λαζαρος - lad’-zar-os
Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha. He is mentioned only in the Gospel of John, although his sisters are mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. Lazarus lived with his sisters in Bethany. (See B-Bethany) This family seems to have some means of wealth since Mary anointed Jesus with a costly ointment and Lazarus had his own burial tomb.
Lazarus became sick one day and his sisters sent for Jesus. Lazarus had been described as a person whom Jesus had loved very much. When the messenger from the sister’s told Jesus and the disciples that Lazarus was sick, Jesus told the disciples”
“…This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be gloried through it.” (John 11:4, NKJV)
Jesus was teaching the disciples that Lazarus’s sickness and death would be an opportunity to reveal the glory of Jesus which would point to His divine nature and role. Jesus delayed two whole days before he traveled to Bethany.
When Jesus arrived Lazarus had died and been buried for four (4) days. Jewish Rabbis taught (with no biblical basis) that the soul hovered near or right above the body for three days after death and then the soul returned to God. The fourth (4th) day would signify that Lazarus was truly dead. There is no record that Jesus accepted this “tradition.” However, he did accommodate the Jewish superstition in order to prevent any questions about Lazarus’s death.
Lazarus had been buried in a dry hot climate. The body was anointed with spiced oil and then bound in linen cloth. The deceased was mourned up to thirty (30) days, sometimes with hired or professional mourners.
Jesus ordered the stone rolled away from the tomb. Jesus then commanded Lazarus to come forth from the dead and the tomb. Of course Lazarus could only do one thing – obey! When he did come out of the tomb having been raised from the dead, Jesus ordered him to be unbound by the linen cloth.
This was a pivotal miracle and event in the life of Jesus. John 11:53 says:
“Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.”
The raising of Lazarus put in motion the action of the Jewish court that would ultimately culminate in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Jewish leadership began to conspire to have Jesus killed from the moment they heard reports of this great miracle.