In the Gospel of John Lazarus, also called Lazarus of Bethany or Lazarus of the Four Days was a man who lived in the town of Bethany. The sisters are immediately identified: "Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill." So the sisters sent word to Jesus that the one he loved was ill. Jesus tarried where he was, and when he arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days, and Martha reproached him. When Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise, she took his meaning for the resurrection on Judgment Day, to which he replied, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die". In the presence of a crowd of Jewish mourners, Jesus had the stone rolled away from the tomb and bade Lazarus to come out, and so he did, still wrapped in his grave-cloths. Jesus then called for his followers (friends and family alike) to remove the grave-cloths. The narrator claims many other Jews were convinced of Jesus' divinity after visiting Lazarus. Six days before the passover on which Jesus was crucified, Jesus returned from the city of Ephraism to Bethany and Lazarus attended a supper that Martha, his sister, served . Jesus and Lazarus together attracted the attention of many Jews and the chief priests consulted about putting Lazarus to death . The chief priests were associated with the Sadducees. Lazarus was a living testimony against the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead .
The miracle of the raising of Lazuris, the longest coherent narrative in John aside from the Passion, is the climax of John's "signs". It explains the crowds seeking Jesus on Palm Sunday, and leads directly to the decision of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin to kill Jesus. The narrative includes the famous phrase Jesus wept in some translations.
According to Christian tradition compiled in the 13th century Golden Legend, Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary Magdalene, a Pharisee, but because of the rumoured plots fled for his life to Cyprus. There he later became the first bishop of Larnaka/Kittim, appointed directly by Paul and Barnabas, and lived another thirty years. Further establishing the apostolic nature of Lazarus' appointment was the story that the bishop's pallium was presented to Lazarus by the Virgin Mary, who had woven it herself. Such apostolic connections were central to the claims to autocephaly made by the bishops of Kittim—subject to the patriarch of Jerusalem—during the period 325–413. The church of Kittim was declared (or confirmed) self-governing in 413.
Stories say that he would always include something sweet in every meal. That was when he observed someone stealing a clay pot, causing him to smile and say with a laugh, "clay stealing clay".
The Golden Legend records the grand lifestyle imagined for Lazarus and his sisters in the 14th century:
Mary Magdalene had her surname of Magdalo, a castle, and was born of right noble lineage and parents, which were descended of the lineage of kings. And her father was named Cyrus, and her mother Eucharis. She with her brother Lazarus, and her sister Martha, possessed the castle of Magdalo, which is two miles from Nazareth, and Bethany, the castle which is nigh to Jerusalem, and also a great part of Jerusalem, which, all these things they departed among them. In such wise that Mary had the castle Magdalo, whereof she had her name Magdalene. And Lazarus had the part of the city of Jerusalem, and Martha had to her part Bethany. And when Mary gave herself to all delights of the body, and Lazarus entended all to knighthood, Martha, which was wise, governed nobly her brother's part and also her sister's, and also her own, and administered to knights, and her servants, and to poor men, such necessities as they needed. Nevertheless, after the ascension of our Lord, they sold all these things. (Legenda Aurea, Book iv, "Of Mary Magdalene")
In the West, an alternative medieval tradition sent Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to Gaul after the Crucifixion. Provençal tradition, in particular, held Lazarus as the first bishop of Marseille, while Martha purportedly went on to tame a terrible beast in nearby Tarascon. Pilgrims visited their tombs at the abbey of Vézelay in Burgundy. In the Abbey of the Trinity at Vendôme, a phylactery was said to contain a tear shed by Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. The cathedral of Autun, not far away, is dedicated to Lazarus as Saint Lazare.
Lazarus's tomb in Cyprus is the site of the Byzantine church, Agios Lazaros, and was the most notable feature of ancient Kittim (now Larnaka), where according to tradition he served as bishop and was buried after his (second) death. In 890 A.D. his tomb was found bearing the inscription "Lazarus the friend of Christ". The marble sarcophagus can be seen inside the church under the Holy of Holies. His relics were transferred from Cyprus to Constantinople in 898. The transfer was apostrophized by Arethas, bishop of Caesarea, and is commemorated by the Orthodox Church each year on October 17. However, on November 2, 1972, human remains in a marble sarcophagus under the altar were discovered during renovation works in the church at Larnaka, and were identified as part of the saint's relics.
In Christian funerals the idea of the deceased being raised by the Lord as Lazarus was raised is often expressed in prayer.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the Byzantine Catholic Church, the day before Palm Sunday is celebrated as Lazarus Saturday. This day, together with Palm Sunday, hold a unique position in the church year, as days of joy and triumph between the penitence of Great Lent and the mourning of Holy Week. During the preceding week, the hymns in the Lenten Triodion track the sickness and then the death of Lazarus, and Christ's journey from beyond Jordan to Bethany. The scripture readings and hymns for Lazarus Saturday focus on the resurrection of Lazarus as a foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Christ, and a promise of the General Resurrection. The Gospel narrative is interpreted in the hymns as illustrating the two natures of Christ: his humanity in asking, "Where have ye laid him?", and his divinity by commanding Lazarus to come forth from the dead. Many of the Resurectional hymns of the normal Sunday service, which are omitted on Palm Sunday, are chanted on Lazaurs Saturday. During the Divine Liturgy, the Baptismal Hymn, "As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ", is sung in place of the Trisagion.
Although the forty days of Great Lent end on the day before Lazarus Saturday, the day is still observed as a fast; however, it is somewhat mitigated. In Russia, it is traditional to eat caviar on Lazarus Saturday.
In the section In paradisum, which often appears embedded in the Requiem, the deceased is wished to Paradise with Lazarus, who once was poor; the text reminds us how often Saint Lazarus was conflated with the beggar Lazarus of Luke.
The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is a religious/military order, purportedly dating back to the First Crusade. The Order is run by two distinct channels of authority, referred to as the Malta Obedience and the Paris Obedience.