In John chapter eleven, the Bible gives us the historical account of Jesus raising His friend Lazarus from the dead. To this point in Jesus’ ministry, it was His most wonderful and undeniable miracle. Because of Christ’s mighty works, the plan for His execution was expedited (John 11:45-57). The chief priests even sought to kill Lazarus, since his resurrection at the hands of Jesus caused so many people to believe (John 12:9-11).
But there is something else here to consider.
What happened to Lazarus when he died? Did he go to paradise (Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22; 23:43)), or did he go to torments in Hades (Luke 16:23)?
It could be speculated that he went to either of the two places. If he had been a faithful Jew, turned disciple of John the Baptist, now currently a disciple of Jesus — as most information leads one to believe, it is assumed he would have gone to paradise. On the other hand, if he had been simply listening to Jesus as a friend, and had not yet committed himself to the commands of God under the Mosaic system, it is possible, God knowing his heart, that he would have been sent to torments.
For a minute, consider the ramifications for Lazarus concerning his earthly resurrection:
1. We have heard for years about “near-death experiences.” Nothing can be factually documented about the claims of these cases. But the facts surrounding Lazarus are quite different. He would have certainly learned something about the afterlife when he died.
In Luke 16, Jesus taught that when the other Lazarus (the beggar) died, angels were waiting and accompanied his soul to Abraham’s bosom. So immediately upon death, Lazarus of Bethany would have gone somewhere. Since his earthly remains had been in the tomb four days (John 11:17), he would have seen some things that others have not seen.
2. It may be that Lazarus could tell Jesus what to expect. Six days before the Passover, Jesus sat at the table with the risen Lazarus and talked (John 12:2).
We know not of the content of that conversation. Could it be possible that Lazarus shared his experience with Jesus? Was he sad to be back here on earth because he had been in paradise, or was he glad to have a second chance to get his life right? Did he have comforting words for his friend, Jesus, concerning the place where Jesus had told His disciples He was about to go? Did he have discouraging words for his unfaithful and disobedient acquaintances about the horrors of death for those who know not God? (More …)