1. A friend and disciple of Christ, brother of Martha and Mary, with whom he resided at Bethany near Jerusalem. Our Savior had a high regard for the family, and often visited them; and when Lazarus was dangerously ill, word was sent to Christ, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." The Savior reached Bethany after he had lain four days in his grave, and restored him to life by a word, "Lazarus, come forth." This public and stupendous miracle drew so many to Christ, that his enemies sought to put both him and Lazarus to death, Joh 11; 12:1-11. The narrative displays Christ as a tender and compassionate friend, weeping for and with those he loved, and at the same time as the Prince of life, beginning his triumph over death and the grave. Happy are they who, in view of their own death, or that of friends, can know that they are safe in Him who says, "I am the resurrection and the life;" and, "because I live, ye shall live also."
2. The helpless beggar who lay at the rich man's gate in one of Christ's most solemn and instructive parables. The one, though poor and sorely afflicted, was a child of God. The other described as self-indulgent rather than vicious or criminal was living without God in the enjoyment of every earthly luxury. Their state in this life was greatly in contrast with their real character before God, which was revealed in the amazing changes of their condition at death, Lu 16:19-31. See ABRAHAM'S BOSOM. Our Savior plainly teaches us, in this parable, that both the friends and the foes of God know and begin to experience their doom immediately after death, and that it is in both cases unchangeable and eternal.
an abbreviation of Eleazar, whom God helps. (1.) The brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany. He was raised from the dead after he had lain four days in the tomb (Joh 11:1-44). This miracle so excited the wrath of the Jews that they sought to put both Jesus and Lazarus to death.
(2.) A beggar named in the parable recorded Lu 16:19-31.
LAZARUS or ELEAZAR ("God helps".)
1. Of Bethany; brother of Mary and Martha (Joh 11:1). (See BETHANY.) The sisters were the better known, from whence they are put prominently forward here, and in Lu 10:38, etc., are alone named. Lazarus was "of (apo, 'belonging to at that time') Bethany, from (ek, implying his original settlement) the village of Mary and Martha" (still it is likely the same village is meant in both Luke 10 and John 11, namely, Bethany). Curiously, Ganneau found close to Bethany a tomb, probably of the first century, containing the names all together of Simon, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus' subordinate position at their feast in Christ's honour (Joh 12:2) makes it likely he was the youngest. Moreover, the house is called that of Simon the leper (Mt 26:6; Mr 14:3); who was probably therefore their father, but either by death or leprosy no longer with them, though possibly he too, as a leper healed by Jesus, was then one of that happy family.
Their friends from Jerusalem (Joh 11:19), according to John's use of "the Jews," were of the ruling elders and Pharisees. The feast; the costly ointment, the family funeral cave (compare Isa 22:16; 2Ki 23:6; Jer 26:23), all bespeak good social position. The sisters' warm attachment to Lazarus was strengthened by their common love to Jesus who loved all three (Joh 11:5). Lazarus had won the disciples' love too, for Jesus calls him "our friend" (Joh 11:11). At the time of Lazarus' sickness and the sisters' call, Jesus was in Peraea beyond Jordan, on His way to Jerusalem, two days' journey from Bethany. He delayed two days to give time for that death which He foresaw, and from which He was about to raise Lazarus. On proposing to go to Judea, His disciples remonstrated on the ground that He would be going into the very danger from which He had just escaped (Joh 10:39-40; 11:8-10).
He replied that while His appointed day yet lasted He was safe, and that He was going to awaken Lazarus out of sleep. He was "glad" that He had not been on the spot before, that Lazarus' death and rising might awaken the disciples out of the deadness of unbelief. The sisters grieved at His seeming neglect. God sees cause for joy where even His people see only cause for grief. Four days had elapsed after the call when He arrived. Martha went and met Him, while Mary sat in the house, in beautiful harmony with the character of each respectively, described in Lu 10:40-42. Martha's faith had now become stronger; so she says, "Lord, I know that even now whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee (more buoyant in spirit than Mary, and cherishing even now a vague hope of her brother's restoration) ... Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ the Son of God ... the Resurrection and the Life." Upon Martha telling Mary of Jesus' arrival and "call" for her, either expressed or implied ("secretly," through fear of Jewish informers, see Joh 11:28,46), the latter also came "quickly" to Him.
