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Returning To The Grave

John 11:17-44

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 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.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 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.”


This is a long passage, but I hope it is familiar. In fact, I hope that you heard it within the last week-it is the scripture that Rev Connor Morrison preached on in our shared worship time just a few days ago. Here’s my paraphrase.

Jesus’ had some dear friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus who were siblings. Lazarus got really sick so the family sent for Jesus-but he didn’t come right away. In fact, he came after Lazarus was dead. First one sister and then the other went out to greet Jesus; they both told Jesus that they wished he had come sooner. But Jesus went to the grave, had it opened (despite the fact that the body had been in there 4 days and probably stunk). Jesus challenged them to have faith and open the grave. So, they did. And Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave.

Today, I would invite you to notice the last two verses of this passage.

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 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.”

Lazarus came out, not stinking and decomposing, but still wrapped in the burial cloths. He was definitely the person who had been buried.

And Jesus, who clearly could have gotten rid of a few cloths (I mean, he raised the dude to life, restored whatever decomposition had gone on, and healed whatever had killed him), tells the crowd around him to remove the “grave cloths and let him go.”

Do you think that is because healing often involves community?

Do you think that is because helping others heal builds community?

Do you have wounds or “dead places” in your life that Christ has healed-but still need the blessing of the community?

Have you ever experienced healing in community?

Is there someone you know who needs help from you (or our community) to be fully healed?

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