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Women World Leaders' Podcast

Aug 23, 2023

Are we seeking God’s will or our own will? Do we trust that our all-powerful Lord and Savior has EVERYTHING under control? Read this story of Lazarus’ resurrection with fresh eyes and bask in the power of God! (John 11:38-45)


Welcome to Walking in the Word, the biblical Teaching arm of the Women World Leaders’ podcast. I’m your host, Julie Jenkins. This podcast has been created by Women World Leaders in an effort to help YOU step into YOUR God-given purpose. On this, the Wednesday edition of the podcast, we are currently walking through the gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - chronologically. The Word of God is living and active, and is designed to be a guide for our lives. As we study, we look at what circumstances the scripture was written under, who it was written by, and who it was written to – striving to discern the original intended message. And then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we bridge to what the writing means for us today – discerning what God wants EACH of us to know and how He wants to apply it to our lives.

No matter what your season of life looks like right now, God has GREAT things planned for you. I’ve heard it said that if you are still breathing, you are still on mission from Christ. And it is our hope that you will allow us at Women World Leaders to walk WITH you on that mission! We invite you to subscribe to our podcast; join us on Facebook, where we share in community and offer daily devotions; jump on our Zoom gatherings on the third and fourth Monday of every month; and read the digital version of Voice of Truth magazine for free or subscribe to receive your own physical copy of Voice of Truth by becoming a monthly donor to the ministry. Join our email list by filling out the contact form at so you can find out all you need to know.

Let’s begin in prayer…

Most Holy God – as we begin the study of your Word today, we offer you ourselves. Father, we are coming to you from different places—mentally, physically, spiritually and psychologically—but one thing we have in common is you. Father, you ARE our creator, our sustainer, and our guide. I give my words to you today, and I pray for each woman listening, that she would hear directly from you. You are a faithful God who will never let us down, who will walk with us, and who has great plans for each of us! I ask that you speak to us in these next few minutes – meet each woman where she is and guide her into a deeper walk with you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For the last two weeks, we have been studying the story of Jesus as He was called by His dear friends Martha and Mary to respond to the needs of their brother, Lazarus. The sisters sent an urgent message to Jesus regarding Lazarus’ illness, yet Jesus delayed His visit for two days. By the time Jesus did arrive, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Jesus had forewarned His disciples of this, but He told them, “Now I will go and wake him up.” And He also shared the purpose behind this upcoming miracle, saying, “For now you will really believe.”

After Jesus arrived in Bethany, He told Martha, who was grieving the death of Lazarus, “Your brother will rise again…I am the resurrection and the life.”

And when Mary arrived weeping and distraught, Jesus wept with her.

Today, our study continues as we open the Gospel of John to chapter 11, verses 38-45, and read from the New Living Translation.

 38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 

I don’t care too much for this translation which states that Jesus was “angry.” Other translations state that Jesus was deeply moved, very sad in his heart, greatly disturbed, intensely troubled, or even groaning in himself. As you can see, this original Greek is not easily translated! I read the views of different theologians, and the most common description of Jesus’ demeanor as He arrived at the tomb was that He was physically releasing agitation, anguish, and sympathy in the face of human suffering. Kind of an audible snort ...”huh.”

What we do understand for sure is that Jesus was led to the tomb by very real people who were suffering greatly due to the loss of a loved one. It had been four days since Lazarus death and, for many of them, the reality of it had sunk in. You may remember last week when we talked about the fact that the first phase of intense mourning lasted 3 days, because it was after three days that the face of the corpse would have decomposed beyond recognition.

Still, although time has now passed, anyone who has lost someone can empathize with the fact that grief continues to come in waves for quite awhile. And as these mourners arrived at the tomb, those waves likely fell fresh on both the family and Jesus.

The tomb was, basically, a cave with a stone positioned in front of the entrance. The sites of tombs were often quarries that were no longer in use. The newly dead body would have been treated with spices and wrapped in a large sheet of linen that was more than twice the length of the body. The normal practice was that fabric would be laid out, and then the body laid on it, with its feet at one end. Then the sheet was folded over the top of the head and pulled back down to cover the whole front of the body. Next, the fabric would be secured by wrapping strips of linen around the feet and arms and then binding the face with another cloth.

Once prepared, the body would be laid in the main part of the cave, where it would remain for the next year, protected from the outside world by the stone covering the opening to the cave. After a year, the stone would be rolled away, and the bones of the deceased would be collected and placed in a small box which was then placed into a horizontal niche cut into the rock.

By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus body had been spiced, wrapped, tied, and fully and completely laid to rest. Which is why it must have been shocking to hear Jesus’ next words…

39 “Roll the stone aside.”

Verse 39 continues…

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”

Earlier, Jesus had asked Martha if she believed. She replied yes, but from her answer, we could sense that although she DID fully believe Jesus, she likely didn’t understand all He was saying.

When I was a child, with a very immature faith, I used to wonder incessantly about my future. Will I get married? Will I have kids? Will I have a career? I can remember thinking, I wish I could just know that everything will turn out ok!

As we walk through life, we don’t know what is around the corner! We don’t have a crystal ball that tells us the future. But we DO know, as God’s children, that everything will be okay! Our God is in total control, and He loves you more than you can imagine. Martha didn’t understand, but she BELIEVED Jesus! She trusted Him. It didn’t make sense that He was telling them to roll the stone away, disturbing her brother’s decaying corpse, but Jesus HAD said, believe, and you will see God’s glory.

