Home / Synopsis Paper 168

The Story of Everything: A Synopsis of The Urantia Book

Paper 168: The Resurrection of Lazarus

When Jesus arrived in Bethany on March 2, 30 AD, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Many people were comforting Mary and Martha, including some who were enemies of Jesus. Martha said to Jesus, "Master, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!" Jesus replied, "Only have faith, Martha, and your brother shall rise again."

As the grieving sisters led him to the tomb, Jesus wept. He felt deep affection and sympathy for Martha and Mary. He resented the outward show of mourning by some of the insincere in the crowd, and hesitated to bring Lazarus back to the certain bitter persecution that he would endure.

A group of forty-five people gathered before the tomb, along with a vast assembly of celestial beings who awaited the command of their beloved Sovereign. When Jesus asked that the stone be taken away from the front of the tomb, Martha and Mary were filled with conflicted emotions. Martha said, "Must we roll away the stone? My brother has now been dead four days, so that by this time decay of the body has begun."

Jesus asked, "Did I not tell you at the first that this sickness was not to the death?" His apostles and some of the neighbors rolled the stone away. They could see the form of Lazarus, wrapped in linen, lying in the cave.

Jesus began to pray aloud, and then he cried out, "Lazarus, come forth!" Lazarus, still wrapped in the grave cloths, sat upright. Everyone except his sisters and the apostles fled.

Lazarus asked why he was in the garden wrapped in linens. He had no memory of his death. After Martha explained what had happened, Lazarus went to the Master, knelt at his feet and offered praise to God. Jesus lifted his friend and said, "My son, what has happened to you will also be experienced by all who believe this gospel except that they shall be resurrected in a more glorious form. You shall be a living witness of the truth which I spoke-I am the resurrection and the life."

By noon the next day the story of Lazarus had spread throughout Jerusalem. People flocked to Bethany to see him. The alarmed Pharisees called a meeting; the miracle had strengthened the faith of believers but only made the Sanhedrin more determined to destroy Jesus.

One of the Pharisees made a proposal advocating Jesus' immediate death without trial. The resolution did not come to a vote that day because fourteen members of the Sanhedrin resigned in protest. Two weeks later, five other members were expelled on the suspicion that they believed Jesus' gospel.

Although the Sanhedrin admitted that Lazarus had been resurrected from the dead, they attributed this and all of Jesus' miracles to the work of the devil. No matter the source of his power, the Jewish leaders believed that if he were not stopped all the common people would soon believe in him.

On the following Sunday morning, Jesus and the apostles traveled back to Pella. On the journey, the apostles asked Jesus questions concerning the answers to prayer. Jesus taught them that prayer is an effort of the finite mind to approach the Infinite. He assured the apostles that all spirit-born prayers are certain of an answer, even when they appear to go unanswered. Some prayers can only be answered in eternity or when a person advances to higher spiritual levels. Sometimes people don't recognize the answers to their prayers.

Lazarus remained at his home in Bethany until the week Jesus was killed. When Lazarus was warned that the Sanhedrin were planning to kill him as well, he fled to Perea. Mary and Martha later joined their brother in Philadelphia where he served as treasurer of the church under Abner.

Read the complete unabridged version of Paper 168