“Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44b)
You might remember me saying on Saturday or Sunday in my sermon (or you’ll see it in the you tube video!), that there are some pieces of scripture that people love so much that they feel as though they live and breathe them. Well, our Gospel reading for this coming weekend is one of those scriptural texts for me.
John 11:1-45 tells the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus is the brother of Mary and Martha and, presumably, a good friend to Jesus. Some of the most striking or powerful words in this text, to me, are the exchange between Jesus and Martha where she says, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died”. Who of us hasn’t, at one point, wondered if something hard, like a death or debilitating disease, could have been prevented if only God had stepped in somehow? I know I have.
Perhaps, when that happens, we become “bound” to or “stuck” in those dark feelings or despair. This is where the end of this text hits home, for many, quite deeply. Jesus says, “Unbind him, and let him go”. Lazarus’ life has been restored; death no longer has a hold on him. Because of Jesus, the physical bonds of the funeral wrappings and the bonds of death are no more. In that moment, perhaps Martha has been “unbound” also? Unbound from her feelings of despair and anger at the death of her brother that she thought Jesus could have been prevented.
So, this week, I ask: what things in your life need to be let go of, or “unbound”? What does it mean to be “bound” to something that is doing you harm? Where in your life do you see a need or desire to pray that the same Jesus who raised Lazarus to life, would also unbind your hurts, sin, death, and pain?