Even though it has been a couple of weeks since we celebrated Passover and Resurrection Sunday, I wanted to share something that came across in my reading today. It’s not new information but maybe something that we need to be reminded of.
Every person that Jesus raised from the dead eventually died again. There is a big difference between a resurrection and a resuscitation.
Jesus called down into the darkness of the tomb with a loud cry, “Lazarus! Come out!” Jesus’ shout into the darkness reminds me of His earlier words: “I say to you, that an hour will come and is now here in which the dead will hear the voice of the son of God, and those who hear will surely live” (John 5:25).
Lazarus stepped out of the grave still bound in his tachrichin, the linen wrappings in which the Jewish people bury the dead to prepare them for the resurrection. In Jewish burial practice, the simple linen garments are tied around the dead with special ceremonial knots. A covering veils the face of the dead.
In those days, they placed a strip of linen on the body, wide and long enough to completely envelope it. The feet were placed at one end of the cloth and then they drew the cloth over the head to the feet. They bound the cloth at the angles, and they fastened the arms to the body with linen strips.
The Gospel’s description of Lazarus’ burial garments is consistent with Jewish burial garments to this very day. The Gospel of John later describes the tachrichin of Jesus in identical language, but in His case, Jesus left His burial garments behind, lying alone in the tomb.
So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. (John 19:40)
And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there. (John 20:6)
The grave clothes illustrate the difference between the resurrection of Lazarus (resuscitation) and the resurrection of Jesus (transformation). Although Lazarus returned from the dead, he remained clothed with a mortal body. He was certainly to die again. Jesus, however, left mortality behind in the tomb, much as He left behind His burial garments.
Jesus instructed the onlookers to release the revived Lazarus from his burial garments and let him go. Jesus also releases us from our mortal bodies and offers us a transformation. “Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus the Messiah our Master!” (Romans 7:24-25). An hour is coming when the dead will hear His voice and rise. We will at that time be unshackled and free indeed.
Shalom, until next time, Lord willing,