David Virts

Scripture Text: John 11:41-44 Title: Loose Him!

Question of the Day: Why did Jesus give the order to loose Lazarus from his grave clothes and let him go?

As we go over this very familiar story, we notice a good many details that need to be studied, and here is another detail: in those days a person’s body was wrapped in a cloth—something like we have seen a mummy—and their mouths were tied shut with a cloth—here called a napkin. How Lazarus even walked out of the tomb is in itself a mystery to us, but he must have been able to at least stagger out of the cave to the entrance. That must have been quite a sight, but there he stood, alive, and yet bound by clothes and a napkin.

Here is what the text says, “Then they removed the stone that blocked the entrance of the cave where Lazarus was buried. And Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘O Father, I thank You that you have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of these people gathered here I have said these things so that they can fully believe that You sent Me.’ When Jesus had finished those words he called out with a loud booming voice, ‘Lazarus, come here!’ And the man who had been dead came out of the cave and his hands and feet were bound with the grave clothes and his head was tied to keep his mouth from gaping open with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Now loose him and let him go!’

This story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is a good illustration of a person who has just been raised from the dead spiritually. As Lazarus was raised from physical death to new life, in the same way when a person is born again for the first time in their life they have spiritual life. They have passed from death into life and been saved out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. But there was a problem with Lazarus: he was still bound with grave clothes, and the same is true of the new Christian. Yes, there is newness of life, but throughout this life we are still plagued by sin and the shackles that sin brings.

So, how are we released from those shackles of sin? In Lazarus’ case Jesus gave the command to “loose him and let him go”; and in our case spiritually, we also need a lot of help from those around us to be loosed from the shackles of sin. We need older believers to teach us the facts about our new life; we have to learn that we are already “dead to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”; many generations of believers have gone before us preserving for us the Scriptures and searching them to give us insight into the depth and breadth of the knowledge of God and His Word; they have also gone through many of the same struggles that we are now experiencing as we learn to do battle spiritually with the forces of evil; and the encouragement and prayers that they give for us help greatly to bring us to maturity.

Then we find out that we are part of the body of Christ. For a new member of the body to grow the rest of the body pitches in teaching, encouraging, rebuking, exhorting, fellowshipping, and doing whatever each Christian needs at that stage of their life to get through each trial. In this way the body is built up and grows to maturity, and the glimpses that we have of the body of Christ throughout eternity are a unit working together and praising God and living together in one great city as we worship and exalt Him forever! What a thought! And, even more than that, we have the privilege of reflecting to the rest of God’s many great creations the love, mercy, and forgiveness of our magnificent God forever and ever. And all of this happened because of what our Lord did for us in preparing the way, and because many other believers came along side us and encouraged us toward the goal of maturity. So the statement of Jesus still stands for each of us in the spiritual sense: “Loose him and let him go!”

Prayer: Lord, each of us are aware of our need to become like You, and You have chosen to give us a lot of help through other members of Your body. Thank You for those who went before us and prepared the way for us and encouraged and strengthened us through each trial until our faith in You is strong enough to stand the fiercest storms. Lord, loose me from the bondage of sin through what You did for me on the cross and through the help of my fellow believers. Then I will be loosed from sin’s bondage to serve You—forever. Amen!