Lazarus's Fate: Did Lazarus Go To Heaven?

Discover the incredible truth about Lazarus' afterlife destination. Did he ascend to heaven?

Last Updated:
February 11, 2024
8 Minutes

Table of Contents

Background on Lazarus and his illness

Lazarus is a figure in the Bible’s New Testament, known primarily for being raised from the dead by Jesus. His story is found in the Gospel of John, where it is said that Lazarus fell ill and eventually died, only to be miraculously brought back to life by Jesus. This powerful event serves as a testament to the miraculous abilities of Jesus and his compassion for his followers. The story of Lazarus and his illness has since become a significant and well-known part of Christian theology, inspiring countless interpretations and retellings throughout history. Understanding Lazarus’s background and illness is crucial to appreciating the impact of this miraculous and deeply spiritual story.

The mention of Lazarus in John 11:1

The mention of Lazarus in John 11:1 is important as it sets the stage for one of the most significant miracles performed by Jesus - the resurrection of Lazarus. This event is a powerful demonstration of Jesus' divine power and his ability to conquer death, foreshadowing his resurrection.

Lazarus was a dear friend of Jesus and the brother of Mary and Martha. They lived in Bethany, and their close relationship with Jesus is evident in the Bible, particularly in the story of Lazarus' death and resurrection. When Lazarus fell ill, his sisters sent word to Jesus, but he arrived after Lazarus had already passed away. Despite this, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, which solidified his authority as the Son of God and brought great joy and amazement to those who witnessed it.

The events leading up to Lazarus' death and resurrection and Jesus’ emotional response highlight his love for his friends and the profound impact of his miraculous powers. The resurrection of Lazarus also serves as a crucial moment in Jesus' ministry, further establishing his role as the Messiah.

The progressive illness and ultimate death of Lazarus

In John 11, the progressive illness and ultimate death of Lazarus is depicted poignantly. When Lazarus falls ill, his sisters, Mary and Martha, send for Jesus, believing he can heal their brother. Surprisingly, Jesus delays his arrival, allowing Lazarus to become increasingly sick and eventually die.

As the stone was rolled away from his grave, a tantalizing question lingered in the minds of those who bore witness to the events: would the decay process of death, now four days in the making, emit a dreaded "bad odor"? (v 39)

This oddity in Jesus' actions raises theological questions about his love and power. When Jesus finally arrives, he is met with grief and confusion from the sisters and the crowd.

Despite their doubt, Jesus stood near the tomb and cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth" (11:43).

Lazarus back to life, showcasing his ultimate power over death. This miraculous event solidifies his divinity in the eyes of many witnesses. The story of Lazarus' illness and death is a powerful testimony to Jesus’ authority and compassion, foreshadowing his impending death and resurrection. This narrative makes the message of hope and faith in the face of life’s hardships abundantly clear.

Jesus' response to Lazarus' illness

When Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was ill, he didn't rush to his side immediately. Instead, he waited for two days before setting out to see him. His response to Lazarus' illness was deliberate and purposeful, setting the stage for one of the New Testament’s most powerful and well-known miracles. Jesus' actions in response to Lazarus' illness teach us important lessons about faith, trust, and the power of God.

Jesus' delay and purposeful timing in John 11:6-7

In John 11:6-7, Jesus intentionally delays going to the tomb of Lazarus when he hears of his illness. The purposeful timing of his delay is significant because it allows for God's plan to unfold in a way that brings glory to Him and demonstrates Jesus' power over death.

The events that led to Jesus' decision to delay revolve around the illness of Lazarus and Jesus' ultimate purpose of revealing God's power through Lazarus' resurrection. The impact of his delay is crucial in highlighting the deliberate nature of Jesus' actions and the fulfillment of God's divine plan.

This deliberate delay brings glory to God as it showcases His power and authority over death. Additionally, it increases the faith of Jesus' disciples, as they witness firsthand the miraculous nature of his actions. Through this intentional delay, Jesus can demonstrate his power over death, strengthen the faith of his disciples, and ultimately bring glory to God according to His purposeful timing.

Jesus' statement about Lazarus in John 11:11

In John 11:11, Jesus states, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up." Despite being aware of Lazarus's death, Jesus consciously allowed it to happen for a greater purpose. This statement highlights Jesus' divine knowledge and authority over life and death. By referring to Lazarus's death as sleep, Jesus emphasizes his ability to bring him back to life, foreshadowing the miracle to come. Furthermore, Jesus' purposeful delay in going to Lazarus allowed for a demonstration of his power that would ultimately strengthen the disciples' faith. Additionally, Jesus' statement sets the stage for the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus, which proves Jesus' identity as the Son of God and foreshadows his resurrection. Ultimately, Jesus' statement about Lazarus in John 11:11 reveals his compassion for his friend, his authority over death, and his ultimate purpose in bringing glory to God through this extraordinary miracle.

