Jesus had traveled to Bethany after hearing of His friend, Lazarus, death. As He stood before the grave entrance, He prayed out-loud…not to profit Himself, but all the mourners looking on. For Jesus knew His Father, and His Father knew Him, so His spoken words benefited the crowd only. But why? So that they might know that God hears and answers prayer. You may think God’s work in your life is for you only…but you’d be so wrong! Anytime we’re faced with hardship, loss, sickness, or tragedy…people are watching us. Both unbelievers and Believers are observing how we’ll react. Do we gripe, are quick to complain, and become easily offended…or do we clothe ourselves with the same grace and mercy our Heavenly Father has shown us? That’s because they’re watching closely to see where we place our hope and trust…in ourselves and the world, or in Jesus Christ. So think about this today… by your actions and reactions you can bring someone closer to Christ or push them away.
When Jesus shouted into that grave, He was taking divine authority over death. And this wasn’t the only time He did this. In Luke 7:14 He raised back to life the only son of a widow when He touched the coffin and said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” And when He ordered the dead daughter of Jairus to, “Get up!”… she did. (Luke 8:54) But His disciples were also witnesses to these miracles…and their faith grew with each one. For we find in Acts 9:40, Peter was called to pray for a lovely old woman by the name of Dorcas, a devote Follower, who had died. Under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit within, Peter repeated the same words of Jesus, “Get up!”…and Dorcas came back to life.
Jesus had called Lazarus from the grave, and out he stumbled. But he was still bound by the grave-clothes wound around his body and face. Others had placed these winding cloths on him, and now it took others to free him from them. When we become a Believer we are raised from the dead unto eternal life, but for many of us, we continue to wear the trappings of the tomb. These hindrances cling to us like grave-clothes, impeding our movement forward and blinding us from the truth. And just like Lazarus, it was someone else that placed them on us, binding us up in sin, addiction, and pain. So it takes others to free us from these grave clothes…to come along side to encourage, exhort, and unloose the sins that still bind us to the past.