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Who Was Lazarus in the Bible Who Jesus Raised from the Dead

Updated on May 10, 2020
Doneta Wrate profile image

I have Health Science BS from Christian college. I've been Christian since teenager, studying bible every day. I enjoy history & research.

Contents

1. Lazarus, Mary and Martha were Jesus Best Friends

2. Why did Jesus Let Lazarus Die?

3. Jesus Wept for More Than Just Lazarus

4. When Jesus Raised Lazarus from the Dead

5. What Happened to Lazarus after Jesus Raised Him from the Dead

6. References

7. Video: Lazarus, Come Forth!

8. Poll

when Jesus raised Lazarus, the mourners were speechless with amazement, then shouted with happiness.
when Jesus raised Lazarus, the mourners were speechless with amazement, then shouted with happiness. | Source

1. Lazarus, Mary and Martha of Bethany were Jesus Best Friends

In the home of Lazarus, and his sisters Mary and Martha, Jesus found rest and peace. When weary of the conflict with the Pharisees, and the spiritual dullness of the common people, Jesus retired to the home in Bethany. Their faith in Jesus and their ready understanding of what He taught them meant he could speak with simplicity and freedom. Jesus did not speak to them in parables. Mary sat at his feet a devoted listener. (Wouldn't it have been wonderful to sit at Jesus feet with her.) His heart was knit with a strong bond of affection to this family in Bethany. For Lazarus was reserved the miracle that was to be the crowning proof of Jesus divinity: raising Lazarus from the dead.

One day Lazarus became unexpectedly very sick. As he gradually worsened, his sisters grew very worried about their brother. They sent a messenger to Jesus,"Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick." John 11:3 They knew that Jesus had healed all types of illness. As soon as He would arrive, Lazarus would be well. They believed Jesus would hurry to them. But the messenger came back alone with the message,"This sickness is not unto death."

They hoped this message meant Lazarus would not die. They whispered comforting words about Jesus message to their fading brother. When Lazarus died they were bitterly disappointed; but the Holy Spirit gave sustaining grace from Christ, and they did not doubt Jesus. Their faith in Him remained strong.

But Martha and Mary constantly wondered, Why did Jesus let Lazarus their brother and His devoted follower die?

2. Why Jesus Let Lazarus Die

In answer to the big question, Christ had not only His loved ones in Bethany to consider. Although hurting Lazarus, Mary and Martha gave Jesus no pleasure, many people were to be spiritually benefited by the ordeal and the raising of Lazarus. Each of these three groups of people that were to be benefited will be discussed:

1. His friends in Bethany: Lazarus, Mary and Martha

2. His disciples in training

3. The doubting, stubborn people of Israel

1. His loved friends in Bethany

Christ knew that when Lazarus, their brother, died, his sisters faith in their Redeemer would be severely tested. But He knew the strain they were going through would cause their faith to grow and be an encouragement to many in the future. He felt every pain they suffered. Because He did not immediately hurry to save Lazarus did not mean He loved them any less. But He knew that for Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and for Himself and His disciples, a triumph was to be gained.

Such lessons helped to spiritually sustain this family during the spiritual struggle when Christ was crucified, and also when persecution by the Jews started. The family had to uproot from their beloved home in Bethany and head to a Jewish colony on the island of Cyprus. Those were very difficult times. But the family was able to encourage many of their fellow Christians along the way.

The moment of greatest discouragement is the time when Jesus strength is closest. This family looked back with thankfulness upon this dark time of their lives because it helped them handle future difficulties and enabled them to be a blessing to others. "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly." 2 Peter 2:9 From every temptation and every trial Jesus delivers His followers with firmer faith and richer experience.

"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait. I say, on the Lord!" Psalms 27:14

When having difficulties, don't doubt Jesus. Wait a while and pray for your eyes to be opened to see what He does to turn the trial into a blessing.

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord! Ps 27:14

2. His disciples in training

As Lazarus became worse with his illness, His sisters sent a message to Jesus saying,"Behold, Lord, he whom Thou lovest is sick." John 11:3

The disciples expected Jesus to show concern and hurry to Bethany. But Jesus appeared unconcerned. He merely stated,"This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." John 11:4

Jesus sent the message back to his loved friends. He then seemed to forget about them for 2 days. This baffled the disciples. This did not seem to be the Jesus they knew. Why was He leaving the family alone at such a difficult time when always before He showed such tender regard for them?

