piece of you is buried! In God’s own time — and when the time is right for you — God will show you where each piece is buried, one at a time, and will restore you to wholeness!”

At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

But Martha (the housekeeper sister) resisted, saying, “Lord, already there is a stench because Lazarus has been dead four days” — or, as the King James Version puts it, “by this time he stinketh!”

We don’t want any of our graves disturbed because, like the grave of Lazarus, it has been four days — or four years — or forty years — and we know, as Martha knew, that the contents of our graves stink or that, like the valley in Ezekiel, they contain only dry bones!

We don’t want to smell the stink!

Because of the stink, we keep our graves covered with stones — all kinds of stones — stones of fear and guilt, stones of anger and depression, and stones of defensiveness and self-condemnation.

And also the stone of pride!  Pride that thinks that my sin is the worst and stinks the most! Pride that thinks that God — even God — wouldn’t or couldn’t forgive and raise and heal me — ‘cause “I’m the worst!

But the fact remains that you can’t have a resurrection without opening the grave and exposing the stink and the decay and the dryness.

Often we need help removing the stones.  Like the women who went to Christ’s tomb, we wonder, “Who will roll the stone away for us?”

But with or without help, we must take away the stones from our graves, knowing that Christ is present and waiting to help us.

Look at your own stones.  What are they made of?  Fear?  Anger?  Guilt?  Defensiveness? Depression?  Self-hate?

How did you place the stones there?

Whose help do you need to move them?

“Take away the stone!” commands Jesus.

When the stone was removed, the stink of the grave didn’t stop Jesus!  And the stink of our sins, our pain, our decay, does not stop Jesus, either!

“Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” he said to Martha.

And he went on to call with a loud voice, “Lazarus!”

Jesus knew exactly who he was calling and what he was telling him to do:  “Lazarus, come out!”

“Come out — Come out of your grave!”

Did you ever think about how Lazarus felt? If you were Lazarus, would you want to come out? You would come out stinking! And coming out of the grave would mean that eventually you would have to die all over again!

The Bible says, “The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’”(v. 44)

You see, when the part of you that you buried is brought out of the grave, it still carries the trappings of the grave — the habits and expectations that blinded you and bound you when you first buried it.

  • Christ calls us out, unbinds our fears from us, and restores our courage.
  • Christ calls us out, unbinds our legalism from us, and restores our creativity.
  • Christ calls us out and gives us healing and comfort — letting us know that we are infinitely loved and valued by God.

 “Unbind him, and let him go.”

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About Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith has 20 years’ experience in technical writing and management in software companies. She also has more than 20 years in Christian ministry as an educator, course designer, retreat leader, spiritual director, pastor, and coach. A United Methodist Deacon, Smith has her M.Div. from Boston University. She is a graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, and is certified in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Leadership from Boston College.
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