“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” — 2 Corinthians 5:17
Jesus is alive! Let that resound in your soul as we enter this season of new life celebrating our Risen Savior King. He wasn’t raised to life just so we could declare that news, but so we could become new as we celebrate the victory of Jesus over death, hell and the grave.
But sometimes we carry things from our past as we walk in our new life with Jesus – things like what people have said about us, what we say about ourselves, and the ways we have tripped up, fallen short and sinned. After a moment of repentance and receiving forgiveness, we must move on. We need to acknowledge that the old is gone and the new has come. We cannot walk in the fullness of the new life gifted and guaranteed by Jesus if we’re hanging onto the old stuff. Besides acknowledgment, we need to leave behind that old life – cast it away so we have room for Jesus to come and give us the newness we crave and that He desires to give us. This is not just me saying, “Set aside the old life.” Jesus is our best example of this.
“Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.” — John 20:3-7
I can’t tell you how many times I have read this and not noticed what I’m about to tell you. Our Risen Jesus left the grave clothes (the linen wrappings) behind in the tomb. This isn’t an accident. I’m sure the power that raised Him from the dead could have set them on fire or made them disappear or something else. Besides providing proof that Jesus was (and is) alive, these remaining grave clothes show us what we need to do as followers of Jesus. We need to answer His call to come out of the grave AND leave the grave clothes behind!
Now this isn’t always easy. Sometimes we can’t see what is keeping us bound. That’s where the beauty of community comes in.
“Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 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!’” — John 11:43-44
After calling Lazarus from the grave, Jesus told his community to, “Unwrap him and let him go!” We have the same call today. As we worship together, as we build relationships together, and as we support one another, we have a responsibility to unwrap each other when God reveals burdens that one of us is carrying. We must lovingly pray for each other to be free. We must encourage one another to keep going despite the crazy that might be going on in our lives. As we set each other free, we are building a community of worshippers united to destroy the works of the
enemy. We’ll be worshippers even more equipped to usher the congregation into moments of deeper intimacy with the God who loves us the most.
Answer the call. Come out of that grave and leave those grave clothes behind!
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Crystal J. Ellington
P.S. Here’s a song that will definitely set your feet to dancing and your voice declaring the freedom that our Risen King promises.
Glorious Day (by Passion, featuring Kristian Stanfill):