(laz' uh ruhss) Personal name meaning “One whom God helps.” 1. One of the principal characters in a parable Jesus told to warn the selfish rich that justice eventually will be done. Poor Lazarus sat outside the mansion of the nameless rich man to receive whatever food might fall from the banquet table (Luke 16:19-31). Because of his poverty, he lived in poor health, also. In death the roles of the two were reversed, with Lazarus residing comfortably in heaven and the rich man being tormented in hell. The rich man asked that Lazarus be allowed to relieve his thirst. This is refused because of the gulf fixed between heaven and hell. A second appeal came for Lazarus to go and warn the rich man's family so that they might not join him in hell. This was refused because they have had adequate warning already.
2. Lazarus (a shortened form of Eleazer) of Bethany was a personal friend of Jesus and the brother of Mary and Martha (John 11:1-3). Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the tomb for four days to show the glory of God. Lazarus was at the Passover celebration in Bethany six days later. He became a target for murder by the chief priests because of his celebrity. Some believe Lazarus to be the “disciple whom Jesus loved” based on
John 11:3 and
John 21:20-22. He is not mentioned in the other Gospels, although
Luke 10:38-42 names the sisters Mary and Martha. See Beloved Disciple.