Jesus approached the tomb where they had laid his good friend Lazarus. First, he wept. Then he ordered that the stone be removed from the entrance to the tomb. After that, Jesus prayed that those present would put their faith in him. “When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”—John 11:43-44.
This Scripture obviously teaches us that Jesus has the power to bring the dead back to life. We hold onto the faith that he can resurrect us from the dead also.
Some have pointed out that there is another lesson to be learned here. We have to understand that there are things that only Jesus can do—such as bring dead people back to life. However, Jesus did not remove the grave clothes from Lazarus. He instructed others to do that. So, we have to trust Jesus to do the things that only he can do. And we have to do whatever we can do to help people.
Only Jesus can give spiritual life to a sinner. None of us can do that. However, once Jesus has brought that person to life, we Christians can help them come out of their grave clothes. We can teach them to replace coarse talk with more proper speech patterns. We can help them break a pattern of immoral conduct. We can show them how to leave a life of greed and embrace a life of generosity. We can be with them as they battle against harmful addictions.
Helping people out of their grave clothes can be messy business. But how did we ever get the idea that being the church is anything else?