Resurrection of Lazarus

Bible Study Lesson 6.14

Resurrection of Lazarus Bible Verses:
Since we are all in Adam we will all die, likewise, all who are in Christ will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22 NHEB.

Previous Bible study lesson: Jesus and Legion Demon #6.13.

Preliminary Bible Study Questions:
1) Why do people die?
2) Who was Lazarus?
3) Who was raised from the dead in the Bible?

Dying stinks. We all agree. Death ruins an otherwise great life. Death is the pits.

Our dreams die. Our works vanish. All our accomplishments are buried with us. All that's left at the end is a block of tombstone engraved with our name.

Did you realize that God didn't create us to die, but to live in bliss forever. It's the truth.

Unfortunately, the human race as a whole decided they didn't want God telling them what to do. That's what the Bible considers original sin; and it dishonors God, bringing death to us all (Romans 5:12).

You and I die because of sin, not just our sin, but the original sin of mankind. We're born sinners, we live in sin, and we die sinners (Romans 3:10-12). There are no excuses, no one to blame other than ourselves. Each of us is fully accountable to God for our own wrongdoing. Death is the pits, isn't it?

Well, great news, there is hope. There is a resurrection from the dead, available for all of us. That's for sure, because God made us a promise (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

We're going to have a terrific study today, a lesson that will give you hope for a future glorious day. Not only giving you hope, but the directions to realize how to experience what lies as the basis for our hope.

The perfect Bible story to present such wonderful news is the story of Lazarus and Jesus. 

Let's study the death and resurrection of Lazarus, one of Jesus' best friends. Please read John 11:1-44 before starting the lesson.

The Death and Resurrection of Lazarus

Lazarus was Mary and Martha's brother, all were good friends with Jesus. For instance, Mary would soon experience the privilege of anointing King Jesus' feet with expensive perfume (John 12:1-6).

One day Mary and Martha sent Jesus a note saying that Lazarus had become very sick. Jesus immediately spoke to his disciples, saying, "Lazarus' sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this" (John 11:1-4). Jesus remained calm, staying in place for two days after receiving the note.

Against his disciple's better wishes, i.e. their reluctance to return because of past attacks in the region, Jesus informed them that they were heading back to Judea. Jesus told them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but now I will go and wake him up" (John 11:5-13).

Jesus later clarified himself by saying Lazarus had actually died. Thomas thought that Jesus was walking into a trap, so he volunteered to go and die with Jesus. Thomas' bold attitude to follow Jesus is a perfect model for all of us to emulate.

By the time Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethany Lazarus had been dead for four days. Both Mary and Martha had some regretful words for Jesus about his seemingly poor sense of timing. They of course wished he had arrived earlier, much earlier, in fact four days earlier so that Lazarus hadn't died at all (John 11:21; 11:32).

Jesus told Martha, "Your brother will rise again." She thought he meant that Lazarus would rise along with everyone else on the last day. But, that's not what Jesus meant. He asked Mary, "Where have you put him?" After they showed Jesus Lazarus' tomb where he lay, he stated, "Roll away the stone!"

Martha, unsuspecting of a great miracle, said, "Lord, he's been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible" (John 11:38-39).

Jesus responded, "Didn't I say that you would see God's glory, if you believe?" The stone was rolled aside.

Jesus, very emotional at this point, looked to heaven and prayed, "Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me."

A hush fell upon the crowd. The anticipation overtook all who witnessed the prayer. WHAT was Jesus going to do?

Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, come forth!"

Lazarus appeared at the tomb's entrance, fully wrapped in strips of burial cloth. Everyone was in shock. Disbelief. A surreal moment enveloped everyone in the crowd. "Who is this man who can raise the dead?!"

Jesus gave one final command, "Unwrap him and let him go!" Lazarus was freed from the bonds of death.

Lazarus was brought back to life and perfectly healed of physical death and its unknown causes. Physical death suffered a serious defeat in this miracle. The devil despised this healing miracle with all his power to hate.

You can bet there was a tremendous celebration to welcome Lazarus back to the living, but also to celebrate Jesus, their long-awaited Messiah.

The death of Lazarus, with its accompanying pain and suffering, would soon be a distant memory to his loved ones.

