Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead

Can there be a greater example of the power of God than to raise to life a man who had been dead for four days? Fact is, God controls the elements, all of them. That is how he created the earth. A God that can create an earth, can control life and death. He can command the elements, and life can be made whole. Lazarus was a friend to Jesus, as were his two sisters. He loved them, and because he loved them, he worked his miracles on them – just as he does for all who love him. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead for one purpose, “for the Glory of God”.

Lazarus is Raised from the Dead – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

John 11 1:46 KJV

1. Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

2. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

3. Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

4. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the son of God might be glorified thereby.

5. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

6. When he heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

7. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

8. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

9. Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

10. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

11. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

12. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

13. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

14. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

15. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

16. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

17. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

18. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

19. And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wild ask of God, God will give it thee.

23. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

28. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

29. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

30. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

31. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to week there.

32. The when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

33. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

34. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35. Jesus wept.

36. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37. And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38. Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou has sent me.

43. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

44. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

45. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

46. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

Jesus the Christ 

Written by James Talmage

Chapter 28


Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, lay ill in the family home at Bethany of Judea. His devoted sisters sent a messenger to Jesus, with the simple announcement, in which, however, we cannot fail to recognize a pitiful appeal: “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” When Jesus received the message, He remarked: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” This was probably the word carried back to the sisters, whom Jesus loved. Lazarus had died in the interval; indeed he must have expired soon after the messenger had started with the tidings of the young man’s illness. The Lord knew that Lazarus was dead; yet He tarried where He was for two days after receiving the word; then He surprised the disciples by saying: “Let us go into Judea again.” They sought to dissuade the Master by reminding Him of the recent attempt upon His life at Jerusalem, and asked wonderingly, “Goest thou thither again?” Jesus made clear to them that He was not to be deterred from duty in the time thereof, nor should others be; for as He illustrated, the working day is twelve hours long; and during that period a man may walk without stumbling, for he walks in the light, but if he let the hours pass and then try to walk or work in darkness, he stumbles. It was then His day to work, and He was making no mistake in returning to Judea.

He added: “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” The simile between death and sleep was as common among the Jews as with us;[1023] but the disciples construed the saying literally, and remarked that if the sick man was sleeping it would be well with him. Jesus set them right. “Lazarus is dead,” He said, and added, “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.” It is evident that Jesus had already decided to restore Lazarus to life; and, as we shall see, the miracle was to be a testimony of our Lord’s Messiahship, convincing to all who would accept it. A return to Judea at that time was viewed by at least some of the apostles with serious apprehension; they feared for their Master’s safety, and thought that their own lives would be in peril; nevertheless they did not hesitate to go. Thomas boldly said to the others: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Arriving on the outskirts of Bethany, Jesus found that Lazarus “had lain in the grave four days already.”[1024] The bereaved sisters were at home, where had gathered, according to custom, friends to console them in their grief. Among these were many prominent people, some of whom had come from Jerusalem. Word of the Master’s approach reached Martha first, and she hastened to meet Him. Her first words were: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” It was an expression of anguish combined with faith; but, lest it appear as lacking in trust, she hastened to add: “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” Then said Jesus in words of assuring tenderness: “Thy brother shall rise again.” Perhaps some of the Jews who had come to comfort her had said as much, for they, the Sadducees excepted, believed in a resurrection; and Martha failed to find in the Lord’s promise anything more than a general assurance that her departed brother should be raised with the rest of the dead. In natural and seemingly casual assent she remarked: “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Then said Jesus: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

The sorrowing woman’s faith had to be lifted and centered in the Lord of Life with whom she was speaking. She had before confessed her conviction that whatever Jesus asked of God would be granted; she had to learn that unto Jesus had already been committed power over life and death. She was hopefully expectant of some superhuman interposition by the Lord Jesus in her behalf, yet she knew not what that might be. Apparently at this time she had no well-defined thought or even hope that He would call her brother from the tomb. To the Lord’s question as to whether she believed what He had just said, she answered with simple frankness; all of it she was not able to understand; but she believed in the Speaker even while unable to fully comprehend His words. “Yea, Lord,” she said, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

Then she returned to the home, and with precaution of secrecy on account of the presence of some whom she knew to be unfriendly to Jesus, said to Mary: “The Master is come, and calleth for thee.” Mary left the house in haste. The Jews who had been with her thought that she had been impelled by a fresh resurgence of grief to go again to the grave, and they followed her. When she reached the Master, she knelt at His feet, and gave expression to her consuming sorrow in the very words Martha had used: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” We cannot doubt that the conviction so voiced had been the burden of comment and lamentation between the two sisters—if only Jesus had been with them they would not have been bereft of their brother.

The sight of the two women so overcome by grief, and of the people wailing with them, caused Jesus to sorrow, so that He groaned in spirit and was deeply troubled. “Where have ye laid him?” He asked; and Jesus wept. As the sorrowing company went toward the tomb, some of the Jews, observing the Lord’s emotion and tears, said: “Behold how he loved him!” but others, less sympathetic because of their prejudice against Christ, asked critically and reproachfully: “Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” The miracle by which a man blind from birth had been made to see was very generally known, largely because of the official investigation that had followed the healing.[1025] The Jews had been compelled to admit the actuality of the astounding occurrence; and the question now raised as to whether or why One who could accomplish such a wonder could not have preserved from death a man stricken with an ordinary illness, and that man one whom He seemed to have dearly loved, was an innuendo that the power possessed by Jesus was after all limited, and of uncertain or capricious operation. This manifestation of malignant unbelief caused Jesus again to groan with sorrow if not indignation.[1026]

