We smelled terrible. One by one my friends and me hopped into my mom's dodge caravan smelling like wet, soiled garbage that had been dripping from the bottom of a torn trash bag. Football practice was rough that day...
I remember my mom rolling down the windows, turning around and saying, "You are not doing anything tonight before you take a shower and put on different clothes."
All it took was one small whiff from my right armpit to trust that my mom knew what she was talking about... I smelled terrible. I needed a shower and a fresh pair of clothes as soon as possible.
The nostalgia of after-practice body odor comes back to me in huge whiffs as I study John 11. John, writing his testimonial account of walking with Jesus, records the incredible story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
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.
Take off the grave clothes? Seriously Jesus? I'm pretty sure that is the last thing people want to witness after a dead man walks out of his grave. Ain't nobody wanna see a dead man naked... nobody.
But maybe, just maybe, there is something deeper going on in this passage. Maybe Jesus is making a command that will last beyond the story.
Maybe, just maybe, Jesus is challenging all of those around Him, including those reading the story, to take off our grave clothes in order to move forward.
Just as my mom told me I couldn't do anything before I showered and changed my clothes, Jesus is challenging us to let go of whatever is weighing us down, holding us back, and reeking with an"old smell" in order to experience the new that God has in store for us.
Thoughts of suicide.
I believe God can use each and every single one of us. But some of us--all of us, need to take off whatever is holding us back and embrace whatever God is calling us to put on.
We need to take off our grave clothes and embrace the full armor of God (see Ephesians 6).
You can only wear one, which will you choose?