The Raising of Lazarus

Lazarus (in red, lying on the bed in the house in lower left corner) is sick. His sister Mary (in pink, sitting on the chair next to Lazarus with the bottle of anointing oil on a shelf) and his sister Martha (in red throughout the painting) send word to Jesus.

When the messenger arrives across the Jordan River (in brown, upper right corner, see John 10:40) Jesus says, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 

After two days Jesus decides to go back to Bethany in Judea. The disciples remind him that the Jews had tried to stone him (small purple circle). Jesus tells them there are twelve hours of daylight (clock), but those who walk at night will stumble (triangle of darkness).

The disciple Thomas (in maroon with green sash) calls all the disciples to go with Jesus and die with him. When Jesus arrives at Bethany Lazarus has already been in the tomb for four days.

Many Jews come from Jerusalem to comfort Martha and Mary in the loss of their brother (group of people in brown around the house). When Martha hears that Jesus is coming, she goes out to meet him (upper left corner), but Mary stays at home.

Jesus proclaims to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

Martha goes back and calls Mary aside (lower left corner) and tells her Jesus is asking for her. Mary runs to him. The Jews who had been with Mary in the house follow her, supposing she is going to the tomb to mourn there.

When Mary reaches Jesus, she falls at his feet (center, under tree). When Jesus sees her weeping, and the Jews also weeping, he is deeply moved and asks, “Where have you laid him?”

They take Jesus to the tomb (center right) and Jesus weeps.

Some of the Jews say, “See how he loved him!” but others (center left, in brown with red sashes) complain, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man (in green) have kept this man from dying?”

At the tomb Jesus says, “Take away the stone.” Then Jesus looks up and says, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

In a loud voice Jesus says, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man comes out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Many who see what Jesus has done believe in him, but some (lower right corner, in brown with red sashes) go report the raising of Lazarus to the Pharisees (grey with white head dresses).

The chief priests (grey with red head dresses) and the Pharisees call a meeting of the Sanhedrin to discuss how to stop Jesus. Caiaphas, the high priest (grey with colorful breast plate), speaks up and says, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people (Jesus on the cross in lower center) than that the whole nation perish.

John records that “He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” 

From that day on the Jewish leaders plotted to take Jesus’ life.