The body of Lazarus had been interred in a cave, the entrance to which was closed by a great block of stone. Such burial-places were common in that country, natural caves or vaults hewn in the solid rock being used as sepulchres by the better classes of people. Jesus directed that the tomb be opened. Martha, still unprepared for what was to follow, ventured to remonstrate, reminding Jesus that the corpse had been four days immured, and that decomposition must have already set in.[1027] Jesus thus met her objection: “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” This may have had reference both to His promise spoken to Martha in person—that her brother should rise again—and to the message sent from Perea—that the illness of Lazarus was not unto final death at that time, but for the glory of God and that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

The stone was removed. Standing before the open portal of the tomb, Jesus looked upward and prayed: “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” He did not ask the Father for power or authority; such had already been given Him; but He gave thanks, and in the hearing of all who stood by acknowledged the Father and expressed the oneness of His own and the Father’s purposes. Then, with a loud voice He cried: “Lazarus, come forth.” The dead man heard that voice of authoritative command; the spirit straightway reentered the tabernacle of flesh, the physical processes of life were resumed; and Lazarus, again alive, came forth. His freedom of motion was limited, for the grave clothes hampered his movements, and his face was still bound by the napkin by which the lifeless jaw had been held in place. To those who stood near, Jesus said: “Loose him, and let him go.”

The procedure throughout was characterized by deep solemnity and by the entire absence of every element of unnecessary display. Jesus, who when miles away and without any ordinary means of receiving the information knew that Lazarus was dead, doubtless could have found the tomb; yet He inquired: “Where have ye laid him?” He who could still the waves of the sea by a word could have miraculously effected the removal of the stone that sealed the mouth of the sepulchre; yet He said: “Take ye away the stone.” He who could reunite spirit and body could have loosened without hands the cerements by which the reanimated Lazarus was bound; yet He said: “Loose him, and let him go.” All that human agency could do was left to man. In no instance do we find that Christ used unnecessarily the superhuman powers of His Godship; the divine energy was never wasted; even the material creation resulting from its exercise was conserved, as witness His instructions regarding the gathering up of the fragments of bread and fish after the multitudes had been miraculously fed.[1028]

The raising of Lazarus stands as the third recorded instance of restoration to life by Jesus.[1029] In each the miracle resulted in a resumption of mortal existence, and was in no sense a resurrection from death to immortality. In the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the spirit was recalled to its tenement within the hour of its quitting; the raising of the widow’s son is an instance of restoration when the corpse was ready for the grave; the crowning miracle of the three was the calling of a spirit to reenter its body days after death, and when, by natural processes the corpse would be already in the early stages of decomposition. Lazarus was raised from the dead, not simply to assuage the grief of mourning relatives; myriads have had to mourn over death, and so myriads more shall have to do. One of the Lord’s purposes was that of demonstrating the actuality of the power of God as shown forth in the works of Jesus the Christ, and Lazarus was the accepted subject of the manifestation; just as the man afflicted with congenital blindness had been chosen to be the one through whom “the works of God should be made manifest.”[1030]

That the Lord’s act of restoring Lazarus to life was of effect in testifying to His Messiahship is explicitly stated. [1031] All the circumstances leading up to final culmination in the miracle contributed to its attestation. No question as to the actual death of Lazarus could be raised, for his demise had been witnessed, his body had been prepared and buried in the usual way, and he had lain in the grave four days. At the tomb, when he was called forth, there were many witnesses, some of them prominent Jews, many of whom were unfriendly to Jesus and who would have readily denied the miracle had they been able. God was glorified and the divinity of the Son of Man was vindicated in the result.

[1022] John 11:1-46.

[1023] Compare Matt. 9:24; Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52; Job 14:12; 1 Thess. 4:14.

[1024] Lazarus in the Tomb Four Days.—On the very probable assumption that the journey from Bethany in Judea to the place where Jesus was, in Perea, would require one day, Lazarus must have died on the day of the messenger’s departure; for this day and the two days that elapsed before Jesus started toward Judea, and the day required for the return, would no more than cover the four days specified. It was and still is the custom in Palestine as in other oriental countries to bury on the day of death.

It was the popular belief that on the fourth day after death the spirit had finally departed from the vicinity of the corpse, and that thereafter decomposition proceeded unhindered. This may explain Martha’s impulsive though gentle objection to having the tomb of her brother opened four days after his death(John 11:39). It is possible that the consent of the next of kin was required for the lawful opening of a grave. Both Martha and Mary were present, and in the presence of many witnesses assented to the opening of the tomb in which their brother lay.

[1025] John 9.

[1026] Jesus Groaned in Spirit.—The marginal readings for “he groaned in the spirit” (John 11:33) and “again groaning in himself” (v. 38), as given in the revised version, are “was moved with indignation in the spirit” and “being moved with indignation in himself.” All philological authorities agree that the words in the original Greek express sorrowful indignation, or as some aver, anger, and not alone a sympathetic emotion of grief. Any indignation the Lord may have felt, as intimated in verse 33, may be attributed to disapproval of the customary wailing over death, which as vented by the Jews on this occasion, profaned the real and soulful grief of Martha and Mary; and His indignation, expressed by groaning as mentioned in verse 38, may have been due to the carping criticism uttered by some of the Jews as recorded in verse 37.

[1027] see [1024].

[1028] John 6:12; Matt. 15:37.

[1029] Matt. 9:23-25; Luke 7:11-17.

[1030]John 9:3.

[1031] John 12:9-11, 17.