22 Jun 2003

Graveclothes

Submitted by theshovel
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Take off the grave clothes and let him go. John 11:44

Those simple words cut through our doubt-filled stupor and suddenly all became clear as the spell that had paralyzed us vanished into thin air. Released from our immobility, we ran toward the cloaked figure of what appeared to be our recently deceased friend, Lazarus, now standing upright and squirming. Maybe grave clothes make an appropriate outfit for a stiff body lying on a cold slab, but on one who lives they present an intensely morbid sight. But laughter replaced grief and sorrow as we began to peel one strip of cloth after another from the man who had been buried just four days earlier. Though the fragrance of death oozed from his wrappings we continued on in excitement until they were off and he could move about freely. After a bath Lazarus was given a new robe -- fit for one who is alive -- and he put it on with sheer delight.
[excerpt from a future Shovelation on John]

No doubt Lazarus' return from the grave demanded much as to who Jesus was and what he could do, but do you suppose John recorded the miracle merely as an apologetic, that is, as an argument for the Christian faith? Obviously, the event paled in comparison to Jesus' own resurrection, but what they witnessed here had etched some striking memories within them. The Spirit of Christ would also remind them what he had spoken:

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. John 5:24-27

Though the physically-risen Lazarus would eventually die again their previous understanding of resurrection had been shattered by the totally unexpected and unbelievable phenomenon they witnessed. Consider the doctrinally accurate statements made by Lazarus' sister, Martha, when she spoke with Jesus:

'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha answered, 'I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' Yes, Lord,' she told him, 'I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.' John 11:21-27

Such a profession might secure membership in most Christian organizations, but they were just empty words spoken to cover unbelief. Are you hearing me here? With these Biblically-sound claims Martha was only expressing her utter disappointment in Jesus, not her faith. She merely responded with what she thought he wanted to hear; for when the reality of Jesus' words had moved past hypothesis Martha was the one to object -- though her reaction surely reflected the common fear.

Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? John 11:40

WE DIDN'T KNOW YOU MEANT RIGHT NOW!

No one wanted that grave opened because of what they fully expected to find, which was the same dead man they all knew had been buried in there. I mean, who wants their expectations blown by the less-than-impossible chance of an absurd present reality when the sense of hope could be preserved by keeping it safely tucked away in the doctrinally-correct realm of Things-Yet-To-Come?

Keep that stone rolled over the grave and don't dare try to convince us that life has replaced death!

But the dead man heard the voice of Jesus and he crossed over from death to life. And there he stood at the entrance to the grave still all wrapped up in grave clothes! Now what?

There was no difficulty on the part of Jesus when he called Lazarus out of the grave. There was no difficulty on the part of the dead man who heard and then rose from the dead. No, that was all undeniably miraculous, and therefore, outside the scope of relativity. The difficulty existed in the perceptions of those who stood around not knowing what to think or what to do. It also existed within the mind of the one who stood there, totally confused by this unexplained confinement.

Take off the grave clothes and let him go.

Could it be so simple? Could it be so matter of fact? Could it be the joyful removal of death rags from the living enabling them to move about in total freedom? But guess what the old religious mind has taught us to do?

Next: Sewing new labels on old clothes

New Testament: 

Comments

theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Anonymous

Dear Jim: I just finished reading "Grave Clothes." No Life in grave clothes, so let us all enter the King's Palace, as specially invited guests, adorned in our Robes of Righteousness, and seat ourselves at the table of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb! A Jewish wedding like none other before - even the Baptists (my denomination of choice) will be dancing!!! I look forward to seeing you there, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let's Party!!!


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Vinnie

Dear Jim,

What a powerful message of LIFE! Thanks for giving my heart something to sing along with today. I could hear His loud cry of "Vinnie come forth!" ringing in my heart. as I was reading it!

Thanks,


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Anonymous

Hey JIM,

I'm personally excited to see the conclusion! You have such way of breathing out the originally EXCITING GOOD NEWS in these old books!


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Bob

Hi Jim,

WOW!! what an amazing take on a passage I've overlooked multitudes of times. I am extremely excited about the teaching the lord has made available to you.

Regards,


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Betty

Dear Jim, I opened the email to your comments on the raising of Lazarus. I was so grateful for the insight you shared. I was encouraged and thankful for such a great salvation we have in Christ Jesus. All so free and so complete. Thank you for sharing with us.

In Him,


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Bob & Lorraine

Hey Old Friend!

You are onto something here! Of course we all know that you are up to something all the time! I remember the days of "reading the red and going for the power" These passages were and are so great for stirring the soul and spirit! Lorraine and I used this one for our Bible study tonight. When we got through I could not help but think about how many people today are walking around in grave clothes, not living the life that Christ has given them. Bound and wiggling in theology and "it just can't be that simple". Far from the freedom they think they have, trying to serve Him with empty spirits and a longing to figure out what is missing. Lets roll the stone away, dare to believe, trust that His word will do just as it says and then lets change our clothes! We got some living to do.

http://www.raindrops.org


Posted: Sep-06-03 by Sherri

"... their previous understanding of resurrection had been shattered by the totally unexpected and unbelievable phenomenon they witnessed."

"... responded with what she thought he wanted to hear; for when the reality of Jesus' words had moved past hypothesis Martha was the one to object -- though her reaction surely reflected the common fear."

"... expectations blown by the less-than-impossible chance of an absurd present reality ..."

"... crossed over from death to Life ..."

"... no difficulty on the part of Jesus when he called Lazarus out of the grave ... no difficulty on the part of the dead man who heard and then rose from the dead ... undeniably miraculous, and therefore, outside the scope of relativity."

"... the joyful removal of death rags from the Living enabling them to move about in total freedom?"

All excellent!! Such a way with thoughts and words you have!! : )

"... guess what the old religious mind has taught us to do?"

I will take a stab:

... it has conditioned us to keep the graveclothes on ... it continually convinces us that those clothes are still ours to wear ... that we are defined by death and all its stench ... and that only religion/self effort/human attainment, etc. can set us free. ha! If that was true, we would have no need of Christ, would we? No need of GOD and HIS miraculous Life so freely, generously and miraculously supplied!

Can not wait to read your next 'installment'! : )

And yes, Vinnie ... your article in last Shoveletter was AWESOME! Thank you! : ) I love the way you write / type / communicate! : )

Hugs


Posted: Mar-06-07 by Dignz

"... as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself." (John 5:24-27)

How exciting to know that it is His very Life that is the New Creation in us ... that He Himself has become and IS our Life ... forever new and evermore! ...regardless of outward appearances, circumstances and situations, for they do not define us, thank GOD!

"But the dead man heard the voice of Jesus and he crossed over from death to life. And there he stood at the entrance to the grave still all wrapped up in grave clothes! Now what?"

Talk about your visual object lesson! A LIVING one!! : ) If we could only view our own newness as dramatically and forever more! WOW!

I can just see Lazarus squirming and jumping and maybe falling and rolling and trying to scream through those steenkeeng rags, "Get 'em off me! Get 'em off me!" What a sight to behold! What an experience that must have been!!

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