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Women World Leaders' Podcast

Aug 30, 2023

In John 11, the tables turn. The crucifixion awaits Jesus. Yet Jesus continues to do God’s will and trust His sufficiency. No matter what you are going through, you can trust God’s sufficiency, too. Join us for today’s study of John 11:45-57.


Welcome to Walking in the Word, the Wednesday edition of the Women World Leaders podcast, where we take a few minutes each week to study the Bible together systematically. We offer three very different podcasts each week – so I hope you have your phone set to download ALL of them regularly. We all lead very busy lives, and I LOVE having these podcasts ready to listen to when I have a few minutes alone while driving or even washing the dishes. Besides this, the Wednesday edition, when we open and study God’s Word together, on Mondays, Kimberly Hobbs hosts Empowering Lives with Purpose – a 30-minute interview with a different woman of faith. This podcast is meant to inspire you and empower you in your God-given walk. Sometimes, Kimberly interviews someone you might recognize, and other weeks, you will meet someone new. You can be sure that you will gain valuable insights as you listen EACH week. Then, on Fridays we have the joy of Celebrating God’s Grace with one of our beautiful leaders. These women are gifted and talented and you won’t want to miss a single episode. So download yourself a free gift of encouragement – and get in the habit of sitting in God’s lap as He grows you 3 times every week!

On this, our Wednesday edition of the Women World Leaders podcast, we are currently walking through the gospels chronologically. If you are new – don’t worry – you can jump in right where we are, which, today, is John, chapter 11, verses 45-57

Before we begin, let’s pray…

Dear Most Holy God – Thank you for who you are and for who you made us to be. God, you formed each of us carefully on on purpose, and you KNEW we would each be listening to this today. You are sovereign, always in control, and your plans are perfect. Father, we give you this time, and ask you to open our hearts so that we will each hear exactly what you want us to know today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

For the last few weeks, we have been studying the 11th chapter in John’s gospel, which you might recognize as the resurrection of Lazarus.

We’ve wondered with the disciples why Jesus didn’t go immediately to the side of His dear friends Mary and Martha when they sent word that their brother Lazarus was deathly ill.

We’ve observed in awe of both Mary and Martha’s faith as they told Jesus with heartfelt agony that Lazarus would not have died had Jesus arrived sooner.

We’ve related as Jesus comforted the sisters in their grief, even crying with them.

We understood when Martha questioned Jesus as He told her to have the stone removed from the grave of her brother, who had been dead and decaying for four days.

And, if we imagined realistically, we gasped in awe as we read about wrapped-up Lazarus hobbling out of the tomb and the onlookers obediently going to his side to help unwrap him.

Today, we will finish the story as we pick up where we left off last week, John, chapter 11, verse 45 from the New Living Translation…

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

Remember, Martha was the do’er, the hostess, and it seems that Mary’s giftings were more relational. So it isn’t surprising that the Scripture records that many who were with MARY believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. Martha was as much a part of this scene as Mary was, but it seems as if God, in providing what each sister needed, had made certain that Mary had many people around her to carry her through this time.

Our personalities are gifts from God. We can trust in the fact that He always knows what we need and will meet us where we are.

So, MANY believed in Jesus as a result of this miracle. THAT we can imagine. But although everyone there clearly saw what happened, others had such hard hearts that they used what they saw as ammunition against Jesus.

We have seen this before, but this time, the divisiveness of the people was a true turning point. Whether it was the enormity of the miracle, the location, or the timing that spurred the hatred and vitriole against Jesus that erupted, we do know for certain that God was in control. He always has been, He always will be, and He certainly was on this very day when the wheels were set in motion that would lead to Jesus’ death on the cross.

Verse 46 continues…

46 But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council[a] together.

This is where we see the escalation.

Some who had witnessed Lazarus’ resurreciton, instead of praising and thanking Jesus, went to the Pharisees to report what they had seen. The Pharisees knew the Mosaic law and were not shy about holding it up in a very extreme and overzealous fashion.

So in response, they called for a meeting of the high council, the Sanhedrin – the supreme governing body—kind of like the supreme court here in the US. There were smaller sanhedrins at local Jewish centers, but, as they were near Jerusalem, this was the Supreme, or Great, Sanhedrin. This group managed the internal affairs of the nation, which was under the Romans at that time. The council was controlled by the chief priests—it was a family affair. This group banded together, intent on keeping the control they held. These were the elite, the bigwigs, the men who seemed to hold all the power, and weren’t about to give it up.

I feel compelled to offer an aside here. I feel like the Holy Spirit wants someone listening to know this. For all practical purposes, it looked to the world like these powerful men had the upper hand, and there was NOTHING anyone could do to stand against them. The days to come must have been so frightening for those standing with and for Jesus. And skimming through the story, we all know that they had every right to be frightened. They were seemingly powerless. Jesus WAS crucified.

Maybe you are there right now. Maybe you feel like you are up against the world. Perhaps you have been fired despite years of giving your best. Perhaps a spouse has turned against you and even turned your children and your friends against you. Perhaps you feel stuck up against an economy that is rife with inflation and you are just trying to keep your head above water as you feed your children and purchase gas to get to work.

Sometimes in life, it feels like all the cards are stacked against you. I’m sure Jesus’ followers felt that way as the Sanhedrin, this Great Supreme Council, gathered and proceeded to march forward with their own agenda.

But we CANNOT forget the end of the story. JESUS overcame. JESUS rose from the dead. JESUS won! And Jesus will win for you, too!

Even as things may seem to be spiraling in your life, keep your eyes on the end of the story. You know it. Jesus wins. Jesus modeled this even as they were plotting against Him. I love Hebrews 12:1-2, which says…

 let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

God’s greatness will always win, but sometimes, we have to walk through the mud while keeping our eyes focused on the end goal. The Sanhedrin began to plot…verse 47 continues…

“What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. 48 If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple[b] and our nation.”

49 Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time,[c] said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! 50 You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”

51 He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. 52 And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.

Even as the Sanhedrin plotted, even as they thought they had the upper hand, even as Joseph Caiphas pronounced that it was better for Jesus to die, GOD was in control.

We can see this clearly -because what those present at the Great Council were most concerned with, and what they thought they would thwart by killing Jesus, is exactly what came to be – despite their best efforts.

They were afraid that their Temple and their nation would be destroyed. Which happened. The Temple was destroyed in the year 70 AD.

And we also see God’s control as Caiaphas prophesies that Jesus would indeed die, bringing together and uniting all the children of God that were scattered around the world. Caiphas, as he plotted Jesus’ death, was prophesying that you and me would be united with God. How incredible is that?

Verse 53 continues…

53 So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. 54 As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples.

Jesus did not allow those who were coming against Him to derail His mission. He simply pivoted and trusted God. When we are up against the world, we too, can pivot, trusting God control of the situation as we simply do what we are called to do.

Verse 55…

55 It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” 57 Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.

They Sanhedrin were determined to win, and they were prepared to pull out all the stops to do so. The people were looking for Jesus.

Meanwhile, Jesus was busy, teaching and leading His disciples. Just as He was called to do. Jesus trusted God even when the walls seemed to be caving in. So can we.

Let’s pray…

Dear Most Holy God, We trust your control. Some days are good, and others seem really bad from our point of view, but we trust your control, wisdom, guidance, and direction. We know that you win. Thank you for the assurance that when we follow you, we will win, too. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.