Was the resurrection of Lazarus the first time a person was ever raised from physical death? Would the resurrection of Lazarus be the last time a person was raised? Let's find out.

List of Resurrections in the Bible

The Bible has a handful of people who physically died and were subsequently raised from the dead. Their resurrection accounts are listed here.

Old Testament Resurrections:

  • Widow's son resurrected by Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24). God worked a resurrection miracle through Elijah to confirm his status as a true prophet of God. The Lord also had mercy on the widow for her gracious aid to his appointed prophet.
  • Wealthy woman's son resurrected by Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-35). As if confirming the office of prophet for Elisha, the Lord also worked a resurrection miracle on the wealthy, hospitable woman's young son.

New Testament Resurrections:

  • Jairus' daughter resurrected by Jesus (Mark 5:36-43). The synagogue's leader, Jairus, was told by Jesus to not fear, but have faith. The crowd of mourners laughed at Jesus when he told them the 12 year old girl was only sleeping. He healed her and she immediately rose from the bed and walked around the room.
  • Widow's son raised to life by Jesus (Luke 7:11-17). This was a momentous resurrection with many witnesses in the village of Nain. Jesus walked into town and crossed paths with a funeral procession. He noticed the young, but widowed, mother of the child and his heart overflowed with compassion. He told her not to cry. Jesus touched the coffin, and said, "Young man, I tell you, get up!" The boy sat up and began talking! Jesus lovingly, joyfully handed the boy back to his mother. The little boy was the young widow's only child. We have such an awesome Savior!
  • Moses and Elijah resurrected at Jesus' Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). Most theologians fail to include these two bodily resurrections as a miraculous event. However, the two prophets appeared in physical body and voice to witnesses AFTER they died. Why wouldn't you consider Moses and Elijah's physical return to earth a miracle resurrection? Glory to God for such an incredible miracle!
  • Resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus (John 11:1-44). Make sure to watch the dramatic Resurrection of Lazarus video at the end of this Bible lesson.
  • Jesus Christ resurrected by the Holy Spirit (John 20:1-10). Jesus was the first fruit of all who will be resurrected to eternal life in heaven (1 Corinthians 15:23).
  • Dorcas raised from the dead by Peter (Acts 9:36-43). Dorcas was a Christian servant, always helping those in need. She got sick and passed away quickly one day. The people heard that Peter was nearby so they summoned him. Peter came and knelt in prayer for her and she instantly arose.
  • Eutychus raised from the dead by Paul (Acts 20:7-12). Eutychus was listening to Paul preach when the young man fell asleep, falling out a window to his death three stories below. Not only was Eutychus raised from the dead, but his injuries were all perfectly healed, too.

Future Resurrections:

  • The first beast will be raised from the dead (Revelation 13:3-4; 13:12). God allows this evil miracle to take place in order to deceive the masses of God-hating fools.
  • Christian martyrs will be raised from the dead in order to reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4-6). This is considered the "first resurrection."
  • Non-believers will be physically resurrected to stand before the Savior (Revelation 20:11-15). They will bow the knee before Jesus, acknowledging him as Lord of All. They will then be shown their transgressions against God and the Bible. Once pronounced "Guilty!" they'll be thrown into the Lake of Fire to begin spending eternity with the devil, the beast, the false prophet (Revelation 20:10), and their demons (2 Peter 2:4;  Jude 6). All these lost souls will experience what is referred to as their "second death." They'll be tormented forever and ever (Revelation 21:8).
  • Finally, believers in God will be physically resurrected to stand before the Savior, as well (2 Corinthians 5:9). But, there's a huge difference, because resurrected believers will receive acknowledgement from Jesus for their works of service (Matthew 25:23). The reward will be entering eternity with Jesus and his heavenly angels! (Revelation 21:5-7).

There will be no condemnation for those who loved the appearance of Jesus' 2nd Coming (2 Timothy 4:8).

Let's return to the resurrection of Lazarus, so we can learn more of the story's truths.

Resurrection of Lazarus

This biblical account of Jesus' miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead contains valuable insight about Jesus' nature.

