Who Was Lazarus in the Bible

Lazarus was a friend to Jesus and a brother to Mary and Martha. His story appears in the scripture of John 11:1-44 when a messenger shows up where Jesus was ministering and requests Jesus come immediately to the home of a sick man. Lazarus lived in a nearby town, Bethany, two miles southeast of Jerusalem, and was the brother of Mary and Martha.  

Jesus had previously visited the three siblings and had enjoyed the family’s hospitality. His sister, Mary, would sit at the Master’s feet and listen to his words. Martha, Mary’s sister was the one who complained to Jesus that her sister needed to help her in the kitchen (Luke 10:38-42).

Bible Story of Lazarus Raised from the Dead

According to John, Jesus receives a message that Lazarus is ill, and his two sisters are seeking his help. Jesus tells his followers: "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."

Jesus then delays his departure two days. The disciples are afraid of returning to Judea, but Jesus says: "Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him." when the apostles misunderstand, he clarifies, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe."

When they arrive in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead and buried for four days. Before they enter the town, Martha, Lazarus' sister, comes to meet Jesus and tells him: "if you had been here, my brother would not have died". Jesus assures Martha that her brother will rise again and states: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Martha's affirmation that she does indeed believe, "Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world", is only the second time (after Nathanael) that someone declares Jesus as Son of God and the first time someone equates him as 'Messiah' and 'Son of God' together. The only other time this happens in the entire gospel is in the explanation the author of the Gospel gives for writing his Gospel at the very end.

Upon entering the village, Jesus is met by Mary and the people who have come to console her. Upon seeing their grief and weeping, Jesus is deeply moved. Then, after asking where he was buried, the shortest verse in the four Gospels, and the entire Bible is found - Jesus wept. After that, Jesus asks for the stone of the grave to be removed, but Martha interjects that there will be a smell. To which Jesus responds, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said: "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."

Lazarus is mentioned again in the Gospel of John chapter 12. Six days before the Passover on which Jesus is crucified, Jesus returns to Bethany and Lazarus attends a supper that Martha, his sister, serves. Jesus and Lazarus together attract the attention of many Jews and the narrator states that the chief priests consider having Lazarus put to death because so many people have come to believe in Jesus on account of his raising Lazarus.

Find the full scripture of this story below along with articles, videos, and audio sermons relating to the miraculous raising of Lazarus! 

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/sedmak, Padua - painting of the resurrection of Lazarus scene in the church Chiesa di San Gaetano and the chapel of the Crucifixion by unknown painter from the 17th century.