Remove the Stones
Jesus has finally arrived, but it was too late; Lazarus was dead! If only He had arrived earlier. Jesus made His way to the tomb with the grieving crowd following. He stood in front of Lazarus’ tomb weeping, revealing His heart to the crowd (John 11).
Then suddenly, He instructed the people to remove the stone from grave’s entrance. They couldn’t believe their ears. Martha blurted out in her surprise, "But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been dead four days."
The people obeyed. Jesus calls out to Lazarus and behold the creator of life gave new life to Lazarus. Lazarus waddled out of the tomb, still wrapped in His grave clothes, alive! Jesus directed the people to remove the grave clothes.
This miracle catches us by surprise in several ways. We dare not miss the sign - the miracle of raising a person from the dead is primary. Yet we are surprised by other elements as well. Why did Jesus have the people remove the stone? Was He challenging their faith? Why did He have the people remove the grave clothes? This request seems more obvious.
Lazarus couldn't do it for himself. Whatever the reasons, one thing is abundantly clear – Jesus chose to involve the people in His work. Amazingly, astoundingly He involved His people in His work.
There are many obstacles that hinder people from coming out of their sin – their "graves". There is the sin itself binding them. We cannot remove the sin. Only Jesus can do that. But we can work to remove stones. They cannot even hear the voice of God calling because these "stones" are so thick that they muffle His voice.
Though it is impossible for you and me to remove all these stones, Jesus is instructing us, His people, to "remove the stone." Stones of ignorance; stones of apathy; stones of physical need; stones of misunderstanding; these are just a few of the stones we can address and help remove.
And the grave clothes; when people find new life in Christ Jesus they bring with them habits, experiences, hurts – "grave clothes". They need to be discipled – to have their grave-clothes removed. It is our responsibility in partnership with the Holy Spirit to help them remove the excess baggage that they carried with them from their life in sin. This takes time, effort, patience, persistence, diligence and an extra amount of God's love, which He provides. But Jesus is looking at us and telling us – "remove the grave clothes."
Let's not neglect our responsibilities. Let’s draw upon God’s limitless resources and accept the glorious gracious privilege of being involved in His work. He calls us and people's eternal lives depend on it!
"Remove the grave clothes... and let him go!!!" (John 11:44)