Bible Insights

Lazarus, Come Out

Today’s passage: John 11:1–44

Focus verse: Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. (John 11:43–44)

The Bible tells us about three siblings: Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Yet Matthew and Mark don’t mention them at all.

Only Luke and John tell us about Martha and Mary, while Lazarus only shows up in John, chapters 11 and 12. (Though Luke records a parable about a man named Lazarus, he’s a different person.)

John says that Jesus loves Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Though our Savior loves everyone, Scripture seldom names them, but it does specify Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. This should get our attention as to how important they are to Jesus.

In today’s account, Lazarus is sick. Sick enough for the sisters to worry. They send word to Jesus. They don’t ask for him to come heal their brother, but merely state that he’s ill.

Knowing what will happen, Jesus says Lazarus’s illness will not end in death but in glory to Father God and his Son. But he does nothing for two days.

In a delightful exchange, Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus is sleeping, and Jesus will go wake him. The disciples take this literally, but Jesus means it figuratively. In truth, Lazarus is dead.

Jesus uses the euphemism to wake him to mean resurrect him. The implication is that, to Jesus, raising someone from the dead is no harder than for us to wake someone from a deep sleep. So it will be with us when we die.

Jesus will wake us to live with him in paradise forever.

Jesus heads for Bethany, where the siblings live. He arrives to find that Lazarus is four-days dead and buried.

Both Martha and Mary have confidence that Jesus had the power to heal their brother and prevent his death. And Martha has faith that her brother will one day rise again. But neither sister expects Jesus to do anything for their dead brother now.

Jesus goes to Lazarus’s tomb. Martha, Mary, and the many Jews mourning with them follow.

When Jesus arrives, he instructs them to remove the large stone that blocks the entrance. He thanks Papa for hearing his prayer and commands Lazarus to come out of his tomb.

To everyone’s amazement, Lazarus hobbles forth, still wrapped in his burial cloths. It’s a miracle of miracles.

Though this isn’t the first time Jesus raises someone from the dead, this is the most spectacular one—and the most memorable.

Many people witness Lazarus’s resurrection, creating quite a stir, which we’ll cover in a few days.

In the end, Lazarus doesn’t die, and God and his Son receives glory.


  • How well do we do to accept that Jesus loves us?
  • What do we think about Jesus raising someone from the dead?

Prayer: Father God, may our lives—and death—give you glory.

Discover more about celebrating Jesus and his passion to save us in Peter’s new book, The Passion of Jesus. It is part of the Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.