Contributed by Basic Training Bible Min.

The ritual of burial in first-century Israel involved the corpse being washed, then anointed with a variety of oils and spices.

The body would then be wrapped in white linen grave clothes, which also contained spices.

The body of Lazarus had been given life, but he still had to contend with the grave clothes that would inhibit him.

Hence Jesus’ command in verse 44. It must have been an astonishing moment for the crowd, who were no doubt checking that it really was Lazarus, and for Lazarus himself.

It’s sad that we have no account of how the four days were for him. This all provides a powerful picture of the life of anyone who comes to faith in Jesus and enjoys life in the Spirit that He gives.

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The New Testament constantly reminds us that our new life in Christ can be dogged by ‘grave clothes’ that prevent us from truly being free.

Sometimes this freedom can be appropriated by us as we realise who we are as new believers, and sometimes, like Lazarus, we may need others to help us identify blind spots and things that are continually tripping us up and preventing us from moving into the freedom that was always intended for those enjoying the resurrection life of Jesus.

Of course, the world, desperate for life and hope, needs Christians exhibiting that life and pointing to the life to come.

So, there are few more important things for us to do than ensure there is nothing hindering us.

Endless self-examination is unhealthy, but some examination of life is valuable. As you move around today, you don’t want your grave clothes to be showing!


A Prayer To Make:
Thanks, Lord, for the freedom I can know in Christ. Help me through your power to shed anything that hinders. Amen.

An Action To Take:
Spend some time with a friend or counsellor and talk about what’s holding you back.

Scripture To Consider:
Ps. 51:7–19; Isa. 61:10 –11; Rom. 6:8–14; Col. 3:5–11

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.