He had done the same with John the Baptist. Jesus left His faithful messenger in a cold dark dungeon for a long time. The Jesus let him suffer a violent death. The Pharisees often brought this up to question Jesus' claim to divinity. Would Jesus do the same with them? Jesus warned the disciples of trials, losses and persecution. Would Jesus desert them in time of need too?

After a busy 2 days, Jesus said,"Let us go into Judea again." The disciples questioned, Why go see Lazarus now after 2 days? John 11:11-15

"He said to them,'Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I might wake him up.' Then his disciples said,'Lord, if he sleeps, he will get well.' However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly,'Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to him.'" John 11:11-15

The disciples marveled that Jesus said,"Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you might believe." So Jesus did purposely stay away from Mary, Martha and Lazarus when they needed Him so much. But the family was not left to fend for themselves. Jesus felt every pain, and saw every tear the two sisters cried when their brother died. His Spirit drew near them, comforted and strengthened them.

This painful ordeal was necessary because Jesus had more to think of than His beloved friends. They were to be blessed with being used for the greatest lesson of Jesus divinity. His disciples were in training to carry Jesus' message to the world after Jesus was carried up to heaven. Had He done what everyone thought He should, and hurried to Lazarus and healed him, the greatest evidence of Jesus divinity never would have happened.

Don't doubt Jesus because you don't understand what is happening, like the disciples did not understand why Jesus did not hurry to Lazarus. Life can sometimes seem so confusing. But our God of Agape Love sees the end from the beginning. He sees the big picture. He is in ultimate control.

"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!" Psalms 27:14 "What right does the pot have to say to the potter, why do you do thus and so with me." Romans 9:20,21 We are the pot being shaped by Jesus the potter's hand. Trust Him and learn.

3. The stubborn, doubting people of Israel

By raising Lazarus from the dead, He gave His stubborn, unbelieving people another evidence that He was indeed "the Resurrection and the Life." He was loath to give up all hope for the poor, wandering sheep of the house of Israel. His heart was breaking because of their impenitence. In His mercy He purposed to give them one more evidence that He was their long looked for Messiah. This was to be an evidence that the priests could not misinterpret.

"Then many of the Jews who had come to (mourn with) Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did....Caiaphas, high priest that year, said to them,'....it is expedient for us that one man should die, and not that the whole nation should perish.'" John 11:45,46,49,50

Many did believe Jesus was the Messiah after Lazarus' resurrection. But others hated Jesus even more, and continued to plot how to kill Him.



Jesus wept for sorrow for the mourning Mary and Martha, for the rebellious unbelieving Jews, and for the suffering in the world.
Jesus wept for sorrow for the mourning Mary and Martha, for the rebellious unbelieving Jews, and for the suffering in the world. | Source

3. Jesus Wept for More than Lazarus

"Jesus said,'Where have you laid him?'....Jesus wept. The Jews said,'See how much He loved him.'" John 11:34-36

Jesus was actually crying for much more than Lazarus. Six other thoughts ran through Jesus mind causing the flood of tears.

1. The human distress of the large group of mourners touched Jesus heart.

2. It grieved Him that they should be mourning while the Resurrection and the Life stood in their midst.

3. He knew that many who were mourning with Mary and Martha would soon be plotting the death of Lazarus and Himself.

4. He knew that some now mourning would soon harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit and lose their salvation.

5. He knew that their rejection of Him as Messiah would cause the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies around 70AD.

6. The burdens of the sinful humanity were heavy upon His soul, and the fountain of His tears was broken up as He longed to relieve all their suffering.

When Jesus Raised Lazarus from the Dead

"Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave and a stone lay against it. Jesus said,'Take away the stone.'" John 11:38,39

Jesus asked the people to roll away the stone. Jesus could have had angels do it much more easily for it was a very large stone. But man was created with the ability to think and to do, and to be creative. Jesus expects us to work together with Him. It enables us to grow and develop as a person.

