Walking Around Without Your Graveclothes


John 11:43-44
And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

In addition to being a faith-building story, this is also a good illustration of the difference in living by the law and by the Spirit. When we are young in the faith or in great distress or have become backslidden for a time where we don't have a firm grasp of the voice of the Lord, the law, like the graveclothes, can help hold us together until we can be regenerated. When Jesus calls, though, and tells us to come forth, we are to be loosed from those bindings and trust in Him personally to guide us. This can be difficult and scary to break from how we've always done things before to something else that requires new skills and development, but like taking the training wheels off a bike, it will enable us to go further and faster and to more diverse places than we would be able to staying with what we know.

Matthew 9:17
Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

But Jesus' commandment was also to the people around Lazarus and not just to Lazarus himself. Although physical regeneration is a rather obvious and conspicuous event, spiritual regeneration isn't always as much so, and people who have known us for a long time and may not have yet been called through the regeneration process themselves can freak out, exclaiming, "What are you doing walking around like that without your graveclothes?!" But in all cases, we need to follow Jesus rather than the expectations of others.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Matthew 13:54-57
And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

Romans 9:31-33; 10:3-4
But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

As put forth in Jesus' own words in the Sermon on the Mount, though, this is not to take away from the benefits of the law and its necessity as a foundation, just to keep it in its proper perspective that it is only foundation and not the building itself, and therefore not sufficient in just itself.

Matthew 7:21-27
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

A man doesn't necessarily need a house to survive, but he's usually a lot better off with one than without. So the law is still good, just not what fulfills the Lord's will in itself.