Most importantly we see his human attachments, which are much like our own. Jesus loved this family, i.e. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They were some of his best friends. There is a neat story given us in Luke 10:38-41, where Jesus, like an older brother, rebuked Martha for being too busy tending to his needs. Martha told Jesus to tell Mary to help her, but Jesus told Martha she was out of line, because Mary was sitting at his feet learning from him.

In other words, it was more important to be fed spiritual food by Jesus, than to feed Jesus food for his body. With Jesus, the spiritual ALWAYS trumped the physical. Our perspective of life should be similar.

In the case of Lazarus, Jesus knew that he would be raised from the dead. He also knew that Martha and Mary were suffering terrible sorrow, so he longed to rush to Bethany and raise Lazarus from the dead. However, he had to wait until the appointed time. The Father had a set moment when the resurrection miracle was to be performed.

Lazarus met the time of official death which was four days. Everyone knew Lazarus was dead. That's when Jesus arrived, when all hope for Lazarus had ended. Four days of death. Four days spent wrapped in grave clothes. Four days worth of (graphic links, beware) rigor mortis, livor mortis, and decomposition had ravaged Lazarus' corpse.

Martha said, "Lord, he will smell." She was absolutely correct. Lazarus' state of decay makes this miracle truly amazing.

Although Jesus knew that Lazarus would soon be raised, the moment struck his emotions. He saw the people's anguish. He saw the pain of death. He heard the agony of those who lost a loved one. He felt the pain of the loss himself. The moment struck him like a lightning bolt. He became angry. Jesus hated these terrible effects of human sin!

Jesus wept (John 11:35). 

Jesus so longed for the time when all those who love God will be brought together. All the sadness will be gone. All the pain will disappear. No more sickness, no more disease, no more injuries, no more tears. All things will be made new. Sin will never again be allowed to destroy those who love Jesus (Revelation 22:1-5).

Don't you wish lost people could understand what the Lord has in store for those who love him? God, please open their eyes.

Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life

In raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus demonstrated his power and love for us. Only God can raise a physically dead person back to life again. The Creator is also the Re-creator. God is the One who breathes life into a body, and it was God's Son who worked this miracle in Bethany.

Jesus raised Lazarus so that his disciples and other onlookers would be prepared for his own forthcoming resurrection from the dead, which would happen in a matter of weeks.

The news of Lazarus' resurrection spread like wildfire (John 11:45). The miracle brought joy, but also resentment. The scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees began plotting Jesus' demise (John 11:53). They hated him with a burning passion. They hated this entire situation so much that they even wanted to kill Lazarus! (John 12:9-11).

These Jewish leaders were called hypocrites by Jesus. They didn't believe in him, but do you?

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die" (John 11:25-26). He asks, "Do YOU believe?"

Miracles and Belief

John 11:45 shares that many people believed in Jesus as the Messiah after he raised Lazarus from the dead.

That was one of the intended purposes of Lazarus' death and resurrection. God was drawing people to himself (John 6:44), through his Son, by giving him this great work to perform (John 5:19). People watched Jesus perform the miracle, but Jesus pointed their eyes to the Father.
God's glory was the ultimate purpose for the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:40). People seeing this miracle were in absolute awe. Think about it for a moment. Think of losing a loved one to death for four days. Think of Jesus suddenly dropping in on you and raising your loved one to life.

How would you react? Exactly! You would be in AWESTRUCK WONDER!

Fruit of the Spirit Response to the Resurrection of Lazarus:

We KNOW our God is the God of the living, not a God of the dead! (Luke 20:38). You're reading about this account in the Scriptures, so you should involve yourself in this situation. Enter Bethany for a moment.

Understanding this fact, that this is the secret of history and especially the secret of believing in the historical accounts recorded in the Bible. The reader of history has to enter the situation and feel it, breath it, live it, and become it. You can be the miracle! Open your heart to Jesus!

Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe in the resurrection of Lazarus? Do you believe in Jesus' resurrection? Do you believe that Jesus has the power and authority to raise your corpse back to life?

You will die, that is a fact. Accept it. Repeat after me, "I will die. I will lie in a coffin. I will be buried six feet underground."

