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Take Off Your Grave Clothes

Briefing: Law enforcement departments have dress codes. Uniformed divisions like patrol, bike units, and motor jocks all wear a distinctive uniform. This is so they may be easily distinguishable to the public.

Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 11:38-44.

On the Street: Do you work an assignment that requires you to wear a distinct uniform? Even if you do not work a uniform assignment you probably have a dress code. Investigators and training division personnel may not wear a “class A” type uniform but most departments have dress requirements that must be met. The only exception I could come up with were officers who work an undercover assignment.

As stated in the briefing, uniforms are a way of making ourselves easily recognizable to the public. Restaurant and store employees wear uniforms for similar reasons. In the military, uniforms distinguish what side you are on. Even outside of employment, clothing distinguishes us. I have a friend who only wears slacks and owns one pair of jeans. I have other friends who do not own any clothing that does not involve some type of camouflage.

Our spiritual clothing is much the same. In verse 44, Jesus is calling Lazarus, who has been dead and buried in a cave for four days, to come out. There are people standing near the cave and Jesus says, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The Bible gives several examples where clothing is not just a physical covering but covering yourself with a spiritual characteristic. In Isaiah 52:1, God tells Jerusalem to clothe itself with strength and put on garments of splendor. In Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Weddings have always been special occasions where people dress up in their finest clothing. Weddings have special spiritual meaning also. Psalm 45 is the only wedding Psalm written. It is a song written for one of Kind David’s weddings. In it, King David is told, “Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty one, clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.”

Another Biblical account of wedding and clothing having spiritual significance can be found in Matthew chapter 22. This is the parable of the wedding banquet told by Jesus. All people had been invited to the wedding but when the king saw someone not wearing wedding clothes he says this, “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. “Friend,” he asked, “how did you get in here without wedding clothes?” The man was speechless.” The man was subsequently tossed out.

Romans 13:14 says, “Rather, clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

Spiritual clothing is how Christ followers can be recognized. We are called to be conformed into the likeness of our heavenly Father. We are even told to imitate Him.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a police officer. When I was eight years old, I joined the Boy Scouts. It was not because of their activities or getting to hang out with my friends. I wanted the uniform. It was the closest thing to a real police uniform that an eight year old boy could get. It had patches and shiny buttons like the ones the local police officers wore. Every day after school I would put on my blue Boy Scout uniform and ride around town on my bicycle pretending to be a cop. The clothing was very important to being able to imitate a police officer.

In this passage of scripture, Jesus conveys to us the importance of getting rid of our grave clothes. We need to die to ourselves and live for Him. Like in Roman 13, we need to clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ. We need to reflect His character and be recognized as being part of His family. Just as my police uniform identifies me as a law enforcement officer, I want my life to be recognizable as being a person who follows Christ.

Investigational Resources: To read more about clothing yourself with spiritual characteristics, see 1 Peter 5:5 and Galatians 3:27.

Officer Safety Principle: Are you wearing dead man spiritual clothing or the life giving wardrobe of Jesus Christ?

from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!