The Bible is full of fascinating stories about human relationships, including friendships. In fact, stories of friendships are demonstrated throughout the Old and New Testaments. God wants us to have relationships — not just of the marital and familial kind but deep and abiding friendships as well. True friendship provides us with support, love and enjoyment and is nothing short of a gift from God.
Jesus and Lazarus had a special friendship. This friendship existed long before Lazarus became ill. Their relationship was close enough that when he was sick, his sisters sent for Jesus with the message, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” — John 11:3. Lazarus is the only individual character in the fourth Gospel explicitly acknowledged by name as Jesus’ friend.
When Jesus learns that Lazarus is ill, he stays in Bethany two extra days, but he then leaves for Jerusalem. Shortly after, Jesus learned of Lazarus’ death and was devastated, as any friend would be. Jesus experienced genuine grief since he was human and divine. When Jesus arrived back in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Jesus enters the tomb and performs a miracle, raising Lazarus from the dead. It was witnessed by Lazarus’ sister, Martha.
The story of Lazarus tells us that Jesus has power over life and death. The resurrection of Lazarus also foreshadows the death and resurrection of Christ.
Lazarus and Jesus had a close friendship before Jesus raised him from the dead. The Bible tells us a great deal about the divinity of Jesus including his preaching, his healing, his miracles and his resurrection, but because he was also fully human, Jesus felt the power of friendship as well. The New Testament often uses the word ‘kinship’ to describe bonds among the faithful.
Sound emotional health must include good friendships. Friendships include sharing, playing and laughing, as well as sharing our sorrows and difficulties. Friends help us, especially when we are in pain. The friendship between Jesus and Lazarus demonstrates the depth of friendship that even the Son of God needed while here on earth.