The Jews her friends, not having heard Martha's communication, supposed Mary was gone to the tomb to weep, but found her as of old "at Jesus' feet." Her words were fewer, but her action more impassioned, than those of her sister. So the whole company, Jesus, His disciples, the sisters, and their sympathizers, were met at the grave. At the sight of their weeping, Jesus "groaned in spirit," and troubled Himself, but checked His emotion which would otherwise have choked utterance. "Where have ye laid him?" Sympathy with their sorrow, which He was instantly to relieve, at last found vent in tears: "Jesus wept" (compare Lu 19:41; Heb 4:15). "Behold. how He loved him," the Jews, His adversaries, were constrained to exclaim. Their unbelief, "could not this man which opened the eyes of the blind (John 9, they allude not to the raising of Jairus' daughter and the widow of Nain's son, which took place in Galilee, but to the miracle which made such a stir in Jerusalem; they never thought of His raising the dead) have caused that even this man should not have died?" made Him "groan again."
Take away the stone. Martha, retaining still remainders of unbelief (she believed in Lazarus' future resurrection, but she hardly dared to believe what she herself had hinted at in Joh 11:22, that Christ will raise him now), objected on the ground of the body's presumed decomposition by this time. He tells her to "believe, so she shall see the glory of God." With a preparatory thanksgiving to the Father for the already felt answer to His prayer, He said, "Lazarus, come forth," and he came forth bound hand and foot, the graveclothes and napkin about his face. "Loose him, and let him go"; contrast Jesus' resurrection, the graveclothes and the napkin folded separately, because, unlike Lazarus, He was to die no more (Joh 20:6-7). The same miracle which converted some Jews to belief furnished others only with materials for informing the Pharisees against Him. It brought the plots of the rulers and Caiaphas to a crisis (Joh 11:45-53).
The very sign which the Pharisees desired in the parable of Lazarus (Lu 16:27-30) is now granted in the person of one of the same name, but only stimulates them to their crowning sin, to kill Jesus, nay even to kill Lazarus too (Joh 12:10). The same sun that develops the fragrant violet strengthens the poison of the deadly nightshade. This is the crucial miracle of the truth of the Gospels. Spinosa said if this were true he would tear his system in pieces and embrace Christianity. As the Lord's Judaean ministry was not the subject of the first three evangelists, but the Galilean, they omit the raising of Lazarus. The Jews' consultation to kill Lazarus, and his own probable shrinking from publicity after such a mysterious experience, perhaps further influenced them in their omission of the miracle. By John's time of writing the brother and sisters were dead, and no reason for reserve any longer existed.
Tradition says that Lazarus' first question on coming back was whether he should die again; on learning he must, he never smiled again. Such an impression was made by this miracle that many Jews flocked to Bethany to see both Jesus and Lazarus. The eye witnesses bore record, and the people who heard of it from them met Him on His way to Jerusalem, and formed part of His retinue in His triumphal entry with the palmbearing multitude (Joh 12:12,17-18). E. H. Plumptre (Smith's Dictionary) identifies Simon the leper with Simon the Pharisee (Lu 7:36-40); Martha had the Pharisees' belief in the resurrection (Joh 11:24); Mary's gift of the ointment was after the example of the sinful woman in Simon's house; the leprosy came on subsequently.
Also he identifies Lazarus with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19; Mark 10; Luke 18); Jesus' words to him, "one thing thou lackest," answer to His words to Martha. "one thing is needful"; "Jesus beholding loved him" (Mark) is said also of Lazarus (Joh 11:5); Jesus' love at last wrought out his conversion, possible to God though not to man; a sharp Palestine fever is sent to discipline him; his death and rising through Jesus' power is accompanied by his spiritual resurrection (Joh 5:24-25). Judas and the eleven expected, that the feast in Joh 12:2 was the farewell feast of Lazarus, renouncing his former life and obeying Christ's command, "sell that thou hast, and give to the poor"; hence, Judas' bitter objection, "why was not this ointment sold for 300 pence and given to the poor?"
On the night of Christ's betrayal Lazarus, whose Bethany home was near and was Christ's lodging on the previous night, in the hasty night alarm rushed eagerly with "the linen cloth (the term applied to graveclothes always, the same which he had on when the Lord raised him from the grave (Joh 11:44), sindon) cast about his naked body" (Mr 14:51-52; 15:46), and was seized by the high priest's servants as a second victim (Joh 12:10), whereas they let the other disciples escape.
2. Lazarus in the parable, Lu 16:19-31. The one unknown on earth has a name with God; the rich man, well known as a great man among men, has no name with God (Re 3:1). The historic Lazarus (John 11-12) belonged to the richer classes. Yet it is not a rich Lazarus, but Lazar
A common Jewish name, a colloquial abbreviation of Eleazar.
