In addition to the twelve men who walked daily with Jesus here on earth, he also had a few friends. The closest friends were probably Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. They are mentioned in several stories in the New Testament, and the death of Lazarus shows the grief the sisters felt when their brother died.

In John 11 Jesus is told of Lazarus’s death and he goes to visit the sisters.

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:41-44)

When Lazarus emerged from the tomb he still was wearing his grave clothes. He still was connected to what had happened to him in the past, but Christ wanted him to free, he wanted the past to be left behind so that Lazarus could have a new life.

When we become Christians we are made new. We no longer have to be tied to our past. Christ wants us to leave it behind. Many of us have not been taught that what was in the past can be completely left behind and we can let go so we can walk into a new life. We feel bound by our past, our families beliefs, the culture we live in, or just by our own ignorance and how to live as a believer who lives daily in faith. We may take steps forward and live free for a time, but we may also fall and stumble back into certain thinking or behaviors at future points in our faith because to live the new life we need to walk in it every single day. Circumstances of difficult seasons, trauma, or misunderstanding may derail us from the conviction that we have a former way of life and Christ has opened the door for a brand new way.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Are you still bound by your grave clothes? Have you let go of your former way of life, put off your old ways, and accepted that Christ has offered you something new? Do you even know how to accept his gift so that it will allow you to be unbound and free? Christ has offered to take off the grave clothes so we can have a new life, we just need to accept that. It is okay to strip off those grave clothes and be set free.