This past Monday, my Bible Study group examined the resurrection of Lazarus. Jn 11:3-45. In preparing to lead the study, I read a few commentaries, including one that compared the resurrections of Jesus and Lazarus. One of the factors that struck me was – Jesus came out of the tomb unbound, but Lazarus had to be untied.
By baptism, we died and rose with Christ. In theory, we are free. However, we do not always operate from a place of freedom. There are many reasons for this, and all of them can be summarized as follows: Christians are weak and in need of assistance.
What does this assistance look like? I would describe it as a large dove, a flame of fire, a movement like a breath or wind (the literal meaning of spirit in its root language). In Ezekiel 36:27, God tells us that he will place his spirit within us to help us live by the law. This prophecy is fulfilled by our baptism. We have everything we need to live free. How do we do this? Let’s look at what God tells Paul when he prays that God free him from the pain caused by a thorn in his side: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Co 12:9.
God’s grace is the key to living an untied life. How does this work? I don’t profess to have all the answers. I will share that a few years ago the above verse from 2 Corinthians started echoing in my mind – strength in weakness. I felt a gentle nudge, and I started throwing myself on God’s strength when faced with temptation. I saw some success in avoiding sin. However, like the ancient Israelites wandering in the desert, I fail to perfectly rely on him even though he has shown me many great works. Thankfully, the ancient Israelites also show me that the spiritual life is a journey. Journeys take a lot of time and effort. There are many ups and downs along the way. Still, when we place our spiritual lives in the hands of the Holy Spirit, and try to cooperate with him, we will find ourselves living an ever freer life in Him, with Him, and through Him.
In closing, I also wanted to point out that people in the crowd untied Lazarus. We are the body of Christ. We have the ability to be the answer to the prayers of others who want to be set free. Pray with and for people. Let them be the answer to your own desires for freedom by letting them pray with and for you.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering the areas of your life where you need to be set free. We don’t always want to see the truth of our sinful nature, so be sure to enter this prayer with an openness to truth because self-knowlege is a key component of the spiritual life. He might use words, images, or memories to show you what you need to see. Ask for the courage to stand in truth. Ask him to untie you from all that binds you. Then, spend some time thanking him for loving you even though you are still a sinner.