In Bethany, which is in Judea, one of Jesus' friends, Lazarus, is very sick.
Lazarus lives with his sisters, Mary and Martha, who send a message to Jesus telling him that his friend is sick. Hurry, Jesus.
Jesus gets the message but isn't too concerned. Huh? Two days later, he finally decides to head to Bethany.
But the disciples are a little leery. Didn't an angry mob just try to stone Jesus in Judea? Didn't this happen a couple times?
Jesus isn't worried. Cool as usual. He tells them that Lazarus is asleep and that Jesus will wake him when he gets to Bethany.
A nap sounds nice to the disciples right about now. So, Lazarus will be fine, right?
Jesus has to come out and say it—Lazarus is dead. But, don't worry, it's all good. Jesus feels a miracle coming on.
Is There Life After Death?
When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days. In fact, he's already been put in a tomb. Things are looking pretty hopeless.
Since Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem, some of the people from the city have come to offer their condolences to Mary and Martha.
Jesus comes to the house, and Martha goes out to meet him. She tells him that, if he had come sooner, her brother wouldn't have died. But she also has a feeling that Jesus could still do something for them. Not even a "hello" first?
Jesus tells her that Lazarus will rise again.
Sure, Martha says. He's going to rise up at the end of time like you're always saying.
But that's not quite what Jesus has in mind.
Jesus tells her that he is "the resurrection and the life." People who believe it are never really going to die. Does she get it now?
Martha tells him that, yes, she believes all this. She knows that he is the Messiah, God's son, and all that jazz.
After he finishes with Martha, Jesus has the same conversation with her sister Mary. If only Jesus had come earlier, Lazarus wouldn't have died.
But Wait, There's More
Mary takes Jesus to Lazarus's tomb. When he gets there, he breaks down and cries. How human.
Some of the people think it's touching that Jesus is weeping because he loved Lazarus so much. Others think that, if he loved him so much, maybe he should have come earlier and saved him. The guy healed a blind man—he couldn't keep someone from dying?
Jesus dries his tears and surveys the tomb; it's a cave with a stone lying against it as a door. He tells them to remove the stone.
Martha is a little skeptical. She reminds Jesus that Lazarus has been in there for four days. It's going to smell pretty bad when they open the tomb. But, for Jesus, anything. So she has the stone removed.
When the tomb is open, Jesus says a prayer to God and then yells, "Lazarus, come out!"
And out pops Lazarus, still wrapped up like a mummy, but now very much alive. Miracle complete.
The Last Straw
Because of all this impressive stuff, lots more people start believing in Jesus. But others sneak off to let the religious authorities know what Jesus is up to. Thanks a lot, guys.
As you might imagine, they're pretty miffed. Jesus's miracles are getting bigger and better all the time. They can't complete with this guy. Soon everyone's going to believe in him. If all your friends started following the Messiah, would you?
This could be not so good for Judea. If the Romans—the guys in charge of the country—catch wind of this, they will not be amused. They might even march in with an army and destroy the city. Or worse, destroy the temple.
Caiaphas, the high priest, tells them all that it would be better for just one man to die than for the entire nation to be destroyed. You know, for the greater good.
So, that day they decide: they are going to have Jesus executed.
Will He or Won't He?
Because of all the we're-going-to-kill-you craziness, Jesus doesn't go to Jerusalem anymore. Good move.
He and the disciples head for Ephraim, which is north of the city.
Later, as Passover nears again, many people start going to Jerusalem to get ready for the festivities.
The people in the city keep wondering, will Jesus show up for Passover? Is he going risk death to come to Jerusalem? Dun dun dun.