What Is the Story of Lazarus?

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The story of Lazarus is found in the Gospel of John, and it relates how Jesus brought a man named Lazarus back from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were friends of Jesus. The sisters sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, but he waited two days before proceeding. Upon telling Lazarus to come out of his tomb, the man supposedly came back to life.

On the way to Lazarus’s home, Jesus tells his followers that he will wake up his friend. The NIV text explains that the disciples thought Jesus meant Lazarus was asleep and not dead. Then Jesus reveals plainly that by resurrecting Lazarus, more people will believe he is the son of God.

By the time Jesus came to Judea and the home of Lazarus, the story states his friend was in the tomb for four days. Mary and Martha were weeping, and Jesus wept along with them. John 11:35 is notable as the shortest passage in the Bible, stating “Jesus wept.”

Jesus then tells the sisters of Lazarus that whoever believes that Jesus is the “resurrection and the life… will never die.” After Jesus instructs the stone in front of the tomb to be removed, he commands Lazarus to walk out, which the dead man does.

The story of Lazarus features two major turning points in the ministry of Jesus. First, Jesus shows how powerful God’s spirit is within him. Second, Jesus foreshadows his own resurrection to his followers.