The Story of Jesus

Raising Lazarus

Lazarus was a Jew who lived in the village of Bethany with his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Since their home was near Jerusalem, Jesus often stopped to visit them on his way to attend the feasts at the temple. Always Mary, Martha, and Lazarus welcomed him. They loved him dearly and believed he was the Christ.

One day while Jesus taught the people in the country east of the Jordan, a messenger came from Bethany. Mary and Martha had sent the messenger to tell Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." The anxious sisters thought Jesus would come at once and heal their brother. They knew his great power. How much they needed him now!

But Jesus did not go at once. He explained to his disciples, "Lazarus' sickness is for the glory of God."

The sisters were greatly disappointed when the messenger returned without Jesus! They watched their brother grow weaker and weaker. Then he died. They were grief-stricken. Why hadn't Jesus come?

Still they hoped he would come, for he had raised the dead to life. The day passed, but Jesus did not arrive. At last the neighbors and friends came to help wrap Lazarus' body for burial. They carried him to a burial cave.

Mary and Martha followed, weeping bitterly. They saw Lazarus laid in the cave and watched the great stone rolled over the opening. Still Jesus had not come.

Two days after receiving the message from Mary and Martha, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea again."

The disciples did not like the idea. They answered, "Master, when you were there before some of the people tried to stone you. Why go back?"

"Our friend Lazarus sleeps," Jesus told them. "I go to awaken him." At first the disciples thought Lazarus must be getting better. Then Jesus told them that Lazarus was dead. He said, "For your sakes I am glad I was not there so you may believe."

Lazarus had been dead four days. The sisters thought it would be too late for Jesus to help them now even if he did come. Friends came from Jerusalem to comfort the sisters, but it was Jesus they wanted most.

At last word came that Jesus and his disciples were nearing the village. Martha ran to meet him. "Lord," she cried, "if only you had been here, my brother would not have died!"

To comfort her, Jesus said, "Your brother will rise again."

"I know he will be resurrected in the last day," she answered.

That was not what Jesus meant. He explained, "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live. And those who live and believe in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" he asked.

Martha answered, "Yes, Lord, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God."

But Martha did not really understand what Jesus meant. She left him and hurried to call her sister Mary. "The Master wants to see you, Mary," she said.

Mary hurried to meet Jesus and found him resting by the roadside. Falling at his feet she sobbed, "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!"

The Jews who had come from Jerusalem to comfort the sisters saw Mary leave the house in a great hurry. They thought she was going to Lazarus' grave, so they followed. When they saw her fall weeping at Jesus' feet, they wept aloud.

"Where have you laid Lazarus' body?" Jesus asked.

They took him to the cave. Jesus wept in sympathy when he looked at the sisters and their sorrowing friends.

The Jews whispered, "See how much he loved Lazarus! Surely this man who opened blind eyes could have healed Lazarus."

While they talked, Jesus commanded that someone roll the stone away from the front of the cave.

Martha exclaimed, "Lord, he has been dead four days. By this time his body is decaying!"

Jesus answered, "Did I not tell you that you would see the glory of God if you believed?"

The stone was rolled away. While the people watched, Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. And I know that you hear me always. I say this so the people who are here may believe you have sent me." Then Jesus looked into the door of the cave and cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"

Speechless, the people watched. How astonished they were to see Lazarus get up and come out!

Jesus said, "Take off the burial clothes and let him go." And Lazarus went home with his sisters and Jesus.

The Jews who had seen this miracle believed that Jesus was the Christ. Soon the scribes and Pharisees and chief priests heard what had happened at Bethany. How excited they were! "What shall we do?" they asked. "If we let him go on, soon all men will believe in him; Then the Romans will take away our nation."

From that time Jesus' enemies planned how they would capture and kill him.

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