Lazarus, Come Forth!
Undoubtedly the greatest miracle that Jesus performed during His
earthly ministry was the raising of His friend Lazarus from the
grave. Jesus gave this dramatic proof of His divinity only a short
time before His own death and resurrection demonstrated His right
and wpoer to give wternal life. The raising of Lazarus was the
greatest evidence that God had sent His own Son into the world for
the salvation of mankind. In many ways it is a summary of all that
the Bible teaches about death, resurrection, and eternal destiny.
The story is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 11, verses 1-46.
Read it carefully before going on with this lesson.
While Jesus extended his love and mercy to all He came in contact
with while here on earth, many gave Him only harshness and cruelty
in return. But this was not the case with Lazarus and His two
sisters. At their home in Bethany Jesus found a sincere welcome,
and pure, holy friendship. Jesus had not home of His own, and so
He was dependent upon the hospitality of His friends and disciples.
Often when He was nearly exhausted from serving others, Jesus would
retreat to the haven of this peaceful household. Here He could
temporarily escape the suspicion and jealousy of the angry
Pharisees. Always ready to impart blessings to those who would
receive them, Jesus could speak freely in the home of these
friends, knowing His words would be treasured and understood. The
relationship Jesus had with Lazarus was an example of the
relationship he would like to have with every member of the human
family. And the miracle He performed is an example of what He will
eventually do for all His friends.
What message about Lazarus was brought to Jesus?
Helps and hints: The simple message indicated the
close relationship. It was felt that Jesus need only be informed,
and surely He would come immediately.
What did Jesus do in response to the message?
Helps and hints: Mary and Martha must have been
confused by Jesus' delay. It also must have added only to their
sorrow to see their brother die, knowing that Jesus had the power
to make him well. The disciples, knowing how close Jesus was to
Lazarus must also have been puzzled. Known only to Jesus Himself
was the ultimate purpose behind His seemingly strange behavior.
How did the disciples react to Jesus' decision to return to
Helps and hints: After two days without taking
action on the message about Lazarus, the disciples had most likely
concluded that Jesus intended to do nothing at all. But Jesus does
not forget the plight of any of His earthly friends. No only did
He remind them that until the hour of His sacrifice was come there
was no harm that could be done to Him, but He also reminded them of
What did Jesus say about Lazarus?
Helps and hints: Jesus declared that Lazarus was
sleeping. His disciples responded that if that was the case, it
would be well with him. They evidently heard the urgency of the
messenger and the seriousness of Lazarus' condition. They probably
expected that he would die if Jesus did not attend to him. At any
rate, they understood Jesus to mean sleeping in the natural sense
of the word.
What did Jesus mean when He said Lazarus was sleeping?
Helps and hints: Jesus was obviously intending to
get the point across to His disciples that for those who love Him,
death as they knew it was only a temporary condition which He
described as similar to being asleep. But while He described
Lazarus as being asleep, it is clear that Jesus knew he was dead.
When Jesus arrived, how long had Lazarus been in the grave?
Helps and hints: Lazarus had been dead four days.
In the warm Palestinian climate, if a body could not be preserved
because the family was too poor, four days would be long enough for
the process of decomposition to be well under way. This is why
Martha was later concerned (
John 11:39) about the removal of the stone. The
thought of having to smell her brother's body as it lay wasting in
the grave was understandably more than she could bear. Jesus had
previously raised others from the dead, but each of these miracles
was performed shortly after death had occurred. Here was a case
where the body was already decayed. It is a lesson for all mankind
that no matter what condition a person may be in (even returned to
the dust), God has the power to resurrect them to their original
condition. He who called all things into existence is not
dependent on anything.
How did Martha react when Jesus said Lazarus would rise again?
Helps and hints: Martha was aware of God's plan to
resurrect His people at the end of time. But Jesus wanted to
confirm her faith in Him as the Son of the living God, the visible
manifestation of God Himself in human flesh. He wanted her to
understand that while it was in His plan to perform a general
resurrection at the end of the world as we know it, He in fact had
the power to raise anyone He wanted at any time. Martha responded
with faith that He was the Son of God.
What did Mary say when she saw Jesus?
Helps and hints: Like her sister Martha, Mary was
sure in her heart that Jesus had the power to heal the sick. They
needed to know that He could raise the dead.
Helps and hints: Jesus always sympathizes with
human suffering. But He did not weep for Lazarus, for He was about
to raise him from the grave. He wept because many who mourned to
Lazarus would soon plan His own death. They would kill Him who was
the resurrection and the life, and thus prevent their own chances
for eternal life (though some afterward repented and were saved).
He wept that men and women could mourn the dead when the Savior of
the world stood by.
What did Jesus say when He got to the grave?
Helps and hints: Jesus could have removed the
stone Himself. But He wanted to demonstrate that it is always His
will that human beings should cooperate and have a part in the work
of restoring their fellow men. It took a measure of faith for the
men to remove the stone. They may or may not have been present at
any of the other instances where Jesus restored life; probably not.
Still they were called upon to assist. We may never have seen
Jesus raise the dead either, but still we are called upon to
proclaim the hope of eternal life through the resurrection of the
What did Jesus say after the stone was removed?
Helps and hints: The Jews had accused Jesus of
performing miracles by the power of Satan. But here Christ claims
God as His Father, then the disciples and the people were given the
most convincing evidence in regard to the relationship existing
between Christ and God. They were shown that His claim we no
What declaration stirred the gravesite?
Helps and hints: By the word of His mouth, Jesus
returned the breath fo life to Lazarus and he came forth from the
grave a living soul. There is no hint in the entire account that
the sould of Lazarus left his body at the moment of death and
ascended to heaven. If that were true, why didn't Jesus speak
toward heaven and address his conscious soul rather than his
lifeless body? He could have said, "Lazarus, come down and live
again in the flesh." And if Lazarus had been in heaven, why would
not God allow him to give a brief account of the glories of the
afterlife? The answer is certain. The past four days had been a
brief period of unconsciousness for Lazarus. He had been
"sleeping" in the grave, just as Jesus said!
The story of Lazarus should be the greatest encouragement for every
Christian believer. Indeed, the hope of the resurrection is the
"Blessed Hope." In the words of Jesus Himself:
"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all
that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come
forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of
life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of
For more information write to us at
For more Bible Studies visit our
Bible Study Collection