Most are familiar with the story of Lazarus, raised from the dead after four days by Jesus. Lazarus and his sisters were good friends with Jesus. Jesus in part brought Lazarus back from the dead because of His love for him. What is not understood by most is that Jesus also revived Lazarus because of His compassion for Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary.
(It’s important to note that Lazarus was revived and remained mortal. He died again later. He was not resurrected to eternal life like Jesus was,)
This story takes on much deeper meaning when we understand it in the context of the culture of the times. In Jewish culture, women held very few rights. They could not own property in their own names or hold jobs outside of the household and were generally dependent on male family members for their survival. Bethany, where Lazarus and his sisters lived, was an Ascetic village. Ascetics took vows of chastity and generally did not marry. Martha and Mary had no male relatives other than Lazarus and were completely dependent on him for their survival. Upon his death the sisters had two options… begging or prostitution. Their futures looked very bleak.
By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus not only brought back His friend, but also restored a future of hope and prosperity for Martha and Mary.
Shalom, Art Alive in The Word
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