“I love you.”  “Will you marry me?”  “I now pronounce you man and wife.”  “It’s a girl.”  “Daddy, I love you.”  “Daddy, I love him.”  “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”  “I love you, Granddaddy.”

These are just words.  But in every case, when I heard them—or spoke them—they carried a life-changing jolt. These words literally changed my life when I first heard them spoken.  And they continue to change my life.

Down through recorded history, people have spoken words that have never been forgotten: “Never give in . . . never, never, never.” “Give me liberty or give me death.” “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

But from the beginning of time, there may not have been more important words than the ones Jesus spoke on that afternoon in Bethany at the grave of his friend. A flurry of activity had led the Savior to this place. Mary and Martha had first sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” Soon this was followed by Jesus’ own diagnosis: “Lazarus is dead.”

So Jesus went to see Mary and Martha. Filled with grief, they met him as He was entering their town. “If you had been here,” they pled with Him, “our brother would not have died.” Struck with a deep sadness over His friend’s death and the people’s lack of faith, Jesus wept. 

The people led the Master to the cemetery where the man had been buried. “Uncover the grave,” Jesus ordered. “But Lord,” Martha protested, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there for four days” (John 11:39).

And then the Messiah spoke the words that will be remembered forever by men and women everywhere. “Lazarus,” Jesus said, “Come out!” The Sovereign God of the Universe—the one who had brought everything into existence with that same voice—had spoken. 

Jesus called His friend by name. This was a fortunate thing. If He hadn’t, every grave would have emptied at the sound of His holy voice.

Jesus’ words sent warm blood coursing through Lazarus’ cold and stiffened veins.  Fresh air filled his deflated lungs. Brain waves ignited inside his darkened head. Jesus had spoken, and Lazarus was alive.

Then out he walked.

Once Lazarus was back in the warm sunshine but wrapped from head to toe with strips of cloth, Jesus said one more incredible thing. It was a call to those people standing there, gawking at the living mummy before them. “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

God’s words give life. His admonition for us to tenderly “unwrap” the lives of those who have just been made alive, is also clear. We do this by listening to our wife’s fears, admonishing our disobedient children, or by encouraging our fallen friend toward repentance and restoration. These are not just ordinary words. They’re powerful words—life-giving and life-altering words.

Listen to Jesus’ words.  Let them change your life.