You are currently viewing Lazarus of Bethany. Who was Lazarus in the Bible?

Lazarus of Bethany. Who was Lazarus in the Bible?

The Gospel doesn’t give us much information about this man’s character. Still, it does give us one detail that speaks volumes – Jesus called him a friend: ‘Lazarus of Bethany our friend’ (John 11:11). He is the only one outside the circle of the twelve disciples who the Gospels say was their friend. When they called Jesus to heal him, Lazarus’ sisters knew this: “He whom you love”; more precisely, who is your friend (John 11:3).

Lazarus of Bethany was a Jew living near Jerusalem and a real friend of Jesus Christ. He might have been influenced by the prejudices of his fellow Jews about Christ. But he decided to offer him his friendship. “Lazarus of Bethany was one of Christ’s most steadfast disciples. From their first meeting, his faith in Christ had been strong, his love for Him was deep, and he was very fond of the Savior.” 

Lazarus’ friendship with Jesus began with an open heart and continued as their home was always available to Jesus and His disciples. At all hours, Jesus was a welcome guest. Lazarus remained a friend of the Lord Christ even when his resurrection made him famous and drew the hostility of his leaders.

Who was Lazarus in the Bible?

Most of the known and amazing miracles in the  Lazarus account are related to John 11:143, mentioning Lazarus in John 12:12, 910, and 17. The report says: “When Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was sick,  he stayed two in the place where he was. (John 11:6) Why did Jesus hesitate? He had a purpose in doing this. He also said, “That sickness is not unto death, but to the glory of God,  that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4). Death was neither the “object” nor the result of Lazarus’ illness. Jesus intended to use the death of Lazarus “for the glory of God.”

According to the Bible, Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary, and his family lived in Bethany, which was in Judea, south of the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. Including the accounts mentioned above in John, the Bible tells us that Jesus visited their home on several occasions (Matthew 21:17, 26:6; Mark 11:1, 1112, 14:3; Luke 19:29 and 24:50 )

.John 11:5 shows us: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus of Bethany. The word used here for “beloved” is agape. Jesus loved her very much and loved her very much. It is safe to say that Lazarus and his sisters were good friends. 

Read also: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry. Why Did Jesus Ride a Donkey into Jerusalem?

Biography of Lazarus

[table id=152 /]

Biblical places from the times of Lazarus

  1. Bethany
  2. Tomb of Lazarus

Read also: Feast of the Transfiguration. What Was the Transfiguration of Jesus?

What is the story of Lazarus in the Bible?

According to John, Jesus receives a message that Lazarus is sick, and his two sisters seek help. Jesus tells his followers: “This sickness will not lead to death; no, it is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through him.”

The story of Lazarus in the Bible points to the idea that Lazarus was a friend of Jesus and the brother of Mary and Martha. His story appears in the scriptures of John 11:144 when a messenger appears where Jesus ministered and asked him to go to a sick man’s house immediately. Lazarus lived in a little town called Bethany, two miles southeast of Jerusalem, and was the brother of Mary and Martha.

Jesus had previously visited the three brothers and enjoyed the family’s hospitality. His sister Mary sat at the Master’s feet and listened to his words. Martha, Mary’s sister, was the one who complained to Jesus that her sister had to help her in the kitchen (Luke 10:38-42).

Why did Jesus weep over Lazarus?

We naturally shed tears when a loved one dies because we will miss them. Although he loved Lazarus, Jesus did not burst into tears because Lazarus died. As the context of John’s account shows, he shed tears of compassion for those who mourned (John 11:36).

According to biblical accounts, Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus because He was moved with compassion. He was tempted in everything like us. He feels what we feel. We have no high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).

He cried with those who cried. He didn’t call for the end of Lazarus because the end of Lazarus would be the resurrection. Jesus wept for the pain of Mary and Martha. This is the empathy, compassion, tenderness, the goodness of Christ. Appear at this stage. When Jesus first heard that Lazarus was sick, he did not rush to Lazarus’ bedside to heal him. 

Read also: The Ascension of Jesus. Christ Ascending

How many years did Lazarus live after his resurrection?

The raising of Lazarus briefly brought Jesus great admiration and fame, as evidenced by his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, but also great anger among the law teachers. They now wanted both Jesus and Lazarus dead. Lazarus escaped, but Jesus did not.

After the death of the Saviour Jesus and his resurrection, Lazarus lived another 35 years as a missionary of the Lord. But what happened to Lazarus? According to st. Epiphanius of Cyprus (367403), Lazarus was thirty years old when he rose from the dead and lived another thirty years after his resurrection.

Another tradition says that Lazarus fled from the wrath of the Jews and took refuge in Kition in Cyprus. c. AD 33 C. In Cyprus, Lazarus met apostles Paul and Barnabas as they traveled from Salamis to Paphos and ordained him as the first bishop of Kition. He led the Kition Church with great care and love for eighteen years. Until the end of his life. There is a narration that after his resurrection, he was sullen and never smiled, and this was due to what he saw while his soul was in Hades for four days. Some say he never laughed except once  when he saw a man steal an earthen pot and utter the following saying: “One country steals another.”

