No Grave Clothes

What a beautiful day our Lord gave us to celebrate the resurrection. We first attended a sunrise service. It was a bit crisp, but clear and the sun shone on the nearby snow-covered Cabinet Mountains as we sang joyous songs of the miraculous resurrection of our Savior. As we did, we could also hear all sorts of birds singing as if they too were excited for the beautiful morning, celebrating life. Nearby trees showed swollen buds and were ready to burst forth with new spring growth after a cool winter of dormancy. The grass had begun turning green. Everything spoke of, and was a reflection of, our life-giving Creator and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ “who was delivered up because of our transgressions and raised because of our justification” (Ro. 4:25). The resurrection was proof that our sins had been paid for. God’s holiness and justice were satisfied (propitiated). Had there been no risen Christ, then we, as Paul said, would still be in our sins, our faith would be worthless and we, of all men, would be “most to be pitied” (I Cor. 15:17-19), “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive” (vv. 20,21).

One of the significant aspects of Christ’s resurrection is that He wore no grave clothes as He came forth. He left them in the tomb as evidence of His being raised in a glorified body that could escape them without having to be unwound, and could walk right through the large stone which had been rolled in front of the tomb, and could enter into the Upper Room where the disciples had again gathered behind locked doors. Jesus still had flesh and bones, even scars on His hands and feet and side to show “doubting” Thomas (Jn. 20:26-29), but His body was now in its glorified, eternal state.
In contrast, when Jesus raised (resuscitated) Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus was still bound by grave clothes and Jesus told his family and friends to “unbind him and let him go” (Jn. 11:44). Lazarus was still in an earthly body which would die again. Had they not unwound the grave clothes he wouldn’t even have been able to move around. He had not yet received a glorified body as Jesus had when He was resurrected. Lazarus came forth still covered by the evidence of his death and had to be freed in order to join his family and friends.
As I usually do, I planted some squash and pumpkin seeds to get an early start on our garden. I start them inside in little containers. As they come up, they still have the seed attached–their “grave clothes.” Some of the seedlings are able to shed their covering, but others I have to help get the shell off so they can open and grow. They are like Lazarus, who had to have his grave clothes removed.
When we are “raised from the dead” (born again…Jn. 3:3), we are still bound by “grave clothes.” We still have an old sinful nature, that must be dealt with in order for us to live a victorious Christian life. Paul, in his letter to the believers at Ephesus, put it this way: “that in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lust of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24). In other words, we are to “put off the grave clothes and put on the grace clothes!” We are to start walking in the newness of life which we now have in Christ (cf Rom. 6:4,11-13). As long as we are still in our earthly bodies, we will have the struggle with the old, Adamic nature that is in rebellion against God, as Paul described in Gal. 5:17. But, praise God we can experience victory over the desires of the flesh (as he calls this sinful nature) by walking in the Spirit, that is, by depending upon Christ and obeying His Word. We are still capable of sinning, but we do not have to. In John’s first epistle, he wrote: “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I Jn. 2:1).
The exciting thing that we have to look forward to, because of Christ’s victory over death, is that one day we will receive glorified bodies like His resurrected body, and our sinful nature will be gone–Praise the Lord! In that great resurrection chapter, I Cor. 15, Paul wrote: “It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power, it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (vv. 42-44,53). In His letter to the church at Philippi, Paul said: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20,21). Now that’s indeed good news!
Forever His,
Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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