1. The brother of Martha and Mary, the friend of Jesus (Joh 11:3,11,36, where 'love' and 'friend' represent the same root in Greek). The family lived at Bethany, a village within two miles of Jerusalem just over the brow of Olivet. Lazarus was the subject of the greatest miracle of the Gospel story (Joh 11:1-44). In the last year of His ministry Jesus sojourned at Jerusalem from the Feast of Tabernacles in October to that of the Dedication in December; and, on being driven out by the violence of the rulers (Joh 10:31,39), He retired to 'Bethany beyond Jordan' (Joh 10:40; cf. Joh 1:28 RV). A crowd followed Him thither, and in the midst of His beneficent activities of teaching and healing tidings reached Him that His friend had fallen sick. He might have responded immediately to the sisters' appeal either by hastening to their home and laying His hand on the sick man, or by sending forth His word of power and healing him across the intervening distance of some twenty miles (cf. Joh 4:46-54; Mt 15:21-28 = Mr 7:24-30). But He did neither; He remained where He was for two days, until Lazarus was dead. He desired not only to manifest His power to His friends, but to make a signal appeal to impenitent Jerusalem, by working a miracle which would attest His Messiahship beyond all question.
At length He set forth. If the messenger started in the morning, he would reach Jesus the same evening. Jesus stayed two days, and setting out early would arrive on the evening of the fourth day. Thus on His arrival Lazarus had been dead four days (Joh 11:39). In that sultry climate burial followed immediately on death, and it sometimes happened that a swoon was mistaken for death, and the buried man came to life again. The Jewish belief was that the soul hovered about the sepulchre for three days, fain to re-animate its clay. On the fourth day decomposition set in, and hope was then abandoned. Jesus arrived on the fourth day, and there was no doubt of the reality of Lazarus' death and of the ensuing miracle. It was not a recovery from a trance, but a veritable resurrection. He went to the rock-hewn sepulchre, and in presence of the sisters and a large company of mourners, including many of the rulers who had come from the adjacent capital to testify their esteem for the good Lazarus and their sympathy with Martha and Mary (Joh 11:19), summoned the dead man forth and restored him, alive and well, to his home. It was a startling miracle. It made a profound impression on the multitude, but it only exasperated the rulers. They convened a meeting of the Sanhedrin and determined to put Jesus to death (Joh 11:47-53).
He retired to Ephraim near the frontier of Samaria, and stayed there until the Passover drew near; then He set out for Jerusalem to keep the Feast and to die. Six days before it began (Joh 12:1), He reached Bethany, and despite the Sanhedrin's decree He received a great ovation. He was honoured with a banquet in the house of one of the leading men of the village, Simon, who had been a leper and had probably been healed by Jesus (Joh 12:2-11 = Mt 26:6-13 = Mr 14:3-9). Lazarus was one of the company. The news of His arrival at Bethany reached Jerusalem, and next day the multitude thronged out and escorted Him in triumph into the city. It was the raising of Lazarus that excited their enthusiasm (Joh 12:3,17-18).
After this Lazarus appears no more in the Gospel story. Surely he of all men should have stood by Jesus at His trial and crucifixion; and the explanation of his absence is probably that he had been forced to flee. Observing the popular enthusiasm, the infuriated rulers had determined to put him also to death (Joh 12:10-11). He would withdraw more for Jesus' sake than for his own. His presence only increased the Master's danger.
2. The beggar in our Lord's parable (Lu 16:19-31).
1. Brother of Martha and Mary, and a resident at Bethany. Jesus loved them all, and He spoke of Lazarus as 'our friend.' Very little is recorded of him except the striking fact that he was raised from the dead by the Lord Jesus, which manifested the glory of God and glorified the Son of God. When his sisters made the Lord a supper at Bethany, Lazarus was one of those who sat with Him. He was a living witness of the power of the Son of God over death, and as such he was in danger of being killed by the Jews, on account of many believing on the Lord because of him. Joh 11:1-43; 12:1-17.
2. The poor man in the parable of Luke 16. His circumstances are related
(whom God helps), another form of the Hebrew name Eleazar.
1. Lazarus of Bethany, the brother of Martha and Mary.
All that we know of him is derived from the Gospel of St. John, and that records little more than the facts of his death and resurrection. The language of
implies that the sisters were the better known. Lazarus is "of Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha." From this and from the order of the three names in
we may reasonably infer that Lazarus was the youngest of the family. All the circumstances of John 11 and 12 point to wealth and social position above the average.
2. The name of a poor man in the well-known parable of
The name of Lazarus has been perpetuated in an institution of the Christian Church. The leper of the Middle Ages appears as a lazzaro. The use of lazaretto and lazarhouse for the leper hospitals then founded in all parts of western Christendom, no less than that of lazaroni for the mendicants of Italian towns, is an indication of the effect of the parable upon the mind of Europe in the Middle Ages, and thence upon its later speech.
LAZARUS, brother to Martha and Mary. He dwelt at Bethany with his sisters, near Jerusalem; and the Lord Jesus did him the honour sometimes of lodging at his house when he visited the city. See the account of his resurrection related at large in Joh 11:5, &c.