Jesus had three very close friends who lived in Bethany. They were Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. One day, while Jesus was on the other side of the Jordan, Mary and Martha sent him an urgent message: ‘Lazarus is very sick. Please come quickly!’ But Jesus did not go right away. He waited for two more days and then said to his disciples: ‘Let’s go to Bethany. Lazarus is sleeping, and I am going to wake him up.’ The apostles said: ‘If Lazarus is asleep, that will help him to get well.’ So Jesus told them clearly: ‘Lazarus has died.’
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had already been buried for four days. Crowds of people had come to comfort Martha and Mary. When Martha heard that Jesus had come, she rushed to meet him. She said: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus told her: ‘Your brother will live again. Do you believe this, Martha?’ She said: ‘I believe that he will rise in the resurrection.’ Jesus said to her: “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Then Martha went to Mary and told her: ‘Jesus is here.’ Mary ran to Jesus, and the crowd followed. She fell down at his feet, and she could not stop crying. She said: ‘Lord, if you had been here, our brother would still be alive!’ Jesus saw how much she was suffering, and he also began to cry. When the crowd saw his tears, they said: ‘See how Jesus loved Lazarus.’ But some wondered: ‘Why didn’t he save his friend?’ What would Jesus do next?
Jesus went to the tomb, where a large stone covered the entrance. He commanded: ‘Roll the stone away.’ Martha said: ‘But it has been four days! His body will smell.’ Still, they rolled the stone away, and Jesus prayed: ‘Father, thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me, but I speak aloud so that these people may know that you sent me.’ Then he called out in a loud voice: “Lazarus, come out!” Something amazing happened: Lazarus came out of the tomb, still wrapped in linen cloths. Jesus said: “Free him and let him go.”
Many who saw this put faith in Jesus. But some went and told the Pharisees. From then on, the Pharisees wanted to kill both Lazarus and Jesus. One of the 12 apostles, Judas Iscariot, secretly went to the Pharisees and asked: ‘How much will you pay me if I help you to find Jesus?’ They agreed to pay 30 pieces of silver, and Judas began to look for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to the Pharisees.
“The true God is for us a God who saves; and Jehovah the Sovereign Lord provides escape from death.”—Psalm 68:20