There is a hidden gem in the eleventh chapter of John’s Gospel, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, which we heard recently. The great miracle Jesus performed easily overshadows the last words which Jesus speaks to the crowd. They are a bit anticlimactic, perhaps, yet those few words, “Unbind him and let him go,” hold a rich teaching about the power and responsibility being a member of the Body of Christ.
I’ve often wondered why Jesus didn’t have Lazarus come out all perfect and shining with glory. Lazarus wasn’t just dead, he was four days dead. Stinky dead. He stumbled out of the tomb trailing the strips of cloth in which his body had been bound for burial. Martha and Mary prepared them with love, and sprinkled them with sweet herbs. Now they were just a smelly obstacle to Lazarus’ getting free of his tomb. Jesus didn’t include a bath and a new outfit in the miracle. Instead he said, “YOU unbind him and let him go free.” Life is messy. We can become bound up by our hurts, resentments, attachments, addictions – so many things which rob us of life and bury our joy. Jesus has given us the challenge and the power to help him remove whatever is not life-giving. He relies on us to get our hands dirty in the cause of life and freedom for our brothers and sisters.
Jesus, you are the resurrection and the life. You are our freedom and our hope. Help us to unbind one another in your name. Amen