The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”John 11:44
Lazarus is ill in Bethany. Jesus is elsewhere. The sisters send word. Jesus loves them, so he waits two days. When it is time to travel to Judea, the disciples try to dissuade him, citing stoning as a deterrent. Jesus replies figuratively, mentioning daylight and sleep. They don’t understand, so he tries a literal tack: “Lazarus is dead.” Thomas—a man of bravery, not doubt—persuades the disciples to accompany Jesus.
Jesus arrives. Martha leaves the house and all household chores to meet Jesus outside the village. They speak of spiritual matters: healing, power, resurrection, belief, messiah, and sonship. Jesus requests the presence of Mary. Martha calls her, secretly. Mary, weeping, falls at his feet. Deeply moved in spirit, he, too, weeps.
We know the rest of the story. The anointed one—the Lord, the consolation of Israel, the high priest, the savior of the world, the son of God, the son of David, the teacher—prays and cries out with a loud voice, and Lazarus comes forth, alive.
And then Jesus does not move. His work is done. He could have walked forward and unwrapped the grave cloths. He doesn’t. Instead, he says, “Unbind him.”
What is the lesson?
Jesus has raised your neighbor—your brother, your sister, your ecclesial member, your enemy, your friend—to new life. Now unbind him, and let him go.