We, also, need to believe to see God’s glory. We can trust Him even when we don’t understand His methods.

Martha, evidently, came to this conclusion. Because she, as the next of kin, gave the go-ahead for the stone to be rolled away.

Veres 41…

 41 So they rolled the stone aside.

I want to pause here to share an aha moment I had as I was reading and studying this passage. The only other entombment of a Jewish man I have ever studied is that of Jesus. And it’s kind of similar, right? Jesus was laid in a cave, and a stone was rolled in front.

What struck me as I read this was the immense power residing in Jesus. In this instance, we see Jesus call for the removal of Lazarus’ stone. We, in retrospect, know that we are about to see the glory of God unleashed as He raises Lazarus from the dead. But what struck me is that Lazarus was as much of a bystander in this situation as Martha and Mary and the rest of the crowd were. Lazarus was just chilling up in heaven, probably dining on the most amazing food ever!

But, when JESUS died, it was all about Jesus. Jesus was separated from God. He was sitting in the depths of hell for 3 days – until God ordained the moment of His resurrection. At which point Jesus, still completely filled with the power of God, raised HIMSELF and moved His own stone away!

Maybe that’s elementary Christianity, but it just drove home to me that there is NOTHING WE can do to save ourselves, to raise ourselves from the dead. Not only could Lazarus not raise himself, he couldn’t even move his own stone away so he could get out of the tomb.

We NEED Jesus! Only He is able to to save us. Only He can grant us a peaceful eternity with the Father. Without Jesus, we are just a pile of bones destined to turn into dust.

But although Jesus seemed to be the star of the show, He clearly shows us that this resurrection is about pointing to God the Father, who holds all the power and glory. Verse 41 continues…

 Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 

Jesus is the obedient Son who stands aligned with God the Father in His power. Jesus, who is in constant contact with God the Father, only and always does GOD’s will.

And that’s what we are called to do, too. When we pray the Lord’s prayer, we pray that GOD’S will be done. Our journey on this earth is not about doing what WE think we should do, but it is about doing God’s will. He has made YOU for a purpose. Even as He was forming you in your mother's womb, He had a plan for your life. Is your prayer REALLY to do the will of God? Do you seek His guidance and follow in faith even when you don’t understand? We already saw that Martha obey in faith, and now we see Jesus’ outward display of following God’s heart.

Jesus does exactly as God instructs. He raises Lazarus—a man who has been dead for four days, his face no longer recognizable, and who was carefully wrapped in linen and laid in a tomb.

Verse 43…

43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth.

Can you imagine? The scene I picture is right out of a B movie…from the opening of the cave, a man emerges, hopping or scuffling along, wrapped in a linen cloth with his feet tied together, his arms strapped to his sides, and a full covering over his head.

If you think about it, it was probably a bit scary. It is no wonder Jesus had to give another instruction…

 “Unwrap him and let him go!”

Next week we will get into the aftermath of the miracle, but can we, for a moment, just pause to take in the awe of the scene?

We don’t know who went to Lazarus side. We don’t know if they rushed to him or approached carefully. I wonder if Lazarus was disoriented as they unwrapped him. I wonder what He said? He had experienced so much. He saw God’s glory. He felt God’s power reunite him with his physical body. He understood what complete healing felt like.

I imagine that Jesus didn’t bring Lazarus back to the sickly body he had left or even to the well-on-its-way-to decomposing body that had been dead for four days. I imagine that the power of Jesus recreated Lazarus’s body in perfection. That as the linen cloth was unraveled, Lazarus perfect skin and bright eyes were revealed.

Verse 45 says simply that Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.

I bet!

John includes this miracle in His gospel as the climax of Jesus’ public ministry. As we study next week, we will see the clear division that this miracle brought. Yes, some people believed, but many also turned staunchly against Jesus.

And I can imagine why.

God’s power is awe-inspiring and life-changing.

I had a very limited foray with playing sports when I was young. In grade school, I played on a basketball team with a powerhouse of an athlete. She was quick, adept, and smart at moving the ball. The rest of us were, well, typical grade-school athletes. But this girl, she was our key to winning. I always thought, thank goodness she is on our team, because I would be scared silly to play against her.

Jesus’ power is way beyond that of a powerhouse athlete! Jesus works in total and complete cooperation with an all-powerful and all-sufficient God. That means that, as His teammates—we are SO COVERED! We are NEVER going to lose.

But go against Him, and you would have every reason to put up your guard and reach for any weapon available.

Jesus, in God’s power, ROSE LAZARUS FROM THE DEAD!

He said,  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.

Then He asked Martha if she believed Him. And then He showed her that she COULD believe Him.

We can believe everything that Jesus says! We can move the stone when He says to move it. We can rise in power when He calls. We can unravel death cloths expecting to see healing. We can trust in our future, knowing that with Jesus, everything WILL be okay.

But if we decide to go against Him, He will still be God. And if decide not to be on His team, we will lose for eternity. Because God wins. Will you trust His will and His call?

Let’s pray…

Dear Most Holy God! We stand in awe as we read through this story verse by verse. Father, thank you for teaching us of your power, strength, and perfect will. Thank you for reminding us that when we commit to your will, we will see re-birth and renewal like we could never imagine. As we say yes to your will and seek to walk in the path you have given each of us, we look up to you and say thank you for giving us the power to do all you have called us to and for choosing us to be on your winning team. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.