Are we resurrected, unbound, and set free from the things of this world just as Lazarus was?
43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Today’s imagery is powerful. I honestly don’t know where to start. In understanding resurrection, we generally look towards the resurrection of Christ (as Christians). In Baptism, we symbolically identify with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Generally, as we picture Jesus’ resurrection, we recall the story of the tomb being empty, Him appearing before some of the disciples, showing Thomas the marks in His hands, and then His eventual ascension into heaven. We rarely, however, think about our own resurrection in Christ.
The wrappings that Lazarus had on him were the burial dressings wrapped around his body for his burial. On the surface of this story, we see Jesus telling others to unwrap this “mummy” and allow him to walk freely. Let’s look, however, at the spiritual implications of this scene. Lazarus is “born again”. He has died to his old self and is now made anew. Who is Jesus really talking to in verse 44? Often times I hear about what Jesus did during the time period He was dead. Some say He went to hell to defeat the devil. I have not yet found this in scripture (although I certainly have not yet read it all this closely yet). I imagine Jesus’ words here, “Unbind him, and let him go,” is akin to what He will say on the cross, “it is finished.”
We are bound to this world by our original life, by our original sin, by our original ways. When we are born again, when we are reborn into Christ, into the kingdom of God, He commands that our old life unbinds us and lets us go. We are set free from sin, free from bondage, and free to live the way we were designed to live. I think that so many people look at having a relationship with God through Christ (being a Christian) as an exercise in “giving up” of things. We think we have to do certain things to be a Christian, when in fact we get to do things because we are in communion with God.
Because God has given us the opportunity to be set free from these things, we get to experience freedom that is incomparable to any other type of freedom you can imagine. The Devil would have us believe we have to earn it. He would have us believe that grace isn’t free, “nothing is free,” right? God’s grace is a free gift, yet we continually put it back in the box or we don’t even open it. We don’t have to earn it by doing this or that. In fact, we can’t earn grace. It wouldn’t be grace if we could, would it? If we work for something or perform an action in order to get something, it is no longer grace, but a tradeoff. God doesn’t need our good deeds or works. God doesn’t need our money, our house, our tobacco addiction, our porn, our alcohol or drugs, our anger, our codependency, our lust and deceitful hearts. He doesn’t need anything. He wants us to accept His love.
How are you trying to earn grace? Have you come forth from the tomb to be unbound and set free?