Devotional thoughts on John 11:38-44
By Elizabeth Matko
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He wants us to know that despite grief, tears, problems, and pain, his peace is ours for the taking. Even in the face of trouble, hardship, persecution, and danger, we are more than conquerors through him (Romans 8:35-37). Yet so often, when the burdens of this life engulf us, we feel like victims rather than victors. What’s going wrong?
Removing Our Grave Clothes
Immediately after Jesus raised Lazarus to life, he gave instructions to “take off the grave clothes and let him go” (John 11:44). You see, Lazarus’s hands and feet were wrapped, and there was a cloth around his face. In much the same way as these grave clothes bound Lazarus, we allow the concerns of this world to tie us up in knots. If we want to loosen those knots, we need to live as people who have been raised with Christ. How do we accomplish that?
Realigning Our Focus
The pattern of this world is to concentrate on attaining and retaining temporary pleasures. Therefore anything that diminishes those pleasures will spark misery. However, if we choose instead to value eternal things above all, the importance of earthly things will lessen and their hold on us will loosen. “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above . . . set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1, 2).
Perhaps you’ve allowed the patterns of this world to dominate the way you think, feel, and live your life. What grave clothes are binding you today—loss, fear, anger, discontentment? Allow the “man of suffering, familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3, 4) to free you. Right now, in this moment, release those grave clothes that are keeping you trapped in the self-defeating patterns of this world. God wants to destroy the shroud that enfolds you (25:7). That’s why he placed within you the same power that raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:9-11; Ephesians 1:18-20).
Elizabeth Matko from Kirtland, Ohio, retired from her years of work with Alzheimer’s residents. She now travels with her husband, Dan, especially enjoying time with her two daughters and their families.