Awhile back I preached for my pastor. I choose John 11, the story of Lazarus being raised from dead as my text. It is a wonderful text to use when speaking about transformation. I understand transformation to be change from “the inside out.” That is, the Spirit of God is allowed to enter the depths of our being, resulting in the change needed to be more like Jesus. Our part is to surrender and yield to what God is doing. That is the tough part from men – “letting go” and receiving. The result will be change as we die to our old self and are renewed in our new self.
There is much to share from the story of Lazarus. I would like to focus on the grave cloths. We read that Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled, as he wept at the grave of Lazarus. Others who observed Jesus remarked “See how he loved him!” Men, Jesus weeps at the condition our hearts when we remain hidden in our deep caves of despair, self-pity, inferiority and guilt. He comes into those places, calling us by name, wanting us to come out. Why might you be hiding from the voice of love calling to you?
So Jesus asks that the large stone be rolled away. He did not do it himself, but asked those with him to do the work. I hope you have a place where men are willing to roll the stones of pretense away, so that healing might happen. I pray that this blog is a small contribution to moving the stones away. After the stone is rolled away, Jesus say to Lazarus, as he says to us, “come out.” Like Lazarus we have a choice – either stay in the cave or come out. Men, what is holding you back? The voice you here is the voice of love, inviting you to come forth.
Now coming out of the tomb is a messy affair. Lazarus smelled badly after four days. Can you picture him trying to walk in those tightly wrapped grave clothes. He must have stumbled and felt rather foolish as others watch him come out of the tomb. Men, let me tell you, transformation is a messy affair. Remember, transformation is an “inside job.” When you let the light of Jesus into your cave you will be called to come out. That cave is a cramped, small space of your own making. The voice of love, calls you to come out into the light, inviting you to exercise your freedom to walk. But at first it will be awkward and messy. But always remember this – you need keep walking toward Jesus – no matter what. Keep your focus on him. Listen for his voice.
One other thing about those grave clothes. Jesus did not take the grave clothes off. He told those near the tomb, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” What does this mean for men? Find a community of men who are willing to “fight for your heart.” We need help in getting those grave clothes off, especially those that are wrapped closest to our well constructed self-image. We need loving brother to help us confess, surrender and let go of the old, so that we can walk into the new.