Reading: John 11:38-45
Verse 44: “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
In the second half of our John 11 passage, Jesus moves into action. He says to no one in particular and therefore to everyone, “Take away the stone.” Practical Martha protests. Jesus draws her back to the spiritual: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” And after a prayer to God, Jesus calls Lazarus out of the grave. The man dead four days walks out, still wrapped in his grave cloths.
This is one way that Jesus calls us back to life. But for almost everyone, he calls us back from spiritual or emotional death. We have fallen short and have sinned. We have separated ourselves from God and from one another. We come to a place of repentance and we are restored to a right relationship with God. But we still have our grave cloths wrapped around us. These take different forms: guilt, shame, remorse, regret. Often there are also real consequences that we must face. It is a very hard road to walk alone.
Jesus says, again, to no one in particular and therefore to everyone, Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” This last step of restoration is up to the community. It is something Lazarus cannot do on his own. It is something we cannot do on our own. To fully walk in the new life that Jesus offers, we need community. To restore our relationships, we need forgiveness and reconciliation. To begin to live again, we need welcome and engagement. Faith is a community effort. We are not always on the receiving end either. At times we will need to be the ones offering forgiveness… to others. May we be as willing to give as we are to receive.
Lord God, the community is such a beautiful thing. Walking together in faith is your plan and purpose for us all. Help me to be humble when I need forgiveness and restoration. Guide me to be generous when others need to receive. Bless your beloved community. Amen.