The death and burial of Lazarus

The death and burial of Lazarus is a significant event in the New Testament, as it showcases Jesus' power over death and his compassion towards his friends. In the Gospel of John, this story unfolds with a sense of urgency and deep emotion, leading to a miraculous display of Christ's authority. Through this narrative, we witness the grief of Mary and Martha, the crowd’s astonishment, and ultimately, the profound miracle that solidifies Jesus' divinity and mission. This account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus offers a powerful glimpse into the character of Jesus and the depth of his love for those he cares about.

The account of Lazarus' death in John 11:17-19

In John 11:1-16, it is mentioned that Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus, fell gravely ill. His sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus, but he delayed his arrival by a few days. When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, where Lazarus lived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

In John 11:17-19, it is described how many Jews had come to console Mary and Martha over their brother’s death, creating a scene of mourning and sorrow. When Martha heard that Jesus was approaching, she met him, while Mary stayed home. Martha expressed her belief that if Jesus had been there, her brother would not have died.

The mourning scene at the home of Mary and Martha and the disbelief over Lazarus' death are key details in the passage. The grief of Mary and Martha, as well as the arrival of Jesus after Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days, are also significant events. These details provide context for the emotions and reactions of those involved in the account of Lazarus’ death in John 11:17-19.

The Jewish burial customs mentioned in John 11:39

In John 11:39, it is mentioned that the Jewish burial customs included wrapping the body in linen cloths. Mourners were present to grieve and pay their respects to the deceased. A significant aspect of the customs was using a stone to seal the tomb’s entrance. This was to protect the body from being disturbed by animals and to ensure that the deceased was given a proper and respectful burial. Additionally, there was concern about the smell as it was believed that by the fourth day after death, the body would begin to decay, causing an unpleasant odor. This is why Martha, the sister of the deceased Lazarus, expressed concern about the smell when Jesus asked for the tomb to be opened. These customs and rituals were important in honoring and preserving the deceased’s dignity by Jewish tradition.

Where did Lazarus go when he died?

According to the biblical perspective, when Lazarus died, he was believed to be in sleep until Jesus resurrected him. This understanding is based on the teachings of Jesus as depicted in the Bible. In the New Testament, specifically in John 11, Jesus refers to death as sleep when he speaks about Lazarus. This indicates the belief that the deceased are in a state of rest until the final resurrection.

In John 11, Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus has fallen asleep, but then clarifies that Lazarus has died. This shows that Jesus viewed death as a temporary state, akin to sleep, until he would bring Lazarus back to life. This passage supports the idea that Lazarus was not in a specific spiritual realm, but rather in a state of peaceful rest until his resurrection. Ultimately, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it affirmed his power over death and his ability to bring about the resurrection of the dead in the future.

Does the Bible mention that Lazarus went to Heaven?

The Bible references a man named Lazarus, but it is not explicitly mentioned whether he went to Heaven. In the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Lazarus as being asleep when he was dead, indicating that Lazarus was not in a permanent state of death. Some confusion arises between Lazarus from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the friend of Jesus. The rich man's Lazarus is a character in a parable, while Jesus' friend Lazarus is a real person who was raised from the dead by Jesus.

Although there is no clear indication in the Bible of Lazarus' experience after death, it is believed by some Christians that Jesus resurrected Lazarus, suggesting that he may have gone to Heaven. However, the Bible does not explicitly state what happened to Lazarus after his resurrection. The lack of clarity on Lazarus' afterlife makes it difficult to definitively say whether the Bible mentions that he went to Heaven.

Where was Lazarus between his death and when Jesus resurrected him?

No clear biblical evidence indicates where Lazarus was between his death and when Jesus resurrected him, considering the short period of just four days. Different beliefs among Christians include the notion that Lazarus was in a state of rest or unconsciousness during this time, or that his soul was in the presence of God.

In the story of Lazarus as told in the Bible, when Lazarus fell ill, Jesus initially waited for two days before traveling to him. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. This suggests there was no long period between Lazarus’ death and resurrection.

Ultimately, the lack of clear biblical evidence leaves room for various interpretations and beliefs regarding where Lazarus was during his death and resurrection. However, the story’s central focus is Jesus’ power to conquer death and bring new life.

What did Lazarus experience in Heaven when he died?

According to the Bible, Lazarus experienced being in Heaven after his death. This was demonstrated in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, where Lazarus was shown to be in Abraham's bosom, a symbol of being in a place of honor and blessing in Heaven. Jesus' teachings about Heaven and the afterlife imply that Lazarus's experience in Heaven was one of peace, joy, and rest from his earthly sufferings.

Despite the certainty of Lazarus's experience in Heaven based on the scripture and Jesus' teachings, there is still uncertainty surrounding the destination of individuals after death. The Bible does not explicitly confirm Lazarus’s specific location in the afterlife, leading to differing interpretations and beliefs about whether he went to Heaven.