Key Verse related to Lazarus of Bethany

Now, a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

John 11:1-3 (NIV)

Lazarus of Bethany

Read also: Mother of Jesus. Was Mary sinless?

What did Jesus do to Lazarus?

John 11:13 tells of a time near the end of Christ’s mortal ministry when Mary and Martha sent Jesus to tell him that their brother Lazarus was sick. Do you remember how Jesus reacted to this news?

According to Scriptural accounts, Jesus prayed to His father for Lazarus and called Lazarus out from the boundaries of death. Going out, Lazarus, who had been dead four days, then came out of his grave. Many who saw the glory of God in Christ, who raised Lazarus from the dead, then believed in Jesus as the Son of God (John 11:41-45).

This miracle angered the chief priests and Pharisees. They realized that Jesus was doing many signs, and this troubled them. They feared that if they let him continue, everyone would believe in him and he would die for the people” (John 11:4653). However, the chief priests and the Pharisees could not belittle the power of this miracle. The resurrection of Lazarus continued to draw people to Jesus. “But the chief priests took counsel, and they want to kill Lazarus also; because of him, many Jews went and started to believe in Jesus” (John 12:10-11).

Read also: Is Jesus vegan?

When is the Resurrection of Lazarus celebrated?

In the days leading up to His Passion, Christ was on the other side of the Jordan, in Perea, in a desert land. Here he will receive the news that Lazarus is seriously ill and that he is expected to heal him. The Gospels do not mention his illness, but it was undoubtedly an illness without a cure. Christ does not go to Lazarus until two days after hearing this news. He arrives in Bethany with his disciples on the fourth day after Lazarus’ death.

The resurrection of Lazarus is celebrated in the Church the day before Easter. From the Gospels, we learn that Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary and lived in Bethany. This town is located in the Holy Land and on one of the rocky hills southeast of Mount of Olives.

Upon entering the village, he is greeted by Martha with the following words: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Christ replies, “I am the resurrection and the life!” that is to say, He is the One who brought all things into being and has the power to conquer death.

Primary Takeaways

  • Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, lived in Bethany, near Jerusalem. He is the one whom Jesus Christ raised from the dead after four days, saying the words, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Then he called him out of the tomb in which he was laid.
  • Bethany is the community from which Lazarus comes, known in the Arab world as “al-Azariyya,” a town in the Holy Land. It is located on rocky hills southeast of Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. The population of Bethany, with a total of about 3,600 people, is made up of Christian and Muslim inhabitants.
  • Church tradition says that Lazarus was an earnest man who did not smile for 30 years after the Resurrection until the end of his life. One exception is mentioned: at one point, Lazarus saw a man stealing a clay pot and exclaimed with a laugh, “the clay steals clay.”


Lazarus is first presented in the gospels as “a commoner” (John 11:1). Among his contemporaries, he was relatively anonymous in Bethany, living his life in the shadow of Jerusalem. His resurrection, however, made him one of the best-known figures of the time, the talk of the town. Lazarus is still talked about to this day. We discover in John 11:1 that Lazarus was sick, which caused Martha and Mary to send for Jesus. They said in their message to Him, “Lord, the one you love is sick. “After Jesus received the letter from Lazarus, he did what we think is strange. He stayed where he was for two more days. The Jews tried to stone him. When he arrived in Bethany, he found that Lazarus had died. Then Jesus raised him from the dead.

The first tomb of Lazarus, the one in Bethany, is now a place of pilgrimage for those who go to the Holy Places. The second tomb, in Larnaca, was discovered in the 9th century with the inscription “Lazarus, a friend of Christ.” The Church of Lazarus was built here. Part of his relics was moved to a Constantinople church built in his honor by Emperor Leo VI.

Thank you for always being with us! We suggest you test your knowledge with the following Quizlet on the life of Lazarus of Bethany. All the best!

Quizlet about the Life of Lazarus

[ays_quiz id=”97″]


  • Havea, J. (2011). Lazarus troubles. In Bible trouble: Queer reading at the boundaries of biblical scholarship (pp. 157-173). Society of Biblical Literature.
  • Vico, A. (2020). MM Saint Lazarus’ Cypriot folk songs: Intertextuality with the Holy Bible and other cultural aspects. Konstantinova Listy13(2), 35-42.
  • Dunkerley, R. (1959). Lazarus. New Testament Studies5(4), 321-327.
  • Omanson, R. (1989). Lazarus and Simon. The Bible Translator40(4), 416-419.
  • Bauckham, R. (1991). The rich man and Lazarus: The parable and the parallels. New Testament Studies, 37(2), 225-246.