"Jesus said,'Take away the stone.' Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him,'Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead for four days'" John 11:39

Martha thought Jesus just wanted to take one last look upon His friend. She did not know what Jesus was about to do. But Jesus knew that after Martha confirmed Lazarus was dead for four days, that the rebellious Pharisees would not be able to deny the miracle. The evil plotting Pharisees had rationalized away His other healings and miracles. But the raising of Lazarus from the dead was undeniable. It was irrefutable proof of Jesus' divinity. It enraged the power hungry Pharisees as increasing numbers of the people followed Jesus.

As Jesus speaks, "Lazarus come forth," divinity flashes through humanity. His face lights up by the glory of God. Desire of Ages

"Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying." John 11:41

The crowd of mourners hushed their wailing. They watched with anticipation, wondering what Jesus would do next.

Jesus stood tall and calm before Lazarus' tomb. He lifted His eyes to heaven and spoke with His Father God.

"'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.' Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice,'Lazarus, come forth'" John 11:41-43 "As He speaks, divinity flashes through humanity. In His face, which is lighted up by the glory of God, the people see the assurance of His power." Desire of Ages

Every one stood perfectly silent with bated breath, staring at the entrance to the tomb. Their ears were straining for the slightest sound. This was the moment of truth for Jesus' claims of being the Son of God. Either Lazarus would be raised, or else Jesus would be a mockery and stoned for heresy.

A rustle is heard in the tomb, and soon Lazarus is standing in the door. His friends loosen his grave clothes. His eyes, fixed on Jesus, glow with love for His Savior. He casts himself in adoration at the feet of Jesus.

Mary and Martha are overwhelmed with joy at having their brother back. The mourners are silent for a minute, stunned at the raising of Lazarus from 4 days dead. Then his friends break forth with rejoicing at having their friend back.

After a few minutes of celebrating, they look for Jesus to thank Him. But He is gone. He could not stay. He remembered that after multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed the 5000, the people had tried to make Him king. The same would happen here. Jesus could not let that happen. So He silently slipped away during the excitement.


a picture of St. Lazarus from Lanarka, Cyprus
a picture of St. Lazarus from Lanarka, Cyprus | Source

5. What Happened to Lazarus after Jesus Raised Him from the Dead

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. John 11:45, 46

John 12:9-11 says that after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Pharisees wanted to kill not only Jesus but Lazarus also. Lazarus was too much evidence of the divinity of Jesus. Many of the people wanted to see Lazarus and talk to him. Many believed on Jesus because of Lazarus' resurrection.

Just before Jesus went up to heaven, he told His disciples to take the gospel first to Judea and Samaria, then to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 That is exactly what they did after the Jewish persecution of the Christians started.

Within 2 years after Jesus crucifixion the Jews began the first phase of persecuting the Christians in Jerusalem, starting with the stoning and martyrdom of Stephen. Acts 7:5-8:11. The Christians quickly left Jerusalem and scattered out to the rest of Judea and into Samaria.

About three years after Jesus death and resurrection, during the second phase of persecution in Judea (Acts 11:19), the Christians left for Phenice, Cyprus and Antioch, and other locations. There were large Jewish colonies in scattered in various places. At this time Lazarus felt too threatened by the Pharisees and left Judea with his sisters Mary and Martha. They headed to the island of Cyprus where there was a large colony of Jews in the city of Kition.

According to church tradition, while traveling Lazarus met Paul and Barnabas who were going from Salamis to Paphose. Lazarus joined the two evangelists for a time. They stopped at the island of Cyprus for a while because there was a large colony of Jews there to tell about Jesus. Together they raised up a company of believers. Before Paul and Barnabas left, they ordained Lazarus the Bishop of Kition (present day Larnaka). Lazarus lived there for 30 more years. He died and was buried there in 63AD. Lanarka has some memorials to Lazarus to this day.


the church of St. Lazarus in Lanarka, Cyprus
the church of St. Lazarus in Lanarka, Cyprus | Source

7. Lazarus, Come Forth! part 1 of 3 by Doug Bachelor

Does this help you to better handle the difficulties that come into your life?

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© 2020 Doneta Wrate

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    • Doneta Wrate profile imageAUTHOR

      Doneta Wrate 

      2 weeks ago from Michigan

      Thank you for your compliments. I am glad you enjoyed my hub.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      I like this: "Jesus expects us to work together with Him. It enables us to grow and develop as a person." You teach many valuable lessons in this article. Thanks especially for the information on Lazarus after his miracle.

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