Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were good friends of Jesus. Often, they invited Jesus to come visit them in their home near Jerusalem. When Jesus was tired from working with the huge crowds who came to Him, or when His enemies caused trouble, He knew He could come to the little house in Bethany and find love and peace.
One day, Jesus received a message from Mary and Martha. It was about Lazarus. “Lord, he whom You love is sick.” The sisters were sure Jesus would come right away and make Lazarus well. But he stayed right where He was for two days.
While Jesus waited, Lazarus died. How disappointed the sisters were! They had been sure Jesus would come and heal Lazarus. They could not understand why He let His friend die. Then, four days after Lazarus was put into the cave that was his tomb, Jesus arrived in Bethany.
Martha and Mary were sitting in the house with the men and women who had come to mourn with them. When Martha heard that Jesus had come, she hurried out of the house and met Him on the road.
“Lord,” she cried, “if You had only come, my brother would not have died!”
Jesus looked at Martha tenderly. “Your brother will rise again,” He promised.
“Yes,” said Martha, “I know he will rise in the resurrection at the last day.”
“I am the resurrection and the life,” said Jesus. “Whoever believes in Me, even though he dies, will live again. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord, I believe,” said Martha, and she hurried back to the house.
“The Teacher has come,” Martha whispered to her sister, “and He is calling for you.” Mary hurried out of the house. All the people followed her; they thought she was going to the tomb to mourn for Lazarus.
When Mary found Jesus, she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus looked at Mary and all the other sad people. Tears fell from His eyes as He walked to the tomb. “Look how He loved him,” said some of the people. But others found fault.
“If He loved him so much, why didn’t He come and heal him? He healed the blind and the lame and even the lepers. Why couldn’t He save the life of His friend?”
But Jesus was not crying for Lazarus; He knew what was about to happen. Instead, He cried for all the sadness people suffer in this sinful world. When they reached the tomb, Jesus stood in front of the stone that blocked the entrance.
“Take away the stone,” He commanded. Several men took hold of the stone and moved it aside. Then Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven and prayed.
“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by, I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
There was a rustling inside the tomb, the sound of shuffling footsteps, and then Lazarus stood at the door of the tomb. The grave wrappings covered his mouth and tied his hands and feet together, but he was alive. He had returned from death at the voice of the Lifegiver.
“Untie him,” Jesus said. Mary and Martha wept with joy as they hugged their brother.
Many of the people who were at the tomb that day believed in Jesus because of the miracle they had seen. Now Mary and Martha understood why Jesus had not come when they first sent for Him. He wanted to show the power and glory of God to these people who might never have learned to know Him if Lazarus had not died.
Read the story of Lazarus in John 11. Jesus raised other people from the dead, too. You can read about them in Luke 7:11-15, Matthew 9:18-26 and Mark 5:22-43.
The words that Jesus spoke to Martha are the Treasure Chest Verse
for this lesson:
“I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25