Daily Devotions

"Unbind him, and let him go"

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“Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44b)

 

Lazarus comes out of the tomb, alive again. Jesus calls for Mary and Martha to go to him and remove the burial bandages, tangled around him. Jesus was telling his sisters to remove the remnants of death from him. Likewise, Jesus wants to bring us back to life, by unbinding the dead parts of our life, and resurrecting us to a deeper wholeness.

 

It isn’t just the prostitute, who needs to turn her/his life around. It isn’t just the crackhead who needs to have the dead parts of their lives unbound. It isn’t just the teenager who feels suicide is the only avenue left his/her life, who needs to be resurrected. Each one of us sins, and silently cries out to have those parts of ourselves healed.

 

It isn’t just Lazarus who rejoices in being brought back to life again. Our sins chip away pieces of our soul. It feels like parts of our soul is dead. Then, amidst our overwhelming guilt and despair, the grace of God saves us. We walk out of the darkness, stumbling back into life, not unlike Lazarus. God brings us life, because God loves us as much as Jesus loved Lazarus. With each gash our soul takes, God weeps.


Take a few minutes today, and offer God your prayers of confession. Do not feel horrible. Each of us needs to offer this prayer. All of us have damaged our soul through sin. As we offer our confession, God is restoring our soul. It is always God’s intention to resurrect and restore us. God, through Jesus, resurrected Lazarus all those years ago. God has been resurrecting souls ever since, and even today. God restores you today. Accept it. Trust it. Rejoice in it, now and always.

An Answer to "Why?"

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“Jesus began to weep.” (John 11:35)

 One of the biggest reasons why people turn their back on God is the issue we are addressing in this passage. It is the issue of why, to quote the book title by Rabbi Harold Kushner, “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.” It is the logic, since there is evil in this world - either God is not all powerful, or God is uncaring. Either way, God is not worthy of our worship. Followers of Jesus must, at some point, address this issue for themselves and others.

 

In this passage, it is Lazarus’ second sister, Mary, who addresses Jesus. Now, Lazarus is dead. The response of Mary and those who come with her to see Jesus is to weep. Upon witnessing their grief, Jesus too responds with crying. Mary challenges Jesus by saying that if he had been present, Lazarus would have lived. Mary assumes that Jesus’ ability to perform miracles extends only to the living. In the last passage, Jesus was described as being slow to get to Lazarus. In fact, he took two extra days before responding. At first glance, it appears Jesus was both callous, for not coming sooner, and limited, being unable to heal the dead. Either way, Jesus is no Messiah. This is where the passage ends. “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?

 

As much as Mary loved and trusted Jesus, her vision of him was limited. She could not comprehend the magnitude of Jesus’ divine power. Likewise, we cannot fully discern God’s vision for humanity. Are we on our own? Is God trying to help, but God doesn’t possess the power to make a difference?

 

Jesus’ weeping is not a sign of weakness. It addresses the concern as to whether God cares for us. God cares! As for God’s power, God created the world, God has the power to care for all of God’s created beings. The answer is addressed in the concept of Free Will. If God fixed all our human made problems, we would not be free. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want God to take care of everything, including fixing our mistakes before we make them, but at the same time, we do not want our freedoms taken away. It doesn’t compute.

 

Likewise, I cannot know every aspect of the mind of God. While I can understand the challenge of human sin, what about cancer and other illnesses? Many of these examples do not occur because of human sinfulness. Now what? I must rely on mystery and trust God to have a plan greater than my understanding. Still, while creation is not the Garden of Eden, God provides blessings, learnings that comes through struggle, and the promises of something greater in the resurrection.

 

While one cannot explain everything, I still stand firmly behind God. The alternative is harsher: No caring deity, who will even cry with me. No promise of lasting justice and peace. No future for our souls.

 

I still stand beside our God, and trust that the things I do not know are still in God’s plan, and we will not be forgotten. Hold firm to God’s promises. Do not limit our Triune God. We will experience fulfillment.

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