Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, were very close friends of Jesus. Jesus often stayed with them when He visited the village of Bethany.

    It was shortly before the Passover. Jesus was threatened by Jerusalem's authorities, so He had left the area, traveling down the ancient road to Jericho, then to the safety of Transjordan where John had baptised Him. Many people were amazed at the miracles that Jesus preformed and His wonderful teachings about God. The number of His followers increased greatly.

    Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus, "the one you love is sick". Once he heard the news of Lazarus' sickness Jesus said "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's son may be glorified through it." Jesus stayed where He was for two more days. Then Jesus told His disciples "Let us go back to Judea." "Our friend Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe."

    (John's account describes a typical Jewish burial. Wrapped in linen strips, Lazarus' body was buried the same day he died; his tomb was a cave, sealed with a stone, outside the village. His sisters, Martha and Mary began the customary 30 days of mourning at home, receiving the visits of their friends and neighbors who came to mourn Lazarus' death.)

    By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Hearing that Jesus was coming up the road, the two sisters left their home to express their grief. "And Jesus wept" for He loved Lazarus.

    Deeply moved, Jesus went to the tomb and ordered the stone removed. Martha protested, "But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." Jesus replied, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. Jesus looked up to heaven, and prayed to His Father. In a loud voice Jesus cried, "Lazarus, come out." The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with linen bandages, his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said, "Loose him; let him go."

    Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and Martha, had seen what great miracle Jesus preformed by raising Lazarus from the dead. Many put their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and everyone was talking about this wonderful miracle, surely this was the son of God, the Messiah that they have been waiting for.

    Some of the people went to the chief priests, and the Pharisees called a meeting to discuss what should be done with this man that claimed to be the Son of God. The raising of Lazarus, which John's gospel places immediately before the Passover, (last supper of Jesus), made the Jerusalem authorities finally decide to put Christ to death.

    Story from John 11: quotes are from the NIV version of the Bible.

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