The Raising of Lazarus Bible Story Study Guide

Jesus shows the world that he has power over death

Raising Lazarus Bible Story

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Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, were dear friends of Jesus. When their brother fell ill, the sisters sent a messenger to Jesus to tell him Lazarus was sick. Instead of hurrying to see Lazarus, Jesus remained where he was two more days. When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and in his tomb for four days. Jesus ordered that the gravestone be rolled away, and then raised Lazarus from the dead.

Through this story of Lazarus, the Bible delivers a powerful message to the world: Jesus Christ has power over death and those who believe in him receive resurrection life.

Scripture Reference

The story takes place in John chapter 11.

The Raising of Lazarus Story Summary

Lazarus was one Jesus Christ's closest friends. In fact, we're told Jesus loved him. When Lazarus fell ill, his sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." When Jesus heard the news, he waited two more days before going to Lazarus' hometown of Bethany. Jesus knew that he would do a great miracle for God's glory and, therefore, he was not in a hurry.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had already been dead and in the tomb for four days. When Martha discovered that Jesus was on his way, she went out to meet him. "Lord," she said, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Jesus told Martha, "Your brother will rise again." But Martha thought he was talking about the final resurrection of the dead.

Then Jesus said these crucial words: "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."

Martha then went and told Mary that Jesus wanted to see her. Jesus had not yet entered the village, most likely to avoid stirring up the crowd and calling attention to himself.

The town of Bethany was not far from Jerusalem where the Jewish leaders were plotting against Jesus.

When Mary met Jesus, she was grieving with strong emotion over her brother's death. The Jews with her were also weeping and mourning. Deeply moved by their grief, Jesus wept with them.

Jesus then went to the tomb of Lazarus with Mary, Martha and the rest of the mourners. There he asked them to remove the stone that covered the hillside burial place. Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed to his Father, closing with these words: "Lazarus, come out!" When Lazarus came out of the tomb, Jesus told the people to remove his grave clothes.

Major Themes and Life Lessons

In the story of Lazarus, Jesus speaks one of the most powerful messages ever: "Whoever believes in Jesus Christ, receives spiritual life that even physical death can never take away." As a result of this incredible miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, many people believed that Jesus was the Son of God and put their faith in Christ. Through it, Jesus showed the disciples, and the world, that he had power over death. It is absolutely essential to our faith as Christians that we believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Jesus revealed his compassion for people through a genuine display of emotion.

Even though he knew that Lazarus would live, he was still moved to weep with the ones he loved. Jesus cared about their sorrow. He was not timid to show emotion, and we should not be ashamed to express our true feelings to God. Like Martha and Mary, we can be transparent with God because he cares for us.

Jesus waited to travel to Bethany because he knew already that Lazarus would be dead and that he would perform an amazing miracle there, for the glory of God. Many times we wait for the Lord in the midst of a terrible situation and wonder why he doesn't respond more quickly. Often God allows our situation to go from bad to worse because he's planning to do something powerful and wonderful; he has a purpose that will bring even greater glory to God.

Points of Interest From the Lazarus Bible Story

  • Jesus also raised Jairus' daughter (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:41-42; Luke 8:52-56) and a widow's son (Luke 7:11-15) from dead.
  1. In 1 Kings 17:22 Elijah raised a boy from the dead.
  2. In 2 Kings 4:34-35 Elisha raised a boy from the dead.
  3. In 2 Kings 13:20-21 Elisha's bones raised a man from the dead.
  4. In Acts 9:40-41 Peter raised a woman from the dead.
  5. In Acts 20:9-20 Paul raised a man from the dead.

    Questions for Reflection

    Are you in a difficult trial? Like Martha and Mary, do you feel like God is delaying much too long to answer your need? Can you trust God even in the delay? Remember the story of Lazarus. Your situation could not be any worse than his. Trust that God has a purpose for your trial and that he will bring glory to himself through it.