And when he [Jesus] had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” ―John 11:43–44

Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, lived in Bethany, a town just a few miles from Jerusalem. These three siblings were good friends with Jesus, so when Lazarus became terribly ill, Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus, letting him know of their brother’s condition. The sisters desperately hoped that he would visit and restore the health of their brother.

When Jesus received the sisters’ message, he instantly understood that Lazarus’s dreadful condition was part of God’s plan―that the events that were to surround Lazarus in the days to come would beautifully demonstrate the glory of God and help people better understand who Jesus was. After deliberately waiting a few days, Jesus set out for Bethany.

By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha and Mary were terribly distressed that it was too late for Jesus to help their brother. However, their deep anguish quickly blended with total bewilderment when Jesus asked that the stone before Lazarus’s tomb be pushed aside.

Before a gathered crowd, Jesus spoke out to God in prayer and then forcefully exclaimed, “Lazarus, come out!” Incredibly, Lazarus rose up and stepped outside the tomb, still wrapped in his burial bands, and Jesus directed the awestruck crowd to untie the burial wrappings and let him go.

News of this miracle spread rapidly, creating a significant turning point in Jesus’ ministry and life. Many people went from mere curiosity or indifference to following him wholeheartedly. This shift in public attitude infuriated some already indignant synagogue chief priests. Already planning to kill Jesus, they began to scheme for the death of Lazarus as well.

Although the Sanhedrin succeeded in having Jesus crucified, Lazarus was spared. After Pentecost, Lazarus allegedly preached in Cyprus for many years. His relics were reportedly discovered there in 899 and transferred to Constantinople; from there, they were moved to Autun, France, where they are now venerated at the Cathedral of Saint Lazarus.

 

A Week of Bible Journaling with St. Lazarus

In older saint books, you might find St. Lazarus’s memorial recorded as Dec. 17; however, the current Roman Martyrology has moved his feast day to July 29—a day to share with his sisters: Martha and Mary of Bethany. If you would like to get to know St. Lazarus better, try Bible Journaling with him for one week. Ponder each passage below prayerfully, and consider how Lazarus’s story impacted Christendom.

  • Day 1) John 11:1–16
  • Day 2) John 11:17–27
  • Day 3) John 11:28–37
  • Day 4) John 11:38–44
  • Day 5) John 11:45–47, 53
  • Day 6) John 12:1–11
  • Day 7) Luke 10:38–42