Reply To: Who was Lazarus in the bible?

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Lazarus was Jesus’ s friend, Mary and Martha’s brother. Lazarus and Jesus were so close that names did not need to be mentioned when word reached Jesus that His friend was ill. He was simply told,

“The one you love is sick” (John 11:3).

Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, probably belonged to a wealthy family, as evidenced by the expensive perfume Mary poured on Jesus’ feet after He raised Lazarus from the dead. It is possible the three siblings supported Jesus’ ministry financially.

In any case, a deep bond existed between Lazarus and Jesus—so much so that Jesus willingly risked His life returning to Judea in order to “wake him up” (John 11:11). By the time Jesus arrived, however, Lazarus was unquestionably dead. John notes that Lazarus had been in the grave four days, which was significant because of the widely held Jewish belief that the soul departed the body three days after death.

In other words, people might have accepted the possibility that Lazarus could be raised within the first three days—that is, before he was truly, irreversibly dead, but any hope of resurrection evaporated after the fourth day. Jesus, however, was undeterred. Led to the tomb where Lazarus was buried, He became deeply troubled at the sight of Lazarus’s sisters grieving—and almost certainly by His own grief as well. Jesus ordered Lazarus to come out of his tomb, and to the crowd’s amazement, he obeyed.

No one knows how long Lazarus lived after being brought back to life, but this miracle set in motion the events that led to Jesus’ own death and resurrection. Incensed at Jesus’s growing popularity, the Pharisees decided the time had come to put Jesus to death.One thing is known about Lazarus’s post resurrection life: Like Jesus, he became the target of an assassination plot.

As far as the religious leaders were concerned, a living and breathing Lazarus was almost as great a threat to their authority as the One who had raised him. Lazarus’s story, then, is a picture of the cost of following Jesus. With new life comes new risk—and new opportunity to sacrifice all for Christ.