Take Off Your Grave Clothes! by Terry J. Hallock

Take Off Your Grave Clothes!
Terry J. Hallock
John 11:1-45
January 27, 2002

Two beliefs formed Mary and Martha's despair over the death of their brother Lazarus.

First was their belief in the power and permanence of death. They had watched their beloved brother Lazarus become sick and then grow weaker and weaker until his body ceased to function. They had seen him wrapped in the burial clothes and placed in the tomb that was then sealed for all time. The funeral processions had come and gone. The mourners wept and wailed. Lazarus was dead and that was that. . .or so they believed.

Second, Mary and Martha believed Jesus had failed them. "If you had been here," they cried, "our brother would not have died." Hadn't Lazarus been a dear friend to Jesus? Hadn't Jesus eaten food from Lazarus' table? Hadn't Lazarus and his sisters opened their home in hospitality to Jesus whenever it was needed? And wasn't this the same Jesus who had given sight to the blind, healing to lepers, and enabled cripples to walk? Yet when Lazarus was sick and in need, not only didn't Jesus heal him, He delayed even coming to Lazarus' side until it was too late to do any good.

Both of those beliefs - that death's power is permanent and that Jesus had failed - were consistent with the thinking process of the natural. They were understandable reactions when seen through the prism of what were generally accepted as the immutable laws of nature. Lazarus was dead and since death is the end of life Lazarus had no future and Mary and Martha had no hope. Dead is dead! Jesus could have healed Lazarus but didn't thus Jesus had failed to meet the need of a friend who loved Him.

Each of us has or will know the grief of Mary and Martha. Each of us will experience the death of a loved one Jesus could have healed but didn't, a dream Jesus could have saved but didn't, a need Jesus could have met but didn't, a work Jesus could have rescued but didn't, an evil Jesus could have stopped but didn't, or a suffering Jesus could have soothed but didn't. Our despair, like Mary and Martha's ...


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