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Raising Lazarus

Updated: Feb 4

May 7, 2023—Lazarus was from Bethany, a village in the ancient world, but it still exists. Lazarus had at least two sisters named Martha and Mary. When he was very sick, his sisters were very concerned. The sisters came to someone who could heal their brother, informing Him that Lazarus was ill. Yet, the response was not what they expected, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4).

Jesus Christ remained in the region by the Jordan River for two more days, despite the danger ahead (John 11:4).

Lazarus Sleeps

To get to Bethany, Jesus would have to enter the region of Judea. When He told His disciples that they would go to Judea, His disciples were gravely concerned, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” (John 11:8)

Jesus reassured them, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (John 11:9-10). Jesus informed His disciples that Lazarus was “sleeping,” but He did not speak of his rest; he spoke of Lazarus’s death (John 11:11,14).

Jesus Christ spoke and taught in parables, fulfilling the prophecy from Isaiah:

‘‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’

Matthew 13:14-15 (See also Isaiah 6:9-10)

When His disciples said that Lazarus would be well because he was resting, Jesus told 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 11:15.)

As Jesus Christ prepared to depart the region, Thomas, a disciple, said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16).

The Jordan River.
The Jordan River. Maybe this was an area that Jesus and His disciples went to. Photo by Reiseuhu on Unsplash

To Bethany

Jesus and His disciples traveled to Bethany, leaving a region along the Jordan River. The journey would take about four days (John 11:17). They arrived to see many Jews consoling Martha and Mary (Mary Magdalene). Having heard that Jesus and His disciples had arrived, Martha came to Him and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (John 11:21-22).

Jesus Christ tells Martha that Lazarus will rise again (verse 23).

Martha acknowledges this, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (Verse 24).

Jesus Christ tells her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?(Verse 25-26).

Martha certainly believed. Look at her response, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27). Martha then went to Mary and secretly told her that “The Teacher” (meaning Jesus) was there and was calling for her (Verse 28). Mary quickly got up to meet Jesus at the place where Martha had met Him. Seeing this, the Jews followed her, assuming she was going to the tomb to weep.

When she meets Jesus, she falls at His feet and tells Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32).

Mary Magdalene and the Jews wept, and Jesus was troubled in His spirit. Jesus Christ asks where they buried Lazarus. They respond, “Lord, come and see.” (John 11:34).

The shortest verse in the Holy Bible comes, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35).

Having seen this, the Jews said, “See how He loved Him!” (John 11:36). The Jews ask, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37)

Raising Lazarus from the Tomb

Lazarus’s body was laid in a cave. The entrance was sealed with a stone. Jesus ordered that they take the stone away.

Worried about the odor, Martha tries to deter Him from doing this.

Jesus rebukes her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40). For their unbelief, Jesus thanked God, the Father aloud, so that they may believe that Jesus was sent by God (John 11:41-42). In a loud voice, Jesus commands, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43).

Still in his grave clothes, Lazarus comes out of the tomb. Jesus commands the Jews to “Loose him and let him go.” (John 11:44).

Believing in Jesus

Because of the miracle of Lazarus’s resurrection, many Jews believed in Jesus Christ, but some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus did.

The chief priests and the Pharisees weighed their options and said, “If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” (John 11:48)

Then the high priest Caiaphas called them foolish and said it was better for one man to die for the people than to let the whole nation perish. (John 11:50). According to John's gospel, Caiaphas had previously prophesied that Jesus Christ would have to die for Israel and gather together the children of God scattered abroad (John 11:52).

The Holy Bible tells us that from that moment on, the chief priests and the Pharisees were trying to find a way to kill Jesus Christ. Knowing this, Jesus went to the city of Ephraim, where He remained until about the Passover. This would be when the chief priests and the Pharisees would find an opportunity to kill Jesus Christ; by using Judas Iscariot (one of the disciples) to betray Him.

The betrayal would lead Jesus to be tried before chief priests Herod and Pilate. Jesus Christ would be sentenced by the Jews to be crucified. A few things happened after He gave up His spirit on the cross:

  • the veil of the temple was torn in two (vertically)[i]

  • The earth quaked[i]

  • The rocks were split[i]

  • The graves were opened[i]

When Jesus Christ’s body was removed from the cross, His body was placed in a tomb, and soldiers sealed a large boulder to the entrance. Jesus Christ was resurrected three days later. After Jesus Christ was resurrected, many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised from the graves. They went into Jerusalem, appearing to many (Matthew 27:53). Jesus remained on the earth for forty days and ascended to heaven.

Accepting Jesus

Jesus Christ performed miracles, taught in and out of temples, and fulfilled biblical prophecies through the authority given to Him by God. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and the salvation of not only Jews but non-Jews (called Gentiles). He paid our debt on the cross and defeated death when He was resurrected.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth is our savior. If you are ready to accept Him in your heart, say this prayer aloud:

God, I confess that Jesus came in the flesh and blood, paid the price for my sins, died on the cross, rose on the third day, ascended to the heavens, and sent the Holy Spirit to help me understand Your ways. For that, I accept Jesus Christ as my savior and Lord, and I welcome the Holy Spirit in my life. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen!

[i] Matthew 27:51-52

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