Okay, then what? What next for you? Jesus says your valuable soul will never die (Mark 8:37). He says your body will die once for sure (Romans 6:23) and maybe twice (Revelation 20:14). You aren't good enough to enter heaven, the Bible is clear (Romans 3:20; 3:23). Your heart is full of evil (Mark 7:20-23).

So, what is a man to do?

Jesus says you need to be born again (John 1:13; 3:5-7). After he has touched your soul, you then need to repent and believe in him (Mark 1:15). Repenting means you have to admit you're a transgressor of God's law, his standard for righteousness. You have to stop thinking that because you're not as sinful as other people you somehow should receive a free pass to heaven. Sorry. Wrongo. You are terribly mistaken.

Sin is woven into the fabric of your heart. Your body is genetically fallen and corrupt, leaving you separated from God. You are a sinner, you know it, so please admit it (Luke 18:14). Humble yourself to tears, Sinner Man (James 4:7-10). THAT is repentance. Don't stop 'til you're forgiven by the Lord himself (1 John 1:8-2:1).

How do you know when that happens? Well, that's pretty easy to know. Read (click) 1 John 2:3-6 for the answer. Don't let anyone fool you.

Add to this the fact that you're allowed to receive salvation when you trust in Jesus Christ ALONE for eternal life (John 5:24). Don't trust yourself or anyone or anything else. Trust Jesus and his word, the Holy Bible (Mark 8:38). Do this with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and Jesus will answer your plea (Matthew 7:7-8).

Grasp This! Your Resurrection

Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus and called him out; he will call you from your tomb, too (Hebrews 9:27).

Will you be escorted by angels to the dreaded Great White Throne Judgment?

Or, will you be escorted by angels to the Believer's Judgment for your rewards?

The former, i.e. the unbeliever's judgment, begins your second death, where you're separated from all good things for eternity. These people will be the victims of God's scorn forever.

The latter, i.e. the bema seat judgment, begins one's second life, joined with Jesus, his angels, and all the saints of all time. These people will be the benefactors of the rich heavenly blessings that are totally unimaginable.

Heaven or Hell for you? Grasp it. Decide. Resurrection unto Destruction? Or, Resurrection unto Life? God gives you a choice, so, what's your preference? If you choose Life, you're invited to start here (click): Sinners Prayer. Let me know what you decide. God bless you.

Join our next Bible study lesson: Jesus Healing Shame #6.15.

Resurrection of Lazarus Discussion Questions:
1) If someone needs rational evidence before they believe, such as personally witnessing a resurrection or other miracle, what would you tell them? (see Luke 16:31).
2) Why do you think Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus when he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in a few moments? Discuss.
3) How does Christ motivate those of us who don't have the good fortune to witness one of his incredible miracles? (see John 20:29).

Resurrection of Lazarus Bible Verses:
So also is the resurrection of the dead. Our bodies are buried in corruption; but raised in incorruption. Our bodies are buried in dishonor; but raised in glory. Our bodies are sown in weakness; but raised in power. They are buried a natural body; but raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NHEB.

For our dying bodies must put on bodies that will never perish, and the mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and the mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:53-57 NHEB.

As he was now getting near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest!" Luke 19:37-38 NHEB.

Resurrection Prayer:
Lord God, I'm going to be selfish for a moment, if you don't mind. Here goes... I don't want to die. You didn't originally intend for me to die, and I don't like the idea, either. I want to live with you forever. I want to enjoy your presence. I want to live in your kingdom, hearing your teaching. I want to live in your kingdom, watching your miracles. I want to live in your kingdom, beholding your amazing angels. I want to live in your kingdom, admiring the beautiful New Jerusalem that you've already built. O Jesus, I want to spend all of eternity in your holy presence, singing your praises. Give me faith, Jesus, give me faith to finish this life. And, after I die, Sweet Lord, please raise me from the grave. In Christ's name, Amen.

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Finish the lesson with this dramatic video presentation of Jesus raising Lazarus.

Special Note: I'm grateful to Angela Johnson for her bronze work of Lazarus photo. Also, thanks to Big Book Media & Free Bible Images, stock.xchng, Morgue Files, and Stock Photos For Free; and also to BeyondtheHorizonNewPossibility for the use of their video for the Resurrection of Lazarus Bible Study Lesson.