Factors contributing to the belief that Lazarus went to Heaven include Jesus' affirmation of his faith and the imagery of being in Abraham's bosom, which signifies a place of divine favor and presence. Overall, while the Bible does not definitively confirm Lazarus's destination after death, interpretations and implications from the scripture and Jesus' teachings support the belief that he may have experienced Heaven after his passing.

Did Jesus confirm that Lazarus went to Heaven when he died?

In the scriptures, Jesus does not explicitly confirm whether Lazarus went to Heaven when he died. In John 11:11, Jesus refers to Lazarus as "asleep" and in verse 23, He tells Martha that her brother will rise again. This has led to interpretations and assumptions made by Christians regarding Lazarus' destination after death. Some believe that Jesus' use of the term "asleep" indicates a belief in an afterlife and that Lazarus went to Heaven. Others argue that there is no clear confirmation in the scriptures and that it is ultimately up to individual interpretation. The lack of direct confirmation from Jesus has led to different beliefs and understandings within the Christian faith about what happened to Lazarus after his death.

How can we be certain that Lazarus went to Heaven when he died?

Scripture does not explicitly confirm whether Lazarus went to Heaven when he died. In John 11:11, Jesus refers to Lazarus as sleeping, and in verse 14, he plainly states that Lazarus has died. These verses’ lack of explicit confirmation suggests that Jesus did not confirm where Lazarus went after his death.

Many Christians assume that Lazarus went to Heaven based on Jesus' statement in John 11:25, where he claims to be the resurrection and the life. This implies that those who believe in him will have eternal life. However, this does not definitively answer Lazarus' specific destination.

Given the absence of clear confirmation in scripture, we cannot be certain about Lazarus' fate after death. While Jesus' assertion of being the resurrection and the life offers hope for believers, it does not conclusively clarify Lazarus' destination. Ultimately, the certainty of Lazarus' destiny is not explicitly addressed in scripture.

What happened to Lazarus when he died the second time?

After being resurrected by Jesus, Lazarus lived in a town called Kition on the island of Cyprus for many more years. According to various traditions, Lazarus encountered an old woman who recognized him and exclaimed, "Now I can die in peace, for I have seen him!" This meeting is seen as a significant event in the accounts of Lazarus' second death.

Lazarus' passing at Cyprus in 63 A.D. is significant in various religious traditions, as it marks his second and final death. These accounts emphasize his importance as the friend of Christ and the impact of his resurrection. Following his death, his relic was said to have been transferred to Constantinople by Emperor Leo VI, further cementing the reverence and significance surrounding Lazarus.

With his encounter with the old woman and the transfer of his relic, Lazarus' second death is deeply embedded in religious traditions and holds significance in Christian beliefs.


John 11:23

John 11:4

Luke 16

Luke 16:19-31

Frequently asked questions

What evidence is in the Bible that Lazarus went to Heaven after his death?

  • The Bible does not provide explicit evidence of Lazarus going to Heaven after his death.
  • However, his resurrection powerfully demonstrates Jesus' power over death.
  • This gives hope for our spiritual journeys.
  • It is possible that Lazarus was taken to Heaven after his death, given Jesus' power.
  • Ultimately, Jesus' resurrection of Lazarus is a sign of hope for eternal life.

Did Lazarus have any experiences between his death and resurrection in Heaven or Hell?

  • Between his death and resurrection, Lazarus experienced a spiritual journey.
  • He was guided by angels on his journey.
  • The Bible is silent on the specifics of Lazarus' journey.
  • However, it has been speculated that he visited Heaven and Hell.
  • This adds complexity and depth to the story of Lazarus.

What happened to Lazarus after his second death?

  • Following his second death, the spiritual journey of Lazarus continued, though what exactly happened to him remains a mystery.
  • What happened to Lazarus in the afterlife is not specified in scripture, leaving plenty of room for interpretation and discovery.
  • We can only speculate as to the experiences of Lazarus in the afterlife.
  • Many theories exist regarding what could have happened to Lazarus after his second death.
  • The spiritual journey of Lazarus remains an intriguing and intriguingly mysterious topic.

Did the chief priests succeed in their plan to kill Lazarus after his resurrection?

  • The chief priests attempted to kill Lazarus after his resurrection but were unsuccessful.
  • His miraculous return from the dead greatly impacted those who witnessed it.
  • The chief priests were terrified of Lazarus' influence and attempted to have him killed.
  • Despite their efforts, Lazarus remained alive and continued to spread the message of Jesus.
  • His resurrection served as a testament to the power of Jesus' teachings.

Is there any certainty about Lazarus' destination after death?

  • The fate of Lazarus after his resurrection is uncertain.
  • However, his resurrection demonstrates the power of Jesus to bring the dead back to life.
  • This offers hope to believers for their future resurrection.
  • Lazarus' resurrection is a major event in the Bible, highlighting Jesus' divine power.
  • The story of Lazarus teaches us to have faith in the afterlife.

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