Today’s Scripture: John 11:38-44
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
What has you in the grave this day? What is the thing that is making a terrible smell in your life? Maybe it’s the anxiety that comes from pandemic life. Maybe it’s having kids stuck at home trying to learn. Maybe it’s living the same day over and over again. Or perhaps there is something else holding you: depression or other mental health issues, addiction or habits that you just can’t break, illness that your fighting and feel like you’re loosing against. We all have things that trap us and hold us and seem to have the last word against us.
But this story about Lazarus is one of hope. It’s a story of action. Jesus does not leave us stuck in the grave (literal or figurative!). Instead, he calls us out by name. “Lazarus, come out!” Do you hear Jesus calling your name today?
It can be easy to assume that once we are stuck in a grave we are never getting out. I know it might feel that way to you today. But this story in the Gospel of John is telling us that God knows where we are and how much we need to be freed. God knows and God cares and God acts. Our job is to watch and listen for our name.
Of course, our release might not be as dramatic or as quick as Lazarus! It may take time and have its ups and downs. But God hears us, sees us, and frees us. Resurrection is coming.
One last thing. Sometimes after we have been freed from the grave we are still wrapped up in the graveclothes. It’s like our minds don’t want to recognize we are free. We still act like we are in the grave when in fact we are out of it! Sometimes we need help to unwrap – and that’s ok. (In fact, you may be called on to help unwrap someone else!) But we should not let the graveclothes keep us in a different kind of grave. What do you need to let go of today in order to be free?
God when we are stuck in a grave help us to hear you calling our name. Help us to hold on and watch for your action. Help us to know that resurrection is coming.