In John 11, Jesus called for Lazarus to come out of the tomb, and the dead came to life. When Lazarus came out of the pitch blackness of death and walked out into the sunlight again, the poor man could not even see how liberated he was. He could not enjoy the liberty he had been given because his trunk, his hands, and his legs were still wrapped tight in the burial cloth in which the dead were wrapped in those times. You’ll remember that when Jesus died, he was similarly wrapped and that within his linen burial blankets, spices were added to reduce the smell of the corpse as it began to decay. His face, too, was wrapped with a cloth, according to John 20:7.
Now, we are plainly told, in John 19:40, that this way of burying the dead was “the manner of the Jews”. So, when Lazarus’ spirit, at rest in Paradise, heard the voice of the Savior calling him back into its earthly body, Lazarus returned to a body tightly wrapped in spices and burial cloths, as was “the manner of the Jews”. How his revived body managed to get up from his hewn-out bed while still tightly wrapped up, I don’t know, but somehow Lazarus managed to rise and waddle to the door, where the light of this sun shone upon him again.
Do you remember what Jesus first said when Lazarus came out of the shadows and appeared at the door? He gave a command to those standing by: “Loose him, and let him go!”
Now, we all know that the resurrected Lazarus was just as alive before he was unwrapped from the linen burial cloths as he was after they unwrapped him. He was fully alive from the moment his spirit entered into his body again. But it was only when “the manner of the Jews” was removed from him that he was able to experience what life really should be.
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus Christ received the life of God and came out of the tomb of human nature, which is dead to the things of God. But “the manner of the Jews” still had them bound. They could not see, even though they were alive, the light of the Son that they felt. The arms and legs of their minds were bound by the manner of the Jews in a tight little area of Jewish controlled territory; they could not reach out to the Samaritans and Gentiles. They were alive, but they still could not fully experience what life in Christ could be because “the manner of the Jews” still had them bound.
But Jesus called Paul up to the third heaven and commanded him to go loose men from “the manner of the Jews”. He was sent to the Gentiles whom Jesus would call out of death into life, so that they could go where God wanted them to go, and see what God wanted them to see.
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus were filled with life, but they did not understand the kind of life they had. Peter was so wrapped up with “the manner of the Jews” that he did not even understand the keys of the kingdom of God that Jesus had given him, the keys he had been anointed to use! He even argued against God when God tried to show Peter that He was about to invite unwrapped Gentiles into His kingdom. Peter would never have gone to that Gentile’s house and used his keys to open for him the door of the kingdom if God had not compelled him to go. Think about this, and what this tells us about Peter’s understanding! If Peter had done only what he felt at liberty to do, he would never have gone to open the door for the Gentiles! God had to send the same vision three times to Peter just to make him willing to have his legs unwrapped, to loose his arms, and to reach out with the love of God to those who were not like him! God had to compel Peter to let Him unwrap the burial cloth that covered Peter’s eyes so that he could walk to Cornelius’ house!
Jesus said that no one who has been drinking old wine wants the new, for they say the old is better. This was true about Peter. He thought the old was better. He didn’t want the liberty that Jesus was forcing upon him because he had never tasted a drop of it. He had confidence in God only within the confines of “the manner of the Jews”. He knew how to waddle around in burial clothes just as well, or better, than anyone. And for many of Peter’s fellow Jewish believers, Peter’s reputation would remain intact only if he stayed bound up with them, and he was well aware of how those saints would feel about him if he ever became unwrapped. In fact, he felt the same way.
Peter tried being unwrapped once at Antioch, a Gentile city, but he quickly covered his face and wrapped himself up in those binding clothes of dead tradition again when he saw some Jewish brothers walking up to the front door. Paul rebuked him for that hypocrisy and for making Gentile believers feel pressured to also submit to “the manner of the Jews”, when Peter knew perfectly well that God did not want that for them.
When God gives you life, He wants you free, not only from “the manner of the Jews” but from the manner of every other earthly bondage so that you can serve Him and do good in His sight. What good to God or to anyone else are saints so wrapped up in fear of new wine that they can’t drink in His sweet Spirit and move, and so bound by traditions and cultures that they don’t dare think God’s thoughts or feel God’s feelings?
I know you have life, if you have the Spirit. The Spirit is life. But have you been unwrapped yet? Has the truth made you free? Or is your mind still dominated by wrong ideas about your God?
When Jesus gave life to the Gentiles, they were without the wrappings of the Jews’ “manners”, or traditions. Thinking this was not good, some Jewish teachers told Gentile believers that they needed to be wrapped up like the Jews and that they were not acceptable to God without being bound in the Jews’ spiced-up straitjackets. Many Gentiles fell for that doctrine and allowed those false teachers to cover their minds and restrain their spirits with “the manner of the Jews”. They surrendered the liberty God gave them! They left the light and waddled back to the tomb. Paul cried out against this institutionalized death. He wrote to his beloved Gentile converts (Gal. 5:1): “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
The Spirit is calling all of God’s children out of all things that hinder them from walking freely in the light. Whose doctrine is keeping you from the liberty Christ has for you?