Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were very close friends of the Savior’s. John reports that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters. Lazarus became very ill while Jesus was away. His sisters sent for Jesus, but the Savior did not come immediately. He responded that the illness was not meant to kill Lazarus but to help testify of Jesus’ divinity. Jesus remained for two days before returning to Judea. Even then, His apostles warned Him against going due to the danger to the Savior’s own life. The Savior said that Lazarus was sleeping and that Jesus needed to go and awaken him.
The disciples misunderstood, not realizing the Savior meant that Lazarus was dead, so the Savior explained his meaning and said He was glad He hadn’t been there to prevent the death, because the coming events would strengthen their testimonies.
When they arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Many people had come to mourn with the sisters, but when she learned Jesus was coming, Martha went out to meet Him. Mary did not. Martha told the Savior that if He had been there, her brother wouldn’t have died, but that she knew that even now, whatever Jesus asked of God, God would do. Jesus said that her brother would rise from the dead. Martha thought he was referring to the resurrection in the last days. Jesus explained that He was the resurrection and that those who believed in Him would never die. He asked her if she believed Him and she said she did.
Martha went quietly to her sister to inform her the Master had arrived and wanted to see her. Mary quickly left the house to go outside the city, where Jesus was. Those who saw her leave presumed she was going to the grave to mourn. When she saw Jesus, she fell to her knees and said that if Jesus had been there, her brother would not have died. Jesus, seeing her tears and those of the Jews who had come to mourn, was troubled. He asked where Lazarus was and was taken there. He wept and the Jews marveled at how much Jesus loved Lazarus, but wondered why Jesus hadn’t prevented the death.
Jesus asked to have the stone removed from the cave where His friend was buried. Martha pointed out he’d been dead for four days, but Jesus reminded her that He had promised her that if she believed, she would see the glory of God. The stone was removed and Jesus prayed and called Lazarus from the grave. Lazarus rose from the grave.
Some people now believed in Jesus’ divinity but others went out and reported what had happened. This worried the chief priests, who saw that the event was converting too many people. Many of the people who came to a supper with Jesus and the disciples six days before Passover came to see Lazarus, having heard of his being raised from the dead.