Graveclothes

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John 11:1–44 NLT
1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” 8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” 9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” 12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” 16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.” 17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” 25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to him. 30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” 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!”
Background
The END (NEW CREATION) BREAKS INTO THE NOW!!
John 11:23–26 NLT
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” 25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
Like the woman at the well, and the blind man who receives his sight, Jesus does something that draws the attention of the community in order for GOD to be glorified.
John 11:14–15 NLT
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
John 11:40 NLT
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”
John 11:41–42 NLT
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.”
There’s that BELIEVE word again...
After Lazarus comes out of the tomb he is turned over to the community
John 11:43–44 NLT
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!”
There’s a theme here, again. The people who see us before Jesus intersects our lives, should also be the people who witness the transformation Jesus brings. They see the before and after.
Jesus does something in us and send us back to the community/village/neighborhood we belong to so that THEY can see Jesus working in us and so that THEY TOO MAY COME TO BELIEVE!
Although faith is personal, it is NEVER PRIVATE!
Laz is dieing
Jesus waits around a few days and Lazarus dies
When Jesus finally comes Laz has been dead for 4 days! The sisters meet Jesus and say, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.”
How many times have you felt that God didn’t work as fast as you wanted? How many times have you felt God could have handled a situation differently? It’s ok to be honest here!
Here’s where our Story picks up
John 11:38–44 NLT
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!”
HE STINKS!
That’s the reply of Martha. He’s been dead, and hanging around the tombs too much. He’s been dead for 4 days. He stinks!
She has a very pragmatic, practical reason, for Jesus NOT to roll the stone away. Her brother stinks!
But, even in the midst of HOPELESSNESS Christ can bring HOPE!
There was a thought that people who have died might not actually be dead. Some people believed that there was hope for someone to wake up, or be resurrected, for up to 3 days after they died.
When Jesus shows up on day 4, he comes into a situation where ALL HOPE IS GONE!
But, he brings HOPE with him. He commands the stone to be rolled away and calls to the dead man, “COME OUT!” And, the dead man leaves the tomb behind him.
But, he also has graveclothes wrapped around him
What are graveclothes?
They are reminders of death. They are things covered with the decaying flesh of the dead. They are strips of linen that must be taken off or else the person who has been resurrected will be choked back to death.
So, graveclothes must be removed in order that the person who has been brought out of the tomb can really live again!
We have been hanging in the tombs too much! We stink!
Tombs are places of death. PERIOD.
Many of us are like LAZ, we are comfortable in dark, destructive, deathly places.
Another word we can use tonight for the image of the tomb is SIN. Too many of us are too comfortable with SIN. We go to it for help, assurance, comfort etc…
We’ve been hanging out with death for too long. And, we end up wearing the graveclothes of sin.
Let me explain.
We carry scars of past hurts, emotional pain, depression, self hatred, upsetness over issues in our family or school or church. We’ve been bullied, picked on, kicked out of the house and counted out of life.
These are things beyond our control. But, they become graveclothes leading us toward a path of destruction.
The anger begins to wrap tighter around us and we begin to find comfort and help in the tombs; in places of darkness, despair, hopelessness, and death.
To deal with what has happened to us we go to a tomb.
We go to the tomb of cutting
We go to the tomb of self hatred
We go to the tomb of the “easy feel good”
The tomb of sex
Drugs, alcohol, pornography
We want to be “accepted” so we give in to what the BOY asks or we allow our friends to coerce us to do things we never thought we would.
The next thing we know, we look around and we are stuck in a dark, depressing, hopeless situation. We are stuck in a tomb and we STINK!
We might claim to follow Christ. We might claim to be alive, but the stench of sin, the stink of death is all over us. Oh, we try to cover it up with our Christian Dior. You know, listening to Christian praise and worship in our cars or bedrooms. But, we still sneak back to the tombs late at night or right after school, etc…
Jesus, today, is standing in front of the tomb calling us to STEP OUT!
He’s calling us to step out of death and step into life!
And, you may be thinking, “Hey, preacher man, I’ve been going to this tomb for too long. I have been doing this for years. I’m addicted. It’s who I am etc… There’s no way I can change. There’s no way I can come out of this tomb…”
Listen, if Jesus can stand there amidst a crowd of people who are weeping and mourning the loss of their friend. If he can do that when ALL HOPE IS LOST for the friend. And, if on that day he can call THAT man away from death and the tomb he was in. THEN SURELY HE CAN CALL YOU OUT OF YOUR TOMB.
He can call you out of…
Depression, self hate, cutting, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, pornography addiction, drugs, meth, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, the desire to please the masses of people and not God, Darkness, despair, hopelessness
But, here’s the cool thing… After Jesus calls Laz out he asks the community to take off the death clothes.
Graveclothes. What are they?
The things that tie us back to hopelessness.
They are the temptations, the habits we want to return to, the scars of what was done to us in the past.
Jesus expects, and commands, the community to help a brother, or sister, out.
He expects your church and youth group to come to YOU who have been brought from death to life.
He expects us to help you meander your new life while removing the temptations, habits, and hurts of your past.
THIS IS WHAT ACCOUNTABILITY IS. Someone comes alongside you to cheer you on and to help you when you would like to return to darkness!
Today, many of us need to come out!
We need to step out of hopelessness and receive hope.
We need to step away from despair and darkness and allow Christ to lead us to light.
We need to come away from Death and live a real, transformed life.
Jesus is calling us TODAY to “COME OUT”. If that’s you, COME OUT and COME TO THE FRONT!
Come OUT OF
Darkness, Despair, Hopelessness, hate for what was done to you in the past
Come Out Of
Self harm, cutting, pill popping and overdosing
Come out of
Pornography use, drug abuse, alcohol
Come out of
Sex, promiscuity, giving boys what they want, and doing things with girls to “look cool”
Come out of
Sin, Darkness, Death
Come Out!
But, look…
We need each other. Jesus calls us out, but we still have temptations, hurts, emotions, habits. We still have things in our life that want to choke us and lead us back to darkness.
You have come out of the tomb now, but for many of you, that tomb is waiting when you get home later tonight. You have graveclothes!
Let us help you out of them! If you are a leader, help us with our graveclothes. Hold us accountable to our decision. Pray for us.
But, we as leaders need YOUR help. Confide in us. Tell us what your death cloth is. Not so we can shame you. But, so we can help you unravel it. So we can help you when tempted by it. So we can pray for you specifically and so we can ask you personally, in private, how you are doing to fight against it.
This is accountability. This is why we have churches and youth groups. Why? So we can ALL HELP EACH OTHER unwrapped the graveclothes. We can help each other live life without the stench of death.
Others may recognize that they have graveclothes too!
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