Prepare to Listen. In anticipation of the resurrection, be still and pray: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Prayerfully Read John 11:38-44
38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ 40Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
‘Lazarus, come out!’ These are the only words Jesus spoke to Lazarus. It’s a command that the prophet Isaiah prophesied Messiah would give to prisoners (Is 49:9). Lazarus was a prisoner, imprisoned in death and burial cloths. Jesus’ command brought him out of the tomb, back to life. Jesus then turned to the watching crowd and commanded, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ Unbinding was one thing; letting go another. It would be tempting to hold onto Lazarus; ask him about life on the other side, turn him into a money-making celebrity. But this would only put Lazarus into another prison. Jesus’ command prevented the people from putting him back there. His family and friends were to help set him truly free. They weren’t to hold him close and impose their wills on him.
It’s a lesson we too need to practice. We’re not to hold people so close they feel imprisoned, but instead, let them go. Offer them, as Henri Nouwen once suggested, free and friendly space so that they can go their own lonely way. This doesn’t mean living isolated and individualistic lives, especially in times of trouble such as in today’s global pandemic crisis. Rather, it means recognizing that each person must travel their journey on their own; no one can travel it for them, only alongside, supporting them. We all need free and friendly space so that we travel well, confidently shouldering our own responsibilities.
As this pandemic worsens, I keep wondering what it looks like to unbind and let people go.
In today’s world currently defined by a pandemic, many people are needing free and friendly space to travel this journey on their own knowing you’ll support them. Imagine what that looks like in today’s changed world.
Respond to Jesus
Jesus, you called Lazarus forth and then commanded others to set him free. Help me be a person who sets others free so they can go the way you have chosen for them, living into the joy of your salvation. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world; unbinding and letting others go.
Because I believe that Scripture is food for our soul (our entire being) I seek to read it and encourage others to read it in ways that nourish and transform our beings. I invite you to read the Bible with me during Lent and into Easter. I am a Bible teacher, spiritual companion and retreat director. I know the Bile and how to read it for spiritual formation.